The VVN Experiment

In the early 1980s, a group of participatory video teams - among them, several that had been trained by C4C - joined together to form the Village Video Network, an experiment in international dissemination. It enabled an even wider sharing of experience by fostering the exchange of locally-produced videos among community media groups in 10 countries.

One of the earliest productions disseminated by the Village Video Network was made in China. In 1981, fifteen villagers and scientists from the Xinbu Brigade, the Guangzhou Institute of Energy Conversion, and the National Academy of Sciences participated in a C4C video workshop. Their collaboration yielded the eight-part Xinbu Energy Story, a video series that shows, step by step, how to build a family-size biogas plant and solar water heating system. Translated into French, Spanish, English and Arabic, the series has been used in many parts of the world, and was shown at the 1981 U.N. Conference on New and Renewable Energy Sources. A shortened version was made for Guyana and shown there to farmers around the country, generating interest in biogas as an alternative to propane gas. Thanks to effective project management, Guyana became self-sufficient in biogas construction and maintenance. A Guyanese video team subsequently completed its own video production about the benefits of biogas. This tape was used, in its turn, to help introduce biogas technology in Jamaica and elsewhere in the Caribbean. This transfer of video tapes about biogas and technical expertise was supported by the United Nations University.

While broad horizontal exchange of locally produced video programs is not always successful, due to language and cultural barriers, the biogas video exchanges among farmers, masons and scientists proved valuable in stimulating and supporting the transfer of a new technology.