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Reflections from the field: Participatory Video and Most Significant Change evaluation project in Iganga, Uganda.

Introduction

In the first two weeks of April I was commissioned to run a Participatory Video and Most Significant Change (PVMSC) workshop in my role as Senior Associate at InsightShare participatory video and community development company, in partnership with Opportunity International UK and local partners in Iganga, Eastern Uganda. This workshop forms an element of the midline evaluation for the Mainstreaming Disability Inclusion in the Ugandan Financial Services Sector. The activity aimed to generate information from the stakeholders’ perspective, particularly to ensure that participants record the transformational journeys that individuals and groups living with disabilities go on to become financially included and economically active within their communities. The activities are designed also to help to raise awareness on key related programmatic issues, build skills in trainee staff and village agents and encourage involvement in learning activities.

What is Participatory Video?

Participatory Video (PV) is a set of techniques to involve a group or community in shaping and creating their own film.  The idea behind this is that making a video is easy and accessible and is a great way of bringing people together to explore issues, voice concerns or simply to be creative and tell stories. This process can be very empowering, enabling a group or community to see improvements and also to communicate their needs and ideas to decision-makers and/or other groups and communities. As such, PV can be a highly effective tool to engage and mobilise people – helping them implement their own forms of sustainable development based on local needs.

Participatory Video and Monitoring and Evaluation (M&E)

We use PV to complement and enhance other data collection methods that Opportunity International UK and partners are using as part of their M&E systems.  PV gathers qualitative data that often escapes traditional M&E tools.

It is not always easy to gauge and communicate people’s lived experiences and situations in relation to an issue. Those best positioned to explore and convey these messages are the beneficiaries themselves – they can speak first-hand about it. They can select relevant individuals to interview in their communities and decide how to represent themselves. As footage is collected through time and various spaces, all actors can reflect back in the community through screenings, where stakeholders are brought together to reflect and discuss.

Our approach helps beneficiaries and stakeholders tell their stories and communicate their perspectives in an accessible, compelling and versatile format through a participatory and authentic process. Following stringent informed consent procedures, these stories can then be used to communicate lessons or new ideas across to new groups, other organisations or decision makers.

The PV MSC Facilitator Training Team

As lead facilitator, I worked with Scolastica Kukutia, who is a Maasai activist working on women’s rights, land rights and preservation of culture in Kenya.  I have known her since 2017, when she joined a delegation of Maasai leaders at the Pitt Rivers Museum in Oxford at our Living Cultures: Decolonising Cultural Spaces Project, where she worked with curators to realign the narratives behind objects from her community at the museum … but that is another blog!  Scola trained with us in PV techniques and was part of our first Living Cultures Indigenous Fellowship programme, which was piloted last year. She is now a lead facilitator and mentor in Kenya for the second phase of that programme, which starts next week (I’m facilitating that remotely – but that’s another blog too!). Having Scola in the team was a dream and she was also able to add the MSC technique to her portfolio.

What we did

During the first three days, we ran an intensive workshop to train a local evaluation team made up of twelve staff, partner representatives and community members of Opportunity Bank, the local delivery partner in Uganda.  This included simple video making techniques, storytelling techniques and the evaluation method featuring the ‘most significant change’ question that forms the centre of finding stories of change from participants.

Then three days at three villages, where we supported two teams of 6 evaluators and 10 participants to find, share and film their stories.  The local participants selected the story of change to film, then participated in creating drama sequences to act as illustrative footage to the testimony given by the main storyteller, as a direct address to camera.

Back to base on day four to document the 60 written stories we collected, train the team to edit using simple iMovie software (bearing in mind that about half of the evaluators had never used a computer before!).  By day 10 we had created six stories, subtitled into English.

The final element was to support the team to run a community screening and discussion, where an audience of more than 60 local people comprising the participants, community leaders and other stakeholders viewed the films and then discussed the stories of change to contribute to a participatory analysis, to assess the barriers, enablers and changes presented by each story.

What’s next?

Back from Uganda, we’re now carrying out a final ‘polish’ of the films and writing a project report for wider dissemination.  In September, we return to a different region of Uganda to do the end point evaluation ‘as well as running a second PVMSC process with a project with refugees.

It’s hard work, with no breaks for the entire time in the field, but as a method of collecting evaluation data, it’s so rewarding to work over time with people to give them the tools and the space to tell their own stories in the ways in which they want to tell and share them. It’s also lots of fun.

by Tricia Jenkins

Part-time lecturer, MA AACP, ICCE

11th May 2022

We at InsightShare hope to offer training in PV for research and PV MSC specifically for academics in the not too distant future.  Please get in touch if you might be interested.

 

 

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