Have you heard of Participatory Video?

Well you might have thought about it, but have you seen it done? Did you know there are organisations? academic study? and yes… even, yes, a Guardian article on it….


InsightShare – these folks are doing it! from Innuits to Igorots (Philippines) they’re doing participatory video for M&E (whole process), Capacity Building, Community Engagement, Advocacy, Research – you name it!

BBC Media Action – they are it in so many ways, perhaps the best example is Sema Kenya (Kenya speaks) a debate programme which they describe “has travelled to 13 counties across Kenya and broadcast more than 20 editions since its launch on national TV, radio stations and online”. Perhaps my Kenyan friends could comment on the impact this had on the run up to the recent election?

Practical Action – “for pro-poor market development and farmer-to-farmer technology transfer”

ParticipatoryVideo.com – though this is as much about flash mobs and iPhones – not really for NGO peeps

participatory video pic

Academic study

Anna Colom MSc Development Studies, SOAS wrote her thesis on the subject, Anna now works for BBC Media Action

Guardian Article

How to … avoid the pitfalls of participatory development (gosh this isn’t even just on videos it covers the whole subject of participatory work – is this getting close to the heart of what you do NGO people?)

Why am I excited about this?

For a Real Time Evaluation for the Horn of Africa drought in Ethiopia with World Vision, we used video after (not during) Focus Group Discussions. We were trialing out the evidence we could quickly and accurately record using smartphones in emergencies. We found the participants to be so articulate following the FGD that their videos had a strong impact on HQ staff – both encouraging them and challenging. However the power was really leveraged by the questions that were asked and the whole Real Time Evaluation format – using best practice for FGDs and on analysis using first the large amount of written qualitative data using the video to illustrate the point and bring it home – person to person. So it’s never just about the tech – the training and abilities of the people using it are of course the most important – I’m just assuming that you are already very clever and very good at participatory development.

One of the crucial benefits was keeping their voice in their own language. We nearly wrongly translated the time it took to collect water (9 hours!) partly because it was so unbelieveable. If that error was made on ‘paper only’ it would have been unnoticed. On video – you can’t escape errors in translation!

Although this wasn’t Participatory Video in its full sense, this was in itself (in 2011) a revolutionary method for the NGO. To use video participatorally and throughout the M&E process would be a big mind shift. Are any other NGOs considering or trialing Participatory Video for M&E? Or for other areas of participatory development? If you are considering PV, InsightShare seem like good people to chat to.

Are you excited? What next for you?

Well you are in luck because there is a free event on next week: Participatory Video for Development. Set up by the lovely London ICT4D Meet Up. I’m aiming to go and find out some real information – the above was all just desk research (except the Ethiopia bit! that was 17 days of real time evaluation… now that’s another story).

Postscript … We all have agency

Let’s make the whole thing a lot simpler…. you work in development? when you’re out visiting a project and it’s brilliant and you see the Project Manager has just got herself a smartphone – get her to video what she sees, get them to repeat what they said that cut to the truth, then see what happens… encourage them to edit and share the videos – you probably don’t remember that you once learnt what YouTube is, how would you explain it? For editing, Windows MovieMaker (really simple editing software) is free to download. Remember… we all have agency.


6 responses to “Have you heard of Participatory Video?

  1. Participatory Video – now watch the videos – http://vimeo.com/35011028 – this one on early marriage… “You don’t need to feel obligued to get married. One should make her own decisions, because it’s our life, and it’s not for anybody else.” Maria Chicoj, Guatamala – facilitated by InsightShare. Soledad Muniz of InsightShare says: “One of our current programmes aims to build capacity to two groups of young women in Uganda and Guatemala in Participatory Video for M&E.”

    • Thanks Matt. Was a great London ICT4D event last Thu despite not actually containing the main now-postponed talk on Participatory Video. Jo was off the next day to do participatory video work in Sri Lanka and Tony Roberts’ PhD is also on the same subject. So this is obviously a hot and becoming-well-researched topic.

  2. Hi Becky!
    Nice to read you excited about the method 🙂
    Just to add on academic study, here a short article I wrote based on my MSc dissertation: http://wpmu.mah.se/glocaltimes/?p=87
    And for those wanting details on how to do it in the field, the handbook from InsightShare is a great practical guide: http://www.insightshare.org/resources/pv-handbook You can download it for free in 4 languages 🙂
    Lots of other resources as well in the website!
    Just to say, I’m now supporting a group in Kenya that is carrying out a Participatory Video Evaluation and it makes a big difference both in terms of qualitative information and real participation of community members in evaluating programme impact in their lives.

  3. Thanks for the shout-out Becky!

    Although we do cover some “gimmicky” PV content, our focus is on ALL things related to the genre. In fact, we’ve written about a great deal of the information you’ve provided in this post!

    Our goal is to recognize all things within the participatory genre, including social change; anything that has to do with telling a story from a participatory/individual point of view.

    If there is something that we neglect, please bring it to our attention! We would love to have you as a source for PV content!!!


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