by James Kamuye Kataru

While interacting with fellow SAWBO NETWORK leaders from different parts of African and sharing our experiences on using SAWBO-Scientific Animations Without Borders animated content, I realized that our separation by distance has been eliminated by real-time technology and our countries “made border-less” by the “Without Borders” in SAWBO’s name. Being a people that face similar social challenges, I concluded that SAWBO is a logical opportunity for Africa to craft a common approach to providing workable solutions and improving practices in our communities and countries.

After watching a video on a training session held by Mr. Wanangwa Msowoya who is the SAWBO NETWORK MALAWI Knowledge Manager, I was even more convinced that using the same approach we’ve been using in Kenya to disseminate SAWBO content, can unite African communities as we increase peer-to-peer education and fight poverty. In fact, we are now encouraged to employ the same approach in Liberia, Lesotho, Niger, Zambia, and other places our networks are taking root as we share experiences.

In Malawi, the 25 members of the Salisbury line community faith-based organization in Mzuzu were trained on the following topics which are covered in several SAWBO animation videos:

1.         What is SAWBO?

2.         How to use animation videos

3.         Installing and using the 3gp video deployer app

4.         How to access, watch, and share animation videos using the app

5.         How to wash your hands

6.         Cholera prevention(in Chichewa-Malawi)

7.         Survival gardening: How to create compost

8.         Scientific Animations without Borders (SAWBO)

9.         Mbeya manure

10.       Vertical gardening

The session which was held on Saturday October 22 introduced the Mzuzu community to free educative content provided by SAWBO and accessed by other communities in different languages across Africa.

Challenges addressed in the videos and solutions provided.

Another point of convergence by my fellow SAWBO NETWORK leaders from across Africa is that thematic areas addressed are at the core of Africa’s socio-economic emancipation. They are scientifically researched, attractively packaged in simple language, brief and straight to the point, comprehensively educative, and enjoyable to watch repeatedly. In other words, this is trustable “Gold Standard” information.  These videos have been “Africanized’ in a sense, that the content is very familiar with our local practices with more tips we didn’t know could work causing excitement after realizing we’ve been sitting on resources that are solutions! A good example is the jerrican bean storage technique which has revolutionized the way we store grains for food and seed to plant in the following seasons. Nobody ever imagined that a jerrycan could be used to store grains! However, using the polythene paper to secure the jerrican that’s filled with seed is so familiar with a local practice where the same technique is used to secure water in a jerrican.  

Translating videos into African languages and dialects.

Language has the power to unite and make people feel proud, recognized, and ultimately belong. SAWBO has broken the language barrier and helped trainers and extension service providers make inroads and navigate the rich and diverse African terrain. Translating animated videos into  local African languages and dialects for use in countries like Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Somalia, Rwanda, Zambia, Democratic Republic of Congo, Zimbabwe, Malawi, Lesotho, Mozambique, Ghana, Nigeria, and Niger just to mention a few being covered, is a great achievement.

One advantage to these translations is that the animated videos are friendlier to illiterate and semi-literate farmers or traders right in an African village. This provides a solution of access to extension services, as these farmers traditionally do not easily access government extension services. Notably, access to mobile phones, such as smartphones, provide easy access to this educative content both online and offline. The videos are provided free of charge to individuals, structured groups, educational institutions, and other persons of interest in our communities who can access internet to download from the SAWBO website or using the 3gp App that’s easy to install on 3G network smartphones, then share and watch them offline or using their television sets with friends and family at home.

 Food security and climate change intervention.

With a growing population, depleted food reserves, and increasing climatic change concerns, Sub-Saharan Africa is facing its worst nightmare in producing enough nutritious food to feed its ever-increasing population. Changing weather patterns, desertification, poor soil fertility, and over-reliance on scarce agricultural land have reduced food production as post-harvest management and poor storage have reduced food quality. Fertilizer prices have shot through the roof forcing farmers to struggle to manage their crop fields. Cases of undernourishment, hunger, and food insecurity are on the rise.

Intervention measures put in place by SAWBO include several animated videos on proper farm preparation and use that include raised beds, composting to enable farmers produce organic manure locally and use on their farms, drip irrigation systems to water farm during the dry period, environmentally friendly pesticides made from the neem trees, preserving grains and other food, storing grains and seed using the jerrican bean storage technique , and many more interventions are applicable in our African communities. As stated earlier, many of these video animations are translated into local languages and dialects.

Improved health interventions.

A common approach to disease control and health management is key to our continent’s progress. Uniting to fight and control epidemics such as Cholera, Ebola, Covid-19, Dengue, Zika virus, and many others can be achieved by sharing SAWBO animated videos across our borders. This rich knowledge has helped us realize the common practices we share across communities. Through unity, we can identify areas of interest, locate those that need intervention, mobilize resources, and notify our governments and other partners within a short time.

Women and youth empowerment

Through uniting to share SAWBO content with my fellow African network leaders, we’ve also discovered that we share the same structured groups used to advocate for youth and women’s empowerment. Organizations like NGOs, CBOs, self-help groups, and associations working within our communities across Africa are called by the similar names, structured in the same way, approach challenges in the same way, and attain desirable results. Using SAWBO content in a variety of thematic areas, we can achieve growth and success in these organizations and attain productivity.

It is high time for Africa to unite with SAWBO and use the content to provide solutions to our common challenges in agriculture, health, social growth, and development. This is an organization that’s come to our rural villages, sees no social borders or boundaries, and speaks to our hearts in local languages and dialects! Using social media platforms like WhatsApp, Facebook, Twitter, etc., and organizing training sessions in communities, we can make SAWBO content universal as we form strong intervention groups and grow them into expansive networks that we can use in the dissemination of information and content. Let’s embrace the knowledge!

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