It has long been a major principle in developmental terms that social and economic transformation involves the free flow of information as well as ideas to spur economic and innovative thoughts and exchange among peoples in the State.
The free flow and access to information can also create an accountable and transparent society, thereby laying the groundwork for a less corrupt and prosperous society. In Sierra Leone the much-heralded poverty reduction strategy paper [PRSP] has still not got the blessings of the Paris Club.
Though various reasons have been advanced for the failure of the Sierra Leone government to win the approval of 1.7 billion US dollars to sponsor the PRSP – It is widely believe that the issue of corruption and lack of an information Act to ensure accountability may be among the raison d’etre for the refusal of the world’s richest club of donor Nations to sponsor this all important enterprise of reducing poverty in one of the world’s poorest countries.
At present however, a fresh book published by the International Department for International Development, (DFID) United Kingdom, has thrown very important light on the using of; strategic communication to fight poverty through PRS paper with the support of multitudes. In this work, undertaken by both the World Bank and department for international development DFID. Countries such as Ghana et al are singled out and used as a classical example on how communication can be used to fight poverty in third world countries.
Although just five years old the PRSP approach is now established as the country level framework for the attainment of the Millennium Development Goals (MDG’s), set by the United Nations. This World Bank communications experts believe can only be achieved through strategic communications. The authors start by referring to strategic communications as much more than merely informing citizens, rather they say it is the active seeking of the perspectives and contributions of citizens so that they can help to shape policy. They added that it is also a means of ensuring that mechanisms are in place for a two-way flow of information and ideas between the government and the citizenry as well as a Nation’s deliberate effort to build consensus amongst stakeholders about the development strategy the Nation wishes to pursue.
The experts also pointed out in the book that done properly, strategic communications can contribute to PRSP in the following ways: It creates open and inclusive national discourse on policy option, which leads to greater and increased participation in policy making by significant segment of the population. The result is increased support and commitment for the agreed strategy. Secondly, on the other hand it whips up expectation, giving the people a serious sense of what policy options can realistically deliver. It helps to promote transparency and accountability, by full airing and presentation of the facts, citizens can hold the government accountable. Fourthly, it also establishes and maintains momentum because of the engagement of multitudes. Fifthly, it creates or reopens a public culture of citizen …