Empatika started March with a follow-up to our study last year on Multi-Purpose Cash Assistance (MPCA) in Central Sulawesi and North Lombok. This new study in East Lombok will be an integrated mixed methods study with surveys followed-up by immersion research and participatory focus group discussions. There will be baseline and endline phases that aim to track changes from the beginning to end of this cash transfer program.
During the process, we will be exploring how people’s livelihoods have been affected by the 2018 earthquake, how people perceive the assistance, the process and mechanism, how they spend the money, and the impacts that it has on their lives.
Our team conducted the initial survey in early March, working with a quantitative programmer to design the questionnaires. Over eight days, nine researchers from our team visited four different villages receiving the assistance and interviewed more than 500 people.
The remaining parts of the study are currently on hold due to Covid-19, as are the cash disbursements themselves. We hope that it won’t be long before the situation is safe enough to continue the cash disbursements, as this money will no doubt be especially helpful for families in these communities due to the limitations placed on activities and business by the corona outbreak. We also look forward to returning to these communities when it is safe to do so, and will be expanding our own security protocols to ensure safety both for our own researchers along with the study participants.
Following up on emerging topics and issues highlighted during the exploratory research phase last November, in February our team undertook structured research in the same four communities. We combined several participatory approaches and tools, including:
Participatory Focus Group Discussions (pFGDs) with Moms, Fathers, Older Women, Health Service Providers, and Cadres
(click on each image to learn more)
As well as extensive observation relating to data management for Posyandu and Puskesmas
During this phase, we also wanted to explore and better understand how the Posyandu collects, records, and manages the data of the Posyandu participants relating to health and their development.
These deep, detailed, and contextual insights on specific issues will also be used to help plan for the upcoming Human Centered Design (HCD) workshops that will be conducted at the community level in Late March/early April. The HCD process will include brainstorming and prototyping solutions to address challenges identified by community members themselves both from the immersion and structured research phases.
We’re excited that our long history of work in Bangladesh is continuing this year with a new study on Child Labour. As part of preparing for this study, in mid-February two members of our core team trained a new batch of local Bangladeshi researchers in the RCA Level 1 training, which includes three days of classroom training along with a two-night pilot immersion. Our team was assisted by some of the Bangladeshi researchers that we have worked with for previous studies (some of whom we’ve worked with for over five years now!) who we’re lucky to have back joining this study as well. The main study fieldwork will take place from early to mid-March.
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.
To complement and extend the tension monitoring system, UNDP commissioned a longitudinal qualitative research to gather rich insights from Syrians and Lebanese host communities themselves on social stability as a means ‘to unpack how inter-community tensions are related, why changes have been observed, and how incidences could be mitigated’.
Over the course of 2019, Empatika worked with both Syrian and Lebanese researchers to explore these dynamics through an RCA implemented across Lebanon’s eight governorates. This study was completed in December 2012 and provided insight into the factors driving tension and, more often, cooperation among these communities and how these relations are shaped by aid, politics, and economic factors.
Introducing the Community Led Approach to the Sangathan Leaders
Forming women’s collectives (Sangathans) and working towards changing the nature and direction of systemic forces which marginalise women has been an integral component of ANANDI’s work in Gujarat. ANANDI engages with women from low income groups such as the tribals, migrant families, salt pan workers, marginal farmers, farm and construction labour and fishing communities. ANANDI supports these women to organise into collectives to become active agents of change to improve their living conditions and develop sustainable livelihoods. The movement lays a strong emphasis on collective processes, and an empowerment approach to achieve safety and security rights of women and gain greater control over their livelihood security.
On a warm and humid day in mid-June 2018, soon after the heavy monsoon rain had provided much-needed relief from the searing Gujarat summer sun, a group of people gathered on a raised platform in a tree covered opening. Sangathan women leaders, members of the ANANDI team and myself had gathered to a) complete a series of participatory exercises and b) plan the roll out of the cascade collection of statements by the Sangathan leaders. The day started with a song which described the power of women coming together to overcome discrimination and improve their lives; a fitting set-up for the day.
We started by breaking into smaller groups and discussing the question, what does a good life look like? Groups brainstormed on this question and drew pictures and developed statements on what they viewed as a good life to aspire to. Their answers ranged from topics of women’s mobility, choices and decision-making, opportunities for new experiences to topics of basic needs such as food, health, clean water etc. After discussing the different views they had for a ‘good life’, we again broke into groups and each group acted out a scene from their lives from over ten years ago and then a scene from their present day lives. In just the one day, these exercises resulted in the capturing of almost 200 statements about women’s past lives, their current lives and their aspirations for better lives. We ended the day with discussing different strategies for achieving their priority aspirations and identified how the Sangathan could play a role in supporting individual women with their aspirations.
Over lunch, I asked a few of the Sangathan leaders how they had found the morning’s exercises of discussing what a good life looks like, they replied “nobody has ever asked us about our aspirations and our dreams before”.
Following this set of exercises, the Sangathan leaders have replicated the process with women in four villages and will continue to roll out the process in the coming weeks. More statements from the different villages will be captured and brought all together to develop CLA indicators for change. See our next blog post for how the process was rolled out at the village level
Annette Fisher, Associate Consultant, Empatika
Finally getting started with our blog :-). This will be a place for expanded project updates along with more general team updates. And hopefully also for some reflections and stories from our team members.