Friday, March 22, 2013

DAI's new media initiative

Rock 'n' roll
Below are excerpts of a 2008 document that describes the democracy project that Maryland contractor DAI was carrying out in Cuba.
Appendix A - Statement of Work 
DAI is supporting a Washington, D.C. based project focused on promoting democratic governance in Cuba (hereinafter referred to as the "CDP Program"). Funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), the goal of the program is to hasten Cuba's peaceful transition to a democratic society. There are strong indications that Cuban civil society is becoming increasingly vibrant and active. Given that media may play a pivotal role in strengthening civil society and contributing to an increase in democratic norms, the CDP Program will include an integrated media and public information strategy to play a constructive role in hastening transition or mitigating possible crises.
New media holds great promise for connecting businesses, civil society organizations, donors, and individuals across the world. New media allows interactivity, increases communication across groups and networks, uses technology as tool, and is flexible and responsive to changing user dynamics. Initiatives are most likely to yield results when they involve technologies familiar to users; citizens who are already comfortable with a tool will be more likely to use that tool in both preexisting and innovative ways.
With more than 11 million residents and only 240,000 internet users, the country's level of internet use (2%) is quite low.
With the relaxation of cell phone ownerships restrictions, more Cuban citizens are now legally permitted to own and use cell phones, though costs still keep ownership out of reach for many citizens. The use of text messaging for information sharing is common among multiple age cohorts.
Other new media tools such as DVD players, radios, digital media devices, and cameras (both still and video) present possibilities for pilot programs and activities that can support civil society and increase communication. 
The Offeror shall design and implement new media initiative(s) that will stimulate and strengthen the effectiveness of a range of civil society actors in Cuba, including youth groups, women's groups and faith-based organizations, to participate in local decision making and problem solving - factors that are crucial to create the conditions for improved political stability, as well as economic and regional security. The initiative(s) should focus on increasing the communication and understanding of events on the ground in Cuba; breaking down barriers to Cuban citizens' access to information; promoting the inclusion of disenfranchised and marginalized citizens in civil society organizations (CSOs); and supporting mechanisms for dialogue and advocacy between different sectors of Cuban society. Facilitation of innovative private sector partnerships that promote the advancement of new media activities and provide additional funding is strongly encouraged.
Initiatives will be implemented on a pilot basis and should be designed to be small-scale, rapidly deployed and conducted, have minimal footprint, and produce high impact, replicable results. The geographic focus for the initiatives should be targeted in one city, town, or village where specific impact can be achieved.
Proposals for a range of initiatives will be considered and may include, but are not limited to, activities such as:
  • Production of media such as radio programming, development of music CDs, soap operas/telenovelas, community or youth performance based initiatives, videos, etc.
  • Provision of new media tools and equipment to citizens
  • Design of innovative user-friendly new media applications

Note: This article was shared with the Center for Democracy in the Americas as part of a six-month collaborative project with non-profit group. See more about our collaboration here.

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