Participatory Video: giving a voice to rural communities

Advancing participatory communication

Enabling community dialogue

Promoting gender equality

Raising farmer’s voice

Participatory Video (PV) represents an accessible and inclusive methodology that differs significantly from conventional filming techniques. Instead of being used as a one-way broadcast medium, video can be used as a communication process tool which enables rural people to address their information, views and knowledge needs so they can achieve their development objectives. In the practice of PV, the process is often considered more important than the final product itself. The goal of PV is to empower rural communities by giving them the opportunity to document experiences from their own perspectives, as well as analyze issues and provide solutions related to the development of the community. Throughout this process, rural communities are able to share identified problems or achievements, as well as to discuss appropriate solutions to improve their lives. PV can be used as a tool to raise awareness and advocacy with decision-makers and provides a useful tool for development practitioners to discover what rural communities really need.


FAO ComDev (Communication for Development) has been among the pioneers in the use of video in development, particularly for knowledge sharing and capacity development in support of agricultural extension and rural learning. PV has been applied extensively with farmers and indigenous peoples’ organizations in rural areas of Latin America and Africa. Through these tools, farmers have the opportunity to document experiences from their perspectives, analyze issues and identify solutions. As a result they are able to shape their own form of sustainable development based on local needs. From 1970 onwards, ComDev has implemented projects based on audiovisual pedagogy for rural development. During the 1980s and 1990s, ComDev produced over 400 videos mainly for training and knowledge sharing. They covered a wide range of agricultural and rural development topics. Videos were also used to provide a feedback of information from the project areas to institutions, thereby helping them improve management and coordination. In this framework, the project Proderith, which was started in Mexico in 1997, used video recording and playback to promote an internal debate in the community about its past, present and possible future. The aim of the methodology was to reach a collective perception regarding the local situation and look at future strategies to respond to local needs.

In the framework of the project Food Security through Commercialization Agriculture (FSCA) in West Africa (2006), ComDev used PV as a communication tool for mediating between rural people's needs and the possible sources of expertise to respond to those needs.

The methodology of PV enabled the direct participation of the stakeholders who were able to actively participate in the development project by articulating their ideas, recognizing the value of their skills and planning local development activities. Experience has shown that rural people who have benefited from PV training are more apt to address their own development problems, use newly acquired skills and knowledge, and act as development agents for neighboring communities.

Marketing the future - The Gambia participatory video