Rural Pulse: Community Participation is Key!
The first edition of Rural Pulse this month will draw lessons from Solomon Mwendwa, the Director of Slum Film Festival — the first ever community-based film platform featuring stories from slums, about slum realities and made by filmmakers from the slums in Africa and beyond.
According to a 2013 UN-HABITAT report, 327 million people live in slums in commonwealth countries. A majority of these dwellers have poor access to education/health and are in need of social activities to reduce their daily harsh living conditions. As a festival, one of Slum Film Festival goals is to raise public attention to pertinent issues affecting those living in rural communities while promoting and celebrating the creativity of the people who live in these communities.
As someone who grew up close to the slum (Mathare Slum) and has actively worked with people living in the slum for about five years, including Africa’s largest slum, Kibera; Mwendwa shares lesson on what people working in rural communities should note when carrying out development work.
From experience, what do you think is the most important issues affecting people in the slums?
Perception and attitude! We all have these negative ideas that slums are insecure (they could be) we associate slums with all the negative issues from crime to poverty. However, when we see slums for the people that live in them, for the talent and potential that exists, then we can be able to find ways of addressing the problems and designing sustainable and lasting solutions.
What would you say is the most important thing to note when working in communities or rural development?
Participation! Participation! Participation! The community needs to participate in your activities, most of all they need to take the central role in driving the agenda if at all the initiative being undertaken is for the benefit of the community. When the community owns the agenda, it tends to yield more positive results.
*The featured video was one of the short films shown at the Slum Film Festival 2015. Titled ‘Silent Depression’, the film was made by Ugandan filmmaker George Nsamba, who grew up in the slums Kampala.