4.3.1 Best practice (The Guarani Communication Unit)

The story we are about to present goes beyond the planning of the initial requirements of an access center. It speaks to the establishment of communications strategies that can be executed through an access center or other means of communication in the community.

The Guarani Communication Unit33 in Bolivia had in place a capacity- building process that allowed it to undertake communication plans and to use audiovisual teaching. Right from the beginning, the functions were mainly focused on a capability-training model.

With these tools, the Guarani Communication Unit identified the information and communication needs through a participatory process with the communities and groups. The methodology followed for this project identified traditional and local communication networks, linking points between them and the official technical services, and the needs for knowledge and training.

This diagnostic scheme allowed the detection of losses of traditional medicine knowledge in four communities. So traditional medicine men, community authorities and members of the community got involved in improving knowledge exchange and strengthening community control of the subject. On the other hand, among the issues that were identified by the community as a priority in its agricultural plans were activities for the production of materials and training courses.

As we can observe, the participatory appraisal process followed by the Guarani Communication Unit produced communication strategies to address specific needs, which were to be executed by the Unit but also by the members of the community and other stakeholders.

We chose an experience that focused on the establishment of communication strategies, since it is the base that will allow us to plan many of the elements required by our access center. For example, if the community has a radio station and wants to find audio content on the Internet, or to post a “podcast” on the Internet, the equipment, the connectivity and the capability training will be focused on those areas.

33 The example was taken from Yasarekomo. Una experiencia de Comunicación Indígena en Bolivia. FAO. 2004. http://www.fao.org/docrep/006/y5311s/y5311s00.htm