Here's another video project that was sponsored via the UK Department for International Development. Fogera woreda was one of the three “Research for Development” intervention sites for the Nile Basin Development Challenge (NBDC) project. A local Innovation Platform (IP) was established to bring different stakeholders together for knowledge sharing, joint planning and implementation of development intervention.
The IP was used as an instrument to identify and prioritize major Natural resource Management (NRM) challenges through a participatory multi-stakeholder process. Free grazing emerged as a key NRM challenge and fodder development interventions were proposed as an entry point to tackle the problem of land degradation and animal feed shortage in the area.
A Rope to Tie a Lion
A Rope to Tie a Lion
This video was planned, filmed and edited by a group of twelve farmers from three kebeles in Fogera woreda in the South Gondar region of Ethiopia. Gareth Benest from InsightShare, and Beth Cullen and Aberra Adie from the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), facilitated the participatory video training which took place between the 12th and 24th February 2012.
The aim of the video was to bring local issues to the attention of planners and implementers of rainwater management interventions in Ethiopia. The participatory video training was funded by grant awarded by the CGIAR Challenge Program for Water and Food to investigate and document the effectiveness of participatory video as a 'vertical communication' tool. A Rope to Tie a Lion, ILRI, 2012 (28 min).
Innovation Platforms and the Nile Basin Development Challenge: Beth Cullen
Beth Cullen wrote a nice blog series on the The Nile Basin Development Challenge (NBDC) website about participatory videos, the grant award ($19,905), the making of the video, and the effects of showing the video to the members of the Fogera Innovation Platform (IP), who decide what the farmers have to do. The blog also includes a video of an interview, Innovation Platforms and the Nile Basin Development Challenge, that she gave to USAID's Agrilinks about the project.
In 2012 the fodder intervention was piloted at Gebere-Gesa (Gebugesa) village, in Wej-Awramba Kebele, after a baseline assessment was carried out by IP Technical Group members. In the village a total of 20 farmers were involved in the fodder development intervention. Farmers were asked to sow and plant improved fodder species on a 3.5 hectare area that was formerly communal grazing land and the area was designated for enclosure. Different fodder species mainly Sesbania, Vetivar, Elephant grass, Cow pea and Pigeon Pea were introduced. All of the farmers showed interest in the intervention as they have serious livestock feed shortage and have witnessed how their communal land biomass production is decreasing over the years.
NBDC experiences with fodder development in Fogera, Ethiopia
Then, as described in a video of the NBDC experiences with fodder development in Fodera, and as Beth Cullen reports in another blog post in 2013:
"Shortly after activities began it was reported that farmers had uprooted the fodder plants they themselves had planted. Members of the technical group reported the problem to researchers from ILRI/IWMI who then visited the site in order to facilitate a consultation process with farmers and IP members. The subsequent discussions generated valuable lessons.
Community members from Gebugesa village acknowledged problems with severe feed shortages. Although there are diverse animal feed sources available in the area, namely crop residues, grazing land and woodland, amounts are not sufficient to meet local demand. Although this is a recognized problem, community members were resistant to enclosing communal grazing land for a variety of reasons, none of which were considered by the platform members when designing the interventions. The designated grazing area is an open space accessible by the households living around it. This space is used for a variety of community gatherings, including weddings and funerals, and as such plays an important role in bringing people together and in the maintenance of key social networks.
The grazing area is also used in a variety of ways by different community members. Communal grazing areas are particularly important for households without livestock who rely on these areas for dung collection. Due to the lack of alternative fuel sources, dung makes a vital contribution to local livelihoods. Enclosing grazing areas and keeping livestock at home denies vulnerable members of the community access to this resource. Women also expressed concerns about the impact that these changes could have on their children’s safety. In rural areas of Ethiopia it is often the responsibility of children to look after livestock. Women felt that their children would be safer managing livestock on nearby grazing lands as it is easy for them to follow their movements whilst they are engaged in other farm activities. Many women from the community were therefore reluctant to engage with the proposed interventions.
Lack of understanding about the multiple functions that these communal areas serve ultimately undermined the efforts made by the platform members. This serves to highlight a fundamental disconnect between the perspectives of community members and decision makers who are often removed from the day-to-day realities of rural life, and emphasizes the need for greater community participation in the design and implementation of such interventions.
It should also be highlighted that the grazing enclosure and associated fodder development interventions initiated by the innovation platform had never been attempted in this particular area. Due to the precarious nature of many subsistence farmer livelihoods and the subsequent focus on food security, farmers are often suspicious about new technologies or innovations unless they see concrete evidence of their impact. This is understandable as any change to tried-and-tested traditional practices and land management strategies entails a degree of risk for farmers.
With this in mind, platform members planned to engage farmers in experience sharing visits to areas where alternative management of grazing areas have successfully been introduced. However, due to a number of constraints this was not achieved and as a result farmers lost confidence in the initiative. A number of farmers also expressed a fear that the platform interventions were part of a hidden agenda to take land for a government afforestation program.
Although the pilot interventions initiated in Gebugesa village were largely unsuccessful the lessons generated have been invaluable for those involved. NBDC researchers working with the platform members were aware of the differences in perspectives between farmers and local experts and administrators. Apprehension about the lack of community voice in the Fogera platform led to a period of community engagement involving the use of participatory video. Videos made by community members expressing some of the issues highlighted above were screened to members of the innovation platform but did not seem to inform the design of the pilot interventions. This is in many ways unsurprising since certain attitudes and ways of interacting are so firmly entrenched that alternatives cannot simply be told but must be experienced by the actors concerned in order for meaningful change to take place."
While the intervention in Gebugesa village failed, local experts and administrators took more care in involving the communities in later interventions which, as a result, were more successful.