Different Strokes

A-ha! Even though I think I know–it turns out, I don’t know anything at all. I believe that it is only when you return to your roots that you will really understand what it is about. Like my field of study.

Development Communication (DevCom) began as Development Support Communication (DSC)–a methodology introduced by Erskine Childers, the director of UNDP’s Development Support Service based in Bangkok, in the 1960s. The idea was to use Communication techniques such as appraisal, planning, production (materials) and evaluation for selected projects supported by UNDP and UNICEF.

In the 1970s, Dr Nora C. Quebral, then the Chair of the Department of Agricultural Communications at the University of the Philippines Los Banos College of Agriculture, viewed Communication than merely a media-based support to development projects. She expound the idea of DSC, and coined the term, and in turn, established the Science of DevCom in the context of Agriculture (Flor & Ongkiko, 2003). Using media as tools was one, but the underlying research-based methodologies in identifying the needs of communities, together with the people, was highlighted as a crucial step in carrying out development interventions. The field and practice have evolved through the decades, expanding the scope of DevCom strategies to other social aspects and fields that are facing social issues and concerns to meet the needs of an ever-changing society; championing the power of people-centered development interventions towards an improved quality of life. DevCom was defined in 1971; today, the discipline is described as:

the science of human communication linked to the transitioning of communities from poverty in all its forms to a dynamic, overall growth that fosters equity and the unfolding of individual potential.”  (Quebral, 2011)

There are several approaches and domains in carrying out development interventions through communication. Among these are: 1) Social Mobilization (creation of a vast social movement for a particular program); 2) Science Communication (study and practice for generating, exchanging and utilizing scientific and technological knowledge and information to advance a country’s development goals); 3) Community Participation (educational and empowering process in which people are partners, not just passive receivers of interventions); 4) Information, Education and Communication (information delivery, training and human resource development); and 5) Participatory Action Research (the subjects are co-researchers), and many more. (Velasco, Cadiz & Lumanta, 1999)

There is no one exclusive approach to a specific community in focus; but no matter what the approach may be, it never disregards the main role of the stakeholders in action. DevCom, however, does not force change to happen. The improved state of life should be under the people’s pace and not to be expected to change at a restrictive time-frame. Above all, there should be a desire to change–the reason why development projects must be people-centered–so the stakeholders would be willing to sustain the content of the interventions even after the projects have been implemented. DevCom experts and practitioners serve as the link to a community’s needs and its path to development, making a dynamic partnership in achieving goals and realizing opportunities for the better.


Flor, Alexander & Ila Virginia Ongkiko. (2003). Introduction to development communication. UPOU.

Quebral, Nora C. (2012). Development communication primer. Malaysia: Southbound. (Free download here)

Velasco, Ma. Theresa H., Ma. Celeste H. Cadiz, & Melinda F. Lumanta. (1999). DEVC 208: Social marketing and social mobilization for development. UPOU.

Note: The download link is totally legit. Check this story.


3 responses to “Different Strokes”

  1. I love that term, a dynamic partnership. It is definitely what DevCom is about, creating that sort of merger that can create change. Unlike you who has studied DevCom since your under graduate years (tama ba?), Communication processes and models to me are nothing more than frameworks, diagrams that point out parts, but studying about DevCom, and using communication for social change and development, gave such models a whole new perspective. Because of such goals of the field we are studying I am able to better appreciate the importance of such frameworks.

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