Recording and using local voices for knowledge Sharing
In many remote rural areas people are living without access to electricity, mobile phones or community radio. Literacy levels may also be low in such areas. Appropriate ways of sharing knowledge in these areas are in local languages using local voices. A mix of new and established ICT can offer a useful solution to the knowledge needs of local people. Using a digital recording of local voice giving appropriate information on, for example, a livelihood topic such as the veterinary care of an ox or goat the audio can be played by a local community.
Open source software for recording and conversion to MP3 format can be downloaded free of charge. One popular software package is Audacity which will run on any computer: Mac, Linux, or Windows based. Audacity can be downloaded from: http://audacity.sourceforge.net/ Use Audacity to record audio on your computer and edit in a number of formats such as MP3 or WAV. Full tutorials and help sections are available at: http://audacity.sourceforge.net/help/
Appropriate hardware will depend on local conditions prevailing in a particular project. The quality of the recording will be improved if you use a dedicated microphone rather than one built into the laptop. We have used standard MP3 players (without a radio) in conjunction with external loudspeakers as shown in the photograph below. Such an arrangement allows approximately 50 people to listen in an outdoor environment.
Figure 1: Listening to a podcast in Gwanda South, Zimbabwe. Photo: David J Grimshaw
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Using existing mass media
The quality of the knowledge product is crucial to the uptake. Use well respected sources such as the local or national agricultural extension service or veterinary service. See the Guide to Local Content in Local Voices (Grimshaw & Gudza 2011). Translate into the appropriate local language and use a local person to make the recording, taking car e to use local idioms and dialects.
Reaching the First Mile
In most remote rural areas there will be no available Internet access so distribution of the audio file by podcasting will not be appropriate. In such case the hardware (see above) will be kept in the local community by the community extensionists (residing in the same village). Implementing partners regularly visit the communities to update content. This approach keeps things simple and low cost; it also encourages the embedding of indigenous kn owledge.
Figure 2: Recording a Podcast in Mbire. Photo: Lawrence D. Gudza
References and further reading
Talyarkan, S., Grimshaw, D.J. and Lowe, L. (2005) Connecting the First Mile: Investigating Best Practices for ICTs and Information Sharing for Development, Practical Action Publishing: Rugby, 48pp. Grimshaw, D.J. and Aria, R. (2007) Local Content, Local Voices, ICT Update, May 2007, CTA: Leiden. Grimshaw, D.J. and Gudza, L.D. (2010) Local Voices Enhance Knowledge Uptake: Sharing Local Content in Local Voices, Electronic Journal of Information Systems in Developing Countries, Vol. 40, (2010) 1 -12. Grimshaw, D.J. and Gudza, L.D. (2011) Guide to Local Content in Local Voices, Practical Action: Rugby.
Using existing mass media
Oosterlaken, I. Grimshaw, D.J. & Janssen, P. (2012) Marrying the capability approach, appropriate technology and STS: The case of podcasting devices in Zimbabwe, in: Ilse Oosterlaken & Jeroen van den Hoven (Eds.) The Capability Approach, Technology and Design, Springer: Dordrecht. BBC Technology News, 7 February 2006 Podcasting for the developing world, SciDev Net, 19 June 2008 Podcasts to inform poor farmers, SciDev Net, 13 January 2010 Audacity can be downloaded from: http://audacity.sourceforge.net/ Hitola, B. (2011) Getting Started with Audacity 1.3, Packt Publishing.
This Technical Brief by David J. Grimshaw and Lawrence D. Gudza is based on the work undertaken in Zimbabwe by Practical Action Southern Africa. Practical Action The Schumacher Centre Bourton-on-Dunsmore Rugby, Warwickshire, CV23 9QZ United Kingdom Tel: +44 (0)1926 634400 Fax: +44 (0)1926 634401 E-mail: email@example.com Website: http://practicalaction.org/practicalanswers/
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 America.
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