Demonstrations are a very effective way of introducing and explaining improved or unfamiliar
ways of doing practical tasks. A good demonstration will clearly show people how and why a
new method or product might be useful to them. It will also give people an opportunity to
participate themselves, so that they can learn from direct practical experience.
Advantages of Demonstrations
People are likely to
remember what they have
learnt, because they are
‘learning by doing’.
People can test out new
methods and products and
ask questions there and then
to get immediate answers.
convincing because they can
take place in the real
situation (e.g. the home or
farm of community
Demonstrating a donkey plough - Darfur Sudan
Practical Action Sudan
The local language can be
used, and literacy is not
Demonstrations are liked by people who are not comfortable in formal training
How to Use Demonstrations
Demonstrations are most effective if the subject matter is genuinely relevant to the lives of
people in the community and the people conducting the demonstration are trusted and well
Find out about the community’s existing knowledge in the subject and current practices.
The person conducting the demonstration should be clear about the purpose of the
demonstration and have suitable expertise.
Use a step-by-step approach if necessary and allow people to practice at each stage.
Improve people’s understanding by repeating parts or all of the demonstration.
An appropriate venue and time should be chosen and announced.
Ensure that all the necessary equipment and materials are available.
A series of separate demonstrations could be planned (e.g. 1 preparing soil, 2 sowing
seeds, 3 fertilising and weeding, 4 harvesting and storage).
Prepare summary drawings or written sheets for people to take home.
Consider recording the demonstration with photographs or video.
Constraints of Demonstrations
A person with relevant expertise is essential. A poorly planned or incompetent demonstration
can turn people against the method or equipment being explained.
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Real Life Story
Practical Demonstrations Preserve Rainfall in Sudan
Like much of Sudan, farming is hard in the areas around
Kebkabiya in North Darfur, in the west of the country. The
land is arid and rainfall is scarce and unpredictable.
Most of the land owned and cultivated by the local farmers is
sandy loam soil with a hard surface. Any rain that does fall
tends to run off the sloping land. Under such conditions, the
traditional hand hoe is an inadequate farming tool which is
time consuming to use and causes many hardships to women
who perform 75% of the cultivation activities. In the 1990s
several development organisations came together to develop
new donkey draw ploughs to help tackle the cultivation
problem. The ploughs were designed with the help of local
farmers, and made by village blacksmiths.
A series of local demonstrations were designed to familiarise
local farmers with the new way of ploughing. Farmers were
shown how to link the plough to the donkey, how to train the
donkey to pull the plough, and how to undertake cultivation.
Donkey feeding and healthcare was also taught.
After the demonstrations local farmers explained that they were
Practical Action Sudan
now able to break up the soil’s surface crust and plough big
ridges. This meant that precious rainfall was captured and
allowed to soak into the soil, instead of being lost. Some farmers mentioned that the
ploughing also made subsequent weeding easier.
Real life story by kind permission of Practical Action Sudan
Using existing mass media Practical Action Technical Brief
Storytelling Practical Action Technical Brief
Community/Street drama Practical Action Technical Brief
Exposure Visits Practical Action Technical Brief
Newsletters / Booklets / Brochures Practical Action Technical Brief
Public Gatherings Practical Action Technical Brief
Information, Communication, Learning selection of Practical Action Technical Briefs
The Schumacher Centre
Rugby, Warwickshire, CV23 9QZ
Tel: +44 (0)1926 634400
Fax: +44 (0)1926 634401
This document is based on the Micro Media Card Pack: A Tool Kit for Community
Development Workers produced by Practical Action in October 2003.
Practical Action is a development charity with a difference. We know the simplest ideas can have the
most profound, life-changing effect on poor people across the world. For over 40 years, we have been
working closely with some of the world’s poorest people - using simple technology to fight poverty and
transform their lives for the better. We currently work in 15 countries in Africa, South Asia and Latin