As a journalist and filmmaker you don’t often get the opportunity to revisit the people and the communities where you have worked to share the content they have contributed to with them in person.
For many communities, this is less of an issue as contributors are usually able to access the content you have created via a newspaper, on TV or over the internet. However, for poor, remote, rural communities, access to these media outlets is often non-existent, so the only way for them to see the content they have contributed too is to screen it for them yourself.
This month, I had the opportunity to return to Otuke in Northen Uganda to film an update with the rural subsistence farming communities there. The idea behind this return trip was to try to find out how the project that the Global Water Initiative East Africa (GWIEA) is leading has impacted on peoples’ lives, to find out what had changed and learn more about how the challenges that the community is facing are being addressed, particularly as they try to adapt to rainfall variability and the changing climate.
Otuke is a 7 hour drive north from the Ugandan capital Kampala. Otuke district lies on a flat plain, about an hour west of the main town in the region Lira. The villages where GWI EA is working are only accessible on foot or in a 4×4 vehicle. The un-metalled roads are rough and often flooded and muddy after a rain storm or bone dry and rutted, baked by the hot African sun. There is no internet or TV here.
I traveled up with my colleague William Odinga from the Uganda Science Journalists Association and in a break in the shoot schedule, we took the chance to pull out William’s laptop to set up informal screenings for the Champion Farmers. We were able to screen the film Harvesting Our Futures to Lilly Obua, Sophie Acen and to Charles Dickens Emol, all of whom had featured in the piece we made last year. I was delighted by their reaction and it was a joy to be able to show them just how much their contributions to the films that we have made have helped others understand the issues that their community faces.
Media outputs are a crucial component for many development agency projects, but most often these films are made only to connect with international donors or with development agency workshop groups. Using the media to connect directly with the communities whose lives agencies are hoping to change is a logical extension to the work that we as producers do and as access to the internet improves, delivering educational and information media content direct to these communities is becoming much more feasible. But for Lilly, Sophie and Charles, living out in the bush, the only answer was to set up these informal screenings in person.
Andrew Johnstone, Producer/Director, Wild Dog Limited