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“If information and knowledge are central to democracy, they are the conditions of development”

Kofi Annan, UN Secretary-General, in an address to the World Bank Conference, ‘Global Knowledge’ (1997)

Knowledge and information are essential for people to successfully respond to the opportunities and challenges of social, economic and technological changes. But to be useful, knowledge and information must be effectively communicated to people.

One of the most significant and exciting developments in reconstituting government communication systems in Malaysia, has been the commitment to a democratic, participatory and responsive public information programme where people are the most important ingredient.

By this we mean that government communication is driven by the needs of people, that it facilitates citizen participation in the creation and use of information, and that it opens the activities of government to public scrutiny thus promoting democracy and efficiency.

Government has adopted an approach to dialogue with its citizens which are described as ‘development communication’.

Development communication can be seen as a thread linking a number of national development initiatives aimed at eradicating socio-economic drawbacks.

Perceptions, needs, ideas, and conditions can be extraordinarily diverse within a community, depending on members’ age, socioeconomic status, gender, and other factors.

The communication specialist needs to craft messages for each group and choose the appropriate media, methods, and format in order to ensure inclusion, participation, and empowerment.

A well-developed message should focus on stakeholders and objectives.

A strategic communication intervention is one of the key means through which access to and application of knowledge and information are facilitated.

Strategic communication plans and activities empower development stakeholders with knowledge and information that can be applied to effective decision making, accountable management, social and political mobilization, helpful behavior change, and individual and collective growth.