Rebuilding Foundations

An exploration of international development work in Africa

Information Van

Part of Amplify’s GIFTS program is to paint house numbers on buildings.  To begin, Amplify ran an education campaign so that citizens would know why people were entering their properties with cans of paint and brushes.  They put posters and banners around the district.  They ran radio ads.  Assembly members were told to tell their constituents about the project and some even went on local radio shows to discuss property rates and map-making.  Amplify sent information officers to talk to communities directly.  Lastly, they used the Information Van.

Every Assembly has its own Information Van: a truck mounted with loudspeakers.  It travels through communities and plays messages from politicians and government officials.

To me, the Information Van is kind of… hokey.  The voice through the speakers is distorted and the idea of “news” from a government vehicle seems like the perfect way to spread propaganda.

Here, though, people like the Information Van a lot.  It’s one of our most effective means of communication.  People trust it more than the radio or posters because it’s official – not just anyone can use the Information Van.

Moreover, it accesses the most people.  Not everyone has a radio.  Not everyone can read posters.  When the Information Van sits in the middle of a small community, however, it can reach everyone.

Next week, I’m going to ride around on it.  Whooo hooooo!

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4 thoughts on “Information Van

  1. patrickbvmiller on said:

    This story proves that speaker mounted vehicles are hokey. In Shibuya Tokyo they have an ‘information 18-wheeler’ blasting the latest hit tunes from AKB48 (If you don’t know AKB48, I wouldn’t recommend finding out about them. ) all day. Usually the truck is stuck in traffic and torments everyone with it. But then I realized people liked it…? Maybe we’re just biased against mobile speakers in Canada. Except ice cream trucks.

  2. I wouldn’t mind more pop music blasting around Van! We could have dance parties everywhere.

  3. patrickbvmiller on said:

    That reminds me of Chengdu. I often saw people blasting pop music with night time dance parties in squares and sidewalks. Every city should have a soundtrack based on the time of day and the trucks would blare that?

  4. I completely forgot about it until I read your post, but one day there was a truck like this driving around Katete! I was so confused–mostly because my Nyanja vocabulary of approximately 10 words was insufficient for pretty much everything. If I recall correctly they were reminding people to vote in the by-elections. Maybe that’s the answer to low voter turn out in Canada–annoy people into getting to the polls.

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