radii-aid-research

Radi-Aid Research

I was recently the lead researcher for a study in collaboration with Radi-Aid about the use of imagery in charity / NGO communications.  In the study, participants in six Sub-Saharan African countries spoke about their perceptions of aid campaigns and other visual communications from international NGOs (INGOs) and development organisations.

The research involved 74 people from 12 focus groups in aid-receiving communities in Ethiopia, Ghana, Malawi, South Africa, Uganda and Zambia. They discussed imagery from campaigns by Amnesty International, Care International, Cordaid, The Disasters Emergency Committee, Dubai Cares, Oxfam, Save the Children, Unicef and War Child.

Key findings from the study include:

• The majority of respondents thought the images in adverts offer an accurate representation of the situation in Africa.
• There is a need for aid communication to show more diversity in terms of age and race.
• Respondents acknowledge that aid communication is complex, with no single solution.
• It is important that respect and dignity is preserved in the portrayal of people in aid communication.

The frequent portrayal of Africa as a continent in need prompted sadness among the respondents in the study. Such campaigns often depict black children in need, and several of the respondents wished that these stories could be complemented by showing children of other colours or backgrounds, or black doctors, professors or aid workers. They would like to see portrayals of people with agency in their own situations and results of their accomplishments.

I was extremely pleased to be part of this research as it gives people in aid receiving countries the opportunity to voice their opinions on the type of imagery used to depict their continent. Instead of stigmatising poverty and focusing on problems, I hope that aid organisations will respond by showing the positive outcomes of development programmes too.

One of the things I often discuss with students, academics and communications professionals is that development organisations produce a massive amount of  communications materials, and the vast majority of them are neglected in critiques by the media and academia. Social media offers organisations the opportunity to tell more nuanced and contextualised stories which are not restricted by an expensive 15-30 TV adverting slot or a billboard with limited space. I hope this report will encourage NGOs and charities to continually improve their representations of poverty and inequality by showing a broader range of stories. Participatory photography and video are excellent tools to enable recipients of aid to tell their own stories and I see these tools being used more and more in the future.

Here is a link to the full Radi-Aid Research report.

radi-aid-research

 

Radi-Aid Research is a collaboration project between the Norwegian Students’ and Academics’ International Assistance Fund (SAIH) and the School of International Development at the University of East Anglia.

 

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Social Media Lounge – Uganda

Today is the launch of the Social Media Lounge in Uganda, a place where enthusiasts can write and discuss freely and regularly about social media and its ever changing dynamics. The lounge is intended be a place to share and build a community together, a place where it will be possible to teach, to learn from each other, to mentor and also to create a singular point of focus for the social media conversation in Uganda going forward.

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Collins Mugume one of the co-founders of the lounge said “We want to create a space where social media could be owned and grown in Uganda. To create a place to grow social media authorities who could become the pillars on which the industry could rely on, to guide and shape its growth.”

Colin Asimwe, co-founder added “Eventually, we are looking at getting to a place where social media is respected as a viable channel and an integral part of the communication mix instead of an esoteric amorphous black-hole into which clients and brands throw money and hope – merely hope, for a few likes and some interaction. When there is a market understanding of the social media landscape, an adequate growth in the resource pool and we can effectively measure it and can make predictions on trends – I think we will consider ourselves successful.”

I asked Collins, why they had decided to call in a lounge. “Despite what most people believe social media is first of all social; driven by interactions, human nature and conversations. It is as close to human conversations can get without physical presence. Lounges are a place of recline; people come there to relax from their troubled and beleagured lives. But also to regroup, replenish energies and and re-strategise. The lounge will be such place taking the industry’s best and making to tackle the challenges that will take Social to the next level.

What can members do?
Members can contribute to the social media conversation in Uganda by writing articles, insights, reviews and opinions on the landscape. They can be a part of formalising the social media agenda in Uganda by creating the environment which eventually will raise the standard of social media practice in Uganda.

The contributing community members so far include;

1. Maureen Agena
2. Bernard Olupot
3. Sam Agona
4. Grace Natabaalo
5. Onyait Odeke
6. Tusiime Samson
7. Patricia Kahill
8. Eunice Gnay Namirembe
9. Brain Kyeyune
10. Mujuni Raymond
11. Allan Ssenyonga
12. Olive Nakiyemba

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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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Social Media Summit Uganda

On November 26th 2014 I presented at the inaugural Social Media Summit in Kampala, Uganda. The conference and CEO breakfast, organised by Intensity Technologies, was attended by over 160 delegates ranging from senior government comms officials to representatives from the police, banks, agencies, NGOs and civil society.

There were over 15 speakers including Natasha Basson, Chris Bitti, Boaz Shani, Ruth Aine, Jaya Murthy, Michael Niyitegeka, Collins Mugume and many more.

The event was the top trending story on Twitter that day with over 11 million impressions.

Below is a link to my presentation and a storify compiled by Ruth Aine, one of the speakers.

 

 

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