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A new genre of NGO videos?

Redd Barna (Save the Children Norway) released a video earlier this week as part of their #BirthofInvoice campaign. The video spoof shows the pilot of a new “birth meter” which is being installed in Harstad Hospital in Norway. The film includes a project manager for a project called “Cost control in maternity care.” which has been designed to streamline the work of midwives. In real life also, you can seek help for project management. The meter efficiently records all the requirements of a birth such as nitrous oxide, epidurals and consent. At the end of the process the baby is then tagged with a barcode so that the costs can be quickly calculated and a bill provided for the new parents.

The midwives in the video did not know anything about the film, whereas the instructor and the woman in the bed are actors. Lisa Brodshaug, Campaign Advisor at Save the Children said “We contacted the management of the hospital to ask permission to film the spoof. The midwives were told to attend a training for a new tool to help them in their daily work. Their reactions appear when they realize this birth meter is designed to print an invoice in the end, for the mother to carry with the baby out of the hospital. We chose to use a hidden camera to capture their natural reactions when exposed to the birth meter. We assumed that the midwives’ instinct would be activated, and we were right. They told us afterwards that they were furious during the session and most of all wanted to slap the instructor across his face. Interesting then, to see how controlled they are when communicating their objections.”

The video which films the reaction of real midwives in Norway reminds me slightly of the annoying but very popular prank show, Beadles About. There have been quite a few videos produced in the last few years which either use spoofs e.g. Africa for Norway or a strategy of “it’s not happening here yet…..”, which also reminds me of the very clever outdoor advertising campaign from Amnesty International a few years ago.

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It seems as this type of communication style is very effective. The Save the Children UK video Most Shocking Second a Day now has over 45 million views. At the end of the #BirthofInvoice video there is the opportunity to use an online tool to see what the cost would have been for the birth of your existing children. This ‘birth invoice can be shared via social media. Lisa Brodshaug commented “Numbers show that we hit the nail with our suggested action for showing support; to make people share their own birth invoice with an estimated amount according to their number of births. This has generated even more traffic on our sites and tells us that people need to relate and personalize the information in order to take action.”

The video has been produced to alert people to the kind of processes that go on in many countries. In Norway, like the UK, health care from qualified professionals during pregnancy and birth is free, whereas in other countries women have to pay for vital health care. Those who cannot afford to pay often give birth at home without professional help and risk both their own lives and the lives of their baby. As part of this campaign, Save the Children aim to increase awareness of this problem and advocate for free healthcare across the world as part of the new Sustainable Development Goals.

It seems the campaign is working!

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Oxfam explain growing inequality in a social media mash-up

Oxfam have recently released a video highlighting the ever growing inequality in the world. The video tells the story of inequality through an online conversation between two friends using Facebook Messenger, status updates and and Skype video chat. The conversation starts off talking about one of their Dad’s being like a grumpy cat, and then there is a news announcement that according to Oxfam “the combined wealth of the world’s 85 richest people is equal to the 3.5 billion poorest.” One of the friends jokes about the Dad being one of the 85 richest. It then turns quite upbeat with one of the friends receiving a scholarship to attend a top school. The music turns sad and one of the girls explains that their father is having to move his factory abroad due to tax reasons. Things go from worse to worse and the father is killed in a mining accident.

The video then jumps to a quick succession of authentic news items from Al Jazeera, France 24, PTV Philippines etc announcing that inequality has reached an all time high and the richest 1% in the world will own more than the rest of 99% of the population by 2016.

To date the video has been watched by just over 6,000 people and has 31 likes. It’s different from most of the other charity videos I’ve watched in recent years, but I’m not sure how effective it is. A ‘like’ for every 200 views is fairly impressive, but obviously people aren’t sharing it that much in their networks or it would have had more views. I wonder why they chose to use this social media / news reporting mash-up style. Maybe they are educating a future group of latent activists? Or perhaps they just want more teenagers to sign their petition to take action against inequality?

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Reach A Hand, social media and the power of video

Whilst in Uganda last month I met with Patricia Kahill who has been working with the NGO Reach a Hand (RAHU) based in Kampala. RAHU is a non-profit youth led organisation that aims to address the key issues that leave Ugandan youth vulnerable to health outcomes like, HIV, STIs and unintended pregnancy. I have followed RAHU with great interest over the last few months as they are very active on social media. Their Twitter account has over 1250 followers and they have over 7400 likes on their Facebook page, which is very impressive for a small grassroots NGO.

At the Social Media Summit in Kampala, I predicted that video sharing sites such as YouTube will become much more popular in Uganda over the next 2-3 years. There is a noticeable and welcome increase in competition in the telecommunications industry in Uganda and mobile data prices are dropping. Smart Telecommunications for example are offering 1.5GB of data a day for the equivalent of 25 pence.

When I have viewed the YouTube channels of many small NGOs in developing countries before, the videos often have very few views. I think this is partly to do with content but mainly down to the cost of data. Will my prediction become true in the future? This is why RAHU is such a great case study as they have seen a dramatic growth in their YouTube channel in the last few months and musical content is the driver. A new ‘Musical Project’ is intended to inspire and encourage young people take care of their health by practicing safer sexual behaviour, making informed choices and choosing to be responsible citizens and make a change in their communities. RAHU are working with 9 local musicians GNL Zamba, Jody Phibi, Irene Ntale, Big Trill, Ray Signature, Maurice Hassa, Yasimine, Young Zee and Airport Taxi) and one international musician, Nyanda. Currently five songs have been promoted both online and via TV and radio stations. The artists endorsed the campaign by recording voice pops and messages that are aired during TV shows. It’s being supported by Rutgers WPF and Talent Africa. The Kaleke Kasome Remix featuring several of the above artists has had over 5000 views on YouTube.

A more recent recording “If it’s not on, It’s not safe’ has had over 3000 views in less than a month. Although there is a small advertising budget to promote these videos, it proves that good content does work as these videos have positive feedback in the form of both likes and comments. 

Another successful video project by RAHU involves a flash mob in Kisenyi which was organised in the build up to WorldAIDSDay. Once again this event caught the media’s attention and was featured on NTV.

However, Patricia says that Twitter is still the most important social media tool for RAHU as media houses often pick up on the most trending hashtags. She told me of an excellent campaign earlier this year which deliberately provoked a social media discussion around the age of consent. Patricia and another member of RAHU staff were training a group of 15 young people aged 20-30 about the benefits of using social media. During the workshop they demonstrated the power of Twitter by setting up the hashtag #consentat14. The age of consent in Uganda is currently 18 but teenage pregnancy is prevalent, so the group asked provocative questions such as ‘Have parents failed their children in education about safe sex’ and ‘Has the government failed in promoting contraception.” If there are so many teenage pregnancies, why not reduce the age of consent to 14. The hashtag had over 900,000 impressions and received interest from TV, Radio and newspapers including Urban TV and XFM.

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Can a hashtag change social policy – #EvilNanny

Many of you will have already seen the horrific video which was circulating on social media last week about a nanny abusing an 18 month old baby.

The father, Eric Kamanzi, had suspected that the nanny was abusing his daughter so set up a hidden camera in his living room. The video is truly shocking and shows the nanny, 22 year old, Jolly Tumuhirwe, throwing the girl to the floor after she is sick and then beating her with a torch, kicking and standing on her. The video was originally posted on Facebook and shared with friends, but then went viral and has been viewed with horror all over the world. She has been arrested and charged with attempted murder.

In Uganda the video was shared using the hashtag #EvilNanny and #NannyfromHell and was covered all over the media. The hashtag was trending in Uganda and was a catalyst for debate in civil society about child raising in modern Uganda.

At the time of writing a YouTube clip of the NBS report in Uganda has had well over 400 comments. Many other media channels have posted the footage, all of which have attracted similar discourse. The video has created uproar on YouTube, Twitter and Facebook across the globe and has resulted in the Ugandan government reviewing legislation as a matter of urgency. Is this an example of how social media is helping to change the world for the better? It’s a shame that we need to rely on these relatively new platforms to make people aware of such atrocities.

http://youtu.be/oaACywtSrCI

Ms Tumuhirwe is due in court on 8th December 2014.

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UNICEF Uganda #Imagine Campaign

Whilst in Uganda I was invited to attend a press conference at UNICEF where they launched a new social media campaign. It is part of a global campaign celebrating 25 years of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. To mark this occasion they have launched the #Imagine programme, which is an interactive digital platform designed to connect people around the world. The idea is to record your own version of Imagine by John Lennon. The famous dance DJ, David Guetta, will then make a mix using all the voices.

They are hoping to get 1 million voices for this global sing-a-along. UNICEF have an established team of celebrity ambassadors including Katy Perry and Shakira who have already contributed their voices to the mix. UNICEF Uganda have the support of several top music artists in the country  Benon Mugumbya, Lilian Mbabzi, Navio, Irenentale, Mun G, Jackie Chandiru and Peter Miles. They have recorded their own version of the song.

In Uganda, they are aiming for 100,000 voices to publicly advocate to lift 8 million Ugandan children out of poverty. Jaya Murthy, Chief of Communication for UNICEF in Uganda said “This is a new type of public advocacy initiative that aims to unite thousands of citizens around the world through the power of digital media and music. We hope it will capture the public’s imagination to imagine a better future for children where all children’s rights are realized.”

I personally think 100,000 voices is too ambitious and I asked Jaya how they will reach the more remote marginalised communities. He agreed it will be difficult but is up for the challenge and I respect that! There was a large media presence at the launch but I think it will be necessary to reach the smaller regional media companies and community radio stations as well. It will be interesting to see if the power of celebrity advocacy works in Uganda. It will certainly help with seeding the campaign: Navio alone has 37,000 followers and between them they have 90,000.

This is an innovative campaign to create a social movement and I really hope that the target is met.

Below is the video for the global campaign.

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