Caption: Training participants in the field in Malawi. Credit: Patrick Mkwapatira (Government of Malawi, Environmental Affairs Department).

Making Every Voice Count for Adaptive Management (MEV-CAM) Module C: What is the key message?

The MEVCAM initiative has finished its third training module, and teams from RFS Malawi, Burundi, Burkina Faso, Niger, Tanzania and Uganda are putting their skills to work by creating impactful videos that share the voices of beneficiaries in the project communities.

Scaling Out, Scaling Up and Scaling Deep” is a series of strategies that helps initiatives solve the most pressing and complex social and ecological problems by expanding their positive impact on systems. Scaling up targets laws and policy, scaling out looks to impact greater numbers by replication and dissemination, and scaling deep focuses on the impact of cultural roots.

The Making Every Voice Count for Adaptive Management (MEV-CAM) initiative actively employs these principles, and its Module C training was no exception. 

Module C, unlike the previous two training modules, focused on directly extracting and sharing valuable knowledge from project beneficiaries. Community members highlight best practices that are currently carried out within landscapes and, together with trainees from the initiative, analyze what is needed for these practices to be upscaled. The results are then presented through a visual medium to eventually be scaled out to other regions. This knowledge-sharing process builds upon the foundational skills acquired in Modules A and B.

The Foundation

The participatory video approach takes the term “participatory” very literally.

Beginning with Module A, Participatory Videos for the Most Significant Change, trainees gained skills on how to work with community members and capture the most significant change seen as a result of newfound lessons learned. Here, the trainees learned how to engage beneficiaries and stakeholders using storyboards and games to elicit the most notable changes seen within their communities.

Special attention is given to guaranteeing women’s participation and their active involvement in the empowerment process. This gender transformative approach is usually taken to scale deep and evaluate the results of a project from the community members’ points of view, while also valorizing and strengthening the role of women within communities.

Module B, on the other hand, demonstrated how to use Participatory Videos for Facilitation. Trainees learned skills on how to empower community members, men and women alike, to create participatory videos for advocacy purposes while simultaneously scaling up their own projects. In doing so, the community members identified areas in which they needed to raise governmental awareness and demonstrated their challenges and needs through videos.

The participatory video for facilitation approach also empowers women leaders to illustrate their practices, contributions, and policy recommendations which they are encouraged to showcase during policy dialogue opportunities at the local level and beyond. With the support of the trainees, stakeholders were able to express themselves in an innovative manner.

For both approaches to perform to their fullest potential, it is important to understand what beneficiaries want to say to continue scaling up their landscapes. Only then can the trainees work alongside them to demonstrate innovative ways of sharing these messages with their target audience; whether this is with other communities, teams, policymakers or other decision-makers.

In Module C, trainees are learning skills on how to guide communities by scaling down into the landscapes themselves and understanding how and why certain practices have been adopted.

MEV-CAM and the synergies between different landscapes

A handful of teams have been chosen to take part in this module, but the selection of countries was by no means random! In fact, these teams demonstrated great enthusiasm and interest in the Participatory Video methodology and found creative ways of applying this technique to their baseline videos.

The francophone teams selected were from RFS Burundi, Burkina Faso (GEF-6 and GEF-7) and Niger country projects, while the anglophone cohort was represented by teams from Malawi (GEF-6 and GEF-7), Tanzania (GEF-6 and GEF-7) and Uganda. Other projects were implemented in Angola, Mongolia and Mozambique, and nearly half of the total trainees were female across the selected teams.

Trainees worked with beneficiaries before Module C began, with teams from Malawi and Tanzania specifically illustrating how it is possible to create synergies between the GEF-6 Resilient Food Systems (RFS) programme and the GEF-7 Dryland Sustainable Landscapes Impact Programme (DSL-IP). Participants from the DSL-IP projects visited those in from RFS and were able to learn not only about the best practices used in these countries but also about the lessons learned that can be applied and scaled up through future activities to be carried out by DSL-IP.

The Malawi team visited the Machinga District, where community members engaged in “Theatre for Development” as a platform for beneficiaries to not only explore their creativity but also to share important knowledge about complex social issues and other important practices such as beekeeping.

In Tanzania, trainees highlighted different beekeeping techniques currently used in the Mkalama district, where beekeeping was highlighted as one of the main livelihood diversification activities, even though it was once frowned upon.

The Methodology

This module adopted a “flipped classroom” approach where trainers provided guidance on how to perform participatory video editing. In addition to the traditional editing processes, editing for participatory videos ensures the voices from the communities are expressed correctly. Trainees learned how to do this by using paper edits, correcting subtitles, and getting comfortable with the overall technical aspects.

Participants from Mongolia and Mozambique are finalizing their baseline videos, whereas the trainees from Angola and Malawi are working on their monitoring skills and are creating follow-up videos to their baselines. Teams Burundi, Burkina Faso, Niger and Uganda will share the Most Significant Change in their landscapes, illustrating how participatory videos are an effective evaluation tool.

Looking Forward

The MEV-CAM team will continue to work closely with each country to extract the best practices and lessons learned. Together with RFS, FAO country offices and partners, much work will be done to evidence baseline conditions and accompany the projects’ actions while at the same time monitoring real changes as defined by beneficiaries.

Soon not only the videos will be shared, but also interesting documentation on the experiences from the ground and the best ways to upscale them in different landscapes facing similar challenges will be defined. Voices from the ground now have a platform to be heard, acknowledged and made the most of.

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