It may not be called media development and it may not have a dedicated media strategy but examples from World Bank programmes highlight how relevant, timely and accurate information is essential to reaching development goals.
At the Strengthening Independent Media seminar organised by the Salzburg Global Seminar in partnership with GFMD, Brian Levy, Advisor at the World Bank highlighted how information made a difference to development in different countries.
Web-site monitors investment in local infrastructure: In Indonesia, a $1.5 billion urban poverty project delivers local infrastructure in a way that involves the local community using internet technologies. Each of 10,000 communities has elected (by secret ballot from slates of nominees, with no direct campaigning, but over 40 percent voter turnout) eminent, respected local leaders to help prioritize local infrastructure needs, and to oversee their implementation. All contract tender opportunities, procurement awards, and implementation details are posted on a readily accessible and user-friendly website that receives over 700,000 visits annually. One result was the procurement was done more openly and 30% savings on the original budgets were made.
Key information saves lives: According to a study (http://people.su.se/~jsven/PtP_QJE.pdf) published in 2008 in the prestigious Quarterly Journal of Economics, a Ugandan community-based monitoring project that provided 50 communities with comparative information on child mortality in their village relative to others – and communicated what health services they were entitled to – resulted, within one year, in a 33 percent reduction in child deaths.
These examples underline what the media development community has been saying for a while, that providing citizens with reliable and relevant information empowers them and can produce real social change.