The JCTR basic needs basket: Appraisal and proposal for effective communication strategy
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This paper is based on a systematic effort to evaluate and analyse how the Jesuit Centre for Theological Reflection (JCTR) communicates to its target audience the Basic Needs Basket (BNB) information, a monthly price survey of basic essential food and non-food items needed by average sized households in Zambia. The assessment involving one hundred respondents was conducted in Luanshya, Livingstone and Lusaka, three of the six towns where BNB information is collected and disseminated. The evaluation endeavours to determine the target audience, dissemination process, awareness and usefulness of the JCTR BNB, and the overall effectiveness and/or efficiency of the existing communication strategy. Data was collected mainly through a semi-structured questionnaire and in-depth interviews with JCTR staff and sixteen JCTR strategic stakeholders. Multi-stage cluster sampling procedures were used to determine the sample size of respondents. The paper examines how BNB information, packaged primarily as a statistical publication and press statement, is disseminated to more than twelve cluster groups including trade unions, churches, government, media institutions and households. The assessment attempts to advance the dynamics of planning an effective communication strategy and provides insights about grassroots mobilisation, instructional and participatory discussion themes or message designs. The paper proposes a framework for assessing different levels involved in planning an effective communication strategy: problem identification or communication objectives, target audience, message, medium, and feedback. This framework illustrates that each communication campaign should be developed to reach specific audiences with tailored messages, materials and interventions, strategically designed to meet specific objectives. The conclusion presented in this paper is that a communication strategy must be consistent with the project or organisation's framework; feasible, in relation to the resources and the timeframe; and effective, that is, makes the best use of the available resources in order to achieve the set objectives.