#ICRD2012 Showcasing research on development

Gozde Zorlu
Freelance journalist, SciDev.Net


Communicating through creative and innovative ways can enable researchers to reach audiences beyond academic circles. This is crucial in order to raise awareness among relevant stakholders, and to influence policy and practice. For this reason, it forms a key feature of the NCCR’s approach to development work. And as a journalist, I was naturally interested in attending a session titled ‘Showcasing Research Products’ which focused on this issue specifically.

One particular presentation stood out. “Voices of Youth” was a video project that aimed to raise awareness of teenage pregnancy in Tanzania; a country with one of the highest rates in the world.

Researchers from the NCCR carried out a workshop with young people to find out the reasons for teenage pregnancy and the main sources of information for them on how to reduce risk. Based on the results of this workshop, the teenagers planned, scripted and acted in a video to voice their thoughts and experiences. Ultimately, the project was aimed at empowering teenagers with information to avoid risks associated with teenage pregnancy, which is linked to poverty.

In workshops, the teenagers presented the video to various interested policy makers and practitioners from international organisations (including UNICEF and USAID) and the Tanzanian government; a fine example of a transdisciplinary approach. Significantly, it was the very first time that policy makers, sexual and reproductive health practitioners and young people were brought together to meet and discuss the relevant issues.

Screenings of the video, which have been used for reproductive health interventions, were funded by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation. The video was aired on local TV stations, and magazines featuring articles and relevant information were also created and widely disseminated among teenagers.

Back at the session, it was argued that the videos were able to reach relevant audiences in ways that would not have been possible through communicating research through traditional channels; in a journal or a book, for example.

It was also highlighted that the use of videos, and other creative ways of communicating, are gaining momentum among researchers working in development. But support and funding for such initiatives has yet to catch up, especially because the impact of such projects can be difficult to predict and assess.

The “Voices of Youth” video can be watched on YouTube as well as a useful video providing an overview of the production process. Click here to watch the videos.

This blog post is part of our 3rd International Conference on Research for Development: Research for Global Transformation blog that takes place in Bern, Switzerland, from 20-22 August 2012. To read news and analysis on research for development please visit our website.

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