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Communication for Development

Knowledge and information are essential for people to successfully respond to the opportunities and challenges of social, economic and technological changes. But to be useful, knowledge and information must be effectively communicated to people.

More than 850 million people in developing countries are excluded from a wide range of information and knowledge, with the rural poor in particular remaining isolated from both traditional media and new information and communication technologies which would improve their livelihoods.

"If information and knowledge are central to democracy, they are the conditions of development"
Kofi Annan, UN Secretary-General, in an address to the World Bank Conference, ‘Global Knowledge’ (1997)

Documents and Tools

UN Communication for Development Roundtable Report, 6-9 September, 2004

Participants of the roundtable discussed the current trends in the field of development communication, including relationships between communication and development, challenges and priorities as defined during the World Summit on Sustainable Development, the World Summit of the Information Society and the Millennium Development Goals.

FAO: Communication for Development CD-Rom

This CD-ROM, containing publications from the FAO Communication for Development Group, is a valuable tool to help decision-makers and extension workers effectively use communication to inform and educate people about new ideas and technical innovations in agriculture, as well as how to take action and direct their own courses of change.

Information and Communication Technologies in Rural Development and Food Security

These papers, produced for a workshop on the ‘Role of Information and Communication Technologies’ ( First Consultation on Agricultural Information Management, FAO, Rome, June 2001), present both a theoretical and practical look at the use of ICTs for rural development and food security, presenting a conceptual framework as well as lessons learned from field experience.

FAO: The Internet and rural and agricultural development: an integrated approach

The Internet is rapidly expanding in developing countries, but most rural communities are not yet able to take advantage of the services available to their urban neighbours. This FAO paper recommends an integrated approach to facilitating Internet services and applications that will benefit rural communities.

FAO Com Dev Group Publication: The One to Watch: Radio, New ICTs and Interactivity

This publication provides an overview of the most significant experiences in combining radio and ICTs to sustainable development. It is a result of numerous attempts by FAO’s Communication for Development Group to foster information exchange and collaborative partnerships in rural radio initiatives.

UNESCO Publication : ICTs: Information and Communication Technologies for the Poor

Information and Communication Technologies for Development and Poverty Reduction: The Potential of Telecommunications addresses some pressing questions surrounding ICTs, such as  How do ICTs affect economic development in low-income countries? How do they affect poor people in these countries and in rural areas in particular? What policies and programs facilitate their potential to enhance development and the inclusion of poor constituents?

The KnowNet Initiative

The Initiative includes the KnowNet Weaver -- an online tool-kit to enable communities, NGOs and individuals to create interactive websites, give them a domain name and host them on the World Wide Web free-of-charge, using freeware or shareware available on the Internet.

World Communication and Information Report 1999-2000

UNESCO’s World Communication and Information Report 1999-2000 discusses issues such as freedom of the media, the role of public-service broadcasting, editorial independence, the use of the Internet in education, cultural pluralism, worldwide access to information resources, challenges to the intellectual property and censorship on the Internet.

Farm Radio Broadcasting

The First International Workshop on Farm Radio Broadcasting (FAO Headquarters, Rome, Italy, 19 - 22 February 2001) addressed various issues, including: are Information & Communication Technologies (ICTs) a threat or an opportunity? Can ICTs be useful for rural radio? How? What about the digital divide? The event was also a Forum to share experiences and to facilitate collaboration and partnership, both North-South and South-South.


The FIDAMERICA network is a pioneer in Latin America in the exchange of information and the dissemination of lessons learned. With links to approximately 550,000 poor rural households reached by 34 IFAD projects in 16 countries, FIDAmerica has conducted several electronic conferences and maintains electronic lists on selected themes.


Electronic Networking for Rural Asia/Pacific Projects (ENRAP) is an IFAD-funded initiative to support internet use and knowledge sharing amongst rural development projects in the Asia and Pacific region. Networking is achieved mainly through issue-specific chat-room discussions, and the circulation of a monthly e-newsletter that is distributed on paper to remote communities.

Life at work in the information economy

The theme of ILO’s World Employment Report 2001 is the influence of information and communication technologies (ICT) on communication delay and distance. Ever cheaper, ever more rapid, and ever more varied means of communicating vast amounts of information through the Internet, among other networks, is creating a world in which there is far greater access to information than ever before. Is a "new economy" emerging?

Virtual Extension-Research and Communication Network (VERCON)

VERCON is a concept model for using the new information and communication technologies (ICTs) to improve linkages among research and extension systems. A VERCON project is currently being implemented on a pilot basis in Egypt.

Farmer Information Network (FarmNet)

FarmNet is a concept model for using the new information and communication technologies (ICTs) for agricultural and rural development. It aims at creating a network of rural people, supported by intermediary organisations such as extension services, using ICTs and conventional media to facilitate the generating, gathering and exchanging of knowledge and information.

Worldwide Initiatives

The World Congress on Communication for Development (WCCD)

The WCCD will focus on demonstrating that communication for development is an essential ingredient for meeting today’s most pressing development challenges and, as such, should be more fully integrated in development policy and practice.

Global Internet Policy Initiative (GIPI)

The Global Internet Policy Initiative supports adoption in developing countries of the legal and policy framework for an open and democratic Internet. The project works with local stakeholders in consultative, coalition-based efforts to promote the principles of a decentralized, accessible, user-controlled, and market-driven Internet.

The Communication Initiative

The Communication Initiative is a partnership of development organisations seeking to support advances in the effectiveness and scale of communication interventions for positive international development. Resources available from the website range from communication and development news items to evaluation methodologies, discussion forums and an event calendar.

Acacia Initiative

The Acacia Initiative is an international effort to empower sub-Saharan African communities with the capacities and ability to apply information and communication technologies to their own social and economic development.

Third World Network

An international network of organizations and individuals involved in issues relating to development, the Third World and North- South issues that conducts research on economic, social and environmental issues; publicizes books and magazines; organizes and participates in seminars; and provides a platform representing Southern interests and perspectives at international fora.

UNESCO Community Multimedia Centres

UNESCO's International Initiative for Community Multimedia Centres (CMCs) promotes community empowerment and addresses the digital divide by combining community broadcasting with the Internet and related technologies.

FAO Com Dev Group : Latin American Regional Workshop on Radio, new ICTs and rural development

Organised by the FAO, in cooperation with the Latin American Association for Radio Education (ALER – Asociación Latinoamericana de Educación Radiofónica) and the World Association of Community Radio Broadcasters (AMARC), La Ond@ Rural: Radio, New ICTs and Rural Development was a regional workshop held in Quito, Ecuador from 20-22 April 2004.


Integrated Regional Information Networks

Governments, aid workers, disaster specialists, members of the public receive regular reports in a range of forms on a wide array of political, economic and social issues affecting humanitarian efforts in Africa and Asia through IRIN’s website service.

UNESCO Development of Communication

The UNESCO Development of Communication Programme places emphasis on the training of communication professionals at all levels, especially women and the training of trainers. The programme supports national and regional audiovisual productions and co-productions, particularly those dealing with major development themes.

UNESCO : Information for All Programme

The Information for All Programme provides a framework for international co-operation and international and regional partnerships. It supports the development of common strategies, methods and tools for building a just and free information society and for narrowing the gap between the information-rich and the information-poor.

UNESCO Courier

Electronic versions of the monthly UNESCO Courier magazine are available on-line in English, French and Spanish and feature articles and dossiers on various aspects of information and communication for development.

Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation

The Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation (CTA) was established in 1983 under the Lomé Convention between the ACP (African, Caribbean and Pacific) Group of States and the European Union Member States, with the aim to develop and provide services that improve access to information for agricultural and rural development, and to strengthen the capacity of ACP countries to produce, acquire, exchange and utilise information in this area.

Public Info Website

This website gives up-to-date information on news and events as well as in depth reports on important topics currently on the development agenda. It provides a wide array of information on topics related to public health, environment, development and human rights. It also includes a section containing a series of links to the communication offices of major UN agencies and International Organizations in various sectors. With several sections featured also in English, Public-Info is mainly published in French.