SEATTLE — The United Nation’s Children Fund’s (UNICEF) Communication for Development (C4D) program is a program that “involves understanding people, their beliefs and values, the social and cultural norms that shape their lives.” The UNICEF C4D program involves the local community in identifying the problems that need to be addressed and coming up with solutions for them.
UNICEF C4D sees communication as a two-way path for sharing ideas and understanding. The program uses a wide range of methods and ideas that “empower individuals and communities to take actions to improve their lives.”
David H. Mould, Professor Emeritus, Media Arts and Studies, Ohio University, retired and Director of Ohio University UNICEF C4D Training Course sat down with The Borgen Project to talk about the program on April 25, 2016.
Mould states that UNICEF C4D is a way of using communication “to improve health, to improve education, child protection, sanitation, water supply, all the areas in which UNICEF works.” Most of what his team does is train other UNICEF staff; they have trained approximately 400 people from roughly 60 different countries. Mould and his team have also been involved in research in Madagascar.
Mould states that “People working in health or people working in education are real technical experts in those areas but they don’t necessarily know how to do communication at the individual level, at the community level or even at the policy or advocacy level.” The UNICEF C4D program helps train these workers in how to communicate with the people they are working with.
The focus of the research in Madagascar was to find out why people do what they do and think the way they do. “Why do parents stop sending their children to school? Why do mothers stop getting their children vaccinated? Why do women give birth at home and don’t go to the hospital?”
One important issue that Mould sees UNICEF C4D working on is child brides and teenage pregnancies. He says “there are thousands of children who are married. Some children are promised to marriage at birth. So, it leads to a high rate of teenage pregnancy and loss of educational opportunities; the girls are shut out.”
UNICEF and the international definition of childhood says you are a child until your 18th birthday. In a country like Madagascar, you are an adult when you reach childbearing age.
Mould continues saying that it would be nice to get people to say they would send their children to school, but if “you don’t have the schools and you don’t have the trained teachers and you don’t have a good water supply, then people can believe all they want … people can say they’d love to send their kids to school. But there’s no school or the school is broken down or the teachers are completely untrained or ‘I think I’ll have my children work on the farm instead.’”
Mould believes the most important thing that his team has done in Madagascar is work with colleagues in the local community. He hopes that working with the local university colleagues has improved their research skills so that the locals can take charge of their own growth.
Mould enjoys working with the community, as they understand the local culture, while Mould’s understands all the technicalities. “So you need to combine those skills. We’ve improved the technical skills of our colleagues in Madagascar, not just the faculty board, but all the graduate students as well, that’s an added value of what we’ve done there.”
– Rhonda Marrone