The power of informal video halls

At Twaweza we remain convinced of the power of moving image as a behavioral change communications tool. The core determinant to action, or behavior change, of motivation is much more likely to be impacted by inspiring examples portrayed through video. Nonetheless, the data show us that the reach of television in East Africa is still limited.

In Uganda we decided to try to expand the reach of our video content focused on increasing motivation and efficacy for citizens by developing an innovative partnership centered on Uganda’s ubiquitous video halls and commercial video distributors.

Dubbing over foreign films is a huge industry in Uganda and the VJs who do the dubbing develop their own local followings as celebrities in their own right. We worked with a partner, Home Needs Network, to insert short clips of Twaweza content into 240 distinct dubbed films. The VJs were also asked to insert references to the messages of this content into the audio for the films themselves.

These were then distributed for free to a database of 295 distributors in all 80 districts of Uganda, while 1000 video hall operators were notified that this content was available to buy at their local distributor or video library.

This monitoring brief follows up with video halls as to whether they received video content from Twaweza and whether they perceived positive or negative reactions to this content from their audiences. The idea is to understand whether video distributors provide an avenue by which to transmit content to video halls.

The findings are mixed; only 185 out of 1000 video halls on our list were reachable. Among these, only 41% recall seeing Twaweza content inserted into films. Based on the relatively poor results, Twaweza subsequently partnered with Peripheral Vision International who have an existing network of video halls to whom they distribute content regularly. Findings from this exercise will be available in the coming months. 

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Authors: Varja Lipovsek



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