This pamphlet summarises the results of a study conducted by the National Development Service on Nepal and Unicef. Teams of data-collectors went to nine different parts of Nepal showing illiterate villagers a wide variety of pictures in various colours and shadings. The results showed that most of the visual aids used by the health service were not recognised or misinterpreted by local people. Suggestions are made as to how visuals might be improved in response to feedback from villagers.
A research project was conducted in nine different parts of Nepal to find out how non-literate adults responded to a variety of pictures and diagrams. Findings of the study included : villagers do not expect to receive ideas from pictures, villagers tend to 'read' pictures very literally and that villagers do not necessarily assume that thee is any connection between the pictures in a series. It was found however that 'if a picture's message is explained to villagers, they will probably remember the message when they see the picture again'. This even proved true in the case of an abstract diagram illustrating the transmission of TB. The study also compared the kind of illustrations that were most readily understood.
Ideas about communication have mostly come from the industrialised West, meaning people in developing countries have to learn "an alien visual language" in order to understand development illustrations. The first question for an illustrator to ask is "for whom am I designing this picture?" From experience in India, most designers seem to be producing for their own kind, rather than for those in the villages and are "blind to the visual language of their own culture". This practical manual suggests how to go about producing appropriate visual aids by first collecting an "inventory of visual language" in the local area (traditional designs, clothing styles, meaning of certain colours etc). Illustrators should "build on a society's achievements, not what it lacks". The design process is described step by step, with checklists on the advantages of various visual styles and ideas about layout and assessing the "audience's" response to the finished product. The author warns that the process is not easy, "using traditional visual forms to express modern ideas can be like discussing nuclear physics in Sanskrit.."
Various kinds of pictures (abstract, realistic, photographs) were shown to literate and non-literate people in rural and urban Nepal to test their understanding. The research aimed to see to what extent perception of drawings etc was influenced by experience. Results showed that all groups were able to interpret cartoons as easily as photos, but not pictures involving perspective and proportion. Lack of "sufficient stimulation in the area of spatial understanding" in the village context is related to this inability to understand projective relationships (eg that a tree in the distance is not actually smaller than the near tree in a picture). Visual literacy could be improved however by "picturial cues (such as perspective) being consciously and systematically introduced" to people. As well as a detailed account of the field work and implications for development workers using visual aids, this book (which is based on a thesis) gives a comprehensive overview of the theoretical concepts around visual literacy.
Aspects of RRA are discussed which suggest how a divergence might occur between its social and scientific value. As a positive exercise, it often serves only a legitimating function for policies already confirmed by its sponsors; the prior existence of relevant organized knowledge and the extent of formal method are also determinants of the status of the appraisal. The use and shortcomings of indicators are discussed with reference to the example of social relations within an unsupervised credit strategy. A case study of a rapid appraisal in one village in Comilla District in Bangladesh is described.
Experience of living and working in Zambia led the author to reflect on the differences in understanding and communication. This wide-ranging account looks at concepts such as "time" as expressed in Swahili and English, and how a "magic" world view affects the concept of causal relations. Concerned particularly with pictures as "the link between written and oral lifestyles", the author goes on to analyse his Zambian friends' perspective. Though he draws on studies of visual literacy, such as George McBean's, and lists the visual "cues" (eg perspective, superimposition) which people lack, his starting point is less ethnocentric. When a woman states that there is more Fanta in a high glass than a short glass (though it has been shown to be the same quantity), he questions "why should we consider it 'less logical' to attribute 'moreness' to something visually dominant like width or height than to attribute 'sameness' to something invisible like weight?" In oral societies people appear to be more used to verbalising "what they do not what they see" and they expect pictures to "contain what they know about objects, not just what they see". "Memory pictures" which, for example, show all four wheels of a car through twisting the picture in space, are one way of meeting peoples' visual expectations. There are many observations in this book besides those on visual literacy (eg on "greetings" in different cultures and ways of learning) which would interest PRA practitioners.
With this pioneering book introducing participatory approaches in rural development, the author challenges preconceptions dominating rural development at the time. The central theme of the book is that rural poverty is often unseen or misperceived by outsiders, those who are not themselves rural and poor. The author contends that researchers, scientists, administrators and fieldworkers rarely appreciate the richness and validity of rural peopleÆs knowledge, or the hidden nature of rural poverty. He argues for a new professionalism, with fundamental reversals in outsidersÆ learning, values and behavior, and proposes more realistic action for tackling rural poverty. The book is divided into eight chapters focusing on rural poverty unperceived (i.e. as perceived by outsiders); two cultures of outsiders, negative academics vs. positive practitioners; how outsiders learn; power structures and knowledge; integrated rural poverty including deprivation, vulnerability and powerlessness; making priorities for action; reversals in professional values and bridging gaps between disciplines, professions and departments; and recommendations and discussion of practical actions.
"Is it strange for soldiers in Zaire when watching a Donald Duck movie for the first time, to call out that ducks do not talk?" The general tendency to apply Western visual devices in developing countries has failed to consider the culturally specific nature of many images. It is not just a question of understanding visual "tricks" (such as how TV producers juggle with time, how artists create perspective) but of interpreting signs. "Graphic symbols and pictographs are visual signs of a predominantly symbolic nature which are culturally determined and which must subsequently be acquired before they can prove useful". The author goes on to examine what makes a picture realistic in different cultural contexts and how visual conventions like shading can be misunderstood. Artists should try to use local visual codes to develop local visual culture. This account includes an overview of other studies on visual literacy.
This is the second of a series of articles by World Vision International. It begins with the description of how a community deepen their understanding of their situation by using participatory mapping technique. The first part of the report is on Participatory process, community evaluation and planning , and the recognition of basic participatory principles that must be acknowledged in people and key characteristics of a good facilitator. It further describes a world vision exercise on participatory planning where match boxes were used to represent households in Brazil. In this exercise different kinds and lengths on match sticks were used to identify the various categories of people in the community. This enabled the community to identify the number of children of school going age in the community and then followed on to develop educational and nutritional programmes . It has a Christian theme, and draws on parallels between the work of Christ and Participatory processes. The report includes photocopied photos of the maps and the key of match sticks for the census of the community.