Re-framing knowledge: PV for water governance

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Re-framing knowledge: PV for water governance

Accra, GhanaVancouver, Canada
Year Founded:
Organization type: 
Project Stage:
$10,000 - $50,000
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

Concise Summary: Help us pitch this solution! Provide an explanation within 3-4 short sentences.

A multi-disciplinary exploration using Participatory Video (PV) to enhance participatory public policy structures in water governance of residents of informal settlements in Accra, Ghana aiming to improve representation and citizenship.

WHAT IF - Inspiration: Write one sentence that describes a way that your project dares to ask, "WHAT IF?"

What if everyone had access to clean drinking water?
About Project

Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?

This project addresses problems of water security and governance, particularly in debates around the effects of shifts towards privatization and corporatization of water on vulnerable populations in Accra, Ghana.This form of inclusive participation can democratize communication by provoking processes of identity deconstruction, reversal of power relations, and emphasizes narratives of self-transformation leading to greater participation.

Solution: What is the proposed solution? Please be specific!

Participatory Video workshops will be used to engage with select communities, broaden participation in decision-making processes through focus groups with local governments and key-stakelholders, providing a valuable strategy to challenge entrenched power imbalances through practices of reflexivity, and by facilitating new levels of self-perception, and identity. Workshops will also include participatory research design and knowledge mobilization strategies. Focus groups with government will elicit feedback, and explore shifts in policy makers sense of these communities, what the issues are, and how to overcome implementation challenges (e.g. related to the free basic water, human right to water).
Impact: How does it Work

Example: Walk us through a specific example(s) of how this solution makes a difference; include its primary activities.

The potential impact of this project is significant. Through building capacity in visual action research methodologies, individuals and groups will gain access to creative communication avenues that are bridging a gap in citizen-state engagement, promoting enhanced dialogue with government and the wider community, and ultimately leading to increased quality of life. With a focus on community-driven issue selection, collaboration in the research process, and action for solutions, PV is well suited to identify and address such socio-political disparities through advocacy for public policies that diminish these inequalities. It is based on the belief that the oppressed can be empowered by helping them become aware of their own resources.

Impact: What is the impact of the work to date? Also describe the projected future impact for the coming years.

This PV project is still in the 'idea' phase, although the larger research program has been working with these communities on other facets of water governance, gender inequalities and human rights to water for the last 5 years. There are already established partners with the local communities, Civil Society Organizations, Universities, water boards, and government. Furthermore, this project can be a powerful tool in the formation/operation of inclusive governance processes, changing negative perceptions of vulnerable populations by revealing their personal stories, and important social relationships in their community. This requires not only community generated knowledge but a shift in the modes of citizen-state relations, allowing for state recognition of the legitimacy of the forms of knowledge that can be expressed through participatory processes.

Financial Sustainability Plan: What is this solution’s plan to ensure financial sustainability?

This project is part of my Postdoctoral research, that is being supported by the Social Sciences and Research Council of Canada (SSHRC). The support will ensure the successful completion of this proposed work, including equipment, travel and honorariums of participants. Additional funding ('Changemakers') will help support knowledge mobilization of the results for models in participatory public policy in Africa and elsewhere.

Marketplace: Who else is addressing the problem outlined here? How does the proposed project differ from these approaches?

Participatory Video projects are being applied throughout the world as a tool for communicating and challenging socio-environmental justice, particularly within the context of resource use/access. Organizations such as Insight, based in the UK (, are the leading global experts in this application. Our project is proposing a similar methodology but will also include a rigorous theoretical evaluation of its application for models in citizen-state engagement, an area that is largely ignored in the development of PV project.

Founding Story

I have worked with video for many years, and have seen the transformational power it has for individuals and myself when co-creating a story of change. Nothing quite describes the feeling of pure emotion and excitement when passionate individuals have the opportunity to create ideas and a story of hope for a better future. Time seems to stand still when we are lost in this process, and this perhaps can be described as transformation - as individuals and together, in having a common, unified voice. This for me is the "Aha' moment, and one that inspire me to do this approach to research and development.
About You
The University of British Columbia
About You
First Name


Last Name


LinkedIn URL
About Your Organization
Organization Name

The University of British Columbia

Organization Country

, BC, Vancouver

Country where this project is creating social impact

, Accra

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Full Impact Potential: What are the main spread strategies moving forward? (Please consider geographic spread, policy reform, and independent replication/adoption of the idea or other mechanisms.)

The full potential impact of this project would have local and international outcomes. Local impacts would ideally create communication strategies using video and other social media platforms (Youtube, Twitter, Instagram) to mobilize communities to be engaged in policy discussions on water use and access. Local government would likewise engage in these visual tools and spaces of communication to have meaningful citizen participation, with those often excluded from these communication arenas. Best practice models of communication could be transferred elsewhere nationally and internationally.

Barriers: What barriers might hinder the success of your project and how do you plan to overcome them?

Barriers might include time constraints in the full production and co-editing of community videos. Another barrier would be the mobilization of community and government participants to engage and co-create this project. Given the long-term support and connections of the larger research program in these areas, these barriers are foreseen as minimal. I am planning to live and work in the select community for up to 4 months in the fall of 2014 to successfully complete the project.

Partnerships: Tell us about your partnerships.

The partnerships between the project team at UBC and the community in Ghana are well established. I am in the process of building on these partnerships with new youth groups in the area.

Closing the Loop
How does your project primarily ensure that feedback delivers results?

Create an environment where people give feedback freely.

Please elaborate on your answer to the above question.

There will be a comprehensive evaluation framework developed with the community that will create a space for feedback, both from the community, government and other local actors. There will be multiple opportunities throughout the project phase to do reflective feedback sessions that can build into the project. It is the aim that government participants will be central in the feedback loop.

Languages: In what languages are you able to read and write fluently?

English, Spanish, French, Portuguese.

2nd Round Questions
Thinking about your feedback loop; what information are you trying to get from whom, to whom, and to bring about what change?

In thinking about the feedback loop, we will be working with local community (youth and other stakeholders) affected by in-access/limited access to water in peri-residential areas of Accra, Ghana. We will be using the methodology of Participatory Video as a tool to communicate the communities voices to the local government and other key stakeholders to bring about positive change in 1) better access to water, and 2) a framework for participatory public policy process for water governance.

What is the purpose of your feedback loop?

Improve quality of programs

If other, please specify
What mediums or mechanisms do you use to collect feedback? (check all that apply)


If other, please specify

Participatory Video and Interviews

Could you briefly describe the way you collect the feedback?

We will use PV to collect community voices, and through focus groups and interviews with government and participating community members we will collect feedback on the process and outcomes of the project.

What mechanisms are in place to protect people from retribution?


If other, please specify

This project has been approved by the Univeristy of BritishColumbia Research Ethics Board

What are the immediate benefits or incentives for people to provide feedback?

Confirmation of use of feedback

If other, please specify
How do you ensure new and marginalized voices are heard?

Specific targeted outreach efforts

If other, please specify
What are the incentives for the intended recipient to act on the feedback?


If other, please specify

We will be using the Participatory Video in focus groups with local government as a process of communication for direct action.

How does the feedback mechanism close the loop with those who provided feedback in the first place?

Meetings discussing results with providers

If other, please specify
How is feedback published/transparent?


If other, please specify

Multiple avenues of knowledge mobilization, website, print, videos.

Give two concrete examples of how feedback loops have brought a program or policy more in line with citizens’ desires.

1. Ex: Based on a project with 4 municipalities in Brazil, using PV to connect informal recyclers to local government for the development of more inclusive public policy programs for waste management. Following the project, there was significant improvement in both government-cooperative communication, and tangible results in government support (e.g. trucks, equipment, infrastructure). Website:

2. Ex: A community mapping project in Victoria, Canada, where university, government, First Nations groups and other community members participated in mapping activities to co-design regional planning initiatives. Results where in-line with community needs.

If there was one thing you could change to increase the impact of your feedback loop, what would it be?

Some of the major challenges include: 1) receptiveness and capacity of developing participatory policy processes in the selected communities, 2) political and budgetary constraints to provide the necessary water infrastructure and services to select communities, and 3) the time and availability of community participants to participate in the entire PV process.

If there was one thing we could change to increase the impact of our feedback loop it would be to have the engagement of all stakeholders in the inception of the PV project, from design to implementation of results. This is difficult given the time and logistical (e.g. planning from afar) difficulties.

What are your biggest challenges or barriers in “closing the feedback loop”?

Lack of incentives to use the feedback collected

If other, please specify
Are you aware of The Feedback Store?

No, but I would like to be on it

What are the main uses you can envision for the Feedback Store?
What is the one thing you would most like to see changed to improve the competition process?

Perhaps more opportunities for online (e.g video) interaction between the competitors. I have really enjoyed the peer-process.

What are you doing to make sure that feedback providers know that they are empowered by the information they can give and that they know exactly what the information they are providing?

By being transparent with the process of the project,and co-creating the video collectively, by designing the government 'closing loop' focus groups with the community members so they are the owners and drivers of change in their community.