The project is raising the visibility of the Santhal community
A unique initiative is helping Indigenous people in India exchange knowledge about locally available foods to improve dietary diversity – part of the UN Sustainable Development Goal related to food security and nutrition. The project, coordinated by the University of East Anglia (UEA), is raising the visibility of the Santhal community, enabling the most marginalized to voice their own perspectives using cameras and filmmaking skills.
With support from UEA through the Global Research Translation Award entitled ‘Meeting the SDGs’ and a local NGO partner (PRADAN), 10 Santhal youth were trained to make films about locally available foods and other issues of concern.The nearly 50 films they produced were broadcast on a YouTube channel and screened in their local villages. The group also took part in interviews and discussions with viewers who attended the screenings. Prof Nitya Rao, professor of gender and development in UEA’s School of International Development, is the lead author of ‘Cameras in the hands of Indigenous youth: Participation, films, and nutrition in India,’ published today in Current Developments in Nutrition.
Prof Rao said: “These young filmmakers are voicing a critical issue, whether endemic malnutrition or vast deforestation, as a call to policy-makers for remedial action. “The role of self-expression, especially for Indigenous communities, is important given their historical marginalization. By enabling their participation in governance and the political space, transformative change alongside improved health and nutritional outcomes will be more achievable. “The use of the YouTube channel as a digital ‘space’ created by the participants gave them an opportunity to set the agenda where they can speak without interruption about their everyday needs and the challenges they confront.” The young filmmakers are from the Jamui district of Bihar, among the worst-off districts in India for meeting the SDGs.