Shamba Shape Up
In 2007 RIU was approach by Mediae
requesting funding for a pilot television programme called Shamba Shape Up
. The idea was simple. The producers felt that using a make-over style programme could be an effective way of targeting East Africa's rapidly growing rural and peri-urban
TV audience and delivering effective agricultural and livelihoods messages.
The format involved a combination of charismatic hosts and experts who would help solve the problems facing an individual shamba (small farm). Through carefully explained, practical demonstrations, the programme offered methods and approaches that could bring about significant improvements to livelihood - in some cases at very low cost.
The pilot programme featured a family who had to walk 3km to get water. Their guttering was fixed and water tanks were installed so that rainwater harvesting could take place; the importance of boiling water and keeping drinking water separate was also highlighted. The floor of the cowshed was concreted to make it easier to collect manure which could then be used as fertiliser, and a large compost heap was built to provide the family with even more free material to enrich their subsistence agriculture. A solar electric panel was also fitted so that the family could get a television and a more fuel efficient jico (cooking stove) was installed.
Mediae felt that by creating a format which merged education and entertainment they would have an effective vehicle for targeting East African farmers and livestock keepers and make them aware of practical research funded by aid agencies and the private sector. This could include product placement in the programmes.
The Shamba Shape Up pilot was produced in 2007. Although it has not been broadcast on terrestrial television in East Africa, it has been tested with audiences in Kenya and in Tanzania through the screenings they organised. In addition the pilot programme was distributed to a number of research agencies, several of which showed an interest in the potential of Shamba Shape Up.
The feedback from these screenings led to Mediae creating a proposal to put Shamba Shape Up into production. Current plans are for 39 episodes to be produced. Filming will take place around Kenya and Tanzania, investigating specific local challenges and problems, and using the latest and most appropriate ideas and technologies to improve the shambas and the livelihoods of their owners.
Mediae approaches content development in two ways. First it works with leading research organisations to access tried and tested research. The promoters of that research are then encouraged to invest in the programme which will promote a given technology. For the pilot this included some of the research developed by the forerunners of Research Into Use, research funded under the DFID RNRRS programme
. Second the specific needs of the participants are researched and a wish list for the shamba, and its inhabitants, is draw up.
In 2009 Mediae applied for funding as an RIU Best Bet, but it was not short-listed. However, using the pilot paid for by RIU, a new funding package is now being put together to enable the making of the series.
There will be a focus on practical information for East African farmers to ensure the programme appeals to the widest possible audiences.
Some of the research to be covered in the upcoming series include:
- integrated pest management (how Napier grass can be intercropped to deter the maize stalk borer)
- rain water harvesting (affordable methods for catching and storing rain water)
- how to make and use low-energy stoves (reducing fuel demands)
- human and animal health issues
- access and use of micro-finance
Shamba Shape Up will follow the model of Makutano Junction
, another Mediae title, so funders for each programme will vary depending on the content. It will also follow the model in another important way - by having follow-up information sheets available: after an episode of Makutano Junction is broadcast, upwards of 2,000 information requests after received.
Makutano Junction was also funded by the Livestock Production Programme
and by DFID and 40% of issues covered in Makutano Junction are sourced from DFID funded research consortia
Mediae is working to create access to their catalogue of all their programmes on demand though the creation of the African Knowledge Zone and a You Tube premier channel.