Claire Warmenbol of the IUCN Water Programme explains how video is helping communities to document their environmental challenges, needs and ideas for solutions.
Participatory Video, a new innovative way of capturing and sharing communities’ voices on social and environmental change, was recently introduced by the IUCN Water Programme.
Participatory Video is a process and set of techniques to involve a project or community in shaping and creating their own film. IUCN project partners and beneficiaries were trained during a five-day Participatory Video course in Arusha, Tanzania from 20-24 September 2010.
In the IUCN Pangani project region, rising tensions over scarce water resources and the impacts of climate change have put the Pangani river under increased pressure. IUCN and partners, through the Pangani River Basin Management Project (PRBMP) and Global Water Initiative (GWI), is implementing solutions and actions towards improving the ecological, economic and socio-cultural benefits of the Basin.
The project approach focuses in part on capacity building, knowledge sharing and community participation. Complementing the work of the community development officers in the Pangani basin, Participatory Video (PV) helps to better understand community needs and identify gaps in water resource planning. As part of IUCN’s work within this region, Participatory Video (PV) supported the collective process, whereby the community of Olbil used video to document their environmental challenges, needs and ideas for solutions.
“Working together with our Global Water Initiative partners, the PV training strengthened our project partners’ communications and facilitation skills, which is important in sharing the progress and impact of our work”, said Katharine Cross, IUCN Water and Wetlands Programme Officer in East and Southern Africa. “The local community, through the participatory process, was given complete control of their own film and recordings. This process was very empowering, enabling the community to take stock of what has been done and what still needs to be done. Communities were given the opportunity to communicate their needs and ideas to decision-makers and project partners.”
Fifteen participants from PRBMP and GWI partner organisations, including CARE, SNV, CRS, SAIPRO, and PBWB were facilitated throughout the training by Claire Warmenbol, IUCN Water Programme Officer. “Participatory Video can be a highly effective tool to engage and mobilise marginalised people, enabling greater participation in development and environmental projects. Further benefits from participatory video processes include project monitoring and evaluation, as well as providing a powerful tool for advocacy and information sharing”, she said.
Following the PV work with communities, the participants were further introduced to editing skills, distribution channels for promotion and sharing of video, as well as a session on the ethics of filming. “Reporting back on project work often involves writing lengthy reports which are time-consuming. Participatory video offers an alternative or supplementary way of communicating our work, directly through the project beneficiaries”, said Irene Chikira, training participant and PBWB Community Development Officer.
The PV training was organized in Arusha, a bustling town within the IUCN project region. The Pangani river flows from Africa’s highest peak, Mt. Kilimanjaro, passes through the arid Masai Steppes, and flows into the Indian Ocean at the coastal town of Pangani in Tanzania. Throughout its 500km course, the landscape changes from lush green highlands where coffee and banana plantations abound, to arid drylands where pastoralist communities and industrial estates vie for the river’s water supply.
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