During a communications training, the facilitator posed a rather strange question to the room; How many pictures have you taken since morning? Most of us rushed to our photo galleries to count the selfies taken. After all, the scenery in that hotel was breathtaking. He later asked us to blink, collating the eye to a camera lens.
“How many times do you blink in a day? How many exciting things do you see in a day? Now that is visual storytelling.” He said.
In the development space, sustainable development goals are advanced through different approaches to build the capacity of individuals and communities that enhance their future with skills, knowledge, and information that can help them make informed decisions. Documenting these social and economic improvements is a powerful tool that engages and inspires communities to sustainable growth. Often this documentation is done through a tell approach to data collection that is later turned into spreadsheets and fact sheets. Like the proverbial saying “seeing is believing”, in the development space, the show-and-tell approach is preferable to demonstrate impact.
Visual storytelling is a key component of effective development communication, as it transcends language barriers, creates emotional connections, leaves a lasting impression, engages audiences, and amplifies the impact of initiatives. By harnessing the power of visual storytelling, we can convey complex messages with clarity, evoke empathy, and inspire action to drive positive change.
Take the Lower Eastern County of Kitui in Kenya, for instance, which was an area historically synonymous with drought. This region has undergone a profound change thanks to the collaborative efforts of various stakeholders, including development partners, local and national governments, and the adoption of smart technologies. Today, Kitui County stands as a shining example of sustainable agriculture and resilience, with a total annual average crop production valued at KES 5.26 billion. This includes 80,680MT for cereals, 771MT for industrial crops, and 36,950MT for horticultural crops, showcasing the remarkable progress and economic value that has been achieved (according to the Devolution knowledge hub).
Dorcas and Musembi Mutua, a couple in Kitui County producing green gram seed as out-growers for Inyamandu CBO supported though the USAID KCDMS Activity
Dimitilas Nyamai, Mama Manu, a farmer in Taveta benefiting from Agrinutrition training and producing drought-tolerant crop seeds for a TANAFACO seed merchant though the USAID KCDMS Activity
But behind the impressive statistics lie the real stories of the farmers whose lives have been transformed. Through the lens of visual storytelling, we can delve into their experiences and witness the profound impact that development interventions have had on their lives. Let these pictures of the resilient farmers of Kitui County serve as a testament to the power of visual storytelling in effective development communication.
In the age of information overload, let’s embrace the visual realm to tell stories that go beyond words.
Lucia and Joseph Nguru, a youth couple in Kitui County benefiting from the USAID KCDMS activity expecting sales of KES 80,000 for cowpea seed
The Mutuas, a farmer couple in Ilika Sub-location on their 3-acre farm producing Drought Tolerant Crop Seed for Inyamandu ICBO seed merchant under the USAID KCDMS activity