“Numbers are not people”

Participatory Video for Monitoring & Evaluation (PV for M&E)

In my previous blog I discovered that Participatory Video has multiple applications. In this blog, I will further explore one of them. Participatory Video for Monitoring and Evaluation, also referred to as ‘PV for M&E’. So what is PV for M&E? And how exactly can you use PV for M&E? Two of InsightShare’s consultants, Soledad Muniz and Sara Asadullah, helped me out to get a better understanding of what PV for M&E is.

I thought it might be a good idea to just start with the definitions of on the one hand ‘Participatory Video’ and on the other hand ‘Monitoring and Evaluation’ and then try to find a link between both of them. According to Soledad PV is a process of collective filmmaking. “The main difference with traditional filmmaking is that there is not one person: a director, a scriptwriter or a producer, that is creating a film from its own understanding of an issue”. Instead, “PV is a process where a group of people come together to think about an issue, something that is important to them. And this conversation is facilitated through a film”.

What about the Monitoring and Evaluation part then. For Sara and Soledad M&E is: “observing and analysing what works in projects”. Here monitoring is observing a situation for a longer period of time (to provide early indications of progress). And evaluation is more about analysing what has happened after a certain period of time (to assess the progress towards an outcome). At this point, both the definitions of PV and M&E were clear for me. However I still didn’t really get how PV and M&E fit together.

The answer to my question seemed to be related to the (different) M&E methodologies. Sara and Soledad explained how people make use of different M&E methods. Often, there is a particular focus on traditional, quantitative but also qualitative, methods. “Recently, there has been a specific need for M&E where you do not only involve the supposed experts and researchers in analysing and observing, but you also involve the people that were part of the project”. This is called Participatory M&E. “The strength of participatory M&E is that the beneficiaries of the project, but also the staff that delivers the project and the local policymakers that influence the project can all be included in the M&E”.

These recent developments made Participatory Video a very interesting tool that could be used in addition to the more traditional M&E methodologies. After all, “with video people can easily express themselves. so why not help them evaluate their own project or the projects where they are part of … “. A participatory Video process makes it possible for community members to create, for example, a short video story that brings together sound, image, drama and music to more accurately represent the complexity of people’s lives and the impact of a project.

Before I will give you some examples of projects that use PV for M&E I will try to give you an insight into a very interesting and specific PV for M&E application, ‘PV MSC’. Maybe some of you already know Rick Davies and are familiar with his Most Significant Change technique (MSC). MSC is a form of qualitative and participatory M&E involving the ongoing collection of stories of significant change. Writing is the usual means of recording Most Significant Change stories. But why not use video instead of pen and paper? In collaboration with Rick Davies InsightShare worked on a new technique: ‘PV MSC’, incorporating Participatory Video into the MSC approach. PV MSC is considered as a new and very interesting method because with minimal training, anyone can learn how to use a video camera, allowing people to tell their Most Significant Change stories to their peers, in a familiar context. Moreover, PV MSC makes it possible to disseminate these important stories irrespective of literacy barriers. Check InsightShare’s ‘How it worksguide and the ‘PV MSC’ page on the InsightShare website to get more insights into the complete process.

Ok, now it’s really time to start looking for some examples. A project that has used PV in combination with MSC is the LEAP Kenya project. The city of Eldoret was one of the locations where the violence escalated after the Kenyan presidential elections in 2007. Mercy Corps decided to use sport in Eldoret as a means to change perceptions between tribes, build peace, promote reconciliation and give young people a hope for the future. In May 2010, InsightShare travelled to Eldoret Kenya to facilitate a workshop on PV and MSC as a way to evaluate the LEAP programme. In this photostory you get a good impression of how the PV MSC workshop went. The film ‘A Terrible Day In My Life’ shows the story of Peter Gatama. He witnessed his uncle being killed during the political violence. After the violence he felt that his life was over: his uncle died; his parents lost everything and he didn’t have a job. The football coach, Ndegwa, convinced him to take part in the ASTEP and Mercy Corps project that tried to help youth to reduce their hatred inside. The film very well shows the struggles of Peter Gatama. Step by step and with a lot of talking, eating and playing football together Peter is able to reduce his hatred and learns to live with people from other tribes as family again. The film tells the (most significant change) story of Peter Gatama. Peter tells the story in his first language and in a for Peter comfortable context. And the film makes use of drama to give a better insight into what happened during the political violence and how sport can really contribute to social transformation.

A second project that uses PV in combination with M&E is the Video Girls for Change project funded by the Nike Foundation. In 2011 the Nike Foundation asked InsightShare to find out how girl programming works in different parts of the world. In collaboration with BRAC Uganda and Population Council Guatemala – organisations delivering girl empowerment programs with support from the Nike Foundation – 12 young women and girls from each program were selected to take part in the InsightShare workshop where they learnt to make videos and to use the Most Significant Change Technique. In the first stage each group came together for four weeks and spent time with InsightShare facilitators trying out Participatory Video, and ‘the Most Significant Change’ technique. In stage 2 the trainees in Uganda and Guatemala went out into communities to replicate the ‘PV MSC’ process they had learned in stage 1. They had a chance to practice their skills in facilitation, video recording and editing. In stage 3 the trainees in Uganda and Guatemala analysed the data they had collected in stages 1 and 2. They watched all of the PV MSC stories and dramas and identified the most important factors effecting girls’ change. They recorded their findings as video reports. In stage 4, 3 trainees and 1 member of staff from each country came together in Istanbul, Turkey to take part in the ‘Association for women’s rights in Development’ (AWID) Forum and to share learning among themselves and with Nike Foundation. Interesting to see is that in this case PV and MSC are used in a long term process for a full capacity building program. Check out the photostory for a more detailed explanation of the four stages. Learn more about the Video Girls for Change project on the Video Girls for Change website. And see also some of the video’s made by young girls as part of this programme.

Guatemala: Maria Chicoj’s story, Maribel Gutierres’ story, Maria Luisa Ajuchan’s story, Overcoming Adversity

Uganda: Girls Appreciate BRAC Clubs (Drama), Sharon Banawa, Grace Katana, Lydia Nakiyemba

If you want, you can find a lot more case studies about PV and M&E. See for example: Community-Based Adaptation in Africa; Violence No Longer a Social Norm in “Safescaping” Communities and Participatory Video Evaluation in the Philippines: Visual memories.


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