An evaluation of the Communication Strategies of the Catholic Relief Services (CRS) in mitigating the impact of HIV/AIDS and Poverty in Zambia
MetadataShow full item record
This study is based on the attachment of the researcher with Catholic Relief Services (CRS) Zambia in Kasama and Lusaka. CRS is an international, humanitarian and development based organization, indirectly implementing through its partners, who include the Catholic Church, faith-based and community-based organizations. CRS operates in this way in order to empower local communities to take ownership of their programmes, thereby being more fully involved in influencing their future. The aim of this study is to establish the extent to which CRS' communication strategies are influencing people's attitudes, beliefs and behaviour towards the HIV and AIDS pandemic as well as the ravaging poverty. It is for this reason that the researcher tried to evaluate the effectiveness of the communication strategies in use by CRS in mitigating the impact of the HIV and AIDS pandemic and poverty in Zambia. In order to achieve the above main objective of the study, the researcher employed both the qualitative and the quantitative research methods. The use of multiple methodologies to acquire data ensured triangulation and validation of the findings. The data gathering methods employed included audience surveys, four FGDs, four in-depth interviews, and participatory methods such as transect walks, community mapping and timelines. These methods revealed that CRS has tended mostly to use meetings, workshops, seminars, print materials, drama and printed T-shirts and citenge materials as approaches in communicating its messages. According to the available data from the study sites, these methods have been able to change people's beliefs, attitudes and behaviour especially with regard to HIV and AIDS. However, the study also established that although CRS had made such tremendous contributions towards the fight against HIV and AIDS and poverty, it had failed to explore other effective communication tools such as radio which are widely used and favored by most people in the study sites. Moreover, it was also observed that CRS had not done much in translating print materials, such as posters, brochures and pamphlets, and printed messages on T-shirts and citenge and the instructions on medicines into local languages. This study recommends among other things that materials be designed specifically for the target audience within their particular culture. Much of information passing in rural areas of Zambia is still based on oral tradition, so the use of non-print materials is likely to be more effective. Consistent, unambiguous messages are the cornerstone of effective communication. The study further recommends that CRS should also explore other communication tools apart from the ones currently in use in order to be more effective in disseminating its messages.