Friday, January 27, 2012

Participatory Video Activity in Jhanjhrola Khera, Gurgaon – Basic premise, outputs and challenges

Participatory Video (PV) activity was undertaken in Jhanjhrola Khera, one of the intervention villages in Gurgaon, in December 2011 over a span of four days. It was conducted by Dr. Rana Ghose from IDRC, with the help of Ms. Tarini Manchanda and Mr. Pranay Ranjan. The activity acted as a medium of engaging with the village community and also empowering them to make bureaucracy more responsive. The basic premise was to first teach villagers about using video camera and then let them film their own story, in context of water. Over the first two days, about 20 villagers, including women, were taught about video camera usage, angles, different types of shots, ways of scripting story etc. On the last day, couple of village youths were also taught about editing a video. Eventually, two videos were made, one by village women on water cleanliness and the other one by village elderly and youth, in which they talked about village water issues. The combined run time of videos was about 40 minutes and it was shown to the village community on the last day of the PV activity. After the screening, villagers were also asked for their comments. A village elderly appreciated our efforts and urged the PHED (Public Health and Engineering Department) to actively work on village water issues. A woman from the village considered the activity to be a source of additional knowledge for her and other women involved with the video shoot. She urged villagers to consider the video as a source of learning and also practise means by which water could be kept clean!
A group of women watching the video on water cleanliness

This blog post would like to bring up some of the challenges faced by the team while carrying out PV activity. Since the activity was spread over four days, the first and foremost challenge was to ensure that same set of people joined the team every day, at least for about 4 to 5 hours. This was a big challenge as many times during the activity, it happened that the team would end up with a new set of people because some of them had to leave. The other challenge was to get women to learn about using a camera. In fact, on the first day of the activity, it so happened that couple of women were told about camera usage. However, when they were actually asked to hold the camera and film something, they were suddenly very reluctant and decided to walk off! Despite our repeated requests they did not want to continue with the activity! This came as quite a surprise to the team, as they had earlier sounded very keen on learning about video camera usage. The other challenge was to decide on number of people team would want to limit itself to, considering the constraints such as manpower, number of cameras etc. in mind. In fact, as per initial plans the activity was to be carried out with a group of 6 people, however, it eventually turned out to be an activity involving 20 people! Another challenge was to make people understand the value of filming their own experiences. Many a times they would question why should they learn to film their own story? The team screened couple of videos to the participating group, of instances when villagers have filmed their own stories and used it as a tool to voice their opinion. The video made by Dr. Ghose for world water week in Stockholm, was also screened in order to make them understand the difference when someone else makes a video and when it is made by people themselves.

Village residents who had gathered for the video screening
Despite all the challenges, at the end of the activity, the team was quite satisfied with the response and output. A very positive outcome was active participation of women, who also showed interest in participating in activities that would be carried out in future. By way of filming their experiences with water, the villagers also learnt about using this as a tool to make service providers more responsive.

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