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Stories from the Nakivale Refugee Settlement: Going behind the Camera

By Mandy Burrows, Senior Programme Manager

In March 2020, as part of our Refugee project, we conducted our first participatory video fieldwork.  In partnership with InsightShare – an expert in using media tools to give people a voice in participating with community projects - we worked closely with refugees and our partners to train them in using participatory videos as a powerful way for them to share their stories and insights that will help us to best meet the real needs of those we serve.  

Participatory Videos in Uganda

Refugees went behind the camera to capture stories from their local community groups. The videos provided these groups with the opportunity to share details of their life in the Nakivale Refugee Settlement and some of the biggest challenges they face. All of the groups who took part are savings groups and are receiving financial literacy training through the RISE (Refugees: Innovation, Self-reliance & Empowerment) project, but they also shared stories of those not involved directly in the project.   

The videos provide only a snippet of the information captured but the content was selected by the groups themselves.  They decided on the key themes they wanted to pull-out and share (whether about entrepreneurship, health care, access to clean water, youth unemployment, etc.) and how they wanted to film them (e.g. acting out scenes and storytelling).  Those that went behind the camera were a mixture of Financial Inclusion Champions (delivering financial literacy training to the groups) and Financial Diaries Researchers recruited from the communities themselves, making the filming a peer-to-peer exercise.

There are over 10 videos on our youtube channel highlighting the challenges and experiences of refugees who are involved in a number of community groups in the Nakivale refugee Settlement.  Below is a summary of the powerful stories that were captured:

The impact of COVID-19 on Refugees
The field work itself was cut short by COVID-19; although the main filming days were completed, notice of lockdowns came the day after this was done, impacting the editing process (which has since been done remotely) and preventing community screenings. Once travel restrictions were lifted in October 2020, the local evaluation team was able to visit the groups to gain consent for their stories to be shared. 

The world has a changed a lot since the filming took place and unsurprisingly, since the initial filming, groups have reported a decline in business activities, employment and savings. This echoes findings from our Financial Diaries research that was able to continue throughout the lockdown period. The greatest fears refugees had regarding COVID-19 were around price increases, access to markets and general health care, rather than any fears about the pandemic itself.

  Wenzetu Community Group

COVID-19 cases in Uganda are increasing and there is the strong possibility of further lockdowns. Our partner, Opportunity Bank Uganda, is currently testing the use of digital payments within the Nakivale Refugee Settlement. The use of digital will be a key solution in enabling us to continue providing the access to savings accounts and loans, plus financial literacy training, that they and their families so desperately need.

 It is now more important than ever that we are there to support refugees and build up their resilience.  If you would like support this work, please donate here.

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