Participatory Video


Using participatory video in this research project was based on the observation that farmers, and especially women farmers, have a limited voice in national climate change debates and planning processes. In a context where an increased amount of external funding is channeled to climate change interventions, we need to ensure that the latter are grounded on realistic assumptions that match farmers’ experiences, visions and expectations.


The participatory video component of the research project has the following objectives:

  1. Blend indigenous and expert knowledge on climatic and societal change to enhance our understanding of adaptation and guide policy design and planning
  2. Increase dialogue and reduce the communication gap between Nepali farmers and national and local policy-makers and experts
  3. Contribute to empower men and women farmers so that they may articulate their needs and raise their voices on the issues that matter to them


The overall goal is to enhance the performance of climate change interventions through a better integration of indigenous knowledge and a finer understanding of how rural men and women experience and address variability, risk and uncertainty into expert-driven debates and policy design.


Why participatory video?

Participatory videos offer the opportunity for farmers and communities to produce themselves visual accounts of their ideas, feelings and experiences. It can be used to raise their voices to national policy debates and communicate to a mass audience. Among other types of media such as scientific papers, project reports, etc, visual media has the advantage to show people in action in their daily life, to bring a human face to problems and to create empathy among the film audience.


Project implementation

IWMI trained 12 men and women farmers from two villages in Dhanusha District in video-making and editing. The farmers/film-makers formed six groups, who chose two topics each and video-interviewed on their own people from different social groups in their village on the topics selected. Farmers produced in total 12 short films on livelihood adaptation to climatic and societal changes.


The training programme, filming and video process was intertwined with focus group discussions with farmers, researchers and video trainers, with public video screening and debates, and with individual interviews about the filming process to generate a rich body of knowledge and reflection process on the issues raised by the farmers/film-makers


TV programme

IWMI partnered with the Nepal Forum of Environmental Journalists (NEFEJ) to develop an expository TV program from the films directed by the farmers. The journalists from NEFEJ showed farmers’ films to local or national policy-makers, government officials, development practitioners, and scientist and video-recorded their reaction and comments on the issues raised by the farmers. These comments were added to farmers’ films which were then packaged as a 20 min TV episode. The TV episodes are broadcasted every Monday at 8.30pm on NTV plus until December 2013.




The project does not claim that the videos produced by the farmers provide ‘the truth’ or give a more accurate understanding of the reality than traditional research methods. They represent perceptions and as any other forms of knowledge are biased by those involved in its production. For instance, individual experiences, gender, or class of the farmers/film-makers have certainly influenced the way they framed the choice of the film topics, their questions and the selection of respondents – although the latter represented a range of social groups as diverse as possible.

However, producing participatory video proved to be a pertinent process to create hybrid knowledge, combining both expert knowledge from the researchers involved and the indigenous knowledge from farmers.



The films directed by the farmers and the TV episodes produced by NEFEJ constitute useful tools to initiate debate among individuals within communities and between farmers and other stakeholders.

The TV episodes produced by NEFEJ initiate a dialogue whereby experts and policy-makers respond to farmers. Their responses are then broadcasted to a large audience in Nepal.

The films and TV episodes have also been shown in the villages, district cooperative members and in different scientific and policy-making arenas in Kathmandu as a way to initiate debates on climate-change related issues such as migration and changes in irrigation.



Participatory video offers farmers a greater role in shaping the forms and content of the knowledge produced on the issues that affect them. The research process has taken the form of a long term partnership between farmers and researchers where producing knowledge has been done in a collaborative way.


Women farmers/film-makers had to challenge preconceived ideas about the traditional role of woman by stepping out of their home, using a camera and interviewing men in their community. Furthermore, although they do not increase negotiating power per se, the videos produced can be used by men and women farmers as useful tools to defend opinions and claims. Lastly, the  video-making process has been an opportunity for men and women farmers to step back, evaluate recent changes in their lives, and reflect on their experiences and ideas on agriculture, livelihood adaptation, gender and climate change.


Videos produced
  • Pilot Participatory video training in Nepal (November 2012):

This 10 mn film documents the training process for the pilot participatory video project initiated in November 2012, with a group of women farmers from Thadhi Jhijha VDC, Dhanusha District.

Women’s voices in Nepal – Stories of Climate Change (November 2012)

This 15 mn film was the outcome of the training for the pilot participatory video project initiated in November 2012, with a group of women farmers from Thadhi Jhijha VDC, Dhanusha District. It was shot by the women during the training programme.


  • Adapting to climatic and societal change: voices from women and men farmers in Nepal (with English subtitles)

This series of films was produced by the group of men and women farmers from Dhanusha District on topics selected by them. Each films lasts around 10mn.


Film 1: Male out-migration in the village: women’s views

Film 2: Male out-migration in the village: men’s views

Film 3: The dowry system and adaptation: women’s views

Film 4: Changing agriculture under a changing climate: men’s views

Film 5: Girls’ future: women’s views

Film 6: Cooperating under a changing climate: men’s views


  • TV episodes Samudayako Aawaj (in Nepali and Maithili with Nepali subtitles)

These videos were produced by NEFEJ and broadcasted on two Nepali TV channels: Image Channel from July to October 2013 and NTV plus from November to December 2013.

The 20 mn TV episodes include a short presentation, followed by the films directed by the farmers and the comments of experts and policy-makers on farmers’ films.


Episode 1. Migration – women’s views

Episode 2. Migration – men’s views

Episode 3. Dowry and vulnerability – women’s views

Episode 4: Changing agriculture under a changing climate – men’s views

Episode 5. Girls’ future – women’s views

Episode 6: Cooperating under a changing climate – men’s views

Episode 7: The failure of agriculture – women’s views

Episode 8: Addressing out-migration – men’s views

Episode 9: Roads matter – men’s views

Episode 10: Changes in women’s conditions – women’s views

Episode 11: The education system – men’s views

Episode 12: Our roads, our lives – women’s views

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