Blogs

Zambia Elections 2016 - championing live TV debate

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Author: Changwe Kabwe, August 17 2016 - In an election campaign dominated by personality politics, a national TV debate featuring key presidential contenders in the Zambian general election presented a rare opportunity for people to directly question candidates and hear about their plans for Zambia’s future.

In a large auditorium filled with hundreds of people, bright lights and watching cameras, Philip Sikainda, a gentleman in his sixties stood up and addressed the panel of presidential candidates.

"Zambia today has a lot of retirees languishing in poverty because of unpaid benefits, some of them die without receiving their benefits, what will you do if elected into government to [support their] plight?” he asked.

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"You runaway": the challenges of research in South Sudan

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Author: Trish Doherty, August 17 2016: Writing from Juba, Research Manager Trish Doherty explains the importance of conducting research in conflict-affected countries like South Sudan – despite the very real risks for both researchers and the people they speak to.

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Toms and Toilets

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Author: Praekelt Foundation's Ambika Samarthya-Howard, August 11 2016 - The popular shoe brand Toms was founded in 2006 with the premise that for every pair of shoes you buy, they would give one to a needy person in the developing world. This sounded like the peak of corporate community involvement, until a few years ago when people realized their impact was more harmful than helpful.  For one thing, the shoes took away from local businesses.  Also, with the limited amount of shoes, children competed for pairs, creating tension and inequity amongst groups. Sometimes the best intentions produce unintended consequences.

In 2010, in the wake of the earthquake in Haiti, Alanna Shaikh – a blogger at Aidwatch – wrote a scathing commentary titled Nobody Wants Your Old Shoes: How Not To Help in Haiti. In it she declared, “Only the people on the ground know what’s actually necessary; those of us in the rest of the world can only guess.”

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How can media and communication improve your health?

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Author: Emebet Wuhib-Mutungi, August 10 2016 - 'When have you taken steps to improve your health as a result of something you read or heard in the media or talking to someone?' asks an activity in a BBC Media Action health workshop exploring the complexities of behaviour change. Delegates were asked to reflect first on their own personal experiences of behaviour change before they started to think about how to influence others.

The BBC Media Action workshop – designed to help people harness communication to help people become more healthy – challenged participants to think about something they wanted to start or stop doing to improve their health. I had to reflect on what had made things difficult, what motivated me, the influence of media and communication and describe in pictures, my journey of change. My goal sounds simple enough. To start exercising again.

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Making politics work for development is all the rage

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Author: BBC Media Action's James Deane, August 10 2016 - Through arguing that development outcomes are less the product of specific “projects” than of enabling governance systems, two new World Bank papers help make the case for supporting independent, informative and engaging media.

We’re currently seeing a profusion of reports arguing that development organisations find it difficult to understand and respond to political realities. Most conclude that development fails to deliver impact because politics gets in the way. 

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Integrated community case management of childhood illness is happening in Bondo, western Kenya

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Author: Herman Jaoko and Dyness Kasungami, August 4 2016 - Victoria Achieng has been a community health volunteer (CHV) for more than seven years in Nyaguda village in Bondo, a sub county of western Kenya. Until recently, her primary role was to promote appropriate health behavior, collect basic data on access to safe water, hygiene and sanitation facilities and record and report occurrences of illness in her community. Now, after participating in a program designed to expand the CHV’s role, Victoria can treat children under five.

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Helping communities to make Naija better

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Author: Uche Joy Nnogo, August 3 2016 - A small community in Nigeria is demanding better services to protect their children from diarrhoea. Joy Nnogo, of radio show Talk Your Own - Make Naija Better, shares their story.

A young woman sits silently. Older women in her community are consoling her.

"My two year old woke up one morning with a fever,” she tells us. The young woman had taken the child to the health centre for medication. A day later, her child started convulsing with severe diarrhoea. She had no idea how to deal with it. She is crying now. In-between her tears, she tells us that the child became weak and collapsed. She’s grieving but doesn’t blame anyone or anything. She just looks tired and defeated.

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Curing Pilot-itis for mHealth

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Author: Praekelt Foundation's Ambika Samarthya-Howard, August 3 2016 -

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Managing Ebola Will Take Powerful Communication

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Author: Christopher Graves, August 8 2014 [cross-posted from the Harvard Business Review, linked below] - Whether the world's scariest outbreak of Ebola can be managed may come down to communications. Can governments, NGOs [non-governmental organisations], and doctors communicate with very different audiences - with accuracy, agility, and ingenuity? Can they be convincing?

After years of civil war, many people in the affected countries don't trust their governments or the foreigners in bio-hazard suits who seem to bring the virus with them. They don't understand how the virus is being spread. Local custom is to bathe the bodies of the dead - but in doing so, the living catch the virus. Traditional sources of food – wild animals - also carry the virus.

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Why Debunking Myths About Vaccines Hasn't Convinced Dubious Parents

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Author: Christopher Graves, February 20 2015 [cross-posted from the Harvard Business Review, linked below] - Seventeen years ago, a physician in the UK [United Kingdom] published a study of twelve children who had been given the MMR (measles, mumps, rubella) vaccine. It implied a scary correlation between the vaccine and autism. But upon both further investigation and further clinical studies, the original finding was thrown out, the medical journal retracted the article, and the doctor was found to have unethical financial interests in the findings. Finally, he was stripped of his license to practice medicine.

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