Kumi Naidoo Notes the Power of Communication for Change

At the first International Social and Behavior Change Communication (SBCC) Summit held last month in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, keynote speaker Kumi Naidoo challenged the audience of SBCC professionals to consider the role of communication in social change movements.

While he noted that no change will happen solely because of communication, major world events, such as ending apartheid, would not have happened without communication.

Naidoo is currently the Launch Director at the African Civil Society Center in South Africa. He spoke at the opening plenary for the Summit on Feb. 8, 2016.

He said there’s a delicate balance between speaking truth to power and sending the message that a situation is hopeless, such as climate change. Communicators need to be aware of that balance.

Naidoo pointed out that change occurs at three levels: macro (structural and governance), meso (policy) and micro (delivery of projects and programs). Most resources though are targeted at the micro level, which will ultimately fail without change at the higher levels.

He has challenged donors in the past for not supporting fundamental change, in favor of micro efforts destined to fail.

An over-emphasis on outputs and outcomes is also hampering efforts to make sustainable changes, he said, quoting Albert Einstein, who said “Not everything that counts can be counted and not everything that can be counted counts.”

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