Nave Chowdhury - ODI
The Bangladesh chapter of Transparency International (TIB) carries out a wide range of communication activities. However, they are operating in a very challenging political context and their communication has occasionally led to dramatic clashes between them and the government. TIB have also grown very quickly over the past years and the organisation is still seeking ways of institutionalising their communication processes (both internal and external). It considers a Communication Strategy as a means towards addressing these challenges.
To that end, the Overseas Development Institute (ODI) was commissioned by DFID to conduct a Policy Entrepreneurship Workshop and a consultation exercise leading to a Communication Strategy for TIB. The workshop focused on strengthening TIB’s capacity to engage with government, policymakers and others involved in the legislative process and at a policy level for ensuring good governance. The key objectives of workshop were to:
- Share experiences about CSOs policy context in different countries
- Learn about the latest worldwide research and practice in this area.
- Share experiences about approaches to influence policy and what works.
- Start to develop strategies to improve policy impact.
The discussion revealed that the the key rationale for a communication strategy is to develop and put into operation country-wide mechanisms capable of mobilising the people of Bangladesh to demand and secure greater openness and honesty within the government, among NGOs and the private sector. TIB, therefore, works on two fronts: at the local level - through CCCs (Concerned Citizens Committees) and at the national level where TIB has used various communication approaches and tools in an effort to bring about wider awareness amongst the general public about the nature and extent of corruption in Bangladesh, but also to expose massive corruption involving the party in power. Therefore it was felt that the communication between TIB and the government can be improved and TIB needs to do all it can for its part, foremost by separating the interaction with media solely by a few individual to doing it more strategically involving a wider range of people. Moreover to optimize possibilities of sustained change, TIB needs to work with various issue-based networks in the country. The point to remember is that there is clearly an advantage to having a critical mass despite how good one's research is! It was also apprent that regardless of the quality of the evidence, in governance it is politics which dominates its uptake. Therefore having a core group working on communication always helps, which in turn facilitates closer integration of research and advocacy/communication teams. What this also shows is that the Communication strategy needs to be tied in with the Research strategy. This helps to set up a process for deciding on research topics so that both research and advocacy divisions have appropriate ownerships of the topics chosen and also to think strategically about how many research projects the organization can sustain and how research findings can be communicated effectively.