By Jorge Rojas-Ruiz, Humanitas Global
The Strengthening Partnerships, Results and Innovations in Nutrition Globally (SPRING) project funded by USAID hosted a webinar today called: Seeds of Change: Leveraging Community Video for Agriculture and Nutrition Behavior Change in South Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa. The webinar focused "on the Digital Green community-led video approach, and how nutrition can be integrated into this unique agricultural extension platform."
Digital Green was launched as part of Microsoft Research India’s Technology for Emerging Markets team in 2006 with the mission to integrate innovative technology with global development efforts to improve human well-being. The tech savvy company, led by CEO Rikin Gandhi, has helped produce over 2,800 videos in 20 different languages with more than 150,000 households across seven states in India, Ethiopia, Tanzania, and Ghana.
SPRING is partnering with Digital Green in Odisha, India to tailor the use of this video-based methodology specifically for nutrition content. Videos focusing on critical maternal, infant and child nutrition behaviors are shared by trained community agents among small community and women’s groups on a weekly basis using highly portable, battery-operated projectors.
In the agriculture sector, Digital Green’s approach has been found to improve the efficiency of existing development efforts by ten times per dollar spent. Digital Green operates under seven key principles which include: Partnership, Community ownership, Localization, Cost realism, Mediation, Training, and Gender.
During the webinar, Gandhi explained that the model framework of their operations consists of training village-level mediators who then produce videos on locally relevant agronomic, health and livelihood practices to motivate and educate community members. A facilitator from the community mediates a discussion around the video screenings by pausing, rewinding, asking questions and responding to feedback. Subsequently, adoption verification visits are scheduled to measure the impact of the dissemination on actual practices.
Digital Green utilizes a data management framework, COCO (Connect Online, Connect Offline), to capture data. COCO has the ability to operate offline in low and limited bandwidth locations, only requiring Internet connectivity when a user is ready to synchronize their data with the global repository.
Furthermore, the company developed farmerbook, an open-access platform which displays detailed timeline-based activities of each individual farmer they work with along with the villages plotted on Google Maps. This feature encourages healthy competition among partners, facilitators and community members and supports transparency and accountability in extension systems.
According to data from Digital Green’s website, in four years the organization has reached 2,000 villages across India, Ethiopia and Ghana and improved the lives of more than 160,000 community members—of which 70% are women—in South Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa. As for the company’s goal for future years, “we aim to reach 10,000 villages in India and Sub Saharan Africa, enabling the communities we reach to live with dignity.