This project will train 12 Baka and Bagyeli indigenous community members to use digital video to share information between far flung, difficult to access villages regarding the impacts of a major new mine and railway project in their home territory. The project will result in the production and circulation of short films that will educate community members about issues such as water toxicity. The circulation of videos online and through a traveling cinema will facilitate inter-community communication and cooperation around issues generated by the mine project.
What locality or neighborhood will your project focus on?
Bipindi and Ntam (closest major towns)
Describe the specific population with whom you will be working.
This project will be undertaken by Baka and Bagyeli indigenous communities in southern Cameroon located along the corridor of a proposed railway line running from an iron mine in Mballam to the new deep water port in Kribi. The proposal was developed by Okani, a Baka-led NGO, in collaboration with local Baka and Bagyeli community organizations. There are few self-representations of Baka and Bagyeli communities online. News stories, videos and images tend to traffic in primitivist stereotypes. Baka and Bagyeli language stories and videos are almost non-existent. While some community leaders are familiar with computers and the Internet, using these as part of their work with local NGOs, much work is needed in order to allow the majority of community members to represent themselves online.
Who else will be on your team to help implement the project?
In addition to the applicant (Venant Messe, director of Okani), the project implementation team will consist of:
Noel Olinga, Okani, regional director for Ngoyla-Mintom (Baka communities)
Romial Mabaya, Okani, regional director for Bipindi-Fifinda (Bagyeli communities)
Jeanette Aboah, ADEBAKA (Baka community organization for Ngoyla-Mintom area)
Charles Madjoka, BACUDA (Bagyeli community organization for Bipindi-Fifinda area)
Noel and Romial have extensive experience as participatory video (PV) facilitators, having been trained in PV by the British NGO InsightShare. Jeanette and Charles will responsible for coordinating with local communities. They have also both participated in previous video projects.
What kinds of news, stories and other content will be created?
The project will create digital videos in local languages documenting the impacts of the iron mine and railway. Community members will conceptualize and film these videos themselves with the help of facilitators from Okani, using a participatory video (PV) process which will ensure an equality of involvement between women and men, youth and elders. Transportation and communication networks in the project area are virtually non-existent. The circulation of the videos online and through a travelling cinema will allow participants to inform one another of new developments and impacts of the mine/railway and to coordinate action vis-à-vis corporate and government stakeholders.
What technologies and digital tools do you plan to use in the trainings?
Describe the connections that you or your organization have already established or plan to establish that will contribute to the success of the project.
In partnership with the Forest Peoples Program (United Kingdom), Okani is currently responsible for a major, 4-year project, funded by the European Union, in the proposed video project area. The EU project, “Legitimate Decision-Making and Effective Representation of Indigenous Forest Peoples in Cameroon,” involves close partnerships between Okani and local community organizations, notably ADEBAKA in the Ngoyla-Mintom area and BACUDA in the Bipindi-Fifinda area. These organizations will assist Okani in carrying out the video project. Okani has extensive experience working productively with these associations. In implementing the project, Okani will also build on its past experience working with major NGOs, such as Plan Cameroon, and with local government officials in the project area.
How many participants do you think will be trained in your project?
The project will train 12 community members, 6 Baka and 6 Bagyeli, in participatory video production. Every effort will be made to ensure age and gender parity. Participants will receive modest financial compensation for activities that take them away from regular income-earning/domestic responsibilities; however, based on Okani’s experience in the project area, we anticipate that community members’ profound interest and concern in issues surrounding the mine/railway will be the primary force sustaining participation, particularly once communities begin to realize the benefits of viewing the completed videos. We also anticipate a “trickle down” effect, with participants passing on the technical skills and knowledge to other community members.
Describe which technologies, tools, and media you will focus on when training participants.
The project will produce short digital videos using handheld camcorders. Project videos will be posted online (YouTube and Vimeo) and also distributed through community screenings. Okani has previously facilitated dozens of participatory video initiatives in indigenous communities in Cameroon, and possess the expertise to edit video (usually under the supervision and with the input of participant community members) and distribute it online and in person. (See http://insightshare.org/hubs/cameroon.) Okani has already worked with the communities that will participate in this project on previous video projects. Community members thus have a degree of familiarity with the equipment and techniques that Okani will employ, though more training is needed.
Describe the facilities where you will hold the workshops.
Given the difficulties of transportation in the project area, two initial trainings will be held, one in the Bagyeli village of Bella and one in the Baka village of Assoumdele. Holding trainings in local communities reduces the need for participants to travel and encourages “hands on” experience using video equipment in a village setting. It also engages other community members with the project. Neither village is connected to a power grid thus an electric generator will be used to power cameras (2 Canon camcorders) and laptop (MacBook). USB Internet sticks will be used to go online in order to teach participants how to upload and share videos. A portable projector and speakers connected to the generator will be used to screen footage back to the participant community.
What is your current relationship with the community with whom you plan to work? What makes you the most appropriate individual or organization to implement this project?
As detailed above, Okani has extensive experience working with Baka and Bagyeli communities and organizations in the Ngoyla-Mintom and Bipindi-Fifinda areas. The organization is currently undertaking a major project on indigenous representivity in this area, which is funded for the following four years by the European Union. The proposed community video project would be a useful addition to Okani’s ongoing activities. Okani already has two staff members (listed above) working full-time in the project area, as well as strong partnerships with local community organizations. Okani also has previous experience conducting participatory video exercises with participant communities, though more training and deeper engagement is needed.
What specific challenges do you expect to face when planning and implementing your project?
The major challenge for this project will be the poor transportation, electricity, and communication networks in the project area. Okani has experience overcoming these challenges—using diesel generators and solar panels for electricity and USB keys for internet connectivity, etc. We believe that it is vital to ensure that remote, poorly connected communities are not left out of development projects focused on technology. A second challenge is the potential for conflict with resources extraction companies and local government officials. Okani has extensive contacts with these stakeholders, however, and will overcome this challenge by ensuring that they are informed of the project, and by presenting the project as an opportunity for collaborative dialogue (see below.)
How will you measure and evaluate the project’s impact, specifically: your primary participants, the wider regional community, or the global digital community?
The primary evaluative tool for the project will be feedback from the participant communities. Participatory Video involves a constant dialogue between facilitators, participants, and the wider community. Community members will be encouraged to give feedback throughout the filming, editing and screening processes, and their input will be incorporated in subsequent activities. Additionally, the final project activity will be roundtables with indigenous community members, corporate representatives, and government officials. Success will be measured by the degree to which videos produced by the project stimulate productive dialogue between these stakeholders and lead to decisions aimed at minimizing the potential harm to local communities caused by the mine/railway.
If your project were to be selected as a Rising Voices grantee, what would be the general timeline of project activities in 2014?
(*project timeline dependent on date of notification)
June: Presentation of project to participant communities and obtaining of Free Prior and Informed Consent; presentation of project to government officials and corporate stakeholders; selection of project participants by local communities
July: Training of Baka project participants in Assoumdele and of Bagyeli participants in Bella; selection of topics for videos by community consensus; filming and editing
August: Ongoing filming by project participants with support from Okani staff
September: Community screenings of videos from both groups in Assoumdele and Bella; travelling cinema for screenings in other Baka/Bagyeli communities; posting of selected videos online
October: Roundtables with project participants, corporate and government representatives; screening of selected videos; identification and planning of harm reduction and education measures; final evaluation
Detail a specific budget of up to $2,500 USD for operating costs.
Per diem for participants for initial training: 5,000 CFA x 12 participants x 5 days ea. = 500,000 CFA = $626.76 USD
Food for initial trainings: 20,000 CFA/day x 10 days = 200,000 CFA = $423.41 USD
Transport costs (gas for Okani truck): 200,000 CFA = $423.41
Food for community dinners: 20,000 CFA x 6 screenings = 120,000 CFA = $254.05
Rent for meeting rooms in Ntam and Bipindi: 40,000 CFA x 2 = 80,000 CFA = $169.36
Food and soft drinks for participants: 40,000 CFA x 2 = 80,000 CFA = $169.36
USB Internet keys: 35,000 CFA x 2 = 70,000 CFA = $148.19
Credit for Internet keys: 10,000 CFA x 2 = 20,000 CFA = $42.34
Repairs to electric generator: 100,000 CFA = $211.71
Besides the microgrant funding, what other support can Rising Voices provide for your project to ensure its success?
Project participants could surely stand to learn from the experiences of other, similar projects from other parts of the world. Rising Voices can thus support the success of the Baka/Bagyeli community video project by providing contacts with these projects and the videos that they have produced. Okani would also be grateful to receive suggestions and links to training resources that could be used to further the skills of Okani staff in PV training, editing, etc.