Natural Resource Management in the Mountain Regions of Asia (NORMA)
This European Commission funded project aimed to identify the key research requirements for natural resource management to support existing policies for sustainable integrated mountain development in the Karakoram-Hindu Kush-Himalayan (KHKH) region. InsightShare used Participatory Video techniques to enable local communities, NGO’s and grassroots organisations to communicate their views and ideas themselves, directly to scientists, senior policy-makers and donors.
This project was carried out by InsightShare in partnership with Macaulay Institute, Aberdeen & ICIMOD, Nepal.
Our local partners were: in China, the Upper Yangtze Organization and Plateau Perspectives (Zhiduo, Qinghai); in India, Women’s Alliance and ISEC (Ladakh); in Pakistan, Aga Khan Foundation (Gahkuch).
There were two key stages in this project: During the first phase community groups and local NGOs in three countries (India, Pakistan and China) took part in Participatory Video workshops. The second phase consisted of a multi-stakeholder workshop held in Scotland attended by representatives of national research organisations and universities, government departments, development organisations, NGOs and local representatives from the communities we had worked with.
Edited versions of the resulting videos were presented at the workshop by representatives from each of the three communities.
In each country we trained 2 local facilitators, a man and a woman. Working with the right partners is essential. In this case they were local NGOs –who shared our grassroots and participative ethos, and who had strong links with the community and the local government.
At the workshop in Scotland local representatives showed their communities’ videos. We then worked in small groups using participatory methods to enable an equitable exchange of views between all the key stakeholders, irrespective of their level of formal education. The aims were to identify the major research needs, strategise how they could be achieved and then predict the likelihood of success. The workshop was documented on film.
Showing a video rather than giving a speech put local community representatives on a more equal footing with scientists, NGO participants and so on, who may have more experience of conferences and public speaking.
The videos shown at the workshop in Scotland changed partners’ and scientific participants’ thinking on participatory research. They realised the need to deliver projects that involved local knowledge and made a difference to local communities.
Translating the produced films into local languages has maximized the cross-border sharing and learning potential of these videos in the KHHK region. Further impact of this work will come with wider dissemination of the films among local and regional NGOs and Government institutions as well as among research and development organisations with an interest in the region/topics.
The filming of the Scotland workshop enabled villagers to see what impact their film made on the attending participants. It was important to complete this feedback loop and was empowering for those communities who took part.
The produced videos have already been shown widely to a range of audiences, most recently to researchers attending the Global Climate Change in Mountainous regions (GLOCHAMORE) conference in Perth, Scotland.
We see this project as a first step which has yet to achieve its full impact. We will now build on what we have achieved so far and the links we have developed. Our aim is to develop a longer term research project with Participatory Video as a community-led action research tool enabling communities, researchers and policy makers to document and share local knowledge, visions and innovation within and beyond national borders.
Extracts from Scotland workshop evaluation:
"The dynamic structure of this workshop really got things going and people involved"
"People's ideas and ways of thinking have shifted as the workshop progressed. In some cases dramatically."
"I learnt the power of visuals -videos from the locals”
“I was impressed by the ease and clarity with which illiterate nomads and farmers expressed their concerns related to environmental change. Such videos carry messages that go far beyond language.”
“We don't have system of keeping record of our culture; practices and history -this will be our history and convey our heartiest thanks to the researchers for helping us record our history.”
Gahkuch villagers, Northern Pakistan after watching their completed film
“They were urging me that I should invite these researchers again. They said that they are Barakaat (blessings) for us”.
Ataullah Baig, Aga Khan Foundation, local partner in Pakistan.