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Breaking the Barriers of Information Dissemination

Communication which is a process of sending and receiving messages has a starting point. This point is not the actual sending, but deals with something which occurs in the sender before he initiates the acts of sending the message. There is the stimulation which comes first – that thing which propels or moves one to take an action. It is the reason for a communication encounter, and it takes place in the sensory nerve of an individual known as the Source.

The Source is that individual or group, which initiates a message. The source is the encoder or sender of the message – the one who receives the stimuli from inside of him and then decides on the means of transmitting the conceived message to the receiver. Because processes are involved in communication, the Source faces so many problems in achieving communication. Before information or opinion is passed to the receiver, the Source makes a move that shows that he wants to pass a message across. This move or initiative could be through speaking, gesturing, writing, or whatever means he feels is appropriate to transmit the message. In communication process, this move is known as an ACTION.

After taking an action, what follows is a REACTION, which is the result of the action taken by the sender or the communicator. It is the response to an action, which may come in form of a reply, answer, rejoinder, retort, acknowledgment or defense. The one chosen determines the next line of action by both parties, and to complete the process, the parties INTERACT. Interaction could be between two or more people showing that the message was duly communicated.

There are so many information messages going around the globe today, as well as counter behaviors of people. These show that not all messages that are sent across got to those they were meant for. So many factors are responsible for this. Skills used in communicating to people are more or less not considered by the communicator. It is his duty to however, ensure that he has a good grasp of the means he chooses to communicate. This will enable him reach his target audience effectively.

The message to be transmitted must be known to the communicator. If he does not have a good knowledge of the message, chances are that he will not be able to win the attention of his audience, appear important with the message or deliver it confidently. Effective communication can also depend on to a large extent on the knowledge of the environment in which the communication is to take place. The diversities that exist in different communities or areas help in forcing the Source approach on location and target audience. In Nigeria, for instance, consideration is given to age, status, social class, seniority, etc, quite different from what is obtainable elsewhere in the world. However, apart from this socio-cultural context, there is another important factor that bothers on attitude. The attitude of the Source of communication towards himself by way of displaying confidence in the message is very important to the successful transmission of his message. It should be noted that time after time people continuously are sending out messages to their various receivers, yet the level of ignorance exhibited by those to which these messages are meant for are alarming. Research has shown that the current method of information dissemination is not ideal hence the introduction of information repackaging.

This implies translation of the information in the language of the people; adopting the right medium familiar to the people and providing the right environment that would generate the required interest from the targeted group. Though this involves training and re-training, yet adopting the techniques of information repackaging would assist in redesigning the information meant to address the needs of the people, especially the rural dwellers. This may involve the transformation of printed information into oral form, using community information centers, Community Based Organizations (CBOs), radio jingles, television programmes, and focal group discussions, among others.

Transforming printed information into oral form: – The level of illiteracy in rural areas of does not support reading and writing. Therefore, oral information delivery is the most suitable means of reaching out to the people. Much of the existing information that people receive today appear mainly in print formats and often through medium that is not easily accessible to the rural dwellers. This is why people who are trained in the skills of information storage, retrieval and dissemination should be used in sourcing the required information and disseminating them to the rural dwellers.

Use of focal group discussions – Another good method of repackaging information is the use of focal group discussion. Information can be repackaged in form of stories, songs and drama, and presented to a particular target group.
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Translation of existing information to local languages – Another approach in information repackaging is the translation of existing information which appears in foreign languages into local languages. The intention here is to ensure that such useful information is disseminated to the target audience with ease. The information professionals and other related organizations and agencies should be involved in this translation project.

Use of posters/handbills – The technique here is to transform information on which is not accessible to the rural dwellers into posters and handbills to meet the information needs of the rural people. Such posters and handbills should be designed in such a way that it will attract the attention of the people. They should also be posted in strategic locations such as village squares, churches, hospitals and other public places. Most often information professionals may take some time to explain some of the posters and handbills for them to understand the message clearly.

Radio programmes and jingles – The radio remains a medium which permeates every location. A major advantage of repackaging information through the radio is the depth of its penetration and affordability of radios by so many families. Besides this, it is very easy and cheap to power the radios. Therefore, much of the needed information in print and online resources would be repackaged in local languages and disseminated through the radios. Programme designers in the radio stations should equally use these repackaged information in radio jingles to create more awareness. The dominance of certain strange languages like the English language in programme presentations should be de-emphasized in local radio stations so as to improve on the listening audience in the rural areas. There are many programmes in both the radio and television that are meant to educative and inform which should be repackaged and presented in local languages for wider reach. Presenters of programmes should equally consider the time of their presentation. Since rural areas are dominated by farmers, the timing should be seriously considered. Evening period is the most adequate, for many families would have come back from their farm works.

Television/home videos – The use of motion pictures creates a near real life situation and therefore, deepens the penetration of the message. The popularity of home videos and other television programmes on the people’s viewing culture is no longer in doubt. The availability of electricity in many rural areas, even though it is still very epileptic, has created opportunities for many families to enjoy films in their houses.

The use of community information centers – There are community information centers already existing in most rural communities. These centers are hospitals, churches, schools, village squares, civic centers, markets, etc, which are heavily depended on for effective information dissemination in rural areas. This makes it easier for information to be translated in local languages and disseminated through staff of these centers. For instance the teachers should be involved in enlightenment campaigns through the pupils and students. The Church, as another powerful institution in information dissemination, should be involved in the public enlightenment campaigns, using the repackaged information. In the same vane, enlightenment campaigns should be organized in markets and village square, where it is very obvious that the rural dwellers would have time to listen.

Community Based Organisations (CBOs) – Community Based Organizations (CBOs) have been recognized as very useful in reaching out to the rural dwellers with useful information. They are vital in promoting healthy living and socio-economic development of rural areas. Among these organizations are the age-grades, social clubs, women groups, town unions, co-operative societies, youth movements, etc. Since these organizations are closer to the people, information professionals armed with the repackaged information should reach out to these groups. However, the language of the people should be used and rendered orally.

Women groups – Women form one of the most formidable groups anywhere in the world. Their opinions on important issues of public interest are respected; therefore, it is imperative that focusing enlightenment campaigns on them would generate positive results. Existing information on major, but important matters should be repackaged to suit them. In most parts of the world, women groups exist. In Nigeria, for instance, women in the South Eastern areas are noted for their ability to organize themselves in groups and unions. The idea is to advice the communities on crucial matters that may bother on security, social life, family and education. The annual gathering of these women together with the mass return of those in urban areas to their various communities for this very important meeting, popularly referred to as “August Meeting” is now an integral part of Nigeria’s social life. Information professionals could as well avail themselves of such opportunities in using such meetings as a means of informing and educating these rural women on issues of public interest. In most cases, this can be done through talk shows, film-shows, seminars, etc, in their native languages.

Community leaders – Rural development activities have been usually propelled through the community leaders. This group of people include political leaders, religious leaders, village heads, school heads and other people in the community that command high degree of respect and follower-ship. Community leaders form the bedrock of information in the rural areas. Being the light of the society, they are strategically placed in obtaining the right and timely information. They often serve as intermediary between the sources of information and the people. As enlightened members of the society they are often involved in repackaging the information obtained for the general public. Information professionals should therefore, exploit the roles of these leaders to get their subjects informed on various matters of public interest. The approach here is to organize meetings with this group and then use the forum to train them on how to use the repackaged information to pass important messages across.