A communication framework for public participation in municipal development initiatives

Mouton, Lorette (2004)

Thesis (MA) -- Stellenbosch University, 2004.

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Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: It is a reality that public participation processes in local government do not yield the outcomes that reveal a fully optimised process. Communication is the lifeblood of any development initiative (Swanepoel & De Beer, 1996:1) and is one way of breaking the isolation of people. By having the ability to communicate (i.e. to reach and to be reached) people can truly have a say in matters shaping their current and future reality. The objectives of this thesis were to explore the communication short falls hindering effective participation in local government, and also to provide a practical implementation framework aimed at guiding municipalities in communication with the view to enhance public participation. This was accomplished by way of a literature study and an analysis of the West Coast District (WCD) Communication and Participation Project (2003). In Chapter 1 the thesis topic was introduced and the background to the thesis, the research problem, the design and methodology, as well as the outline of the chapters was explained. In Chapter 2 the key concepts of this thesis were discussed and included sustainable. development, public participation and communication. This selection of concepts is justified by the argument that communication supports public participation, which will in turn promote sustainable development. A description of the WCD Project (2003) findings was provided in Chapter 3, which was followed by an analyses and interpretation of the WCD Project findings in Chapter 4. During the analyses a number of observations were made. Firstly, there is a distinct relationship between communication, public participation and sustainable development. Communication facilitates information sharing which supports informed decision-making during public participation. The latter in turn is vital in establishing sustainable development. Secondly, there should be distinguished between community communication and corporate communication. Dealing with the local community requires a unique approach to communication, which varies from the communication approach followed by the internal administration of the municipality. Thirdly, local communities should be consulted to identify and communicate their unique communication needs, issues and perspectives as they have unique knowledge of their own local challenges. These inputs from the community cause for powerful communication content and messages key to successful participation and to sustainable development. Fourthly, that the perceptions as expressed by community members, embody their unique and specific communication needs. By converting and translating community perceptions into community needs. positive motivation for public participation could be created. Based on the findings of the analyses and interpretation of the WCD Project findings, a communication framework aimed at enhancing participation was developed in Chapter 5. The framework focussed on guiding the implementation of communication and participation when embarking on development initiatives.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Dit is 'n realiteit dat openbare deelname prosesse in plaaslike regering nie die uitkomste wat sprekend is van 'n optimale. proses lewer nie. Kommunikasie is die lewens aar van enige ontwikkelingsinisiatief (Swanepoel & De Beer, 1996:1) en word beskou as een manier om die isolasie van mense verbreek . Deur die vermoë te hê om te kan kommunikeer (om uit te reik en bereik te kan word), kan mense werklik seggenskap hê in aangeleenthede wat hul huidige en toekomstige realiteit beïnvloed. Die doelwitte van hierdie tesis was om die kommunikasie tekortkominge wat effektiewe deelname in plaaslike regering verhinder te ondersoek en ook om 'n praktiese implementeringsraamwerk wat daarop gemik is om munisipalitieite te lei rakende kommunikasie, met die oog daarop om openbare deelname te bevorder. Dit is bereik deur middel van 'n literatuurstudie en 'n analise van die Weskus Distrik (WD) Kommunikasie en Deelname Projek (2003). In Hoofstuk 1 was die tesis onderwerp bekend gestel en die agtergrond van die tesis, die navorsingsprobleem, die onderwerp sowel as die raamwerk van die hoofstukke is verduidelik. In Hoofstuk 2 is die sleutel konsepte van die tesis bespreek wat volhoudbare ontwikkeling, openbare deelname en kommunikasie ingesluit het. Hierdie seleksie van konsepte word geregverdig deur die argument dat kommunikasie openbare deelname stimuleer, wat beurtelings volhoudbare ontwikkeling sal bevoder. 'n Beskrywing van die WD Projek bevindinge (2003) is in Hoofstuk 3 verskaf,en word gevolg deur 'n analise en interpretasie van die WK Projek bevindinge in Hoofstuk 4. Gedurende die analise van die Wp Projek bevindinge is 'n aantal waarnemings gemaak. Eerstens, is daar 'n betekenende verhouding tussen kommunikasie, openbare deelname en volhoudbare ontwikkeling. Kommunikasie fassiliteer die meedeel van informasie wat beurtelings ingeligde besluitneming tydens openbare deelname bevorder. Laasgenoemde is krities in die vestiging van volhoudbare ontwikkeling. Tweedens, moet daar 'n onderskeid getref word tussen gemeenskap kommunikasie en korporatiewe organisasie., Om met die gemeenskap te werk vereis 'n unieke benadering tot kommunikasie, wat verskil van die kommunikasie benadering wat gevolg word tyneds munisipale administrasie. Derdens, plaaslike gemeenskappe behoort mee gekonsulteer te word om hul unieke kommunikasie behoeftes te identifiseer en te kan kommunikeer, omdat hulle kennis het van hul eie unieke plaaslike uitdagings. Hierdie insette van die gemeenskap dra by tot kragtige kommunikasie inhoud en boodskappe wat 'n sleutel rol speel in suksesvolle deelname en in volhoudbare ontwikkeling. Vierdens, dat die persepsies soos bekryfdeur gemeenskap lede, hul unieke en spesifieke kommunikasie behoeftes vergestalt. Deur die gemeenskap persepsies om te skakel in gemeenskap behoeftes, sal positiewe motivering rakende openbare deelname geskep' kan word. Op grond van die bevindinge rakende die analise en interpretasie van die WK Projek bevindinge, is 'n kommunikasie raamwerkwat gemik is op die verbetering van deelname ontwikkel in Hoofstuk 5. Die raamwerk is ingestel daarop om leiding te gee rakende die implementering van kommunikasie en deelname.

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