Wrap-up: August 2015 Discussion

Publish Date: 
Thursday, August 27, 2015

Continuing with our focus on cross-cutting issues in ESCR monitoring, our August Discussion—facilitated by Francesca Feruglio from Nazdeek—explored how to ensure meaningful community participation in the human rights documentation process. Once again, there was much discussion from our Working Group members, and we’d like to thank all who participated.

For Nazdeek, community participation serves a deeper purpose than merely collecting data: it strengthens the community’s capacity and ownership in advocacy and rights claiming efforts. Over the past year, Nazdeek has used participatory documentation to advocate for improvements in access to food, water and healthcare in the slums in Delhi, India, as well as to report on reproductive rights violations in tea gardens in Assam. Francesca shared the six-step process her organization employs to ensure community participation occurs. Still, Nazdeek encounters a number of challenges in ensuring community participation at every stage. Determining what to document, ensuring accurate and consistent information, managing the expectations of the community regarding the impact of projects were just a few of the challenges Francesca relayed to Working Group members.

The topic inspired several comments and questions from the Working Group. Pauline from Hakijamii mentioned her organization is currently in the process of filing a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) case in Kenya on the violation of land and housing rights. One of the largest challenges faced by Hakijamii is the lack of tangible evidence because communities have not documented past violation. Francesca noted the difficulty associated with these kinds of cases due to their interrelation to other rights. She also highlighted a new resource by FIAN International related to monitoring land rights. (Note: the resource is currently only available in Spanish.)

Allison from CESR inquired if communities preferred to use certain information-collection tools over others, and the reasons behind this preference. Francesca responded that community partners prefer tools that include less legal/technical language to better read and analyze the information collected. She also noted that tools should include both closed and open-ended questions. Allison also asked about the use of information and communications technologies (ICT) tools for documentation. CESR is in the early stages of a data collection project, and invited feedback from Francesca regarding the use of SMS for data collection. Francesca pointed to the information contained in Nazdeek’s final report on the community reporting project and mentioned that Nazdeek is currently working on an article which will analyze the benefits and disadvantages of using ICT in community reporting. Francesca said she will be happy to share the article once it is published.

Meanwhile, Jessica from Video Volunteers shared a unique way her organization is using community participation to document human rights. With their Community Correspondents, Video Volunteers has gathered video stories from villages on the issue of maternal health. Their community participation process is very similar to that of Nazdeek, and the videos provide a very emotional and meaningful way of relaying community issues to government officials and to a wider audience. This extraordinary and valuable tool will be the topic we explore further in our September Monthly Discussion.

Francesca Feruglio (Nazdeek)