Image Caption: Participants and facilitators in the early 2022 MEV-CAM training. Image Credit: FAO

Making Every Voice Count for Adaptive Management (MEV-CAM): Capturing best practices and sharing knowledge in dryland regions

The ‘Making Every Voice Count for Adaptive Management’ (MEV-CAM) initiative has launched into action, collecting important knowledge from communities on the ground in dryland areas.

Led by the Dryland Forestry team at the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and funded by the South-South and Triangular Cooperation program, MEV-CAM promotes an inclusive and systemic learning-by-doing approach for monitoring and disseminating knowledge, lessons learnt, and experiences of dryland management.  

It helps communities document the baseline conditions and existing sustainable land and forest management practices in dryland landscapes by equipping them with the skills to capture and present their experiences through a visual medium. In this way, MEV-CAM takes the voices directly from the ground and provides an innovative method of knowledge sharing and documentation.  

Progress so far 

The project has just concluded the Module A training, which offered a general introduction to the Participatory Video and the Most Significant Change (PVMSC) technique through 10 sessions. RFS participants from Tanzania, Burkina Faso, Burundi and Niger joined the training with those from Angola, Botswana, Kazakhstan, Mongolia, Mozambique, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Lebanon, Mauritania, and Togo. All will begin their fieldwork in May when they put the video skills they have learned into action.

Trainees were enthusiastic when discussing the promising practices they wanted to highlight and the activities they hope to implement whilst working with communities on the ground. As part of the training, they prepared an action plan to guide their work in the field, including the tools that will help them achieve the best results. 

Module B focuses on how to facilitate participatory video processes and support communities in telling their own stories and exploring issues that are important to them. Trainees undergoing this training are also close to finishing and are starting to prepare for their fieldwork. This group includes RFS participants from Kenya, Malawi, Tanzania, and Uganda who joined with Zambia. From these, three countries will participate in the next step, Module C, which will provide in-depth video editing training.

Module C training 

The MEV-CAM method is currently being used in both the GEF-6 Resilient Food Systems programme (RFS) and GEF-7 Dryland Sustainable Landscapes Impact Programme (DSL-IP) projects. To create a link between the knowledge learned from both, Professor Weston Mwase, a forestry expert from Malawi, will collect and analyze the best practices that can be shared and upscaled between the different initiatives. This knowledge will then be used by the Malawi, Tanzania, Burundi and Uganda participants taking part in the third training, Module C.

RFS participants from Malawi, Tanzania and Burundi presented their best practices and lessons learned, sparking a discussion on how to upscale knowledge to the GEF-7 projects from the same countries, and how to best highlight these through the Participatory Video approach. Both Burundi and Uganda’s discussions focused on tracking the progress of these best practices and how the knowledge captured can be useful in other contexts. 

Although each team will centre their attention on one best practice for their first Participatory Video, sixteen best practices have so far been identified by the trainees belonging to Module C. These are being translated into summarized templates detailing projects’ outcomes, which will be shared through project platforms to help identify recurring themes between different countries and facilitate regional knowledge dissemination.  

Both Tanzania and Uganda will focus their Participatory Videos on beekeeping best practices. Burundi will be highlighting best practices for watershed management, and Malawi will focus on theatre for development.

Best practices 

Some of the main best practices identified from the four countries are: contour farming, rural agroforestry, irrigation farming, income-generating activities such as livestock pass on programs, integrated riverbank and catchment management, sustainable land management, water harvesting and woodland planting and fencing. 

Thanks to these efforts, we can already see how useful Participatory Videos are as a tool to monitor projects from beginning to end. Stay tuned for the first videos from the trainees!

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