Video: Chris Lunch at TEDxIHECS “This is not a Video Camera”
Soledad is a senior associate InsightShare. In this interview with Cheekay Cinco she shares her thoughts on Video for Change and measuring impact..
InsightShare is a 15-year-old organisation set up by Nick and Chris Lunch. Over the course of their existence, they have become international leaders in the use of participatory video (PV) for community empowerment. They have worked with communities across Asia, Africa, Latin America, Central and Eastern Europe, and Western Europe.
Soledad says their work is focused on the ‘Big P’ meaning they focus on ensuring the participation of local communities in video-making. According to Chris Lunch, InsightShare doesn’t train citizen journalists or video activists, they train community change-makers (see video above).
One of InsightShare’s most recent projects, called ‘video girls for change’, worked with adolescent girls in communities in Guatemala and Uganda, giving them the tools to express themselves and talk about the issues that matter to them. The project also enabled girls in the communities to conduct participatory evaluation through PV to create a space for bottom-up learning and downward accountability in the organisations they work with through girl programmes. Soledad was directly involved in implementing this project in Guatemala and this was a project we returned to throughout our interview.
InsightShare and Measuring Impact
Soledad says that while they do not have a ‘formal’ monitoring and evaluation strategy, InsightShare has a ‘learning culture’ and in every project, they conduct monitoring and evaluation (M&E) in ‘small ways’ — from short workshop exercises to monitoring progress via an end-of-workshop evaluation. Soledad says that they take into account the context of the project in designing the M&E activities and processes.
InsightShare has ways a number of methods for sharing and managing the lessons they have learned from their projects — from annual staff retreats to informal consultations and conversations among staff members and management. They do this not just to monitor project status and deliverables but also to learn as an organisation, and to evolve their practice.
InsightShare’s M&E methods are unique in the sense that they do not employ ‘formal’ data-gathering strategies (questionnaires, surveys) as default. Instead, they use qualitative, participatory, and informal methods and training workshop activities to document and gather data to monitor the progress of their participants. The reasoning behind this is two-fold: (1) planning and implementing separate M&E processes takes time that do not usually have in their projects; and (2) informal, participatory data-gathering processes is more in line with their approach to Participatory Video workshops where suddenly implementing a questionnaire to be answered by the participants would be inappropriate to their approach.
InsightShare’s M&E methods are informed by PLA (Participatory Learning and Action), VIPP (Visualisation in Participatory Programmes), ‘Theatre of the Oppressed’, Outcome Mapping and the Theory of Change models. Some of the methods that they have used to monitor and evaluate their projects and the immediate impact of their projects are:
- video diaries, where participants over the course of the training and capacity-building process document their thoughts, feelings, opinions in video form; these are structured enough that similar data can be collected, but still flexible enough so that the participants can fully express themselves.
- mood spectrum to track learning progress where participants rate their mood through a workshop event so trainers can be responsive.
- video documentation of community video screenings to capture the community’s reactions to the videos.
According to Soledad, impact assessment is only possible to conduct 2 – 3 years after the project has concluded. As such, during the period and immediately after the intervention, a true ‘impact assessment’ is not possible. At most, an organisation can find out the immediate impacts of a project but not the long-term ones. Soledad recommended that small organisations that do not have the time, luxury and funds to go back to the communities they had worked with 2 – 3 years after project implementation, partner with local universities and students who can do the impact assessment of the project as part of their course work. InsightShare has experience in working with students this way. She also recommends that perhaps that the video4change network might want to consider establishing a research partnership network collaboratively to help achieve this.
Soledad also cautions on ‘attribution’ — the idea that one project, one workshop, one activity will be the sole cause of an impact. Instead, she suggests Video for Change organisations think of how the project contributes to change, but also think about who are the enablers and the blockers of change, and other factors (i.e., other projects or events that happen outside your project) that also contribute to change.
Setting Indicators for Empowerment
In our interview, we discussed in detail InsightShare’s video girls for change project. It is important, Soledad says, to look at both individual and collective empowerment. Self-esteem indicators for individual girls were marked and documented throughout the project implementation. The following indicators were important signs of change for the project:
- girls gaining confidence to speak in public;
- girls increase ability to negotiate with family members; and
- an increased ability to have control over their lives.
But equally important were the collective empowerment indicators that were seen as an immediate change after the project implementation:
- the links among the girls trained remained strong after the project as a support mechanism for them;
- community reaction to the videos made by girls opened up a space for discussion about the girls’ issues; and
- local organisations changed their program priorities based on the girls’ videos
Defining Video for Change
Based on the interview with Soledad, InsightShare’s definition of video for change is focused on collective and community empowerment. Because their approach to Video for Change focuses on Participatory Video, they look at the video production process as a way through which a community (or parts of it) can define their own empowerment goals and indicators. For InsightShare, the outcome of the video production process is more than just the videos. Rather, it is about opening up spaces, through the video production process, where the communities they work with can have a dialogue about issues and work collectively to address those issues.