Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Emails to Nowhere

I've been reading over a report written by the implementers of a coastal management program (the TCMP) in Tanzania. This is how they described their efforts to keep in touch with the Tanzanians, particularly those at the "local level."

"In addition to the working groups, the TCMP has a communications unit

that works to promote coastal management in Tanzania at large. The

TCMP has attempted to keep Tanzanians updated through newspaper

articles and TV coverage. Other communication tools include the Pwani

Yetu (Our Coast) newsletter, the E-Pwani e-mail listserv, and on-line

posting of key TCMP documents. This communications network is

critical to the successful development of the national ICM policy,

providing rapid access to local programs and key constituencies at the

local level."

Email, online postings, TV, and newspaper articles, in a country which at that time (1995-2000ish) had a nearly 70% rural population, virtually none of whom had access to electricity, and a large percentage of whom, especially the women, were illiterate.

Now of course the people writing this report knew all of these circumstances very well. They were in the country for over five years. But still they had the.....balls? (and I say that in a sincerely complimentary way) to write the clearly absurd statement, which bears repeating, that such methods of communication were "critical" and provided "rapid access" to "key constituencies at the local level."

The sociological circumstances within which this can occur demand further study.


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