Friday, January 27, 2012

Participatory Video Activity in Jhanjhrola Khera, Gurgaon – Basic premise, outputs and challenges

Participatory Video (PV) activity was undertaken in Jhanjhrola Khera, one of the intervention villages in Gurgaon, in December 2011 over a span of four days. It was conducted by Dr. Rana Ghose from IDRC, with the help of Ms. Tarini Manchanda and Mr. Pranay Ranjan. The activity acted as a medium of engaging with the village community and also empowering them to make bureaucracy more responsive. The basic premise was to first teach villagers about using video camera and then let them film their own story, in context of water. Over the first two days, about 20 villagers, including women, were taught about video camera usage, angles, different types of shots, ways of scripting story etc. On the last day, couple of village youths were also taught about editing a video. Eventually, two videos were made, one by village women on water cleanliness and the other one by village elderly and youth, in which they talked about village water issues. The combined run time of videos was about 40 minutes and it was shown to the village community on the last day of the PV activity. After the screening, villagers were also asked for their comments. A village elderly appreciated our efforts and urged the PHED (Public Health and Engineering Department) to actively work on village water issues. A woman from the village considered the activity to be a source of additional knowledge for her and other women involved with the video shoot. She urged villagers to consider the video as a source of learning and also practise means by which water could be kept clean!
A group of women watching the video on water cleanliness

This blog post would like to bring up some of the challenges faced by the team while carrying out PV activity. Since the activity was spread over four days, the first and foremost challenge was to ensure that same set of people joined the team every day, at least for about 4 to 5 hours. This was a big challenge as many times during the activity, it happened that the team would end up with a new set of people because some of them had to leave. The other challenge was to get women to learn about using a camera. In fact, on the first day of the activity, it so happened that couple of women were told about camera usage. However, when they were actually asked to hold the camera and film something, they were suddenly very reluctant and decided to walk off! Despite our repeated requests they did not want to continue with the activity! This came as quite a surprise to the team, as they had earlier sounded very keen on learning about video camera usage. The other challenge was to decide on number of people team would want to limit itself to, considering the constraints such as manpower, number of cameras etc. in mind. In fact, as per initial plans the activity was to be carried out with a group of 6 people, however, it eventually turned out to be an activity involving 20 people! Another challenge was to make people understand the value of filming their own experiences. Many a times they would question why should they learn to film their own story? The team screened couple of videos to the participating group, of instances when villagers have filmed their own stories and used it as a tool to voice their opinion. The video made by Dr. Ghose for world water week in Stockholm, was also screened in order to make them understand the difference when someone else makes a video and when it is made by people themselves.

Village residents who had gathered for the video screening
Despite all the challenges, at the end of the activity, the team was quite satisfied with the response and output. A very positive outcome was active participation of women, who also showed interest in participating in activities that would be carried out in future. By way of filming their experiences with water, the villagers also learnt about using this as a tool to make service providers more responsive.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Third Coordination Workshop, Jan 9-13, 2012, Gurgaon

Peri-urban Project team members at the 3rd Coordination
Workshop, held at Gurgaon from 9-13 Jan, 2012
The third Coordination Workshop of the Water Security in Peri-urban South Asia Project was conducted from January 9–13, 2012 in Gurgaon, Haryana. The main objective of the workshop was to reflect on the progress made by teams from the 4 research locations and develop a shared understanding on the methodological tools and action work to be adopted in order to meet the objectives of the project.

Day 1 of the workshop was chaired by Dr Vishal Narain and the first session was based on presenting preliminary results and analyses by each team. Methodological challenges in the research and especially those related to the questionnaire survey were discussed next. Dr Anjal Prakash then took the session on Vulnerability and Capacities Index followed by a group exercise wherein each team listed possible indicators of vulnerability in the specific contexts of their research sites.

Day 2 of the Workshop largely focussed upon linking research with the overall objectives of the Project and towards developing a basic understanding of the cost-benefit analysis. Dr Vishal Narain did a stock taking on how the team has been able to contribute to a better understanding of the 'Peri-urban water security' especially since the Project is half-way through. He coherently reconnected the larger goals of the Project with the work that had been carried out so far and reflected on the conceptual evolution since the Project began. He pointed out how methodological pluralism has been the strength of this Project and also assessed the impact of the work so far on the communities, with a typology of the interventions that have been carried out and concluded with the influence on the policy makers and government agencies that this Project has been able to have.

Workshop on 'Essentials of Cost Benefit Analysis'
was conducted by Dr Purnamita Dasgupta,
Associate Prof., Institute of Economic Growth
The next session was taken by Dr. Purnamita Dasgupta, Associate Professor at the Institute of Economic Growth (IEG), New Delhi, who gave us a detailed understanding of the Cost Benefit Analysis (CBA). Difference between a cost-benefit and cost-effectiveness analyses and their respective applications were clearly explained. The stages of a CBA and concepts like measuring the net gain, monetizing of costs and benefits, calculating the present value, opportunity costs, discounting rate etc. were deliberated upon. Climate change aspects in a CBA and the ethical issues of climate change were discussed next, largely in terms of inter-generational and intra-generational analysis. The participants were then assigned group work where each research site formed one team and listed out a possible intervention strategy and the costs and benefits associated with it. All teams came up with interesting, innovative ideas in the context of their own research sites. Dr. Sara Ahmed and Dr. Dasgupta gave their valuable inputs leading to a greater understanding of the concepts.

Team members at the seminar at IDRC, New Delhi
A seminar and interaction session with professionals and researchers at IDRC, New Delhi, marked the 3rd day of the coordination workshop. The first session was regarding the communication strategy adopted by the Project and ways of improving communication to reach out to a larger audience in an effective manner. The session was first taken by Ms. Prabha Sethuraman, Communications Officer, IDRC who emphasised that communication strategy should not be considered as a separate aspect, but as a vital part of any project planning. She shared insights on how to prioritise the target audience and ways of fitting research strategy with the project objectives. Dr. Rajeswari Raina from CSIR's National Institute of Science Technology and Development Studies, took the next session sharing experiences from her past work on ways of providing the government with policy options. The afternoon seminar started with the screening of a documentary film by Dr. Rana Ghose on ‘Voices from field in the context of water security.' This was followed by presentations by the 4 team leaders and a discussion session.
Field visit to Sultanpur village in periurban Gurgaon

The next day was the field visit to Sultanpur village in peri-urban Gurgaon. The village has several inequity issues with respect to water availability and supply. The public water supply is inadequate, groundwater is saline, and the villagers largely depend on water from tube wells or hand pumps from a certain part of the village which has relatively potable water. The participants interacted with the villagers who narrated their experiences on the changing climate, agricultural practices, and their problems related to water.

The last day of the workshop involved updating the team with the progress on advocacy action plans from all 4 field sites and subsequent deliberations on ways of carrying the action work forward. Presentations on ‘Save our Urban Lakes Campaign’, Hyderabad, and ‘Save the Moyur River’, Khulna by Dr Anjal Prakash and Prof MS Khan respectively followed next. The workshop concluded with a consolidation of the points discussed in the last 5 days and listing of the work to be done till the next reporting period.