Event: Collaboration through storytelling: lessons from Nepal

Date Published: December 14, 2016 Author: Overseas Development Institute (ODI)
Photo of Event: Collaboration through storytelling: lessons from Nepal

This event followed a screening of the documentary, “On Shifting Ground”, which provides a first-hand appraisal of the way six humanitarian organizations responded to the earthquake in Nepal. The Hilton Prize Coalition Storytelling Program provided an opportunity for humanitarians to reflect on the response, identify lessons learned around community collaboration for preparedness and resiliency. While the focus of the discussion was not on protection, storytelling is a useful method that can support the key elements of results-based protection, including protection analysis and reflection.

  • The process of storytelling allowed the teams to reflect
    Storytelling allowed humanitarians to situate outputs and targets within longer-term outcomes. For example, recognizing that the relatively small number of 40 amputations in Nepal after the earthquake, versus thousands in other disasters, has a much longer-term result on outcomes.
  • A storytelling format allowed practitioners a space to be open and frank about challenges they faced as well as solutions in a way that does not come easily in written documents and reports. It helped to ground the work and foster collaboration rather than competition.
  • New technologies may enable more real-time storytelling (e.g. through body cams) to consider unvarnished lessons during a crisis
  • In reality, the humanitarian imperative allowed people working on the ground to “just get on with it [and collaborate]” without worrying about institutional divides
    • Storytelling helps to show in practice what we may be discussing over and over again (e.g. humanitarian – development divide). We need to support people to do that.
  • The documentary recognized that no matter how much you prepare (through preparedness or contingency planning) you still need to assess and analyze how risks manifest in reality. It emphasized how flexible planning and preparedness needs to be.



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