Archive for the ‘Updates’ Category


Communication on Transboundary Animal Diseases: Lessons from Human Health

In Announcements,Blog,Current Events,DevCom,Updates on May 6, 2012 by Jim Tagged: , , , ,

PERTH, AUSTRALIA—What lessons can animal health specialists learn from public health programs? A Murdoch University Partnership scholar will discuss part of the results of his research during a free seminar at Murdoch University’s School of Biomedical and Veterinary Sciences.

Domingo “Jim” Caro III of Manila, Philippines, an Australian Biosecurity Centre for Research Cooperation scholarship recipient will discuss “Communicating on Transboundary Animal Diseases: Lessons from Human Health” on 17 May at Rm. VB3.023 from 12:30pm. He conducted his research in three Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS) countries, Cambodia, Lao PDR and Vietnam. He combined quantitative and qualitative approaches to investigate and evaluate communication on TADs and confirmed previous findings that there was some awareness on TADs among study participants. However, he also found that there was no true knowledge among the study participants and identified a number of factors affecting the communication on TADs.

Caro, a development communication specialist, hopes that results from his research will guide the design and implementation of communication programs in developing countries, particularly in the selected GMS countries.



Writing Pains

In Blog,Reflections,Updates on January 6, 2011 by Jim Tagged: , , , , , , , ,

As a development communicator, one of the most basic rules of writing that my mentors taught me was to think about your reader (this also applies to presenting anything whether orally or visually). In doing so, you’ll save time in explaining things or writing something that might sound alien to your readers.

As I’ve started writing my dissertation, I’ve always been guided by this principle, however, I’ve started to doubt myself completely as I’ve submitted drafts after drafts and my supervisors read it as vague. I was clear with what I wanted to do, I was clear with what I did and I was clear with what I wanted to say. However, it just came out off.

There were some concepts that I have mentioned and have explained briefly but I was asked to expound on them. Agreed. The next draft, it’s another story, any mention of the concepts had to be dropped and/or was asked to just explain briefly. I’ve documented the flow of discussions on the drafts but I just don’t feel that it is worth following some inconsistent recommendations. I felt it was my fault so I had to fix it. It literally feels like a roller-coaster ride.

I have stopped writing this month to reignite my passion also my body warranted to me to rest after I hurt my back seriously. I thought the rest will give me a fresh motivation and inspiration. I think I’m wrong, it just aggravated my anxiety.

On a positive note, I think I have learned to look at the big picture and be as detailed as possible. Oh and yes, read your draft before clicking that send button—you might be submitting an older draft instead of the new one. 🙂


all aboard

A unique way to go around in Cambodia. A scarf might look inappropriate in a humid hot place like Cambodia but it is after this truck speeds up… here comes the dust!


Tagged: , , , , on March 10, 2010 by Jim

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It is finished

In Blog,Reflections,Updates on February 25, 2010 by Jim Tagged: , , , , , , , ,

Well, not so much.

I’m referring to my data gathering. I was away for about two months talking to participants of my research study in Cambodia and Laos. It was really nice to return in the field and do what I used to do–talk to farmers and probe how they communicate to people.

This is the hardest work I’ve done so far as I virtually became a one-man research team. I was the finance officer, note taker, research manager, interviewer, typist and since I have a translator, I was the assistant moderator. Despite some hiccups, I guess my data might be enough for me to earn me a degree.

A trader in Laos. They will eventually stop near the border and walk the animals to cross the border. Officials from the opposite border don't care much about permits as they have a big demand for cattle.

Initial Insights

There were a number of things that I’ve learned while I was in the field. I will only name a few and will not discuss them in detail here. Corruption is one of the roots of the continuing failure of policies in Southeast Asia–regardless if it is in politics, economy or animal health–it is bound to fail. Farmers were almost encouraged to trade illegally as they could not afford what some industry stakeholders are asking from them.

I was thought that development communication is participatory. However, at this stage, my belief that a purely participatory development communication can be achieved is being challenged. In a highly technical field such as animal health, giving stakeholders the freedom to participate in the decision-making might not be the way to go. This is just my first thought, I might be wrong, I might be right, I still have to think more about this. It is just one of the many reflections that I made in the field. Farmers, traders and other stakeholders, while possessing indigenous knowledge about animal health, will have to trust the technical knowledge of veterinarians how to address transboundary animal diseases.

Lessons learned

In a communication research, communication is of vital importance, no pun intended. Your translator could well mean your success or your failure. While I’ve learned this already in the first phase of my research, funding constraints however forced me to stick to my old practice of depending on my local partners to provide the translators instead of relying on a professional translator. This was a way of promoting ownership among the local partners, however, it also gave some unnecessary burden in the research that I have to blindly trust my local partners/colleagues on their judgment of who is a “skilled” English speaker among their staff.

Sometimes, excellent English skill is not that important as long as my translator, who also acted as the moderator during my research, is a seasoned moderator or someone who has extensive experience in talking to farmers or conducting focus group discussions. However, at some point both didn’t happen—satisfactory English skills and experience in FGDs/interviewing farmers. If that was the case, the FGD is not considered in the study.

Practical side

How about my family? Well, the family coped without me when I was in Cambodia last December as my father-in-law, who was visiting us from the Philippines, spent his last month in Australia. It was unfortunate that he was not given a waiver of the “no further stay” clause in his visa because he has no “compelling” reason to stay.

I was able to return to Australia by end of December just in time to spend New Year with the family. By second week of January, my father-in-law and I had to leave for Southeast Asia—I was off to Laos while he returns to Manila. Fortunately, my wife had enough leave credits that we were able to cope with the ‘partial loss’ of income. They survived almost a month without me, getting to summer activities and first week of school by public transport.


Introductory Seminar: Animal Health Communication

In Announcements,Blog,Updates on November 29, 2007 by Jim Tagged: , ,

This seminar was delivered at the Asian Research Centre of Murdoch University today as an introductory seminar of my research on animal health communication.

Livestock play a significant role in the livelihood of smallholder farmers, which includes draught power for agricultural activities, nutrition sources for their family and cash income from the sale of livestock products such as milk, meat and eggs. However, the continuing outbreaks of transboundary animal diseases (TADs) such as Avian Influenza, Foot and Mouth Disease and Classical Swine Fever in the Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS) have caused severe morbidity and mortality in livestock populations in the Subregion, particularly smallholder communities, with severe negative economic impact. Governments, non-government organizations and international organizations have provided various services, ranging from veterinary training to public awareness, to smallholder farmers and other sectors to help alleviate their TADs problems.

Communication has played a vital role in delivering services to various sectors. There is good evidence that animal health communication (AHC) campaigns, through various communication channels have helped enormously those isolated communities in remote regions deal with TADs problems.

The focus on improving AHC has been increasing since the outbreak of zoonotic diseases such as Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome in late 2002 and heightened with the emergence of AI in 2004. This further intensified with the need to inform and mobilize the public to address various issues related to the spread and control of TADs outbreaks effectively. The outbreaks have also highlighted the need for a holistic approach in implementing animal health or animal disease programs by integrating AHC. There is growing concern, however, that this could be improved by a more targeted approach.

This research aims to investigate the role and importance of AHC, and the cultural and social implications of integrating it in animal health and disease control programs. It will use both qualitative and quantitative approaches in building both a definition and a theory/model of AHC.


AB-CRC National Workshop

In Blog,Updates on November 18, 2007 by Jim Tagged: , , ,

Melbourne, Australia–The Australian Biosecurity Cooperative Research Centre for Emerging Infectious Diseases recently held its national workshop from 13 to 16 November 2007. A two-day commercialization workshop was held during the first two days while a board member meeting was held on 14 November. About 30 AB-CRC students from various universities in Australia attended the workshop to present progress of their research project through posters or talks between 14 and 15 November.

Media professionals also met with AB-CRC students and stakeholders to discuss ways of increasing media attention to important research projects. Prizes were also awarded to winners of the inaugural photography contest on biosecurity. Other prizes awarded during the national workshop include best paper presentation and best poster.

AB-CRC Students


First Meeting at Murdoch

In Fortnightly,Updates on August 14, 2007 by Jim

Finally my supervisors and I met formally for the first time. The meeting was held during their scheduled meeting with Elaine. I prepared an agenda, however, I failed to give out a hard copy during the meeting. It turned out well as we sorted out how the future meeting should be timed.

It was agreed that I will meet them on a fortnightly basis (as with the previous arrangement when I was still in Bangkok) and that it will proceed as scheduled (Mondays, 11 to 12 pm, WA time), as long as I’m present, regardless whether the panel is complete or not. It was important to keep up a regular meeting at this stage of the research. I will also direct the direction of each meeting by setting the agenda.

I informed the panel that I signed up in various tutorials and academic help in the Uni. The training that I signed up range from Endnote to SPSS to writing the first six months of the PhD. I was encouraged by the panel to attend any training that I deem will help me in the research work.

Subhash will be briefed on Friday via telephone on the meeting outcome and for a separate research planning in relation to the FAO/ADB Project’s stake on the research.

It was good that Kate organized a time for me to meet Anne. The informal meeting was more on introducing myself and my fields of interest to Anne and Kate. I’m grateful to John, Subhash, Anne and Kate who all agreed to supervise me in this research. It is indeed an honor to have everyone on board. 🙂