When communicating with rural communities with their own dialect, WFP Colombia gets creative, with pens, paint and paper.
In 2017, the Colombia country office conducted a decentralized midterm evaluation of its Protracted Relief and Recovery Operation 200708, with the aim of identifying best practices and lessons learned to support management strategic and operational decision-making and improving the efficiency of programming related to capacity development, livelihoods and resilience building in vulnerable families and communities.
The evaluation concerned 11 departments where WFP operates and adopted a mixed method approach, which included interviews and focus groups with participants.
Drawing the change
The office reached out to cooperating partners and more than 20 communities living in three departments (La Guajira, Valle del Cauca and Cordoba) to present the findings through a community-based participatory approach. These communities have been affected by violence, climate change, water shortage, food insecurity, gender inequality and poor sustainable development.
A pilot was carried out in La Guajira, where Afro-descendants and the indigenous community Wayuú live in remote rural areas and only speak their native language wuayunaiki. To overcome language barriers and ensure a broad community participation, without restrictions of age, sex and knowledge, the evaluation team decided to let them express their perceptions and experiences through something that did not need words: personal drawings.
“How was the community living before WFP’s intervention?”, “How is life now?”, “What has changed?” These were the questions that drove the whole exercise.
The method ensured the engagement of everyone as those who did not actually draw equally participated by sitting around those who were drawing and sharing ideas. Participants painted with their fingers and this allowed them to explore their creativity by using brushes made of sticks, straw from the roofs and other elements found in the shelters.
”Due to the lack of rains, our corrals were empty, the crops abandoned, and our livelihoods lost. Now with WFP, despite there is still no rain, our lives changed because we resumed sheepherding. We have been provided with technical support to learn how to manage our assets with little water. Thanks to this, we managed to recover our ancestral practices,” said a Wayuú woman.
This innovative method has allowed WFP and its cooperating partners assess their performance and learn from experience, by evaluating the impact their intervention made, while at the same time improving their accountability and enhancing their credibility.
By sharing their perceptions and experiences, participants were able to see how their lives changed. Using their words and images, they acted as communicators on behalf of WFP and voiced authentic stories. The experience of managing accountability from the community has proved to be simple, entertaining and enriching at the same time, allowing communities to be heard and considered as active and thinking actors.
Two videos have been filmed: the above one entirely focused on the evaluation and shared with WFP staff members, partners and donors, and the below one on dissemination of results through drawings in La Guajira, which was then shown to the participants. People commented that it was unprecedented that the whole community had participated. They were also delighted to see how the drawing process provided the opportunity for them to review what they had learned and what had changed in their lives.
To find out more about the evaluation please visit: https://www.wfp.org/content/colombia-prro-200708-evaluation
Aura Patricia Alzate Bonilla and Giovanna Vacca, World Food Programme