The use of relevant and credible evidence from the ground is crucial in strengthening arguments and incentives for reform. The International Campaign to Ban Landmines, for example, was successful in part because of the evidence gathered and presented by experts with practical experience from conflict-torn societies. Forging strong ties with local actors and ensuring inclusive representation in coalitions are crucial factors for successful campaigns.
To this point, Transparency International (TI), a global coalition to fight corruption, recently introduced Participatory Video (PV) as part of their program on Poverty and Corruption in Africa. The introduction of PV is a first for TI, and it is used as a tool to engage and partner with the poor in fighting corruption. In collaboration with InsightShare, a leading company in PV, TI’s African National Chapters have started training local communities on how to create their own films, capturing authentic stories about corruption and how it impacts their daily lives. Alfred Bridi discusses his experience about the training process in Uganda and has made a short film (see above) to illustrate the process and enthusiasm among the participants.
Bridi points out that PV is a “bottom-up-approach to filmmaking” that empowers marginalized communities to express issues that are important to them, in a meaningful way. Local communities not only benefit from the skills obtained in mastering a camera, but more importantly, PV gives them an opportunity to take part in the development process by sharing their perspectives on issues of concern and bringing their voices to the attention of decision-makers. Thus, the PV process gives local communities greater influence on the decision-making agenda.
In the case of Uganda, Bridi mentions that the participants were enthusiastic in sharing stories about corruption and the film they produced sparked dialogue in their communities. While local communities have full ownership of the films and decide who should be able to view them, the films could be an effective tool in connecting communities with decision-makers and other stakeholders on the ground, as well as supporting dialogue and raising awareness on corrupt practices. Also, with the local communities’ consent, the films could be shared more broadly and across borders to spark a global dialogue, and used as concrete evidence to demand better public services. To help local communities communicate issues effectively, TI is also in the process of training them on how to engage and communicate with local stakeholders in advocating for change.
The use of PV has great potential in generating evidence from the ground that can be used to hold leaders accountable, as well as measure change in development initiatives on the ground. While there are many more films to be produced through this TI initiative, it will be interesting to learn what impact they have in the fight against corruption. What is not in doubt is that PV is an effective tool in bringing people together to fight for change.