BBC Media Action's blog

Getting data on the lives of ordinary people in the developing world

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Authors: Kavita Abraham Dowsing and Sonia Whitehead, October 10 2016 - Ahead of the launch of BBC Media Action’s data portal in October, Kavita Abraham-Dowsing and Sonia Whitehead explain why we need more data about the views, aspirations and challenges of ordinary people in the developing world.

What’s the biggest concern of a mother of four living in rural Bangladesh? What does a young man looking for work in Freetown most want for his future? What are their opinions on issues like the environment and their government? Who do they trust?

It’s often known what governments are worried about, but it’s a lot more difficult to find out about the lives of ordinary people in the developing world. This is in contrast to places like the UK and USA, where the media is awash with statistics from a new poll or survey of the general public.

Data’s everywhere but isn’t about everyone

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I have 140 friends, and I speak to them nearly every day

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Author: BBC Media Action's Caroline Chukwura, September 28 2016 - Growing up in Lagos, Nigeria, I had a pen pal far away in Nice, France. I was always excited to receive letters from her – I remember we bonded over photos of our home towns and discussions about our pets. She had dogs, while I had a parrot and 40 pigeons.

I’m older now, and have a daughter of my own whom I hope will have pen pals soon. But just because I’m an adult doesn’t mean I can’t enjoy being in touch with people far away. In fact, I do it daily as part of my work – although my pals are all in Nigeria, and mobile calls and text messages have replaced pen, paper and stamps.

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What big international development events are still to come in 2016?

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Author: BBC Media Action's Melanie Archer, September 29 2016 - 2016 has been a busy year so far. The World Humanitarian Summit took place in Istanbul while the British Government hosted a major anti-corruption conference. But the year’s not over yet and the next few months hold a lot in store. Here are some autumn (and early winter) highlights from the international development calendar.

September

19th: UN Summit for Refugees and Migrants | #UN4RefugeesMigrants

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The TV drama helping improve the health of garment factory workers in Bangladesh on their lunch break

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Author: Dr Faisal Mahmud, September 28 2016 - Garment factory workers in Bangladesh are watching screenings of a health drama during their lunch breaks to help improve their - and their children’s health.

Rows of factory workers in colourful dress sit attentively looking up at flickering images cast on the wall by a purring projector. Many of the clothes they produce make their way to high-street shops in Europe and America.

They are sitting comfortably on fabric-covered benches watching Ujan Ganger Naiya (Sailing Against the Tide), a television drama designed to help improve child and maternal health in Bangladesh.

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Will the World Development Report miss out the media's role in public dialogue?

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Author: Will Taylor, September 21 2016 - Will Taylor reviews the ‘green cover’ draft of the World Development Report, which puts a spotlight on the media but could do more to lay out how to support inclusive public dialogue at scale.

Induced participation sounds both painful and unappealing. And taking it to mean a state-led mechanism of consultation – the definition initially used by the draft 2017 World Development Report (WDR) – it might well be.

Subtitled ‘Governance and the Law’, this report provides a broad-ranging analysis of how to help shape formal governance mechanisms for development outcomes. Yet some of the report’s most interesting thinking – on induced participation and public deliberation, which can be more encouragingly thought of as supporting societies to discuss and determine their future – is buried deep within its 300 pages.

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Changing perspective - the power of vertical video

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Author: Tom Hannen, September 21 2016 - I was watching my one-year-old son playing on a beach in Turkey when the terrible photo of Aylan Kurdi lying motionless on a beach further along the coast appeared on social media. I will never forget the shock of seeing this while my child played happily in the same sea.

When BBC Media Action's research team told me about their refugee project - a series of in-depth interviews about the communication needs of refugees in Europe - I was very keen to make a video to support it. Initially we planned to make a conventional motion graphic explainer video in a 16x9 widescreen TV format. But since the target audience was humanitarian agencies working in the field, I decided to play with the vertical mobile phone format.

video: 
See video

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Stand up and be heard

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Author: Jackie Christie, September 8 2016 - Bribing people for their vote is common in Kenya – and young people are especially vulnerable. Jackie Christie explains how a new radio show is helping young people learn more about politics.

It was a stark comment, but one that highlights the challenges facing politics in Kenya: “Take their money yes, but vote for the candidate of your choice.” The young man was reflecting on the all-too-common practice of politicians ‘buying votes’ with cash or gifts, during a phone-in, on the first episode of BBC Sema, a brand new debate radio show for young people in Kenya.

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Are there alternatives to counter-propaganda in an information age?

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Author: James Deane and Will Taylor, September 7 2016 - Looking at information responses to extremism, James Deane and Will Taylor reflect on the challenges for media development organisations and call for an evidence-based debate that accommodates different approaches.

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Scriptwriting for Syrians

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Author: Hozan Akko, September 7 2016 - A new radio drama for Syrians hopes to bridge divides and help people deal with the pressures of prolonged conflict.

To the relief of her family, a woman miraculously emerges from the rubble of a collapsed building on a small street in a Syrian suburb. She is scratched and dusty but otherwise unscathed. Amidst the sirens, there is the faint sound of broken wood and glass cracking beneath her feet. She’s escaped with her life – but her family business, a small restaurant, has been completely destroyed in the blast. Gazing back at the restaurant ruins, Archi has already resolved to rebuild what she has lost.

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We need to start talking about AIDS again

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Author: Caroline Sugg, August 31 2016 - In the early days of HIV, communication was at the heart of many successful prevention efforts but has never been fully integrated into the global response. Caroline Sugg explains why this needs to change, by explaining how a focus on behavioural and social change can help tackle current challenges posed by HIV and AIDS.

The early days of HIV were dark indeed. Freshly made coffins lined the streets of African towns, stark symbols of communities ravaged by a new and little understood killer. The intense stigma faced by people living with the disease around the world cruelly compounded their suffering.

But in those frightening times, important clues on how to effectively fight HIV were already emerging. We should remember these clues today as the world wakes up to the fact that we are failing to prevent more than 2 million new infections a year.http://www.unaids.org/en/resources/fact-sheet

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