Here, There and Everywhere – SenseMaker in Eurasia

Published by Tony Quinlan on

There's a new post up today from Mihail Peleah at the UNDP's Voices in Eurasia blog:

Storytelling gets it due: Micro narratives provide an in-depth look at society

What is more important is the appearance of a cluster. It is possible to go into deeper analysis, using the layers of clusters by adding variables — demographic characteristics of the storytellers, the emotional background of stories, and so on. Moreover, the tool allows you to dive deep into the cluster and catch the specific history, thus merging the statistics and personal experience.

This combination is very useful — politicians and decision makers rarely hear the voice of the people, relying on public opinion studies, and other average values. Using this tool allows us, sitting on the hill, to observe the beat of life at all stages of programme or project — analysis, design, implementation, monitoring and evaluation.

I've been lucky enough this year to work with a team from the UNDP's Bratislava office – in particular with a client who's become a good friend – on multiple projects in Eurasia and various development elements, including citizen engagement, economic empowerment, protected areas, ethnic difference and the Roma population.  The projects are all being done under a single umbrella – I've flown a couple of times to Bratislava, spent a couple of days with the various project teams to help their thinking – firstly in designing frameworks and implementing projects, later on in sensemaking and analysis of the data they'd gathered.

As a result of the original series of 7 projects, we're now adding three new ones – between now and Christmas I'll be visiting Minsk, Tbilisi and Bishkek to launch the latest examples. And the anticipation is great – here's some advance info on the Belaruss project:

Empowering people with disabilities through storytelling

the idea to launch a platform for collecting micronarratives on disability was born.

When people make diary-style entries on their experiences related to areas outlined by the UN Convention, such as education, health, and social welfare, we get access to first-hand information, which can complement traditional social science research methods and give us a clearer picture of people’s experiences.

For UNDP and its partners, this will be like having thousands of ears listening to thousands of voices, supplying a vast amount of information relevant for all stages of the project and programme cycle, starting from identifying and defining a problem through to implementing a strategy and evaluating its effectiveness.

This new technology can also be extremely empowering for individuals who are often isolated from society. Regardless of disability, people across Belarus can now have a say in the policies that affect them, following in the spirit of “nothing about us without us.”

For anyone looking at understanding populations, the series of blogs that the UNDP have been writing about their experience is a good place to start:

Voices from Eurasia: micronarratives