A Lucky Coincidence

Linda Raftree, stumbled upon the 10 Tactics materials quite by chance.

Raftree was at a “tweetup” [a gathering of friends on a social network who organize via Twitter a face-to-face meeting] while passing through Amsterdam when she was given a copy of the 10 Tactics toolkit. She took it back to her hotel, watched the video, and immediately decided to use it in an upcoming training workshop in Kenya.

“I thought, wow, this is perfect, we can integrate it into the training we’re doing to show some really exciting and interesting ways that young people or whoever can use technology to raise different issues,” said Raftree, a social media and new technology advisor for Plan International of

Group in Kenya

 the West Africa region. Plan International is a child-centred, non-governmental, community development organization.

At that workshop on advocacy and how to use 10 Tactics was Lilian Indombera, program facilitator for Plan International’s Strengthening Youth in Governance project in Kenya. “The video is very straight forward, simple to understand and to use to create our own advocacy material,” Indombera said.

Since that training in July 2010, Plan International in Kenya has incorporated at least four of the 10 Tactics, including mobilise people, witness and record, visualise your message, and amplify personal stories, Indombera said.

“The youth use SMS through the phone to do mobilising,” she said. “The youth also did social audits -- auditing projects constructed using public funds. They recorded the activity and used the recordings to lobby for their own participation in the planning process of choosing activities for themselves. The departmental heads are now inviting youth to take part in planning meetings.”

Despite successes training youth to create radio programs and flip-camera videos, using new technologies is especially challenging in Kenya, Indombera said. “We are currently working with rural youth who do not have access to computers and some areas don’t have electricity,” she said. “Most of the youth are not computer literate.”

As such, deciding which 10 Tactics and new tools to use is determined on a community-by-community basis, depending on a community’s own particular resources and interests, Raftree said. “We look at connectivity, cost; testing a few different things and seeing which things young people really take to more easily,” she said.

To help overcome the lack of resources, Plan International has developed a “mobile media kit,” including such things as a laptop, digital video recorders and cameras, a microphone and audio recorder, mobile phones and internet dongles. The organisation gives the kit to partner organisations in local communities, and then helps train those partners on how to use new technologies and better take advantage of the Internet.

“A lot of time they don’t have as much experience with online publishing or using the Internet or uploading a video on YouTube, or stuff like that, so the training of trainers is where we really work with local partners to help them improve their ICT capacity and use some of the newer technologies, more Internet-based technologies and tools that are out there,” Raftree said.

Women working on tools

It is during such training sessions that Raftree has found the 10 Tactics video to be a perfect fit. Still, she said, she wishes the 10 Tactics materials were available in Swahili and French. The flexibility of the movie’s design allows it to be used as individual modules, where some tactics are left out or not shown to make it shorter or if some of the content is deemed inappropriate. When Raftree showed the video in Kenya, she picked out two or three segments she thought would be most useful.

For example, in some countries she would not feel comfortable showing the clip about the LGBT group, as the workshop participants might be distracted by the issue and focus more on that than on the tactic that was being used. She also said there were tactics she didn’t want to present because they had the potential to be too risky.

“I think in countries that have a more repressive environment, some of the tactics would be too risky for us to promote as an organization, and might even be too risky for young people or people in a particular country to even really conceive of,” she said. “But I think in the case of other countries that are starting to have broad access to ICTs and where there is some sort of a broader movement to have more participation and to hold governments more accountable, then the tactics are quite eye opening.”

Raftree said she intends to continue to incorporate 10 Tactics into the training workshops she conducts, adding that she is taking two copies of 10 Tactics to Cameroon this summer. Likewise, Indombera said they have lined up several advocacy trainings and plan to teach 10 Tactics, as well.

While language and technology barriers mean digital tools are not always the best tactic, ICTs have “become another piece of a broader set of tools that we try and offer to young people to think about using to influence and communicate about their issues,” Raftree said.

With digital tools becoming cheaper and more accessible, she said, more people are increasingly able to speak for themselves. “Pretty soon, young people in more communities are going to be able to upload their own content which is great, because we don’t want to promote young people just as consumers of other people’s content, we want them to also be able to produce and share their own content,” she said.

Editor’s note: The French edition of 10 Tactics will be released in early 2011.

The opinions expressed above are those of the interviewees and do not represent those of Plan International as an organization.

Story by Summer Harlow.