52 weeks of BetterEvaluation: Week 45: Participatory Video for M&E - unpacking how change happened

Soledad Muniz

It is time for another blog series on BetterEvaluation, and this time we will be exploring the uses of video in evaluation.

Video is a powerful tool which can be used in many different ways and BetterEvaluation has only scratched the surface so far. Three experts will present three different uses of video in evaluation. In the first blog, Soledad Muniz, Head of Participatory Video for Monitoring and Evaluation Programme at InsightShare, describes the power of Participatory Video as a tool to engage communities and stakeholders in evaluation, and collect data from the perspective of beneficiaries. Next week we'll hear from Paul Barese from Quimera on documenting evaluations with video for use as a learning tool for evaluators and commissioners. 

Participatory video for strengthening M&E

At InsightShare we believe in the power of participatory videoto strengthen Participatory Monitoring and Evaluation processes and improve project delivery. Our aim is to make development projects more people driven and more accountable to their beneficiaries, to stimulate positive change through stronger community voice and increased space for listening and sharing. That is why we have developed methodologies that are accessible, easy to implement and rigorous and accountable for beneficiaries, researchers and development organisations to use in their international development projects.

Participatory Video is a set of facilitated techniques to involve a group or community in shaping and creating their own video. The idea behind participatory video is that making a video is easy and accessible, and is a great way of bringing people together to explore issues and voice concerns, and build skills to act for change. Our method values local knowledge, builds bridges between communities and decision-makers, and enables people to develop greater control over the decisions affecting their lives.

Participatory video and Most Significant Change

In a recent end of programme evaluation activity, we supported Mercy Corps in Kenya to use Participatory Video and the Most Significant Change (MSC) technique to engage trainees, community participants and other stakeholders in a conversation about their Research Program on Financial Education in the Rift Valley. They have used quantitative methods (Randomised Control Trials) to measure and compare changes in young people's financial and economic activity and behavior and we introduced Participatory Video for M&E to help them unpack why and how that changed happened.

I was fascinated to witness how Participatory Video enabled groups and individuals to share their personal stories, while at the same time helping them evaluate the changes that have taken place around them over time through iteration, discussion and debate. This helped the evaluation team to unpack how change happened in people's lives.

The combined use of Participatory Video and MSC aimed to gather qualitative data that could be communicated in an accessible way to stakeholders, funders and partners. Participatory Video has the ability to communicate and empower, while MSC adds a structured selection process and the capacity to extract qualitative data of stories, which yield rich findings, encouraged reflection and amplified the learning.

The evaluation team was composed of two InsightShare trainers, the Mercy Corps Project Manager and 10 local trainees, which included Mercy Corps staff and young people who participated in the project. The training took place over 16 days and reached approximately 200 people through screenings, filming and interviews. The 10 trainees supported 74 young people to share their stories and make 6 films.

Video report made by trainees to share the evaluation process and key learning with diverse stakeholders

As a final stage of the process, the trainees conducted a participatory analysis of the collected stories and presented the results in a video report. The process finished with two screenings, one for 81 young people and one for 50 decision-makers, where they watched the stories and discussed the significance of the changes to the young storytellers.

"I’ve learnt that one person can have one packet of wheat and the following day have a business… it’s not really how much money but how to do with it, so let’s borrow this at the government level."

Government official participating in the screening

The evaluation workshop was highly successful in collecting stories of change from a wide variety of young women and men participating in the programme and harvesting new findings on the changes they have gone through, as well as the key enablers and blockers of those changes. The Participatory Video Evaluation was a way to bring stakeholders together, creating a space for reflection and learning by all involved, from young people participating in the program, to Mercy Corps staff, government officials and community based organisations.

Following stringent informed consent procedures, these stories will now be used to communicate lessons or new ideas across to new groups, other organisations and decision-makers. It is an open process and nothing is covert, so it’s important to make sure there is an in depth informed consent process through which participants fully understand the implications of sharing their voices in video and can decide on content, the shape of the final product as well as who can watch the video (local, national and/or international level).

The videos are available here.

"Imagine how much we have learnt from listening to 74 stories. It’s a lot of knowledge. It is going to help us so very much in our lives. I’m planning to expand my business. The first thing I’ll do is to share the videos in Kericho, there were very many who were not able to take part, so they will have to watch."

Young lady, programme participant and trainee acting as local facilitator


Insights into participatory video
This handbook from InsightShare provides a detailed account of the purposes and processes involved in running participatory video projects.

Seeing like a citizen: Participatory video and action research for citizen action
This article from Joanna Wheeler of the Institute of Development Studies outlines the uses of participatory video as a means to understand and reflect the lives and perspectives of the participants of a project or program.

Participatory video and the Most Significant Change technique - how it works
InsightShare describes how they facilitate M&E projects by combining Participatory Video with the Most Significant Change Technique.

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