It was lovely to reconnect face-to-face with individuals and organisations at the AidEx and Development2030 conferences on the 16th and 17th November.
At the heart of this event: the diversity of visitors, exhibitors, and presenters. They all created an open environment to discuss new ideas and persisting challenges in the development and humanitarian sectors. It has been incredible to experience the energy and excitement that the sectors have.
Besides having our own IMA stand to showcase our work and the services we offer for individuals, teams, and organisations; we also attended some of the talks and workshops, engaging with the burning topics in the development and humanitarian sectors, including partnership, localisation, climate change mitigation and adaptation, development financing and philanthropy.
It was a great event that we would highly recommend to anyone working in the humanitarian or development sectors, who is interested in engaging with individuals and organisations with shared values and who has a drive to come up with new solutions and collaborations to improve livelihoods and help systemic change. We hope to see you at the event next year in Geneva!
Visit our Exhibitor Profile and if we met you at AidEx and Dev2030 - we would love to connect with you so get in touch, either by email to firstname.lastname@example.org or sign up to our Newsletter to stay updated!
Participatory Video (PV) is a method of film production in which a group of people or a community make a film together to explore an issue that is important to them, create dialogue, and give a platform to unheard voices. What makes it different from conventional filmmaking methods is that the participants are fundamentally involved in every stage and aspect of the filmmaking process and production.
Participatory video has been an established method of film production for over 50 years but the rise in accessibility to Information Communication Technologies (ICT) such as smartphones and the internet, gives new momentum to the possibilities of using PV remotely, in which the process is facilitated online.
Watch this video, 'An Introduction to Remote Participatory Video' to find out more...
You can also find out more about the Donald Snowden’s first participatory video, called the Fogo experiment (Eyes See; Ears Hear) from 1969, on the Canadian Fogo Islands here...
This article is written with the intention of sparking ideas about how you can use Remote Participatory Video in your projects and programmes. The list is not exhaustive, and you can find out much more by joining our upcoming Remote Participatory Video training course!
Whilst the use of reports in organisations working in the international development sector are invaluable for ensuring records are kept for monitoring progress, evaluating projects and processes, and learning from mistakes, there is a rise in the use of participatory video for M&E to compliment or replace report writing to communicate messages using the voices of people that these reports directly affect.
As touched on in the previous point, RPV gives a platform to those most affected by humanitarian crises around the world, to give their perspective and understanding of the issues they face, and how projects and support could enable them to have a safer future. As well as communicating messages of the needs of different people, RPV also enables stories of success to be told by those who have seen major changes to challenges they were facing, spreading messages of positivity and encouragement to further enact change.
An alternative method to tackling injustice at a national or international level, by uniting people in their common interests to enact large-scale change, bringing influential words from those in need of support to the front of campaigns and movements meeting with authorities.
Encourage two-way conversations between those in need of support, those who can provide support and any other groups involved in projects. Building relationships is key to creating positive change and participatory video is a great way for people to start those conversations that create partnerships. Increasing stakeholder dialogue also increases accountability and transparency, for example in the case of a donor, they may want to know what support they are giving through the work of the project, and at the same time, those in need of support may want to know where their support is coming from. Opening up the dialogue between the stakeholders involved, encourages transparency and accountability.
Some social and environmental issues are complex and the intricacies of them can be lost in reports or when stories and experiences are expressed only in the form of numerical data. By creating a platform that encourages spoken word of these issues, people can express in their own words the everyday challenges, big or small, that they face, and how they can be best supported by people and organisations to bring about positive change for them.
RPV can be used to spread the word and communicate changes to policies, enabling the direction and sharing of information to be informative, but engaging and interactive as well. Utilising RPV in this way can also help access issues which need policy review in a direct and involved way. Sometimes surface level research about the support needed for communities misses integral and complex issues, which can be better reached by on the ground, direct reporting through participatory video.
Different groups of people may find participatory video more accessible and beneficial than others, and with an increase in the use of technology globally, younger people in particular may have a growing interest. Considering the popularity of video and social media amongst young people, lessons in production and utilising video, not just for entertainment but for positive social and environmental change, could reach a new demographic of people and inspire a new generation of thinkers.
As well as enabling youth groups to learn about the production of video and how it can be used to bring about change, it can also be a key learning point about people in the world facing different challenges and the support they need. Using video in this way can help youth understand international development in terms they are familiar with, using a method and media they already have an understanding of. Education through RPV is not just about film, but about how it can be used in the most influential and beneficial way.
Participatory video is all about the participation of different people within a community and their collaboration to harvest ideas about change, to work towards a common goal. Instead of the few making decisions on issues affecting certain people, whole communities or groups can collaborate and work together on a project that aims to help the whole community, sharing knowledge and ideas for a common goal.
Have you ever thought, that if a community trying to encourage better hygiene and sanitation, could inform one another with the use of video, capturing the issues they are facing themselves, whether that message would be better received than if from external visitors? Community-based communication and the sharing of local information by local people is a powerful way of encouraging positive change by advising others of important campaigns, announcements and policies without the feeling of a top-down approach.
Many people around the world have access to a camera phone. Many will know how to capture important moments or experiences with their camera, but not everyone will be using the tools they have in their back pocket to capture these important messages and use them to create positive change. RPV is not about the use of fancy camera equipment, it makes use of technology that is accessible to the majority, to provide a platform for the voices of those in crisis or overcoming challenges, to be heard, allowing them to tell their stories and experiences in their own words.
More information about our Remote Participatory Video training course here:
Or get in touch to find out about how we can offer tailored training to suit your needs.
If you would like more inspiration, please watch this video from course facilitator, Simon Koolwijk...
Videocast client interview with Corinna Philpott, MEAL advisor and Washington Sati, PV facilitator
The coast of Red Sea State, Sudan, has an outstanding marine ecosystem. Over recent years a number of factors have pushed pastoralist communities to coastal areas to diversify their livelihood strategies - predominantly into fishing, and these fishing grounds need sensitive management. As a first step towards an Ecosystem Approach to Fisheries Management IMA international was invited by the Institute of Marine Research, Norway, and UNIDO, to conduct a livelihoods analysis among the fishing communities, using the Sustainable Livelihood Approach (SLA).
With a mix of techniques including interviews, focus group discussions, observations, SWOT analysis and seasonal calendars, among a variety of stakeholders from policy to grassroots level, visits were made to coastal communities from the North, to the South of Red Sea State. The fish value-chain in the state is complex with power hierarchies, kin structures, social norms, political unrest and international politics all interplaying, yet with careful management there is enormous possibility. Over the coming years IMA International will be working with the Marine Fisheries Institute, and UNIDO in this region.
This week Olivia had the pleasure of speaking to Kosovan consultant and entrepreneur, Arta Istrefi-Jahja, about her life, work and recent consultancy with some of our team at IMA International.
If I am honest, the words 'role model', 'inspirational', 'passionate' and 'dedicated' came to mind when I met with Arta.
She is driven and passionate about helping people, in particular providing education and inspiration for younger generations and those who have limited access to education, something her parents taught her from a young age that she feels is now part of her “genetics”. Her father would often say "without education you are just another person with another opinion" - wise words Arta has been influenced by throughout her life, perhaps a reason behind her love of learning and teaching, and that she carries with her in her PhD and in her future goal of becoming a lecturer (more about that later).
It seems education was something highly valued in her family and something Arta wants to use to help her support those who don't have the same access to education that she did. This idea has grown with her and provided motivation for founding the Women Entrepreneurs Kosovo Community, a space where she can facilitate collaboration between women with different backgrounds and skills.
Passionate about combining business and academia, Arta has years of experience working in the private sector and worked as political advisor to the Minister of Trade and Industry, as well as with different international donor organisations in Kosovo. After working in this sector, she missed the research part of her life and found academic fulfilment in her PhD, which she is currently doing.
Since starting her PhD, Arta also started new work with the Swiss Entrepreneurship Program as a facilitator helping companies grow through training. She is also responsible for the Kosovo Market, a global project which supports entrepreneurs in 8 different countries, mainly with capacity building.
Throughout all her recent ventures, she relates back to what she is doing in her PhD – the importance of combining business and academia, something she actively thinks about. Her family's devotion to academia will always remain a big part of Arta’s life, but another part of Arta "wanted to see the world, meet people and be successful." She is a people-person at heart (an aspect of her personality that is easy to see) so she wanted to work in sectors where she could use her people skills to build invaluable relationships.
In the past, Arta had the opportunity to work with local and international companies in consultancy. Whilst exploring the idea of working internationally during the pandemic, she very happily came across Chris, IMA’s director. Of course, for such an interesting person, you would expect an interesting story behind her meeting Chris and working with IMA – well there is! After putting her CV out to the world, it landed in Chris’ inbox. He receives 10-20 CVs a week, and Arta’s happened to be one of the CVs Chris followed up on because, well, she is such an interesting person! A week later they met online and realised their common values for capacity development of people, teams and organisations. The next step was agreeing to look out for opportunities to work on together, and within a month, IMA were asked to bid for a capacity development project in Kosovo – and we had the perfect CV!
Her people skills, previous work experience and enthusiasm was a perfect match for IMA and she started working on a project financed by Helvetas in Kosovo, where some of the IMA team and Arta delivered remote training on critical thinking, Theory of Change, and data analysis.
Arta spoke honestly and enthusiastically of her experience working with the IMA team: “I learned a lot from Richard and Leigh because they have an immense experience in training in different countries”. She began to explain to me the importance of Theory of Change and went on to say, “...All these theories... [Richard and Leigh] also implement in practice” which Arta believes “makes it more unique”.
For Arta, she spoke of this approach to training as a “rare combination” of experience in academia, and direct experience of implementing what is taught in practice, something she values highly, and is the reason she felt herself and IMA had a “perfect match”, which we could not agree with more!
She explained that she thought the way our training was delivered was most engaging for participants as it included a lot of different exercises – not just teaching and listening - engaging participants differently. Arta loved the way the training was facilitated: short introduction, followed by practical examples that the participants have to engage in, so they understand them in detail.
She also spoke enthusiastically of the “lightbulb moments” she saw when participants would really engage in and understand the training. Discussions were encouraged throughout, and an importance placed on the exercises, which Arta said she found to be a very practical and useful approach. She feels that often, “attending a training is seen as just ticking a box that you have done it...but the learning is so important”, so for her, it was a great pleasure to hear after the training in Kosovo, that the whole team thought the training was worth it!
We are always looking for ways IMA can improve our services and communication, so I was pleased to hear Arta say: “Honestly, I don’t think so because we had a very professional collaboration...I wasn’t missing any information”. The only “misunderstanding” turned out “in a positive way”. Arta said her “expectations were that [she] would be engaged even more with the training” and that she would be “delivering the training fully on [her] own”, but then she quickly realised it would be shared between herself, Leigh, and Richard, relieved to know the training would be a team effort!
Supporting women entrepreneurs is a passion and dedication Arta has had for 10 years now. She believes strongly that when women are successful and more importantly, happy, they are able to feel like the best version of themselves. Although this is a long goal for many, for others it is something very out of reach. Arta was explaining to me that “working with different marginalised groups of women made [her] understand how important it is to support them…they see themselves as a sacrifice for new generations”, but they need to “feel alive and feel that they are worth it…be able to earn their own money”. For Arta, this “is the highest impact that [she] considers that [she] makes to someone’s life”. In her experience, women are more comfortable in settings where they can talk with other women, which is why she founded The Women Entrepreneurs Kosovo Community. In this community, Arta facilitates support given from successful women mainly in tech industries to marginalised women with limited opportunities, helping all women to grow together and improve their happiness and quality of life.
As a young woman myself, I found this exciting and inspiring to hear. Arta is one of many women marking the way forward for younger generations of men and women to support one another and create equal opportunities for all. After a long but topical discussion about hope for a fairer future for all and a hope for unity between women, we began to talk about Arta’s future ambition in teaching.
If you haven’t already understood that education is important to Arta, you will now. She explains that her understanding of the privilege of having access to education came from her parents’ generation: “For older generations in Kosovo, education was the key to freedom”, and as a result of “being raised from a family where you all the time think about education…[teaching] comes naturally”.
She continued: “for me…I love to read and to learn all the time, but if that remains with me only then I’m not that fulfilled, not that happy, so I would like to spread this knowledge with younger generations…hopefully they will get more and more inspired to learn more and to educate themselves…this is more or less the goal of me hopefully becoming a lecturer one day."
I can say with certainty that I think a lecture given by Arta would not be one to miss! She has so much knowledge and experience to share and is a true inspiration for younger generations. I wish her the best of luck with her goal of teaching!
Passion and a love of what you do is something I think is so important for achieving great things. I was deep in thought about this, when Arta started to talk about how a lot of what she has achieved in her life was influenced by understanding the importance of family: “I lost my mum when I was six and I lost my father when I was twenty-six and I guess the power of not having them physically in my life was stronger than perhaps other people who have parents”, “doing for other people, giving back…teaching and learning…was inherited from them”.
After speaking of the influence of family in providing encouragement, we continued discussing the importance of loving what you do. She explains, "I was able to continue my passion by always investing in myself". I was immediately in agreement with Arta - this is such an important message!
She carried on to say..."It’s very important to do what you want and to feel passionate about that, because we send out energy on a daily basis, so it’s better to send a positive one". Imagine what the world would be like if we all sent out more positivity energy!
Raise your hand if you’ve been inspired, encouraged or amazed...I’m raising mine!
I would like to say a big thank you to Arta Istrefi-Jahja for agreeing to talk to me about her life, achievements, ambitions, and thoughts on the world. I certainly have learnt a lot, and I hope you all have too!
We look forward to working with Arta in the future and sharing more stories.
If you are a consultant passionate about working with people and would like to build new relationships, maybe you would also be a good match for IMA!
If you would be interested in working with us, get in touch by emailing email@example.com.
I hope you enjoyed reading and look out for more conversations with our consultants!
Written by Stuart MacLeod, Digital Communications Manager, IMA International.
If you’re using online platforms, apps or software for communication and/or content creation, here are some tips and tools, that I have used, that may just help you too.
This past year IMA International has been working remotely, adapting our face-to-face training courses into online versions, and communicating virtually too, this has introduced us to a wide variety of Information Communication Technology (ICT). Finding the online tools was essential for us, to maintain our participatory training approach, despite not being in a room together.
This was done by researching possibilities available, trying them, and subsequently by the consultants’ ability to think imaginatively about how to use them.
These days, most companies that provide online services, offer free trials (which I recommend trying) which can then be upgraded into paid subscriptions if required, but before you try all of them, do some free research into which ones will suit your needs best.
Use YouTube to research any online tools and platforms, it is good to watch instructional overviews published by the companies who provide a product or service, but it’s also even more helpful to watch independently produced content. There are often hundreds of reviews, comparisons, and how-to videos available online, and when the person presenting is not sponsored or employed by the company, you will often get an honest insight into negative aspects as well as positive ones. I suggest after searching for ‘best online tools for education’, for example, then search for ‘option 1 VS option 2’ from the list, there will almost certainly be a helpful video talking through the pros and cons of each. One important aspect to check on all videos is the date they were created, if they were created a long time ago, the information may be out-of-date. Users cannot update videos once published on YouTube but if a particular video has a lot of views (also a good sign to look for) but is old, it can be worth checking the users profile page to see if they have published updated versions.
Watch more than one, depending on your time and patience. Many videos will cover the same basics but occasionally there will be a nugget of information that only appears in one video, and these can be very useful. It’s also a great way to discover new things, due to the suggested videos that pop up at the end. It’s very easy to find yourself researching how one thing works and discover a completely different thing which is also helpful.
Speak to the company directly, often they may point you in the direction of the right FAQ pages but if you need specific questions answered, it is always worth trying to get a direct response. It is also advisable to send a numbered list of questions rather than interspersing them within an email, as this makes it easier for them to reply point by point.
Join specific community groups on social media sites, these are filled with enthusiasts who are always happy to help plus the groups are also a source of inspiration to learn from. You can also check the company’s social media pages for webinars which are a good way to get information and even communication about certain topics.
When recording audio or video content, especially on collaborative projects such as creating online course content or reporting on a project, make sure you can recreate your ‘studio’. Ensure you use the same equipment, you can sit the same distance away from the microphone and be in the same room etc., you could take a picture of your setup to help remind you. Things are easily missed the first time you record or need to be modified, and you need to be able to add audio or video that matches your original content, for example, the acoustics in different rooms can lead to noticeable variations in sound quality which can distract from the content.
Create videos from PowerPoint by recording audio directly over your slides and then exporting into a video file. This is a minimal approach but can be a great way to start creating content.
Adobe Express online (https://photoshop.adobe.com/) is free to use (although you will need to set up an account) and is useful for simple photo editing such as cropping, resizing, and adding effects without needing to download any apps or buy any software. This tool can be very handy for many content creation jobs.
Another useful tool for creating content is screencast software which allows you to record what is on your computer screen or phone and add narration on top. These can be especially useful if you need to show how software or computer-based processes work. We use https://screencast-o-matic.com/ which has a free version but is fairly reasonable at around $100 a year for the subscription version.
Here is an example of screen casting, that just so happens to be an advert for our online tailored training! 🙂
If you are creating engaging online educational content as we are doing, remember that engaging exercises can be done offline too, and uploaded and shared digitally afterwards. It doesn’t have to all be online tests and quizzes!
Gamification is also worth a mention, which introduces elements and experiences of playing games, to increase active engagement into scenarios where games are not usually played. Keep in mind, gamification doesn’t just refer to video games! It could be as simple as using a crossword, spot the difference pictures or quizzes. It can also mean creating a leader board or a points system for people to compete against each other, or work together to complete tasks, again some of this can be done offline.
And finally, be sure to integrate feedback options into whatever you produce, so you can learn from your audience about how to improve. Creating a community group for people is also a positive step to encouraging engagement and building relationship and networks, just pick one of the 100 million types of communication platforms out there (after you have done your research) and you are on your way, good luck & hold fast!
This is by no means an extensive guide, but I hope it has helped spark a few ideas, please get in touch if you have any questions or suggestions.
If you are interested in the online courses we offer or would like more information about the tailored training and consultancy work we do, please visit https://imainternational.com/our-services/online-learning
by Richard Bond, Senior Consultant, IMA International
I have been working with IMA international on development of a new online course, so what is it about? Well, it is about a unique system and set of tools which has emerged from my 40 years of developing learning systems in large, complex projects many of which followed a learning process. It’s Less about frameworks, indicators and terminal evaluations; more about monitoring internally to learn and change during the investment period. A different sort of animal.
So, why might you want to learn about establishing a genuine learning process system in your large and complex project? Well, four reasons;
Firstly, conventional M&E tends to be ritualised and essentially for accountability purposes to central government or donors. Fair enough, they do provide the funds for investment, but does it get the best results? For that there must be priority for learning over accountability.
Secondly, the policy learning needs of government and donors are poorly met by summative ‘snapshot’ evaluations. Even if the findings are robust – a big ‘IF’ – then the chances of any future project having the same context and following the same process that might benefit from the lessons are remote. Learning should be applied during existing investments.
Thirdly, existing framework-based M&E systems are not managerially relevant for project information needs, especially at the operational level.
And finally, unless your assumed theory is absolutely rock-solid, an unlikely scenario in complex, diverse, resource and information-poor environments, where change in human behaviour is needed; then you will have to learn and change as you go along.
OK, but in what ways would it be different from a conventional M&E system?
Perhaps the most radical difference would be that it would be designed and operated from the field level not the centre. The centre would concentrate on training support and reflection.
The monitoring is highly analytical and using combined qualitative and quantitative systems provides information on all stages of emerging results for multiple management levels in the organisation, all done in real-time. This allows true process monitoring and when supported by targeted mini-reviews explains weaknesses for high-level reflection. The whole is based on a modified ‘Action-Learning’ cycle.
That is a tall order, so what methods enable such a system?
There are five innovative tool sets; ‘Cognitive Mapping’ taps into the real client field situation and these results help formulate a non-linear ‘Theory of Change’ where all hypotheses are made explicit. During implementation, field operatives monitor outputs in a managerially relevant way using a system called ‘ATOM’ that not only keeps an eye on the big picture of implementation but provides diagnosis of weaknesses. There are also a few key techniques, called WEDEX and CAJUS for periodic checks on the emergence of outcomes and impact, also capable of disaggregation, that help target internally driven mini-reviews when failure of hypothesis is suspected. These in turn feed back into the reflective Theory of Change model to give evidence-based adjustment.
All these methods have been used in field situations over the last 40 years, are done by existing field staff, can be developed on conventional computer systems by local staff and function as a coherent real-time system.