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Gabriel Amali takes a photo during a participatory photography session in Nigeria

Gabriel Amali takes a photo during a participatory photography session in Nigeria - Gabriel Amali

Communications for development (C4D) at Christian Aid

Helping people tell their own stories in their own way. We believe communications for development (C4D) is a powerful two-way process that allows people to share what's important to them and shape the projects they're involved in.

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.

SMS Voices: a community reporting project

SMS Voices is a pioneering governance pilot project launched by ENCISS in January 2014, designed to encourage transparent dialogue between citizens and local councillors through a custom-built SMS (text message) system.

Fighting corruption with STAR-Ghana

Using mobile technology to fight corruption in northern Ghana.

Video correspondents in India

Our PACS programme in India trained Community Correspondents to help them to develop their skills to expose issues of injustice, especially on the the

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.

Nepal Aftershocks

A year on from the earthquake, we asked 200 Nepalese people what they'd found the most and least helpful aid – and what it is they really need to surv

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.

Picture Power Nigeria

Community members and health volunteers documented the challenges they face and the benefits of the UK Aid Match programme through the medium of photography.

Picture Power Kenya

How photography is helping to change the lives of young women in Kenya.
John Jerome, Picture Power participant, Nigeria, March 2018

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.