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  • Writer's pictureDhyan

Digital storytelling as part of qualitative assessment of Multi-Purpose Cash Assistance

Following the 2018 earthquake and tsunami in Central Sulawesi, and two earthquakes in West Nusa Tenggara, some of the international humanitarian partners introduced multi-purpose cash assistance programmes to help people meet their basic needs. Empatika was asked to do qualitative assessment of MPCA programmes in the Central Sulawesi districts of Palu, Donggala, and Sigi along with the West Nusa Tenggara district of North Lombok to inform learning about best practices in MPC assistance and transfers during emergencies from the perspectives of beneficiaries.

The study was conducted using scoping immersions and participatory focus group discussions (pFGDs) in eight communities (two in each district) in an attempt to understand beneficiary perspectives and the local context. Follow-up digital storytelling workshops were conducted in two of the communities (one in Sigi and one in North Lombok) to dig deeper into contextual and personal experiences with the programme. In North Lombok, we conducted two separate DST workshops in order to include some women from a remote area in this community with limited access to services and limited opportunities for having their voices heard.

Our researchers learned about this remote area during the scoping immersion, when some posyandu cadres had shared that there were some areas of the community that faced poor access including for accessing the MPC assistance. Following this, we went to the upper parts of the village to learn more, where we met another posyandu cadre who offered to take us to one of these communities. She explained that this particular area did not receive the MPCA although many women were initially registered. The area is reached by a small walking path which goes up and down a ravine (around a 1.5-hour round trip walk). This greatly helped the researchers in understanding the access challenges that some of the areas of this village face. The researchers also had some brief discussions with some women in the community, where they learned about their disappointment in not receiving the assistance.

This remote area was actually not as affected by the earthquake compared to the areas of the village lower down the mountain because they are still using more traditional wooden homes. However, this area faces serious access challenges and is much poorer overall. When we visited the area again for the DST workshop, the women we spoke with were reluctant to participate at first. Some felt that they didn't have any interesting stories to tell while others were afraid about their ability to write or draw. However, after some encouragement by us to emphasize that simple stories can be just as good, and showing the women some examples of DSTs made by people in other areas of Indonesia, they agreed to give it a shot. It turned that all of the women in the group had trouble reading and writing in the Indonesian language (as most had limited education and they mainly used their local language) so rather than having the women write their down their stories, we helped them develop more detailed storyboards and then let them tell us their stories verbally. Our team developed scripts based on their storyboards to assist with developing cues for what the women were planning to talk about for each of their drawings and photos that would be appearing in their story.

It's always exciting in any DST workshop when all participants successfully finish recording their narration, and this was definitely no exception! Getting to watch the completed videos (we projected onto the bamboo wall of one of their kitchens :-)) with these mothers, now with proud smiles, was a great experience.

Their videos also provided powerful illustrations of their experiences since the earthquake and of some of the struggles they face in their daily lives. Many of the mothers shared about their disappointment in not receiving the MPC assistance; others shared about the confusion and embarrassment when they walked over an hour down the mountain only to find out that their names were not included in the final beneficiary list; others shared about the daily challenges that they face; and many voiced their motivation to continue to work for their children and shared their hopes that better fortune will come.

Below are some screenshots from this DST workshop along with the workshops in other part of the Lombok community and in Sigi, Central Sulawesi.

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