Successful agricultural research for development (AR4D) should go beyond the generation of quantitative research findings, to ensure that these findings feed into context-relevant development interventions. An understanding of the context in which the research takes place is therefore essential for AR4D, and ought to include all groups that make up the research context in the process: include their voices, opinions, needs and ideas, and look for ways to communicate these to a variety of audiences.
Humidtropics, the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS) and the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT) have been working together on the creation of an innovative and inclusive tool to include these voices: Participatory Video (PV).
Young women from rural communities in Estelí, Nicaragua, learn how to handle video equipment while discussing the challenges they face on a daily basis from a transformative perspective.
What is Participatory Video?
PV is a participatory research tool that involves members of a community in creating their own video message. It is an ideal method for sharing ideas and learning, encouraging marginalized groups to identify their own needs, and implement their own forms of sustainable development. The community learns to use video technology, write their own story, interview leaders and neighbors, and tell their own story. The PV methodology collects indigenous knowledge on factors that impact the effectiveness of sustainable development interventions based on local needs.
Watch this animated video to see how we use PV in our projects:
From our experiences in Estelí and Somotillo, Nicaragua, PV has proven to be a powerful cross-cutting tool for knowledge sharing and inclusive agricultural research for development at community level. Through the invitation of marginalized groups to discuss relevant issues in their community we gain valuable insights into local needs, linked to participation, learning and innovation, gender and inter-generational dynamics, natural resources and income generation, and climate change mitigation and adaptation.
An Inclusive Tool
A strong focus on inclusion means the community is accurately represented in regards to gender, age, ethnicity, and educational background. Learning new skills sets the stage for empowerment and creative problem-solving, while creating spaces to generate strong outcomes linked to two main objectives:
- Identifying challenges for sustainable livelihoods;
- Empowerment of marginalized groups to take on these challenges.
Contributing to Enabling Development Outcomes
The cross-cutting nature of PV contributes to the achievement of development outcomes by effectively mainstreaming elements of innovation and gender and youth empowerment in AR4D design and implementation. Innovation is strengthened by creating conditions for smallholder farmers, women, and youth to gain confidence in their abilities to succeed at new activities, and improve existing local knowledge and practices. At the same time, gender and youth empowerment occurs by engaging marginalized groups in learning activities and encouraging them to voice their stories and opinions. This provides a non-threatening mechanism that improves gender and inter-generational relationships.
PV is simple to replicate, disseminate, and track. Therefore, it can also serve as a versatile Monitoring and Evaluation (M&E) tool throughout the various phases of research interventions, generating insights and feedback from specific target groups. This creates a strong sense of project ownership within the community, and a more fertile ground for technology adoption and social change.
Exploring the potential of inclusive youth and gender components linked to innovation and transformation processes which stem from learning experiences at community level, PV provides a thorough understanding of the development challenges facing poor rural communities. This serves as a powerful contextual base to adequately adapt development strategies and policies to local needs, knowledge, and wants.
For more information:
Humidtropics, in collaboration with CCAFS and CIAT, has been using PV in the cities of Somotillo and Estelí in Nicaragua, and is looking to replicate this process in other Humidtropics Action Sites in Africa and Asia.
Blog by Manon Koningstein, Research Associate & Communications Specialist, DAPA/CCAFS Gender & Climate Change, CIAT, and by Shadi Azadegan, Communications Specialist, CIAT Central America/Humidtropics. Blog edited by Valérie Poiré, Communication Officer, Humidtropics. Photo by Shadi Azadegan/CIAT.