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Knowledge from the Margins
Client: Institute of Development Studies and Beyond 2015

Building communication between marginalised people worldwide and global and national policy makers

The United Nations 'Millennium development Goals' end in 2015, and the UN has been engaged in debate with civil society worldwide about the policy framework that should follow. Development interventions often do not benefit the most marginalised groups, and in many cases lives have worsened. Economic growth has destroyed sustainable livelihoods, and resources intended to help are inaccessible, but the poorest people are usually absent in public consultations.

Real Time had two key roles in the Participate initiative. This participatory research programme, instigated by IDS at Sussex University, has worked with partners in 30 countries to bring in-depth evidence of the realities of poverty from the perceptions of the poorest communities into the post 2015 policy debate.

Dr Jackie Shaw was convenor of a visual methods programme in six countries, which explored how ground-level processes such as participatory video and digital story-telling can build communication between people at societies margins and policy makers. This involved training local facilitators, and accompanying and supporting them in using visual approaches in their action research on how positive change can happen and what prevents it. For instance, participatory video was a key strategy in collaboration with isolated women in the Palestinian territories, with urban poor groups in India, with young community-mappers in the Mathare slum, Nairobi and with children researching issues faced by those with disabilities and their parents in Mwiki, Kenya. 

Real Time produced a documentary, which provides some compelling stories from the research, as well as illustrating the processes involved, and why they are important. Real Time also contributed other videos for the UN high-level panel, including stories from indigenous communities in Mexico, and transgender communities in India.
Visual materials produced by and with the participants were presented in three exhibition sites in New York leading up to the UN General Assembly, and the documentary provided a channel for direct input by poor people from a range of places worldwide into policy deliberations. This is influencing thinking on the importance of leaving no-one behind, decision-maker accountability, and the value of ongoing support for community-driven action for sustainable change. 

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