Dr Grady Walker, one of Walker Institute‘s Interdisciplinary Research Fellows, ran training workshops for farmers in Mukono, Uganda. The workshops focused on using visual storytelling through video. Participants subsequently produced their own films and used them as communication tools to further social justice, capacity building, and better governance for their communities.
Visual stories provide authenticity to communication messages. They are relatively simple to produce and can be disseminated rapidly and at a low cost. Communities can articulate their points of view better than outsiders. A challenge is that facilitators must give up power and surrender some control of the message. This can be a limitation or barrier preventing the use of these methods in some contexts.
The training workshops run by Dr Walker conveyed an understanding of the potential for the use of participatory visual methods as community centred advocacy. They also provided a foundation for understanding participatory visual methods, designing and facilitating participatory visual methods activities, and considering power and ethical issues. Participants were given the opportunity to explore how they might use participatory visual methods and storytelling as tools for advocacy within projects and programmes. Practical hands-on experience facilitating visual storytelling using video was given alongside technical training in video pre-production and production.
Film 1. Climate Challenges & Solutions at Farm Level
In Mukono over twenty people attended a screening and interaction, including the district Principal Administrative Secretary, the Director of Natural Resources and Environment, and the district Secretary for Production.
A direct communication link between the farmer champions and the district leadership was established, with commitments from the latter to direct some discretionary budgeting toward improving advisory services.
Farmers and fishers are the protagonists of their own stories. They articulate what they see as just outcomes for themselves and their fellow farmers and fishers, and weave that into their storytelling.
The farmer champions held a successful meeting with officials of the National Planning Authority on their own initiative.
Film 2. Nakoosi What’s Next?
Lessons from research and Practice.
If rural adaptation is to be effective, then it cannot take the form of prescriptive actions determined by outsiders and subsequently imposed upon rural communities. It is important to avoid “negative participation” but instead include a social justice framework in projects at the outset.
A key principle is that, if storytelling is to be used as advocacy or to influence policy, then the storytellers must have ownership of the stories.