WACC facilitates a Development Initiative Programme under which project partners in countries of the global South carry out one-year-long initiatives that place communication (including traditional media and digital technologies) at the centre of strategies to bring about social change.

This example – carried out by the Rural Missionaries of the Philippines Northern Mindanao Sub-Region (RMP-NMR) – was project to strengthen the capacity of over 1,000 peasant women from 22 community-based organizations to participate actively, jointly, and visibly in the campaign of the people’s movement against global land grabbing and food insecurity in Bukidnon province through enhanced communication and media engagement. The project’s objectives were to unite, mobilize and mainstream the role of peasant women in the broader people’s movement so that global land grabbing and its effects to food security might be effectively neutralized. Activities included (a) awareness-raising, (b) network-building and lobbying, and (c) engagement with the media.

Faith Inspired Reflection: Human beings are created to be in relationship with God, with each other and with the whole of creation. The whole created order bears God’s image. For this reason, the well-being of all creation is a function of the well-being of each of its parts.  In this respect, communication plays a crucial role in building peace, security and a sense of identity as well as in promoting justice, mutual accountability and transparency. In today’s world, developing communication skills that flow from an understanding of what all humans have in common – their inter-connectedness – is urgent. Building connectedness through communication affirms the uniqueness of each person and each community: their faces, stories and experiences.

Recognizing and building on communication rights enables people and communities to claim spaces and resources in the public sphere for everyone to be able to engage in transparent, informed and democratic debate. They offer unfettered access to the information and knowledge essential to democracy, empowerment, responsible citizenship and mutual accountability. They promote political, social and cultural environments that encourage the free exchange of a diversity of creative ideas, knowledge and cultural products. Finally, communication rights insist on the need to ensure a diversity of cultural identities that together enhance and enrich the common good.

Introduction:

The World Association for Christian Communication (WACC) is a non-governmental organization that builds on communication rights in order to promote social justice. Today, we offer guidance and support to people of all faiths, ethnicities, and cultures worldwide. WACC believes that everyone has the right to communicate and to be communicated to, in the same way that they have the right to food, shelter, and security. In strategic alliances, we aim to be a catalyst for change for the common good, sharing information, knowledge, and experience in the field of communication.

WACC has members in over 120 countries. Working with them at local, national, and regional levels, we address communication needs, strengthen capacities, advocate for communication rights, and tackle ongoing challenges such as the need for gender-sensitive reporting, peace-building, and participatory communication for development. As an international non-governmental organization made up of individual, institutional faith-based members and others, WACC focuses on advancing greater understanding and participation based on everyone’s right to communicate openly and democratically about decisions and events that affect their lives.

Working with many different partners enables WACC to advance together towards achieving its goals and to make a positive difference to people and communities worldwide.

Data Collection System:

Benefits of the Data Collection System:

WACC collects data on its project work at the level of individual communication projects and their achievements, which are also aggregated into periodic reports for its main funding partners. Data are collected by project partners at the local level (in the context of their communities and countries) and assessed by WACC program managers in the context of WACC’s Strategic Plan. Data collection is done in the form of project reports, which include both quantitative and qualitative information. In addition to project-level reports, WACC carries out an external evaluation at the program level every 3 to 4 years to evaluate the impact of its project work. The most recent external evaluation, conducted in 2015, included a visit to RMP-NMR to assess the impact of their project.

What was influential in the design of the data collection system?

A key factor for WACC is the involvement of the project partner and local community in collecting data and assessing the impact of the project. An essential element is capacity-building that enables a social cycle of communication in which people are empowered:

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Ultimately, communication rights are not just about being heard. They must involve securing access to the information that is needed and being listened to by those in power with due consideration given to alternative views. It is a question of enabling genuine dialogue on equal terms and, above all, it is about a right to a response from power-holders to issues raised.

Detailed Process of Data Collection & Use: Activity, Data Collection, and Data Use

Data was collected by RMP-NMR to assess (a) the impact of training with 22 community-based organizations in relation to strengthening participation in community-based and multi-sectoral outreach activities (i.e. dialogues and demonstrations against global land grabbing and food insecurity; (b) the response of city and town administrations to campaigning and, in particular, the passing of resolutions and ordinances related to monocrop plantations; and (c) changes in media coverage of these issues in local radio, television and newspapers that were expected to highlight the efforts of local communities to combat these problems. The data was collected by RMP-NMR in both quantitative form (number of dialogues and awareness-building initiatives, number of participants and attendees, number of radio broadcasts, television programs and newspaper articles), and in qualitative form (reports produced, newspaper articles, video clips). The data was initially collected both during and after the project’s end. The data was used by RMP-NMR at both the local and national levels, as well as by community-based organizations and human rights organizations working to change government attitudes and policies.

RMP-NMR used the data throughout the project to enhance the activities and fine-tune their programming strategy. At the end of the project, the data was used to reflect on the impact of the project and to plan future efforts. RMP-NMR monitored the various outcomes to create and maintain a cycle of social change in which the local communities are directly involved in determining next steps and new activities that respond to their needs. The analysis was ongoing within the limitations of activities, staffing, and the political and geographical context of Mindanao, which were also factors for the analysis of data. Even after the end of the project, RMP-NMR continued to use the learnings of the project to engage with a number of other civil society organizations in the region to advance this work and to augment its impact. In November 2015 RMP-NMR formed part of an international group that took their various concerns to a UN meeting in Geneva on indigenous rights (see here). RMP-NMR’s presentation in Geneva drew on the data and lessons learned from the project.

On WACC’s side, the data collected by both RMP-NMR and the external evaluator has been used to (a) increase organizational awareness about the situation in Mindanao, (b) Increase organizational awareness about the issue of land-grabbing, and (c) to refine our communication rights programming to ensure that WACC is able to continue to support high-impact projects such as this one. The analysis was made by the WACC program team, which is currently actively exploring opportunities to launch a new project in Mindanao in partnership RMP-NMR. This decision has been largely the result of the evidence of positive project impact derived from both sets of data.

Project data is used in three main ways. (1) In terms of bringing about social change, to demonstrate a causal link between the positive and negative roles played by mass, community, and social media in public perceptions of political, social and economic issues; (2) To advocate for policy change in media legislation at the national level and in media practice at the national and local levels; (3) To create enabling environments in which ordinary people can take charge of their lives and improve their livelihoods. WACC carries out regular evaluations of its programs and activities to assess their impact, information that is also used periodically to refine or reformulate its work and to draw up its Strategic Plan.