Sunday, December 18, 2016

Facilitating video storytelling

"Seeing our group of HIV/Aids-infected people for 5 minutes on video as long as our Mayor on video, gave us the feeling that we are recognized and seen in our community.”  A women’s leader in a community in Ethiopia expressed this feeling at a community dialogue, where self-developed video stories were shared amongst stakeholders in Ethiopia, when they discussed about the changes, that had taken place in the health sector.  “Seeing ourselves on video, shows how our behavior and attitude has changed in a positive way on how we deal with challenges in the health sector. It strengthens our commitment to continue this process of dialogue amongst the service providers and service users”


This story is an example on how video storytelling can make a difference in participatory processes. Video storytelling is a method, where people who have a common topic of interest,   work together to develop a film. The participants are the directors of the film. The purpose is to help to improve the communication amongst stakeholders, where connections and visibility make the difference in the dialogue. The process of filmmaking is as important as producing the final film itself. The presence of the video camera enables participants to talk to people, which they would not meet if they would not make a movie. The method initiates bridge building to key stakeholders at the border of the system.  For example, video storytelling enabled youngsters in a Moldovan rural community to have a meeting with the Mayor, so that they could make him aware on the presence of their youth club. It was the first step to get youth issues on the agenda of the municipality.

Storytelling and the role of the facilitator
People love to tell and share stories. To transfer this into a film helps them to build and develop their creativity, social capacities to relate and to connect. It is fun to do! The film gives the group a platform to expose their stories to a wider audience and it is an effective tool to build people’s exposure and confidence.  The role of the facilitator is to enable participants to get a deeper understanding about the issues, they would like to address to a broader audience. In my career I have been most involved in projects that were related to social development such as health care, education, economic development, water & sanitation and youth development.  The presence of a self-made film by the group made a significant difference in the dialogue.

The process starts by composing the group, that will make the film.  Their first step is to share stories, followed by questions they further would like to explore and discuss with wider audiences. A good video story has clear goals and a well-elaborated script.  By some simple exercises the  participants learn some basic camera techniques on how to optimize sound, light and shoot the best frames. The facilitator plays a coaching role during these exercises,  enabling participants to give each other feedback.  In the 2nd stage the participants capture the video images, with which they would like to tell their story.  This can be done by doing interviews with a number of stakeholders or through role plays or acting as they do in real movies. After capturing,  the facilitator helps the group with editing the video, collecting feedback on the first draft and finalizing the video. Eventually the group presents the video with key stakeholders for discussion aiming to deepen understanding and catalyze change.

Video storytelling at the EMENA Conference
Generally, the process takes 3 – 5 days, if the group wants to make a film, where they shoot at different locations with stakeholders, who are not part of the video storytelling team.  It takes time to learn how to manage the camera, learn about video editing and to spot the locations to do the shooting and get appointments with the stakeholders.  At the EMENA Conference having the theme ‘Facilitative Leadership’, we managed to shoot the film in 3 hours with a group of 10 participants. During the stage of exchanging stories, it became apparent that the transformational role of the client in the facilitative process was not visible at the Conference.  (Potential) clients were not present at this conference to tell and share their part of the story. Therefore, an initial group of 4 people decided to write a script about ‘The development of a facilitative approach, that helped the client to transform’.    During the break 6 additional participants were casted as actor for the film.  One participant, who already had experience in shooting managed to shoot the story with the facilitator as a second camera man.  ‘The process of developing the story jointly and doing the acting and shooting together was fun!’ ,  expressed one of the participants. ‘Within a short time we became like an united group’.   It took the facilitator 10 hours to review and edit all the footage with the help of the core team of 4 participants, who wrote the script.  The next day, at the final plenary of the Conference, the 10-minute film was screened to the whole Conference group.  The film triggered a lot of laughter and recognition.  ‘This story shows the essence on how change can take place with our clients through the participatory approach’, expressed one of the participants. Another, ‘The boss in this film made me remind of my former boss. It felt as real’. ‘It is amazing to see, that it is possible to create a visible story that shows the transformation.  It is not always easy to explain the change a client can expect, when we start with a facilitation intervention with an organisation’, said another participant.   ‘I would love this video to show to potential clients’.    Read the article in the IAF Newsletter
Video storytelling  covers various purposes
Video storytelling is an empowering tool for learning and having dialogue on issues, where  bridge building and visualization can make all the difference.   Video storytelling  captures life stories of people, it is fun and supports the capacity development and learning process of stakeholders and it is an excellent mean in further disseminating life stories to other platforms for communication purposes.  It will be up to the group to decide if they would like to show their story as a non-fictional or fictional story, having a clear purpose for further discussion.  A video story intervention provides a new and different perspective in facilitating dialogue!

Simon Koolwijk
Facilitator and expert participatory video

* For more information about training opportunities in video making and facilitating video storytelling consult  Trainingcourses storytelling byvideo

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Why is something working? Or not working? Qualitative Comparative Analysis as an evaluation tool provides some useful insights in the combination of factors

How to explain why certain media products (television, radio, printed media, internet, social media) trigger an answer from powerful actors, and why do others not? This was the key question Valérie Pattyn , University Professor at the University of Leiden applied, when she conducted a Qualitative Evaluation for the Hivos Media Program in Kenya and Tanzania. The goal of this program was to increase the accountability of the government and the powerful actors.  The assumption behind the intervention logic was that, if you strengthen investigative journalism, the accountability will be increased. The program intervention was focused at financing critical investigative journalism and providing mentoring programs by coaching and learning by doing to journalists in Kenya and Tanzania.

Valérie Pattyn

 Which factors have an influencing role on the outcomes of the program and which others don’t? Valérie Pattyn applied for her research, the Qualitative Comparative Analysis (QCA). QCA is a social science research method that applies a systematic comparison to case studies. QCA helps to explore why some interventions were successful in achieving a particular outcome while others were not.  The evaluation was focused at generating qualitative information and not at quantitative information, since the intention was to generate explanations why something worked or not worked.  Valérie’s presentation was held and organized by Rutgers (knowledge centre for sexuality) in partnership with the Learning Community Evaluation of Nedworc.  The meeting was visited by M & E officers from the Strategic Partnership Partners -  Dialogue and Dissent and monitoring & evaluation experts from Nedworc.


visitors

Comparing successful versus unsuccessful cases and data collection
The set-up of the evaluation process consisted of 4 steps;
1.       Design of the evaluation;
2.       Data collection;
3.       Data analysis
4.       Interpretation of the findings

In the design stage a number of successful and unsuccessful cases were selected by the multi-disciplinary evaluation team. The condition for selection was to select cases, which had not been influenced by extraordinary contextual factors. So the case studies needed to be comparable, knowing that the conditions in which the media products were applied were similar.  In this case it was decided to do a separate analysis of both the Kenya and the Tanzania case studies, since the political context, educational and media environment in both countries were significant different.  Conditions under QCA means, which media products do generate respons from citizens and under which conditions do media products not generate respons.  With QCA you can investigate (combination of) conditions (factors) which are necessary and/ or sufficient to accomplish desirable outcomes.
This stage was followed by a regional workshop, where during a systematic discussion stakeholders had the opportunity to give constructive input on the conditions that were proposed by the evaluation team. Usually in this stage a shortlist is made between the 3 – 6 conditions, that need to be evaluated. In this stage, it was decided to link conditions to the journalist and the media product.


Conditions linked to the media product

The data collection was done by an extensive survey and some complementary interviews to collect additional narrative information. Some of the interviews were done anonymously since some of the informants  wanted to keep their confidentiality. One part of the data collection was to calibrate the data by coding them between 0 and 1.

Example Salience of a media item



Identifying combination of factors that lead to success
During the data-analysis phase the evaluation team identified the combination of conditions, that were sufficient for the outcome of the project (actor response) and the conditions that were necessary for the actor response.
During this phase specific software was used to transfer all the collected data  in the ‘Truth Table’.  This was done by coding the data from the case studies into a 0 or a 1,  based on the conditions that were calibrated in the data collection phase.

truth table
Paths that both generate success in one case study and failure in another case study, are eliminated in this phase. These are called the the contradictory paths. Finally, based on the processing of the data, the research identified 7 paths of combinations of factors that led to a high response of citizens.


The QCA intervention was finalized with the phase of interpretation of the paths, that led to success. This is the stage were meaning was given to the different paths. It is the stage were interaction with the stakeholders is required to identify and explain the causalities between the different factors that led to success.
For example, in this evaluation it was found that the Journalistic experience (seniority) played  a major role in the ABSENCE of actor response.  This finding generated a lot of questions that needed further discussion and analysis.   Is “Experience not equal to journalistic talent” or do “experienced journalists” feel themselves to mature to be influenced by mentor advice offered by the program’?  So this is the final stage where underlying meaning is generated by discussion, involving the stakeholders. 

Challenges and lessons
Based on the experience gained from this research in Kenya and Tanzania, the team encountered the following challenges and obtained the following lessons;
·         The data collection was a tremendous and a challenging job.  The difference in quality of data,  absence of essential data and the translation of the huge amount of data to summarized data provided the evaluation team a lot of work. The objectivity of data was also a dilemma.  Some factors, such as education level or geographical outreach, were not 100 % objective. Also the heterogeneity of the case studies, made it a challenge to find common criteria for calibration.
·         QCA demands more than a regular evaluation process. It requires a lot of systematic and thorough work.  The method has a danger, that if the evaluation is not well prepared stakeholders will get participation fatigue. Therefore, it is recommended that this evaluation is combined with other methods such a process tracing of typical cases studies. Two weeks, which is the timetable for most external evaluation interventions is too short for conducting the QCA.  The method requires a wider time span and enough financial resources for the implementation, especially for the design and data collection phase.  For this evaluation the time span for completing the research took twelve months.
·         QCA can be applied with a limited number of cases studies, however you still need to select qualifiable cases studies from a medium sized project.  So in this research from the 200 case studies,  60 were selected for further research.
·         QCA is a method which is still under development and in an experimental phase. The number of cases where QCA has been applied are still limited and therefore, best practices are needed to get a better idea where the method can have most benefit and potential.
·         For the donor, the results were still puzzling. What to do with the pattern-findings? More time had to be allocated for the joint-sense making after the analysis.
·         It is difficult to have people to talk about cases that are negative; There were the outcome is absent, it is essential for this method that data is found why something did not work.


Added value and the potential of QCA
Although QCA is a method in development, it has some great potential for further application. The method generates causalities in programs which take place in a complex environment. The method helps to explain why certain combinations of factors work and why they not work. This generates a great potential for learning and evaluation.  The QCA is based on evaluating existing programs by comparing cases, that have been generated by the specific intervention. The method is accessible and transparent. You can consult and download the procedures and software at the website of COMPASSS.   http://www.compasss.org/ .  Another interesting publication you can read is an evaluation about violence against women and girls, where a combination of QCA and process tracing was used. This evaluation implemented by DFID won at the EES Conference the best poster award.  >>>> Read report.  The instructions manual for conducting a QCA is available >>>> Handout QCA.

Simon Koolwijk
Expert participatory video

July, 2016
e-mail.  faccom@xs4all.nl 

Monday, June 27, 2016

What initiated change? Participatory videos provide a rich part of the story!

‘Citizens are not afraid anymore to demand for their entitlements! Health service providers do listen better to the demands of their patients. The quality of the health care has significantly improved last year. The treatments have improved, people started to talk positively about the service in the clinic, service providers keep their time schedules, the ambulance service is 24 hours available, hygiene practices have improved and the clinic is clean.’

This is one of the change stories, which was shared by citizens, service providers and government officials who participated in a participatory video intervention facilitated by Redeem The Generation (RTG), a local civil society organization who supports social accountability processes in various municipalities in Ethiopia.  For the whole story consult video:   Behavioral change and service improvements on health care in Matehare, Ethiopia.


Social Accountability

Social Accountability is a process where citizens have the right to hold the service providers accountable for the services they provide and together they explore where service deficiencies need to be improved. It is a structured process where citizens take the opportunity to provide feedback to the service providers. The role of the government is to provide the conditions and part of the additional resources to enable the implementation of the changes. The process is initiated in 223 municipalities in Ethiopia, facilitated by the Ethiopian Social Accountability Program Phase 2 managed and implemented by the Vereniging Nederlandse Gemeenten International (VNG-I) in partnership with 49 grantees and 110  local civil society organizations.  The SA process supports the dialogue between service providers and service users in the domains of 1) Health; 2) Education; 3) Agriculture; 4) Water and Sanitation and 5) Rural Roads.


Participatory video

Th participatory video of RTG was one of the thirty participatory video stories, that were submitted by local civil society organizations, who participate in the Ethiopian Social Accountability Program. Representatives from 35 grantees  were trained between December 2013 and March 2015 in videomaking and facilitating participatory dialogues. Participatory video is part of the monitoring & evaluation & learning strategy of the ESAP2 program. The most appealing videos are used for capacity building and communication purposes to further raise awareness about the concept of social accountability.

Enabling factors for change and  for stakeholder capacity
All 30 participatory video interventions that were conducted between June and September, 2015 showed interesting behavioral changes and service improvements that came about as a result of the SA process. Read more about these behavioral changes and service improvements in a research paper written by a team of experts led by  Pieternella Pieterse;  ESAP2 Research Papers

The process of participatory video making created a feeling of empowerment with the stakeholders.  After watching the videos, most stakeholders felt empowered because they had reached major changes in a short time span.   Especially the feeling of partnership and cooperation was appreciated.  The application of participatory video during the phase of reflection, provided an added value, because during the implementation of the Joint Action Plan stakeholders had not realized how far they had come.  In one community, after watching and discussing the videos, the government decided to expand the social accountability process and to provide additional financial support to other schools in their municipality.  


Monitoring – learning from participatory video
Based on the videos, the CSOs analyzed the factors that had contributed to the behavioral and the service delivery changes these changes.  Some major favorable factors that contributed towards these changes  were;
  • Citizens felt empowered by asking for their entitlements, not feeling afraid anymore;
  • The service providers experienced the push from service users providers as a motivation;
  • The SA process is complementary to governmental reforms in the areas of gender, inclusion of minorities and implementing the 1 to 5 strategy (1 person transfers expertise to 5 others)
  • There has been a positive attitudinal change towards vulnerable groups, women and girls;
  • The government felt more committed to provide additional contributions, when they saw that both service users and providers were showing willingness to contribute and provide resources during the implementation;
  • Users and providers have raised awareness and clarity about each other’s roles, experienced better communication amongst stakeholders and increased their understanding of each other’s feelings and opinions.



The process of analyzing these factors was a learning process for the CSOs as well as the stakeholders in the monitoring phase . It helped to strengthen their belief in SA process implementation and it helped them take a more distant view and reflection from the day to day activities.   The creative process of PV made them enthousiastic, and this supported the capacity building of stakeholders. In addition the PV showed changes created by the SA process, which added more meaning the monitoring process.  A piece of evidence next to reports and other monitoring tools.

Challenges in using participatory video for monitoring
Through the facilitation of the PV process, it was a challenge to identify the hindering factors for change, because people in Ethiopia do not have the habit of expressing negative opinions in front of a camera.  In this context, participatory video is a medium which proved most appropriate for appreciative inquiry questions, especially where social accountability is emerging and can be perceived negatively by service providers. Hindering factors for change such as ‘limited capacity of implementing partners’,  ‘turnover of key people in the process’  and ‘limited cooperation and limited willingness to communicate amongst stakeholders’ are factors, which can more easily be identified by more anonymous monitoring and evaluation methods, such as interviews, focus group discussions and observations without using the camera.

PV  covers various purposes
PV is an empowering tool for learning, monitoring and evaluation, especially in a context where social accountability is still emerging when an appreciative inquiry approach is used.  PV makes issues visible, as it gives people a voice and issues a face. It can provide additional value to discussions, because visualization can make all the difference.  If it is captured, it can not be denied. It can provide insight in the favorable factors for change.  For the identification of hindering factors and challenges more anonymous methods are required, such as more monitoring and evaluation methods without using the camera.  Participatory video adds added value to the process of monitoring and evaluation. It captures life stories of people, it is fun and supports the capacity development and learning process of stakeholders and it is an excellent mean in further disseminating life stories to other platforms for communication purposes.  A participatory video intervention provides a rich part of the puzzle!

Simon Koolwijk
Facilitator and expert participatory video

* For more information about training opportunities in video making and facilitating video storytelling consult  Trainingcourses storytelling by video

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Social Accountability Communication Awards 2015 - Ethiopia

As part of its communication, monitoring and evaluation strategy, the Ethiopian Social Accountability Program Phase 2, organised a participatory video, a most significant change story and social accountability committee hero competition. In each category around 25 organisations each participated. The final award ceremony took place on the 4th November, 2015 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The event gave a platform for the actual social accountability implementers to be awarded. The event was attended by more than 250 participants and representatives from national and international media. Watch the video;