THE ROLE OF COMMUNICATION LEADERS IN COMMUNICATIVE ORGANIZING FOR COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT (CO4D)
By Val Gando
17 August 2023
How important is communication for community development? Well, I can say that community development is not possible without communication. Community development requires actions and such actions are organized through a communication process, thus communication organizes actions for community development. These actions are referred to as communicative actions (Habermas, 1984). Because communication naturally occurs in the community, communication can organize actions even without an identified or a clear communication leader. However, communication leaders (Gando, 2020) are important because they ensure that more correct than wrong actions are organized in the pursuit of community development. I refer to this work of communication leaders as “communicative organizing for development (CO4D)”.
Communicative Organizing for Development (CO4D) is my understanding of the Participatory Human Development (PHD) (Delfin, 1987) approach of Outreach Philippines, Inc. Communicative Organizing for development highlights the role of communication leaders in providing interventions in the community’s communication system and process to ensure that sufficient participation is achieved and actions are well organized towards achieving collectively defined development goals. The CO4D or PHD process revolves around the natural or scientific problem solving process. Although, communication leaders can naturally exist in the community, in many instances they are developed through direct experiences in communicative actions and discursive reflections organized by an external institution or interventionist institution, such as Outreach Philippines.
Donita and Marianne are two communication leaders developed through their effective participation in the Outreach Philippines’ Participatory Human Development program in the community of San Isidro in Laur, facilitated by Elvis Gatchalian, a professional Human Development Facilitator from OPI. Indeed, one of the major goals of Outreach Philippines in its 5-year PHD program is to develop leaders like Donita and Marianne to become capable of applying in other communities, the communicative organizing or PHD knowledge they learned from their own community. In their case, Donita and Marianne were able to utilize their developed communication skills in organizing communicative actions involving at least 64 families in the nearby community of Balbalungao. These 64 families were among the 88 originally targeted families for development intervention by Donita and Marianne in the project they refer to as Spreading Outreach (SPROUT) funded by Outreach International. The behavioral changes, from being passive to participative residents, from development aspirants to development pursuers, from having the culture of silence to being communicative, and from being unwilling to being willing to take leadership are qualitative indicators of the effectiveness of the communication leadership of Donita and Marianne. Communicative Organizing for Development or PHD does not only achieve qualitative development outcomes, but also quantitative outcomes, such as the rice loan project that benefits the families that participated in the program. Sustainability of the SPROUT program in Balbalungao is ensured by communicatively organizing the participants to form a Community-Based Organization that will continue the CO4D/PHD process beyond Donita and Marriane’s intervention.
Jürgen Habermas, Theory of Communicative Action, trans. Thomas McCarthy, Boston: Beacon Press, 1984.
Gando, V. Communication Leadership and Sustainable Participation - An Autoethnographic Study of Spreading Outreach (SPROUT). University of the Philippines Open University. 2020.
Delfin, E. Participaroty Human Development Manual. Outreach International. 1987