Exploring the potential of Participatory Video
for pro-poor market development and farmer-to farmer technology transfer
One of the main objectives of Practical Action's Markets and Livelihoods (Aim 2) team in the UK is to strengthen the technical capabilities and support the work of the programme teams in our country and regional offices.
Participatory Video (PV) seems to be a tool that can help the country/regional teams in at least two ways:
1 Facilitating Participatory Market Systems Development (PMSD)
We began testing this application in Peru (Cusco) in April 2007. We believe that PV can add value to three areas of PMSD:
- Farmers Coordination/Dialogue/Collaboration (mainly through the technique of "participatory storyboarding"),
- Farmer to Farmer Technology Transfer, and
- Farmers Influence on Market Actors and Policy-Makers.
The results seem encouraging so far:
- The Peru Communications Team has taken up the PV techniques they learned. The team that was trained in Cusco then trained the staff of Infolactea (a dairy info centre in Cajamarca promoted by Practical Action)
- Farmers in Cusco who were involved in the training produced their own video to share their messages in a participatory market mapping workshop (one of the key participatory tools we use in Aim 2)
- Farmers in Cajamarca who are involved with Infolactea produced a video to share with other farmers in similar contexts how to improve their pastures (a critical input for the dairy market system). You can watch the video at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zZsF7kkqjn8
2 Improving our monitoring/learning processes (Stories of Change/Most Significant Change)
We began testing this application in December 2007 with a workshop in Sri Lanka that involved the Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Nepal IA2 teams. This workshop was co-funded by USAID.
The idea here is to find out how PV can help us improve the process of gathering the stories and finding out the most significant changes happening in our projects. Insight, the organisation with whom we are implementing these trainings, have written about their experiences in this field. See for example http://www.insightshare.org/case_study_msc.html and http://www.iied.org/NR/agbioliv/pla_notes/current.html
Practical Action have been using Stories of Change for quite a while because we believe that is a powerful qualitative monitoring technique but we need to improve the processes of collection, selection, reflection, learning and feedback of these stories. Additionally, the analysis of most significant changes at different levels of the organisation has been neglected almost entirely. Instead, often stories that are the exception and not the norm become a reference point for external audiences and internal decision-making.
By giving control of the camera and the interviewing process to the communities themselves, PV can help us to improve the way communities talk to us and to their peers, and the reflections we need to have around the stories coming out of our projects.
The versatility of the PV techniques learned in the workshops means that the trainees will be able to apply them to both areas (PMSD and Monitoring), despite the fact that the South Asia training focused on PV for SoC/MSC. For example, the Nepal team are already planning on using PV for PMSD.
Participation of both project and communications staff is fundamental for sustainability (lesson learned from a past experience of PV in Kenya).
Finally, it is important to be clear that, for IA2, PV is a means, not an end in itself. When farmers participated in the Peru workshop, our intention was not to make them video producers; it was to allow them to use video as a means to improve information flows within the market and their ability to engage with key market actors. Equally in the South Asia workshop, we want PV to improve the ways in which we communicate with the beneficiaries of our projects, how we learn from our projects and adjust them to the emergent challenges.
Both applications will be under evaluation in 2008.