First Advisor

Marla Solomon


This study is about how communication processes used by development facilitators hinder or enhance participation of project beneficiaries or participants in grassroots development. It was done within the context of World Vision Malawi (WVM) programme communities. Interpretive research paradigm was used in the study. Data was collected between January and June 1996 through interviews, participant observation, literature review and a reflection upon my experiences.

The study confirms that culturally appropriate communication processes are key to effective participation of the grassroots people in the development process. WVM development facilitators have been trained and work with an organization which tends to lean more towards Western patterns and thoughts. On the other hand, communities in Malawi are basically oral and communicate in circular form mainly through proverbs, riddles, songs, drums and story-telling. The development facilitators, therefore, need to understand the importance of these communication processes and integrate them into the development process, in order to reach the people at their very being.

The conclusions of this paper are relevant to the World Vision partnership and all NGO's working in grassroots development in the South, especially in Sub-Saharan Africa and Malawi in particular.


International and Intercultural Communication