By NGDO Platform (Portuguese member of Forus) - Source: RADI-AID 

Radi-Aid, in collaboration with the University of East Anglia in the United Kingdom, recently launched a  study in which it gives a voice to people from African countries that receive Public Aid for Development about communication campaigns carried out by the Development sector. 

The general conclusions of the study point to the need for communication that is more respectful and that preserves the dignity of the people it portrays, and that represents them in a more inclusive way, with larger age and racial diversity. 

The study reflects the perspective and perception of 74 people in six sub-Saharan African countries, in Ethiopia, Ghana, Malawi, South Africa, Uganda, and Zambia, regarding the communication campaigns by international NGDOs and other development organizations. Among the communication campaigns analyzed include those developed by organizations such as Amnesty International, Care International, Cordaid, The Disasters Emergency Committee, Dubai Cares, Oxfam, Save the Children, Unicef and War Child. 

Giving the opportunity to hear the voice of people in African countries that receive Public Aid for Development about the messages and images that make up the image that is portrayed of their continent, the study warns NGOs to the need to counteract the singular perspective of poverty stigmatization and focus on problems and rather to also demonstrate the positive results of development programs. 

With this publication, Radi-Aid reaffirms the need for NGDOs to rethink the image of Africa they communicate, which is often devaluing and dehumanizing. The frequent portrayal of Africa as a fragile continent and in a constant situation of need is one of the problems identified by those interviewed, who consider that communication should also portray the initiative of people in these contexts, going beyond the singular story that has been told. 

The  Code of Conduct of the Portuguese NGDO Platform also addresses some of these questions in the chapter about Communication, where it is clear that the communication of associates should abide by essential principles of recognition of the need to promote Social Justice and Solidarity, respect for the dignity of people involved, and equality of all people. Among other points, the document refers to the question of dignity and representation, to the need of avoiding images and messages that potentiate stereotypes and sensationalism, and to the importance of guaranteeing an opportunity to communicate to those whose situation is being represented. 

Whereas communication in this sector should be seen as an instrument of social transformation central to the acting of NGDOs, it is essential to think about it and work towards it truly representing situations and people, preserving their dignity and contributing to a greater public understanding about the realities and multidimensionality of Sustainable Development.

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