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Case Studies:


Ways of Working

Medium for research documentation

The adoption of participatory research and learning process approaches by all partners and IIED led to a dialogue on appropriate forms of documentation. The choice of a medium of research documentation that could be understood by non-literate partners and acceptable to other audiences (including scientific researchers and donors) was an overriding concern.

One of the partner organisations in India had trained villagers in the use of digital video technology. The experience gained over the last three years suggested that this medium for development communication is particularly appropriate and empowering for village rural communities (see box 1). The universal nature of visual literacy (as opposed to formal literacy) also means that this medium is often relevant and appropriate in many other contexts.

Given this background, the IIED Coordinator and partners in India and Peru agreed that research documentation will be based on a combination of digital video recordings and written reports to satisfy the different needs of all actors involved in the project.

Participatory Video- the DDS experience in India

When an organisation is committed to value people's knowledge there is a need to explore ways in which people can communicate with the outside world. In this effort, literacy is not the only choice. Literacy could actually become a constraint for non-literate people whose oral and visual narratives are so powerful. The Deccan Development Society has provided video and audio technologies as a means of expression for disadvantaged rural women. Villagers have been trained in the skills needed to handle this media. A Community Media Trust was born in 1998 and several videos have been produced and edited by the barefoot video producers.

The following conclusions can be drawn from this experience:

  • Video can be a very effective tool for use by non-literate rural people to express themselves and communicate with to the outside world

  • Being non literate is no barrier in learning video as a mode of expression. In addition to formal literacy programmes, new media of expressions can be introduced.

  • Non literate women can turn into excellent videographers. Their traditional narrative and pictorial understanding of the world around them can find wonderful expression in the videos made by them.

  • Trainers who have a long experience in training professional television practitioners in the Afro Asian region, were struck by the ease and quickness with which non literate women were able to learn and use video. In many cases they started wondering whether literacy is after all a barrier in learning this new media of expression.

  • In their ability to understand and express themselves through video, non literate women were in no way inferior to their urban counterparts who come to media education with formidable academic backgrounds.

Source DDS and PV Satheesh

See the DDS website for footage of and thoughts on participatory video.



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