Accelerating Horizontal Learning in Bangladesh’s Polders: Using Videos as a Force Multiplier
Southern Bangladesh is a deltaic region with largely rural communities, that have always been at risk from cyclones, floods, and salinization of land and water. Since the 1970s, largely through bilateral cooperation with the Dutch government, Bangladesh has built a network of 139 polders. The polders enclose and protect its coastal communities from flooding and saline intrusion, allowing for controlled intake and outflow of water.
Living within polders requires doing a new kind of water management—managing sluice gates at water intake and outflow points, maintaining drainage canals (khals), building and maintaining drainage structures across roads, etc. It also requires new kinds of agricultural practices-- utilizing land and water in a way that is more productive and more adaptive to climate events.
At this point, good practices related to both water management and agriculture within polders need to be disseminated widely among polder communities. Currently, this happens through exchange between Water Management Groups (WMGs), most of which have been set up under the Dutch-Bangla Blue Gold project. WMG members share experiences and good practices within each other and with other WMGs through meetings, field visits and melas (fairs).
Bangladesh has the fastest growing number of smartphone users in South and South East Asia. At the same time, internet connectivity is also growing rapidly. This creates the opportunity to use mobile video as a catalyst for Horizontal Learning. This project does so through 4 sets of activities
Mobile video training:
Select WMG members (preferably young ones, who already use smartphones as second nature) are provided training in basics of shooting videos with smartphones. Anyone can press the record button. However, with knowledge of concepts such as framing, planning shoots, managing light and sound, and compiling shots, one makes good videos that others can watch and learn from.
Besides, video editing trainings are provided to Union Digital Centre (UDC) entrepreneurs—information intermediaries who provide rural communities services like internet access, printing, smartphone repair; and media content such as videos and songs for smartphones. UDC entrepreneurs will play a key role in making capturing and sharing of good practices through videos becoming common practice.
Mobile video competition:
Open to all WMG members. Entries are videos that demonstrate good practices in water management, profitable agriculture, and WMG management. The competitions generate videos that will circulate good practices amongst WMGs. They also act as incentives to immediately implement learning outcomes from the trainings.
The project team will produce 18 videos, capturing 18 most promising good practices.
Gatherings of 30-50 WMG members where they watch and discuss videos produced by other WMG members as well as those produced by the project team. The audience chooses what videos to watch and discusses relevance/replicability of the good practices. Discussions are mediated by experts in various fields also invited to the screenings.
Horizontal Learning Manual
Learnings from the project will be used to produce a Horizontal Learning Manual. This document can be used to implement similar Horizontal Learning interventions.