Videos Raise Awareness of Municipal Services

Documentaries produced by amateur filmmakers in Herat, Afghanistan, promote the value of municipal services and the role of citizens.

ARTICLE | Sep 9, 2013
The head of the Herat Cultural Department responds to media questions about the judging criteria for the film festival.

If a picture is worth a thousand words, the worth of a video can hardly be quantified. That was the concept behind the organization of the first documentary film festival in Herat, Afghanistan, last year. The festival was organized with the assistance of the Regional Afghan Municipalities Program for Urban Populations, West (RAMP UP-West) at the request of municipal officials.

With support from the RAMP UP-West team, officials had found that, despite their educational and outreach efforts, citizens lacked knowledge about municipal services and their own role in keeping their city livable and safe. 

Following the success of the first festival, the city took over responsibility for a second one this year, and it has now been institutionalized as an annual event. Entitled “Herat from a Citizen’s Perspective,” the festival attracted submissions from 23 amateur filmmakers. 

The videos promoted municipal services such as garbage collection and the issuing of proper building permits, highlighting positive efforts made by Herat municipality as well as some unmet needs. This one, "For My City," follows a municipal worker through his workday.


The second Herat festival, in May 2013, was attended by representatives of the mayor’s office, the economic directorate, the Provincial Development Council, filmmakers, project representatives, and citizens. A three-judge panel, including the head of the Herat Journalism Faculty and two instructors, selected three winning films.

Raising citizens’ awareness of municipal services is one of the major goals of the USAID-funded RAMP UP program. Since 2010, ICMA has worked as a member of the RAMP UP teams in the East, North, and West as a major subcontractor to DAI, the prime contractor. The DAI website carries an article about the festival and a video compiled from multiple entries. 

To learn more about ICMA's international programs, visit the ICMA International website, the Afghanistan page, the International Development topic area in the Knowledge Network, and the International Dispatches blog.

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