A knowledge and understanding of scientific concepts can mean the difference between life and death for rural people at the grassroots level. We, who are educated, take for granted that biological principles such as hygiene and nutrition are linked to health. The children of the rural poor may die of gastroenteritis and malnutrition before they are even old enough to go to school. This paper will summarise practical aspects of the communication of science and technology aimed at improving the quality of life of rural and peri-urban communities in South Africa. The impact of communication of science varies according to the socio-economic and environmental situation in which it occurs. Planning of interventions is important and knowledge of the characteristics of the community, its social and material assets, perceptions and traditional practices, the level of knowledge and technology and the cost/benefit ratio of the interventions can be determined through a situational (systems or holistic) analysis.

Using participatory methods and scenario-planning, objectives can be selected, evaluated and ranked. Long term sustainability is more likely if people are motivated and empowered through capacity building. It is asked: "Is skills training a part of communication with the rural poor?" If so it is a part often forgotten. The "deficit model " or " handout syndrome" is paternalistic and prescriptive and suppresses motivation and self-respect of the target audience who become passive recipients rather than active participants. This has a negative impact on the sustainability of a project - it falls away as soon as the funding vanishes.

This paper lists principles based on field experiences of successful veterinary extension, primary animal health care and small-scale farming. It discusses force field analysis as a method to promote change, describes adoption and diffusion curves and gives practical advice on interpersonal communication strategies to improve animal and human health and quality of life.

">
 [PCST]
PCST Network

Public Communication of Science and Technology

 

Communicating with rural communities to improve quality of life

Cheryl M E McCrindle   University of Pretoria

A knowledge and understanding of scientific concepts can mean the difference between life and death for rural people at the grassroots level. We, who are educated, take for granted that biological principles such as hygiene and nutrition are linked to health. The children of the rural poor may die of gastroenteritis and malnutrition before they are even old enough to go to school. This paper will summarise practical aspects of the communication of science and technology aimed at improving the quality of life of rural and peri-urban communities in South Africa. The impact of communication of science varies according to the socio-economic and environmental situation in which it occurs. Planning of interventions is important and knowledge of the characteristics of the community, its social and material assets, perceptions and traditional practices, the level of knowledge and technology and the cost/benefit ratio of the interventions can be determined through a situational (systems or holistic) analysis.

Using participatory methods and scenario-planning, objectives can be selected, evaluated and ranked. Long term sustainability is more likely if people are motivated and empowered through capacity building. It is asked: "Is skills training a part of communication with the rural poor?" If so it is a part often forgotten. The "deficit model " or " handout syndrome" is paternalistic and prescriptive and suppresses motivation and self-respect of the target audience who become passive recipients rather than active participants. This has a negative impact on the sustainability of a project - it falls away as soon as the funding vanishes.

This paper lists principles based on field experiences of successful veterinary extension, primary animal health care and small-scale farming. It discusses force field analysis as a method to promote change, describes adoption and diffusion curves and gives practical advice on interpersonal communication strategies to improve animal and human health and quality of life.

[PDF 100.89 kB]Download the full paper (PDF 100.89 kB)

BACK TO TOP