"They never listened to me before"

Using participatory video for monitoring and evaluation in community-based adaptation to climate change

By Soledad Muniz and Isabelle Lemaire

It was when the camera was handed over to the community elder that the project came together, because it finally made sense to them. The village committee would now be able to record the flooding, when it happened, how far the water went and what it destroyed. They would work with the local community based organization to get the footage to the local administration. Finally, this village no one ever visited because there are no decent roads to connect it, would be able to record and show others what was happening there. They could now keep a record and use the images to show how they are already fighting climate change and, that it's here and now and they need help, not just cope, but adapt.

Setting the scene: the project
In 2009 InsightShare was invited by IIED (International Institute for Environment and Development) to develop a way to use participatory video for Monitoring and evaluation of climate change adaptation. Over 18 months, we held workshops in South Africa, Kenya, Zimbabwe and Malawi under the Community-Based Adaptation in Africa (CBAA) initiative.

CBAA had a learning-by-doing approach and was carrying out climate change adaptation pilot projects to reduce the impacts of climate change on the most vulnerable communities. Working with local partners and national bodies like the meteorological services, the project did research into what people were already doing to adapt. The community and the CBAA project partners then identified how to enhance the existing adaptation knowledge in the community and then scale up.

CBAA decided to use participatory video and monitoring and evaluation (PV M&E) as a means of enabling the community themselves to record the impacts and the local adaptation knowledge in their own words and voices. In addition to amplifying voices in the community, the PV for M&E activity also aimed to enhance accountability, support action research, strengthen communication between the NGOs and the communities, and help generate and archive local knowledge.

"We've learned so much we didn't know about this community through this workshop. The socio-economic surveys we did earlier in the project just didn't give us this kind of information."
-Dan Ong’or, Director of Huai Lake Forum, Kenya.

Impact of the process
When we started, most projects had already worked -using different PLA tools- with the community to identify the local problems and potential activities to implement. Despite this, the NGO and CBO trainees were surprised by the amount of new, mostly qualitative, information they were able to gather. These new insights helped them decide which adaptation activity to pursue after the action research stage.
The local screenings of the community made films were attended by large audiences (over a 100 people in each country) and attracted participation from young and old. The debates and information gathered after the screenings was very rich and helped further the research. ZERO, in Zimbabwe, identified new possible adaptation strategies as the community became more involved in identifying problems and suggesting improvements through the participatory video intervention, for example:  the rope and washer pumps since access to clean water had been getting more and more difficult. 

"This is the most participatory workshop I've ever attended, I'm going to try to replicate this approach in everything I do now."
 -Charles Tonui, researcher at ACTS, Kenya

The PV M&E activity also enhanced participation, allowed monitoring in situ, supported the action research process, built common ground between NGO/CBO and the communities, and built the capacity of the participants in video, M&E and facilitation. The process raised awareness and mobilized people on the ground. This provided a platform to empower women's voices, intensified the quantity and quality of participation, as well as the level of engagement.

"I feel empowered and happy. I knew everything about the equipment! "
Joseph Ayugi, Wakesi Kenya.

Impact of the films
Furthermore, the films also allowed the NGOs to share lessons on community-based adaptation to a wide audience. The films from Kenya and Zimbabwe were screened in Copenhagen for COP15 where representatives of those NGOs were present and taking part in the wider conference. This helped them showcase their adaptation activities and share the climate related issues to an international audience.

The NGOs and CBOs saw an opportunity for using the videos to advocate for change with local authorities, produce video case studies and strengthen links with MET services to inform climate predictions and raise awareness on droughts and floods in the communities. Shepard Zvigadza highlighted in an email to us: "We finally got the climate projections from the Zim Meteorological office. They were chuffed to see the film on DVD, and they have also given us a dedicated person to work with us on the CBAA project, (field and workshop)."

"When we showed the film to the local authority, they were surprised. They hadn't realised that climate change was actually impacting communities in their constituencies. It really made them realise they had to do something, now."
-Charles Tonui, ACTS Kenya

Long term use of the tools
In all the countries, the participants saw a clear role for participatory video in the future. Communities wanted to keep recording their daily lives as a means to document their traditions and celebrations. In Kenya, we therefore left smaller flip cameras in the two villages. In this way they were able to continue the monitoring process, which allowed them to record weather events as they happen and use the material to bring attention to their village.

The process also allowed further community engagement and local participation, providing a platform to raise awareness and influence the international climate change discourse through local voices. It opened up a pathway for using PV and PM&E methods to build capacity in the ground, while listening to those affected by climate change and using a rigorous method to feed into ongoing research.

"Each-one-teach one was a concept that totally worked for the communities; it caught on right away. Women even more so since they might not have been able to attend school, but could finally voice their concerns, complaints and felt like the video was a way of getting truly heard!"
-Charles Tonui, ACTS Kenya

Learning from this experience, we are also now integrating the Most Significant Change technique as well as developing new ways of recording M&E data with mobile apps.  We publish our findings in various practitioner and academic journal, do contact us (info@insightshare.org) if you would like more information or if you've been experiencing with similar methods and would like to share learning.


The Videos
The photostory

For more detailed information on participatory video approaches, take a look at our handbook or consult the resource section for more information.

To review participatory monitoring and evaluation methods, see Right Based Approach Toolkit.

Note: CBAA was funded by the International Development Research Centre (IDRC). The coordinating partners per country are part of the Capacity Strengthening for Least Developed Countries (LDCs) for Adaptation to Climate Change (CLACC) network, a group of fellows and international experts working on adaptation in LDCs, which is coordinated by IIED.

The views reflected in this blog post are those of the author and do not reflect the views of Climate-Eval or the GEF EO.

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