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Published on April 6th, 2023

How a Communications Lab in Uganda Encourages Applied Skills

Nelson Tukundane, Communications Officer at Uganda National Farmers Federation. Photo Credit: Feed the Future Uganda ISS Activity

With the quick changes in the technology and equipment used to share and receive information, Tukundane Nelson, a Communications Officer at the Uganda National Farmers Federation needed help to keep his skills sharp. As he said, “I needed refresher training sessions to boost my photography and videography skills to better my output, for example, update the Institution website frequently and social media platforms.” These elements are an important part of how the Uganda National Farmers Federation communicates to its constituents.

To fully understand the magnitude of Uganda National Farmers Federation’s needs, the USAID-funded Feed the Future Uganda Institutional and Systems Strengthening (ISS) Activity, implemented by DT Global, conducted a communications gap analysis for Ugandan Ministries Departments and Agencies and Industry Apex Organizations. ISS is a five-year initiative with a goal of increasing responsiveness and accountability of Ministries Departments and Agencies and Industry Apex Organization to their members, constituents, and the public, and of creating a more conducive environment for the agriculture sector market actors to productively engage and coordinate, driving inclusive agriculture-led economic in the country.

Among the communication skills gaps that ISS found, one of the uniform gaps was photography and videography skills. ISS held a training on photography and videography skills, video planning, storyboard scripting, shooting an interview and B-roll footage using digital cameras, editing a video using professional and accessible software, and amplifying the messages of videos using social media. After, participants expressed a need to have access to the necessary equipment to put acquired skills into practice.

To fully strengthen the key capacity element – communication and the acquired skills – ISS invested resources and established a Communications Lab that is housed at the ISS offices. The Lab provides access to equipment and directly supports efforts by beneficiaries to use ICT solutions.

The goal of the Communications Lab is to help beneficiaries to identify appropriate technology solutions and create content that drives behavior change, tell their stories better, and improve their advocacy efforts. Equipment in the lab includes cameras, tripod stands, recorders, and laptops with editing software. The equipment is provided to support institutions and reduce the costs of outsourcing to professionals that provide photography and videography services.

“It was easy for me to borrow a camera from the communications lab,” said Nelson. “The equipment provided a conducive environment that enabled me to take better photos which have been used to update the Uganda National Farmers Federation website on a regular basis and document the 28th National Agricultural Show in a video that summarized the 10-day show.”

The Uganda National Farmers Federation is one of the Industry Apex Organizations that benefits from ISS’s work. It is a membership-based umbrella organization of farmer associations in Uganda. The Uganda National Farmers Federation advocates and lobbies to address the developmental issues and programs of farmers. The Activity is supporting the Uganda National Farmers Federation to build a robust advocacy mechanism that emanates from its lowest structures to the national level. This capacity building is intended to ensure that the Uganda National Farmers Federation improves its performance in collecting real farmer voices, processing those voices into a body of evidence, and using this evidence to develop various advocacy tools.

“The communications materials that I have developed have increased traffic on our website and readily demonstrate Uganda National Farmers Federation’s activities to stakeholders and other partners,” Nelson explained.

Nelson shared his next steps while using lab equipment. “The next video project I intend to produce will showcase how Uganda National Farmers Federation together with Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries is promoting food security at the national and farmer levels as well as a video that shows the uptake of new farming technologies that could improve their productivity.”

Acknowledging the impact of the incentive – the Communications Lab with Nelson as an early adopter – the innovation has been adopted and cascaded by other development partners like Feed the Future Uganda Agricultural Research Activity, an initiative funded by USAID to commercialize the National Agricultural Research Organization research and innovation produced for the market.

Says Nelson, “Receiving the videography and photography skills refresher has helped me improve on the quality of products I share out on behalf of our Institution.”