Visualization in Development Cooperation – On Photo Contests and Info Graphics

April 03, 2012 | LND | Methods & Tools, SDC Experiences |


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Nadia Lanfranchi

Today knowledge exchange is based to a great extent on written communication. Sometimes it seems that the ability to visualize ideas, to tell stories through pictures has been lost. Simultaneously we are exposed more than ever to non-verbal modes of communication, especially through photography and film. This post takes the tension between a widespread availability of easy-to-handle visualization tools and their comparatively poor integration into daily work processes as a starting point. In a video interview Anandsaikhan Nyamdavaa, National Programme Officer for SDC in Mongolia, shares with us experiences made by the Cooperation Office when trying to incorporate visual methods into different steps of the project cycle – from the kick-off event through to the report writing.

By Nadia Lanfranchi

In an earlier blog post (Visual Methods in Development Cooperation – Beyond Social Reporting) the topic of incorporating visual approaches into projects and processes in development cooperation has been addressed from a very specific standpoint. It took the view that video and photography among other tools can and ought to be instrumentalized to render development projects more participatory, to empower the beneficiaries and give them a voice. In a similar manner but with a different purpose photo and video can be integrated into the project planning and reporting itself. At a time when photography and even film get accessible to more and more people, when their creation and divulgation becomes quick, easy and almost universal, the exploitation of these instruments seems somewhat obvious. Yet, applied correctly they are valuable tools to illustrate information as well as to endorse decision making processes.

For the producer (good) visual representation implies a more analytical way of approaching a topic, complex constructs have to be synthetized, organized and structured. Such processes entail a learning factor, help to improve clarity and analytical depth. From the consumer’s point of view visual elaboration facilitates the access to information and deepens otherwise only textually assimilated contents. Moreover, induced by film, television and other media we are trained in interpreting visual material, be it still or moving.

Visualization can definitely be a useful resource in project management. Several initiatives have been launched within SDC to integrate visual techniques into work processes, e.g. through social reporting, graphic facilitation or photography. One particularly active unit in this respect is the Swiss Cooperation Office (SCO) in Mongolia where visual approaches have been promoted at different stages of the project cycle. In order to provide some insight into the SCO’s activities I interviewed Anandsaikhan Nyamdavaa, Programme Officer in Ulaan Bator. In two short video sequences he shares with us his experiences, provides examples and offers some helpful advice.

Download this video

Download this video

Further links:

Kick-off event 2011 SDC Mongolia
Mid-term review 2011 SDC Mongolia (photo contest)
Project Report 2011
Project Report 2009

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