Nepal – How the ‘Samvad’ approach to grassroots emancipation swept me off my feet! Part 3 of 3


In part 1&2, I have shared what the challenges many development organizations, especially Western organizations face while doing development work and how SF’s appraoch, especially in Nepal is different and why it seems to be effective.

In all the our encounters with the grassroots groups, one word resonated over and over again and that was the term SAMVAD. SAMVAD we were told is a ‘participatory learning, reflection and action process that builds analytical capacity and confidence among the participants and helps them to be self-reliant’. It is the embodiment of people-centered, participatory process which prioritizes that the people identify, plan and solve their own problems with a ‘little’ support from SF. SF, does not tell people what and how to develo themselves – this they have to figure out other than having others tell them.

SAMVAD is equal to ‘people power’, or ‘girl power’ for women’s organisations, or ‘adolescent power’ depending on the group’s constitution, needs, capacities and competences. The point is to use the group as a collective force to brings about individual and collective social, economic and psychological change. The result has been engagement, ownership, agency and sustainability – as each organisation had clear objectives, good organization, operations were clear and they were accountable to each other. Moreover, the collective actions were very interactive, critical, analytical, transparent and transcendent. The level of engagememt that we witnessed made it clear to me that a critical mass was in the works. If, I am not wrong, I believe, SF already boasted of over 900 such SAMVAD groups.

Now, despite the successes on the ground, there was still a way to go and a few things stood out to me, suffice to mention 2:

Bringing the private sector contributions to local development: While the Public sector was an active actor in this People-centered partnership with SF, the Private sector role and participation were less pronounced. In otherwords, within the Public Private People-Centered Partnership (PPPP) notions for development, the Private was less pronounced. In development struggle, it is important to bring together all relevant actors to fill in gaps in the complex challenge called development. The private sector could contribute via its social responsibility with things such as funds, training, markets, etc.

Community radios are the voices of the people”
Vice president Nanda Bahadur Pun pointed out at the inauguration of the two-day South-Asian Community Radio Conference 9th Aug 2016 in Kathmaandu. Pix:Internet.

Role of Community media/community radio not well tapped: As a development communication student myself, I was abit dissapointed by the limited exploitation of community media. Already the structural and infrastructural preconditions were not too bad. Nepal boosts of over 700 radio stations, over 300 of these are located in rural areas. I talk radio because it is the most viable medium against TV and newspapers because of its geographic reach. over 56% of rural households have a radio set. Given the mandate of community radio to serve informational needs of local communities often overlooked by mainstream media, community media can perform wonders in support of development programs.”

Community radios are the voices of the people”

This is also becasue community media are supposed to be people-centered, generating local content and engagement from the local people. Since these are supposedly locally owned, organized, operated and sustained – they can trully suppliment development initiatives such as these that SF supports as they would expand reach, boost impact and give voice to the marginalized communities.

Resourses that may be of interest:

Dralega, C. A. (2009). ICTs, youths, and the politics of participation in rural Uganda. In African Media and the Digital Public Sphere (pp. 125-142). Palgrave Macmillan, New York.

Dralega, C. A. (2009) Open and Distance Learning for Peace through Community Radio in Northern Uganda: The Case of radio Apac. In Baksh R. And Munro T. (Eds.) Learning to Live Together: Using Distance Education for Community Peacebuilding. P45-58. Commonwealth of Learning. Vancouver 

 Dralega, C. A. (2009) Participatory Ethos, Multimedia Experiments and Disjuncture in Community Media in Uganda, Equid Novi, African Journalism Studies. Vol. 30 (1) p24-41. University of Wisconsin Press, Madison.

 Dralega, C. A. (2009). Exploring the Principles of the Community. The Power of Communication: Changes and Challenges in African Media, 287.

Dralega, C. A. (2009) ICT Based Development of Marginal Communities: Participatory approaches to Communication, Empowerment and Engagement in Rural Uganda. PhD thesis. UNIPUB. University of Oslo

Dralega, C. (2007). Rural women’s ICT use in Uganda: Collective action for development. Agenda, 21(71), 42-52.

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