On the final day of the Third International Forum on Water and Food, I was fortunate to participate in a very interesting and informative discussion regarding the role of participatory video in CGIAR Challenge Program on Water and Food (CPWF) projects during the Forum Share Fair.
Participatory video is a documentation method that empowers communities through the process of allowing them to capture their own stories in video format. Interested community members will receive training and the necessary tools to produce relevant stories, and thereby engage with their neighbors. They are also encouraged to reflect on their product to understand if it will convey their message to target audiences.
Participatory video is a collaborative, not extractive, process. It is well-suited to represent indigenous knowledge that could also inform community analysis and influence decision makers.
According to Beth Cullen, who works with the CPWF Nile basin project, participatory video is more than a communication tool. It facilitates several other roles, such as empowering communities, by acting as a catalyst for action. Within the CPWF, it encourages cross-basin project learning. Cullen suggested that participatory video could also be used as a way to identify key issues within and across communities and to bridge the gap between conventional science and knowledge.
After attending this Share Fair session, I feel that participatory video engagement is an amazing initiative from which many people can gain. Community members that are generally very poor will not only be trained in a new skill, but they will also gain a sense of involvement and ownership in the project. After all, according to the director of the CGIAR Challenge Program, Alain Vidal, “We don’t do research for development, we do it for the people.”
By Natalie Bowers