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Archive for the ‘Capacity Building’ Category

When I joined EIA back in the mists of time (well, 1997 actually) I was quickly dispatched to a remote part of Wales to undergo camera training. I especially remember the joys of performing a manual white balance with a bulky Hi-8 format camera on a bleak hilltop buffeted by strong winds.

Fast forward to February 2011 and I find myself in the more congenial environment of Arusha, northern Tanzania, helping train Tanzanian NGOs in the use of cameras and a lot of other skills that we at EIA use in our campaigning.

This is the final documentation workshop of EIA’s three-year initiative to support Tanzanian NGOs through training in stills and video cameras, and other vital campaigning skills such as writing press releases and effective lobbying. The 25 participants have come from across Tanzania; Kilwa in south Tanzania, the island of Zanzibar, Kigoma in the west, Morogoro in the centre and Bagamoyo in the north.

The participants work on a range of issues, from environmental problems like forest loss and wildlife protection, to social challenges such as women’s rights, drug use and support for pastoralist communities. At the outset I ask them if they have ever used cameras in their work before and only a couple of hands raised. After a few days of intensive training, they are asked to spend the weekend documenting a local issue using cameras.

Julius. Capacity Building. Credit EIA

Julius, from our partner the Journalist's Environmental Association of Tanzania, who has become an excellent trainer and now has the nickname "fundi picha", meaning picture technician.

When we get back together on Monday, the results are truly impressive. Everyone has obeyed the basic rules; focus, exposure, framing, each video shot at least ten seconds long, and not too much wild zooming and panning. Their enthusiasm for the potential of visuals is palpable.

It strikes me how liberating technology has become. Back in 1997 when I did my basic training the video cameras were bulky and expensive, with short battery life and limited tape length. We also had to beg cut-price access to professional edit suites to make our campaign films, which often meant grafting through the night. Now all that has changed. The video cameras the Tanzanian NGOs are using are relatively cheap; provide high definition images via memory card and batteries last for many hours. Coupled with a laptop, the groups have all they need to produce broadcast quality films.

The people we have already trained in past workshops are already putting these skills to good use. In Arusha it is great to catch up with Steve and Elisha, who I met at the first training we provided back in 2009. They are now mentoring some of their NGO colleagues and producing excellent and effective films. It is also good to work again with Julius, from our partner the Journalist’s Environmental Association of Tanzania, who has become an excellent trainer and now has the nickname “fundi picha”, meaning picture technician.

On the last night of the workshop the hotel where we have been doing the training throws a surprise party. As the dusk gathers and the imposing vision of nearby Mount Meru fades into the darkness, satisfaction at a successful gathering is tinged with regret that our current project in Tanzania is nearing its end. Yet it is clear to me that this work will leave a strong legacy; a community of NGO activists putting their documentation skills and camera equipment to good use to push for environmental and social justice in their country. As for EIA, we will continue to work together with our many friends in Tanzania after the training project ends in June.

Julian Newman. Campaigns Director.

Julian Newman

Campaigns Director

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Rewind to August 2010; Pallavi Shah reported back from a capacity building workshop in Mbeya, Tanzania. Participating in that workshop was a young activist, Tumaini James, fighting for the rights of women and gender equality in Tanzania. Fast forward five months; Tumaini James has been busy using the skills he gained in the workshop to bring about historic change in the Tanzanian Parliament.  Below is Tumaini’s story, reporting from Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.

Tumaini James took part in EIA skills training last year

Tumaini James took part in EIA skills training last year

I am young activist working at Tanzania Gender Networking Programme (www.tgnp.org). I participated in 10 days Visual documentation for advocacy training  in Mbeya- a joint programme organized by the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) with her Tanzania partners WCST, JET and LEAT. That was wonderful and revolutionary training I have ever attended. From there I acquired practical skills in using GPS, capturing pictures and shooting videos for advocacy. Also I learn campaign strategies including press releases & conferences, demonstration, publications, ICTs and mainstream media.

Five months since the Visual training for advocacy, I have been able to apply skills acquired from the training to document Gender and development. In October 2010, the Presidential Elections were won by the CCM party. After one month later Parliamentary Election followed. Never before, has a woman been chosen to be a Parliamentary Speaker. For the Parliamentary elections, I produced a short video and photo stories advocating for a woman to be selected as the Parliamentary Speaker of the 10th National Assembly during the Parliamentary Election for a Speaker.

I captured pictures and speech, and produce picture story with a speech in background using a windows movie maker. Then I shared through different media including social media. Two days after press release the ruling CCM political party decided that the position of Parliamentary Speaker within their party should go to a woman. It was truly a historical moment, the first time the TZ National assembly to have a woman a Speaker of Parliament.

Find our video series at TGNP website (www.tgnp.org)  At the bottom right of our website there are photo stories on Election Press release (TAMKO la uchaguzi mkuu).

Tumaini Macha

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January is an exciting time of year for me as it is a chance to invest in the latest technology that gives EIA its cutting edge. Now don’t presume I am advocating needless spending, I hate waste and excess as much as any environmentally conscious activist but when it comes to investment it is people I have in mind when spending our hard earned funds.

Our campaigners go to great risk, as one did last year when he strolled into a logging port unaccompanied in Asia, clutching our latest technological wonder. He had in his hand a compact stills camera that records fantastic quality stills and broadcast quality footage in a device that is small enough to fit into his pocket, quickly, if trouble occurs. Our need for people to want to see our message means investing in visuals that attract your attention. The world is moving into High Definition and now we can too, albeit a beat behind, when the prices become affordable. Our evidence and information has always been of such high quality that broadcasters know that when we say we have new information it will not only be ground breaking but it will also be visually engaging. These new campaign tools will ensure we stay at the forefront of media based campaigning.

EIA Workshops in Tanzania 2010. Credit Paul Redman/EIA

EIA Workshops in Tanzania 2010.

It is not just EIA I will invest in this month but also in many talented individuals in Tanzania thanks to our funding from the UK Governments Department for International Development (DFID). Buying cheap, small and high quality video cameras, stills cameras and global positioning systems (GPS) means that the voice of rural communities can reach decision makers in the time it takes to send an email. In Tanzania it is not EIA that is doing the telling. It is people like: Elisha Thompson, known as ‘big brother’ he has used the latest gadgets we provided to tell the story of impoverished children in his ‘DREAM’ film now showing at the ‘Un-inhibited Muse Festival‘, or Erica Rugabandana with her film on Loliondo pastoralists that made the Tanzanian government formally recognize the pastoralists’ rights to look after their forest land; or Mwalimi a villager in Southern Tanzania who recorded, with one of our gadgets, the illegal loggers stealing from his ancestral forests resulting in government enforcement. We live in an exciting time when technology for high quality recording becomes affordable to many and the term ‘citizen journalism’ has become a reality.

So if you are heading out into the January sales to stock up on your clothes cupboard or buy that flat screen TV you missed out on at Christmas, stop and think. Perhaps this is the year to carefully invest in a small camera or laptop so you can become a campaigner too and expose the issues that you feel passionately about.

Paul Redman. Credit EIA

Paul Redman

Video Production and Training Co-ordinator

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A few days ago I watched with intrigue as ‘Dada’ (sister in Swahilii) Mwakalukwa handled the digital camera with uncertainty and curiosity and such tenderness as if it may just break in her hands. With deliberate care, slowly she snapped a photo and her face beamed with pride.

Pallavi Shah shows Dada Mwakalukwa how to handle a digital camera for the first time in EIA's capacity building project in Tanzania

Dada Mwakalukwa, like most of her fellow participants, had never used a digital camera before this day. Yet, here in Mbeya, a small town in the Southern highlands of Tanzania and a 13-hour bus journey from Dar es Salaam, we had the challenging task of training Dada Mwakalukwa and 19 other representatives of local NGOs to use stills cameras, video cameras and GPS systems.

The training is part of an innovative three year project by EIA to empower NGOs and communities across Tanzania with skills and equipment to enable them to visually document the issues that affect them; to capture visual evidence of the violation of their rights and the destruction of their environment; to use the power of visual media to advocate for change by taking to the decision maker compelling testimony of the reality of their situation on the ground. The same techniques used by EIA.

Over the last two years, the journey has taken EIA and its three Tanzanian partners (Wildlife Conservation Society of Tanzania, Journalists Environmental Association Tanzania and the Lawyers Environmental Action Team) from the Southern most wilderness of Tanzania to its central mountains to the shores of Lake Victoria.

The five training workshops we have held have given new skills and equipment to 83 local activists, working on a range of issues including natural resources, HIV, gender and community rights. Eighteen camera kits have been distributed across the country, creating, for the first time ever a national network of cross-sector organisations sharing equipment and collaborating together to achieve similar goals.

Despite its many challenges, this year the project has begun to bear fruit and we have witnessed the first outputs and successes.

In a country so vast, so varied from region to region, every training offers a unique experience. The training is intense for both participants and the partners. Over ten days participants are taught to undertake research, use cameras and GPSs to collect information, to write press releases and access media and develop strong advocacy strategies. The days are long. Living conditions are often very basic with only a bucket of cold water to bathe.

In Mbeya, as the temperatures drop to 4°C, the evenings are spent huddled under starry skies at a roadside joint blaring local ‘Bongo Flava’ tunes; the local gin brings some warmth.  Kerosene lamps cast a dim glow as the team tucks into ‘nyama choma’ (barbequed meat) and chips – a staple diet in rural Tanzania. Being vegetarian, as usual, I settle for roast bananas and a little treat from my Tiffin box.

After a gruelling ten days, Dada Mwakalukwa presents the footage, photos and a campaign strategy of a local issue she focused on during the course of the training. The visuals are outstanding. From not having used any of the technology before, the transformation is remarkable. I feel so proud. She speaks with a newfound confidence, she speaks with determination; she speaks with the voice of change.

Pallavi Shah, Project Coordinator, Reporting from Mbeya

Find out more on EIA’s capacity building projects

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