At Christian Aid, we use communication for development (C4D) approaches to strengthen community voices and foster learning from our programmes. Not only does this generate more accurate and authentic communications, but it also supports monitoring and evaluation.
1. Community correspondents and SMS Voices
The Community Correspondents’ Network in India and SMS Voices in Sierra Leone and Kenya, support people to identify local issues and communicate them to authorities via video or SMS.
2. Video to capture feedback and inform change
‘Nepal Aftershocks’ highlights people’s views and experiences of aid in the follow-up to the Nepal earthquakes of 2015. A small truck, converted into a makeshift studio, travelled more than 500km in two of the areas hardest-hit. It was created to generate feedback on humanitarian aid, but also to highlight the importance of accountability in humanitarian responses. The video highlights the importance of listening to people about what they want and need from a humanitarian response.
3. Participatory photography to support monitoring and evaluation
Participatory photography is a methodology where participants are trained in photographic techniques and supported to identify key issues they wish to document. We have developed our own methodology called Picture Power - where communities are provided with the skills and equipment to conduct their own project evaluation and/or monitoring of a project. Participants use photography as a tool for gathering qualitative data on the changes and challenges that have been important to them during the lifecycle of a project.
Their photos tell their story as each participant talks about their photos and why each photo is important to them. Ultimately the photos become 'photo evidence for action', a social accountability tool to engage with duty bearers. We did this through a community exhibition which was attended by the community as well as community leaders. For people with low literacy skills, photography offers an opportunity to document and share their stories, providing insight into the context for the work, and any changes experienced.
We have carried out Picture Power projects to explore changes in power in the occupied Palestinian territories, the impact of the ECRP programme in Malawi, how our UK Aid Match programme in Nigeria is saving children's lives, and the challenges adolescent girls in Kenya face. Christian Aid has also partnered with PhotoVoice, an independent organisation, to develop and deliver participatory photography projects in Ghana and Ethiopia.
Before this project, I thought that photographs were just a picture. Now, I know that there are stories behind the pictures.
It feels good to tell the story for my community. We need to show what we have done, and what still needs to be done.
- John Jerome, Community health volunteer in Nigeria
Impact of C4D
These C4D approaches have helped us to gain a greater understanding of the impact of our work from the perspective of communities themselves.
It has helped us to identify what works in what context and under what conditions, what is replicable, and how to adapt programme design based on community feedback.
It has also given communities the power and voice to document issues that affect their lives and reach out to decision-makers.