When an Evaluation Becomes a Peacebuilding Intervention
In January 2015, UNICEF partnered with InsightShare to use their Participatory Video and Most Significant Change approach to demonstrate the results of two of UNICEF’s “Learning for Peace” interventions in Cote d’Ivoire. Those interventions were Peace Messenger Clubs, implemented with Search for Common Ground and the Youth and Transitional Justice implemented with International Center for Transitional Justice.
A team of 10 young beneficiaries were trained by InsightShare to carry out an evaluation using Participatory Video combined with the Most Significant Change (PV MSC) for UNICEF. The aim of the activity was for an end of year participatory evaluation to be led by students and young people who participate in the UNICEF Learning for Peace program in Côte d’Ivoire.
Peace Messenger Clubs: During Cote d’Ivoire’s recent political crises, there has been increased violence in schools, and universities including conflicting relationships with the teaching and supervisory staff. The Ministry of Education solicited the support of UNICEF to set up school clubs that would “Promote a Culture of Peace in Schools in Côte d’Ivoire”. The project, led by UNICEF’s partner SFCG, was initially implemented in 18 schools to strengthen conflict prevention and management mechanisms in schools and enable children’s voice to be heard. During the first phase, students or young people involved in peace clubs and theatre groups as well as teachers were trained on conflict management techniques. The second phase of the project involved a total of 30 schools or institutions.
Youth & Transitional Justice: The formal truth and reconciliation process in Côte d’Ivoire has failed to honor its promise to engage adolescents, which has led to increased feelings of marginalization among youth. The joint UNICEF and ICTJ intervention aims to create, through guided reflection, dialogue and outreach, music-and radio programming, communication channels that allow youth to share their experiences and their concerns, and help prevent future violent mobilization of youth by engaging young people in a process of reflection and learning about good citizenship and the role youth can play upholding social justice in times of crisis or transition.
Participatory Video and Most Significant Change
The evaluation used InsightShare’s Participatory Video and Most Significant Change (MSC) method to generate information, evidence and qualitative information from the perspective of the stakeholders in the projects.
Participatory Video has the ability to empower and engage diverse stakeholders in dialogue, while MSC adds a structured selection process and the capacity to extract qualitative data from stories. Through the use of participatory analysis, these stories yield rich findings, encourage reflection and amplify learning. The Most Significant Change technique uses a time bound and open question to frame stories to capture the most significant changes that the group has undergone. The MSC question asked in this evaluation was: “what has been the most significant change in your life as a result of your involvement with <insert intervention>?”
Through story collection participants shared experiences of peacebuilding and explained how information available through the intervention has been a key for creating positive changes in their own lives. Participatory planning and filming of video, and watching themselves on screen, helped participants connect the group through common experiences. Several of the participants broke down in tears during the story circles, but still said that the process had lightened their load and affirmed their experiences. For many participants, this activity was the first of time telling their stories.
The workshop left lasting skills in participatory evaluation. The trainee participants developed facilitation, filming, editing, and participatory monitoring and evaluation (PM&E) skills. Participants collectively analyzed the stories, identifying the most significant domains of change for youth within this project, as well as the enablers and blockers of change. The PV MSC training was, in effect, a peacebuilding activity in and of itself as it provided a forum for children and youth to share and reflect on their experiences, through dialogue within a supportive environment.
Each participant group selected the most stories with which they could most easily empathize and which reflected their values. The decision makers and program staff chose stories that exemplified their program goals, highlighting the reach of peacebuilding.
Collective criteria for story selection were produced to help reach consensus. The process of producing collective criteria from the groups’ individual subjective choices resulted in a rich pool of powerful values such as forgiveness, tolerance and hope. The collective criteria influenced group decision towards the more dramatic, inspirational stories of change, that covered the largest range of criteria and were ‘outstanding journeys’ rather than specific significant moments of change.
By critically appraising the stories by collectively agreed criteria, the PV MSC process contributed to a deepened understanding of which qualities participants think contribute to peacebuilding. By listening to the participants’ experiences, the decision makers gained an increased awareness of the value of sharing experiences, as well as an inclusive celebration what has been achieved so far.
Many of the domains of change, blockers and enablers suggest that for the children and youth belonging to a group was an essential part of creating change. The strength of clubs and associations lies in equipping them with advice, structure and support, all enhancing their existing qualities. The stories also explain how these processes take place, in particular, through the boosting of confidence. Above all they emphasize the meaningful effect of these actions on individual lives.
Coordinated by one of the youth who features in the video and other key members of the peace messenger clubs, they have taken it upon them to use the videos to mobilize their peers. They have been screening the testimonies in the streets and other public places and bringing together 2000 youth in Douekoue. The start of a youth led movement for peace and reconciliation!