Low Cost Video for Ag Development: USAID and other awesome organizations show how it’s done!

[September UPDATE: Interested in learning even more about the toolkit below? Contact FHI 360 at: [email protected]]

Interested in utilizing video in your projects around the world? USAID recently released a great toolkit: Integrating Low-Cost Video into Agricultural Development Projects. The guide includes sample videos, worksheets, and more. What I really like about the toolkit is the way it is organized. You can learn about: 1) how organizations are using video around the world; 2) how to assess the usefulness of video for your own organization’s objectives; 3) how to make the videos; 4) how to disseminate the videos; 5) how to track impact; and 6) technical considerations. Working your way through the guide can help you figure out your objectives and what options are best for realizing them. If video is a means to your organization’s ends, then you can learn from the guide and other organization’s experiences how best to utilize it as an (agricultural) development tool.

The guide highlights some great organizations, including:

Digital Green: Working in India (and now starting in Ethiopia), DG has a really cool model that I think is a great fit for agricultural development. Here’s a  breakdown:

The Digital Green system consists of four primary elements:
1. Using a participatory process for local video production;
2. Employing a human-mediated instruction model for video dissemination and training;
3. Deploying a hardware and software technology platform to exchange data in areas with limited internet and electrical grid connectivity; and
4. Utilizing an iterative model to progressively address the needs and interests of the community using both web-based analytical tools and interactive voice response (IVR) phone-based feedback channels.

The founder and CEO was at SIPA last year to discuss the organization’s philosophy and experiences (and to recruit!).

Agro-Insight: they have an interesting model as well:

Their model is based on the zooming-in, zooming-out (ZIZO) method, which considers both local and regional relevance when developing videos to maximize the number of farmers likely to be impacted by each video. The ZIZO approach revolves around five key principles:
1. Identify a generic topic of regional relevance;
2. Learn about context diversity through participatory research;
3. Develop videos with farmers and local field workers;
4. Test videos in various contexts and fine tune them; and
5. Scale-up and scale-out.

InsightShare: they focus on participatory video and offer up their own guide: Insights into Participatory Video: A Handbook for the Field

Video may be a technology you have mastered, but its application can be difficult. We all must investigate all options for a specific program, to avoid the following description from the USAID toolkit:

IT IS NOT UNCOMMON for development practitioners to find themselves enamored by the latest technology. Most of us know of at least a project or two that discovered that, for one reason or another, the technology that they thought would be a game changer ended up as an absolute failure. FAILFaires, which provide an opportunity for international development practitioners to share information about unsuccessful mobile and ICT interventions, have sprung up as an opportunity to learn from what went wrong. Video is no stranger to such failure. A common anecdote goes something like this: “We gave our beneficiaries video cameras, but they never used them. I’m not exactly sure why.” The truth is that effectively using video for development is never as easy as simply handing out cameras.

Hopefully this guide can help us all avoid such experiences…