C4D, Communication, Communication for Development, Development Communication, Fatherhood, MenCare, Social and Behaviour Change Communication, Uncategorized

The Global MenCare partnership & what it could mean for Jamaica

By Shanoy Coombs

Men Care Jamaica Back in April 2018, while a delegate at the International Social and Behaviour Communication Change (SBCC) summit, I sat engaged, involved and ever so active as presenter after presenter spoke about the varied Social and Behaviour Communication Change projects they were implementing in their countries. 

You see, I was generally intrigued about the ways to better my craft as a Development Communication practitioner and specifically, I was listening out for tips I could take back to my native Jamaica to pour into my local Jamaican Mommies network.  I had therefore slotted in quite a few sessions around teenage pregnancy, admittedly with women at the forefront of my mind.  Yet, the more I listened, the more I discovered a growing global gap in the development space: Men and Boys. 

Interestingly,  it is a well known fact that men already hold disproportionate power to women and girls globally and so several efforts would have been made the world over to bring about gender equality with a rise in women empowerment interventions. As this empowerment movement grows, there have emerged new gaps in terms of how gender equality may be approached, especially when we begin to speak about men.  Continue reading “The Global MenCare partnership & what it could mean for Jamaica”

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C4D, Communication for Development, Development Communication, Social and Behaviour Change Communication, Social Marketing, Uncategorized

The Social and Behaviour Change Communication mandate and the Caribbean Voice

By: Shanoy Coombs

The recently concluded International Social Behaviour Change Communication (SBCC) summit in Bali, Indonesia brought together well over 1200 delegates from 429 organizations and 92 countries across the globe to interact and engage around all things SBCC.  Under the theme: Shifting Norms, Changing Behavior, Amplifying Voice What works? with a focus on Entertainment-Education, the event was hosted by the John Hopkins Center for Communication Programs, The Communication Initiative, BBC Media Action, Soul City Institute and UNICEF.

Shanoy Coombs SBCC Conference 2018
Shanoy Coombs, second right joins global change makers at the 2018 Social and Behaviour Change Communication Summit in Bali, Indonesia.

The weeklong dialogue, presentations and workshops were engaging, interactive and zoomed in on What works, Making sense of the now and Agenda and Voice setting. Indeed being in the space was monumental as it provided a prime opportunity for awareness and conversations around the field that is at the root of some of the most effective behaviour change interventions.  It therefore stood out sharply that the Caribbean’s voice was notably limited in such an important global event.

Admittedly, I interacted with one other US based Jamaican and a colleague from Antigua who advised me that a St. Lucia grouping was also present. The graphic below puts this into perspective. Continue reading “The Social and Behaviour Change Communication mandate and the Caribbean Voice”

Communication for Development, cyberbully, Social Media

Social Awareness initiatives and the stand against cyber bullying

By: Shanoy Coombs

autumn moments (1)

Not too long ago, rumormongers in an effort to hurl nasty words would get the gears going by telling one, two then a few persons salacious and sometimes downright degrading things about others. This would often start within communities and may then extend beyond.  Yet still, there were some limitations.  Then came the internet and with all the positives that access and reach have provided, so too have the overwhelming negatives. From email lists, Social Media portals, accusatory websites and then some, the internet has been heavily utilized for cyber-bullying and global rumor-mongering.

And never for a moment assume you are out of harm’s reach. Alarmingly, one research estimates that as much as 40% of adults have experienced cyber bullying. Further a local security adviser noted:

“One of the major challenges with cyber bullying is tracing the source.  Frankly, most persons who have made reports around same are usually shocked when pressed for more information as they are genuinely unable to identify a source or a motive. In fact, we have seen several cases where people are bullied over seemingly simple issues and by persons as close or as far as an envious ex partner, a jealous co-worker, a business partner or even a malicious complete stranger who only has access to another person’s life via glimpses on social Media”.

True to form, globally and in the local space, there has been an increasing number of artistes, athletes, business persons, persons who have started to build a  reach and generally just about anyone  have been subjected to some form of cyber-bullying. Just actually talk to a few persons and you’d be amazed at how many within your space have been affected in this way.  These cyber bully postings have ranged from being extortion like in nature to being more on the libelous, malicious and defamatory side. One has to only look at the comments sections of posts online to see some of the overwhelming and cringe worthy examples.

Continue reading “Social Awareness initiatives and the stand against cyber bullying”

Caribbean, Communication for Development, Communication Tips, Intercultural Communication, Second Language, Uncategorized

Bridging the Multicultural Divide: Why Caribbean Nationals NEED to learn a second language

By: Shanoy Coombs

Second language postAs a Development Communication person, I tend to find communication lessons everywhere and a few weeks ago when I was among a group of students from the German-Jordanian University, it was no different.  As this diverse group of students were in the middle Eastern country, Jordan for immersive experiences while learning the Arabic language, it brought some important language lessons to the fore.  With courses ranging from one semester to an entire year, I was bemused by the emphasis placed on acquisition of a second (and in some instances a third  language).  As I struggled with basic Arabic terms, it took me back to something I have always been almost preachy about-that Caribbean nationals NEED to learn a second language.

This has long been apparent to me while working within the United Nation’s Latin America and the Caribbean cluster.  I recall with much clarity that the monthly regional Communicators meetings had in excess of two thirds of the attendees being from Spanish Speaking countries.  It was even more worrying that most attendees from the Spanish speaking territories could speak and understand English with some clarity but not vice versa.

More compellingly, I recall working along with colleagues from Chile and Venzuela to translate a series of Petro Caribe related documents-all published in Spanish and needing to be readied for the English heavy Jamaican media.   It dawned on me then with much force, that my colleagues by virtue of their ability to move between the English and Spanish languages had better equipped themselves for regional posts within the organization.  That fact hit me with such a blunt force that I refocused my efforts on at least grasping Spanish.  This realization and my recent Arabic immersion compelled me to list some of the reasons why Caribbean Nationals NEED to learn a second language:

  1. Regional Commonsense:  By virtue of our geographic location, the Caribbean will likely forever be looped with Latin America.  It is therefore commonsense that Caribbean people start with a second language such as Spanish to better assist us to navigate trade and other relations throughout the region.
  2. Personal Good: If you love meeting new people as much as I do, then this is a no brainer. Some of my most meaningful conversations have been struck in airport lounges, coffee shops and other common areas while travelling with persons from other nationalities  utilizing my intermediate level Spanish skills.
  3. Business Development: Sure you can hire a translator, but on the odd account that you are travelling for business solo or negotiating a new deal as a young entrepreneur, it is useful and beneficial to be able to interact at the basic level in the native language.  Besides, the ability to communicate in a native language can set the tone for better reception and even lifelong friendships thereafter.
  4. Added Value/Competitive Edge: Increasingly, as we forge ahead in this ‘global marketplace’ a second language should be as second nature as utilizing technology across borders. Indeed, in some professions it already is and in toe to toe job interviews for example, your ability to interact in a second language can be the deciding factor.
  5. Adaptability: So you want added opportunities and you want to be recognized as a “global minded” individual? One of the easiest ways to actually earn this title is to adequately prepare yourself to be recognized as such. Being able to speak a second language puts you in a better professional position to bridge several multi cultural barriers and essentially shows that you are diverse, adaptable and possess the ability to interact with other cultures.

Communication industry wise, I’m going out on a limb to say ALL Communication professionals (Journalists, Public Relations practitioners, Development Communication Specialists, Behaviour change and Corporate communication officers etc) and indeed anyone with the intention to do business outside of their own country’s shores should be equipped with a second language.  This becomes more imperative if you are trying to diversify your service offerings across borders and cultures.  Notably too “Cross culture” and “Intercultural communication” continues to be industry buzz words that aren’t likely to disappear soon. Hence NOW is the time to ensure you are meaningfully engaged in this “world without borders” paradigm.

From my end, there is much merit in being a bi or multi-lingual development communication specialist and so I’m continuing the fluency pursuit con El Espanol. Who knows too, having grown a new appreciation for the Arabic language after being so thoroughly  immersed during my recent middle Eastern hop, it may just be my next language to fully pursue.

It is heartening too that for a while now, the Jamaican Government has been encouraging more citizens to learn Spanish as second language.  Whether or not there are fully mapped plans in place to ensure there is island wide take up is another situation. Frankly, having studied Spanish as a high schooler, I am now seeing major merit in  advancing to sit same in the local Caribbean Examination Council (CXC) exams.  In fact, mandatory Spanish at the examination level may be just the start to ensure there is widespread take up.

Otherwise, the Venezuelan Institute in several Caribbean countries offers free Spanish lessons from the Basic to post-superior level.  There are also local language centers which offer Spanish, French and other language lessons and remotely, several online platforms offer engaging language studies. Still, Caribbean Nationals can also learn languages by immersion at neighboring countries where the language of choice is the native language.

Are you a bi or multi lingual professional? What are some of the benefits you have reaped as such? What are your favourite channels by which to learn a new language? Have you learnt a new language via cultural immersion? Share in the comments below.

P.S. Read about my “Jamaican in Jordan” feature in The Gleaner. 

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Shanoy Coombs is a Development Communication Consultant in the Latin America and Caribbean region.  Are you Social? Connect with Shanoy  on twitter via @InspiraShan and learn more about her work via the projects page

 

Audience segmentation, Communication, Communication Consultant, Communication for Development, Communication Practitioner, Communication Tips, Development Communication, Public Relations

Communicators know: The “General Public” isn’t so “General” after all…

COMMUNICATORS KNOW

By: Shanoy Coombs

A few weeks ago, I was invited on a panel to assess a series of University behavior change campaigns. I sat, intrigued and engaged as varied final year students went into the strategies and tactics they intended to use to reach their different audiences. As one group presented, they went into how they’d effectively utilize traditional forms of communication to reach the “general public”.  The group went on to highlight why radio was selected and the intended outcome via that medium.

As the panel queried the reason for radio for a community level intervention, a team member shrugged “Well we want everyone to know about it”.  A series of questions, comments and other suggestions later, it was revealed that radio would not have been the ideal medium for the audience in question.  In fact, it was revealed that a direct community level intervention such as a community/town hall meeting would have been more appropriate and effective to achieve the intended objectives.

This example brings me back to current realities where the “general public” is a constant phrase in several communication programme discussions.  You may have heard the term tossed around as you were briefed by a programmes unit, head of office, Managing Director and CEO.  Often it is accompanied by the words “We want everyone to know what we are doing”. Realistically, wanting “everyone to know” is not a bad objective, however as many communicators should be able to advise, within that “everyone” group can be found several specific groups including youth, children, adults, men, women, senior citizens, English Speakers, people who listen to the radio, those who watch TV at specific times, those who read specific publications and even those who only consume content from electronic platforms.  I say all of this to say, generally, audiences are not so general after all.  Continue reading “Communicators know: The “General Public” isn’t so “General” after all…”

C4D, Communication, Communication for Development

Communication for Development: The Food and Agriculture Way

A few years ago in 2013, I joined a group of Communication for Development Professionals within the United Nations’system for what was dubbed a Communication for Development (C4D) roundtable. During this presentation, C4D Professionals made diverse presentations highlighting how C4D had been applied to development interventions in their respective agencies. As the communication Consultant for the United Nation’s Food and Agriculture Organization in Jamaica, The Bahamas and Belize, the following presentation was made in line with Jamaica specific C4D interventions for the period under review.

Have you been utilizing Communication for Development? Share some of your C4D successes via comment below.


Shanoy Coombs is a Development Communication Consultant in the Latin America and Caribbean region.  Are you Social? Connect with Shanoy  on twitter via @InspiraShan and learn more about her work via the projects page.

C4D, Communication, Communication for Development

The Communication Initiative Network: Where C4D ers connect

I smile as I remember when I inquired about varied portals for Development Communication from a colleague. With a few options, I went researching and settled on the Communication Initiative (CI) network as one of the places that had all the relevant resources, opportunities to network and persons who were serious about the role they played in effecting change globally via Communication.

I was impressed too that the network offered opportunities to view global content as well as content filtered by region including Latin America and Africa.  The CI also serves as a useful hub for identifying job opportunities, training sessions, conferences, meetings, Requests for Proposals and even avenues for collaboration. There is also an extensive segment with support materials, research publications and academic content related to change theories and Planning Models.

The blogs section also keeps a running log of content related to challenges and opportunities as well as outcomes from C4D /Behaviour change interventions.

In a phrase, the Communication Initiative lists its mission as:

To convene the communication and media development, social and behavioural change community for more effective local, national, and international development action

In the event you are interested in connecting with professionals in the Communication and Media Development Arena, be sure to head on over to the Communications Initiative Network Website and it doesn’t hurt to say you were sent via ShanoyCoombs.com.

Are you a member of other professional communication networks? Share with us.  We are super social and always seeking out like minded professionals.


Shanoy Coombs is a Development Communication Consultant in the Latin America and Caribbean region.  Are you Social? Connect with Shanoy  on twitter via @InspiraShan and learn more about her work via the projects page.