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Visual Methods Action Research wins Impact award at UoR

Monday, May 18, 2020

On Wednesday 13th May 2020, Dr Grady Walker, a Senior Research Fellow working at the Walker Institute and School of Agriculture Policy and Development, was awarded the University of Reading Research Engagement and Impact Award for his work using visual methods action-research as part of the FCFA HyCRISTAL project.

Many farmers in Uganda receive important agricultural information in a one-way sharing process, from government agricultural extension officers directly to the farmer. This method does not allow farmers to share their own experience and opinions, or to be part of the knowledge building process.

In an effort to bridge the gap between communities and decision makers, Dr Grady Walker travelled to Mukono, Uganda, to train farmers in video production and the development of stories. They then used these films to communicate directly with the Mukono District government. This research and engagement activity was part of the HyCRISTAL project, and was carried out in conjunction with Climate Action Uganda (CAN-U) with support from Practical Action.

During the trip, two video stories that addressed key regional agronomic and aquaculture issues affecting the farmers were developed, and 8 Champion Farmers from the district were trained in basic video production. Farmers were keen to learn, document and tell their advocacy stories through video and share them with fellow farmers and duty bearers. 

At a meeting between the Farmer Champions and the Mukono District leadership, farmers shared their stories and discussed how they are adapting to climate change. Together with government representatives, they decided on forward-looking actions that their leaders could initiate to improve planning and service delivery to communities in the face of climate change. 

Mr Wali Christopher, one of the farmer champions, was happy with the simplicity of the training and said, "Now I know one or two pictures can tell and deliver the intended message the way you want it".

Hear from Christine Nalubega, another of the farmer champions:

Miriam Talwisa, National Coordinator at Climate Action Network-Uganda, had this to say of the process, "I write to share my personal impression of the Mukono experience with champions.  Building the capacity of the farmer champions into actors that could, in the future, engage their leadership through well documented lived experiences of the effects of climatic changes on their crops and livestock was not only rewarding as a way of ensuring communities sustainably address their challenges, but also one that is communally owned and drawing from the very resources that are available at community level.”

It is methods and techniques, like producing video stories, that engage communities and farmers in investigating their own contexts, whilst linking them up with the key people in decision-making positions for more targeted advocacy messaging and vertical communication. Check out an article Future Climate for Africa wrote, which expands on the visual storytelling approach.

The Research Engagement and Impact Award aims to recognise those who undertake high-quality engagement and impact activities.  Of 28 entries from across the University, 12 were shortlisted and, in addition to Grady, three other projects were chosen for the Award:

  • Dr Jacqui Turner: Astor100: Challenging the Male Narrative in Parliament
  • Dr Weizi Li: Intelligent solutions to a costly issue
  • Prof Carol Fuller & Dr Maria Danos: Marvellous Mums

Check out all the nominations here: http://www.reading.ac.uk/research/impact/research-engagement-awards-2020.aspx

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