Audio books offer an innovative solution to reach rural communities in Uganda

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Audio books offer an innovative solution to reach rural communities in UgandaDramatic dialogue, music and poetry are not the usual means by which the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) raises awareness and awareness among rural communities about women’s land rights, but an innovative project in Uganda is doing just that through so-called Talking Books. Audio books are audio devices that allow people with little or no literacy to participate in training in a dynamic way.

In partnership with Amplio, a US-based social non-profit, the pilot launched these easy-to-use gadgets to engage approximately 8,000 people and share stories and ideas about women’s land rights and the benefits they bring to households and communities.

The Talking Books were developed by Amplio to reach remote, underserved rural populations who are often bypassed by conventional development initiatives. Designed for those with limited access to the internet or electricity, the audiobooks can play several hours of carefully tailored audio content, work offline, and work on either rechargeable or traditional batteries.


Digital solutions for learning and engagement

“This initiative will shed light on how inclusive digital solutions can be effective tools to promote social inclusion and empowerment in rural contexts, as well as innovative vehicles to drive social change and promote gender equality,” stressed Martha Osorio, FAO- Gender and Rural Development Officer who leads the initiative. “The Talking Books will motivate people to think about and discuss the gender dimension of land issues by stimulating debates within households and whole communities.”

The audio messages question discriminatory social norms and encourage new ways of thinking. For example, one dialogue highlights the benefits that registering the land on behalf of the wife and husband can bring to family well-being, since both are more inclined to invest in their land after registering together. Likewise, a widow’s testimony describes how community elders help her mediate with her late husband’s brothers to convince them that she has the right to continue living, using and controlling the land, on which she and her family have depended for the last ten years.

The content of the audiobooks also covers other topics relevant to the agricultural context, such as: B. Climate change and how to mitigate its impact on food production and farmer livelihoods.

Thanks to the support of FAO’s Flexible Voluntary Contribution (FVC), the project runs under the Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment in Agriculture, Food Security and Nutrition sub-programme and is now working towards distributing 400 audio books through the Farmer Field School (FFS) networks and the Watershed Management (WM) groups in two districts in Uganda’s West Nile region, Adjumani and Moyo.

The members of these groups who receive the audio books have the opportunity to listen to the educational audio content as they wish, either alone or together with neighbours, friends or family members. Because the devices allow users to record their questions and feedback about the project and the news they hear, FAO and Amplio can analyze and use this data to tailor the news for subsequent rounds of delivery based on users’ interests. needs and priorities.

Field implementation started on August 8, 2022 in Adjumani. The inauguration event was an opportunity to bring together local government representatives and top chiefs who expressed interest in and support for such a ‘very good’, ‘unique’ and ‘innovative approach to communication’. ‘, as various participants described the audio books.

The project team conducted a baseline survey to gain a better understanding of gender dynamics and social norms within target communities, as well as their knowledge and awareness of land rights and related national laws. The baseline serves to inform program and content design, as well as to assess changes in knowledge and attitudes in the communities that will receive the audiobooks by the end of the program.

Distributed by the APO Group on behalf of the FAO Regional Office for Africa.

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