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Balancing research and practice in an international NGO

REL Practice Paper 1 Ten Years of Change is a collaborative, long-term practitioner research initiative designed to take place in three countries – Colombia, Kenya and the UK. It is implemented by the Research, Evidence and Learning team at Christian Aid. The research began with the overarching question how are community members and supporters being influenced by, and influencing, processes of social change? Each country team adapted the question to make it relevant to their socio-political context, and designed research at several different levels, from local to national. This paper tells the story of the first three years of Ten Years of Change. It narrates our ideas and ambitions and how we clarified them; how we identified where, by whom and how the study would be implemented; and how we worked with colleagues in other countries to begin to translate our idea into practice. It then discusses the forces that shaped the parallel but distinct evolution of each of the three streams of the study, before reflecting on the challenges of trade-offs and power. It concludes by returning to some of our assumptions about practitioner research, reflecting on how they played out in practice, finally turning to considerations for the next stage of the study.  

Christian Aid Philippines: Typhoon Mangkhut Response Experience

An assessement of Christian Aid's emergency response to Typhoon Mangkhut (local name Ompong), which made landfall in Baggao, Cagayan, Northern Luzon, Philippines, early morning on Saturday 15 September 2018, with maximum sustained winds of 205 km/hr near the centre and gusts of up to 285 km/hr.

STAR Ghana Foundation annual report 2019

STAR Ghana delivers transformational change that advances democracy, accountability and social inclusion. What we have done We have supported civil society organisations through grants and technical assistance, and convened meetings and discussions. We have launched major funding calls on gender equality and social inclusion, media, anti-corruption and local governance, and supported work under strategic opportunity calls. We enabled 87 civil society organisations to mobilise and support citizens to take action around issues such as inclusive access to quality public goods and services, tackling corruption, and promoting good governance. With support from our grant partners, more than 5 million citizens have engaged with duty bearers at all levels of governance, including Parliament, district assemblies and traditional authorities. 'STAR Ghana is helping citizens and civil society organisations to become more active and informed, able to speak up and engage constructively with duty bearers at all levels.' We have seen these institutions respond and deliver. The work we support has led to more inclusion and accountability – and real improvements in people’s lives. At the same time, it has given citizens new knowledge, new ideas and greater confidence, enabling them and their organisations to apply their learning to other issues and areas. Lessons and challenges To make sure lessons were learned from the work, we have worked with stakeholders to reflect on their experiences and gather findings. We have compiled and shared key learning documents. A new foundation We have paved the way for transition to the STAR Ghana Foundation, a new national Ghanaian entity, which was successfully launched in November 2018. Our achievements are all the more remarkable for taking place in a difficult context of growing inequality, and dwindling funding for civil society organisations and questions around their legitimacy and impact. We have responded to these challenges. As Ghana undergoes much-needed economic development, it is important that it doesn’t come at the cost of equality, but also delivers for vulnerable people including women, children and people with disabilities. Civil society can drive this debate and amplify the voice of the marginalised. All of us at the STAR Ghana Foundation thank you for your active support and look forward to working with you in bringing about transformational change towards an equitable and prosperous Ghana. Dr Esther Ofei-Aboagye, Chair, Governing Council, STAR Ghana Foundation

Research summary: better forecasting delivers impact

Since 2007, Rice Watch Action Network has been helping small-scale farmers adapt to a changing environment through the Climate Resiliency Field School. This is a summary of the impact assessment on developing climate services in the Philippines.

Evaluation of Christian Aid’s DEC Typhoon Haiyan Rehabilitation and Resilience Building Programme

An external evaluation of Christian Aid's DEC-supported response to Typhoon Haiyan/Yolanda in the Philippines. Assessing achievements, outcomes and lessons for future emergency responses.

LPRR: action learning research

In order for productive learning to occur within the context of this project, monitoring practices must be robust and go beyond collecting data against indicators. This is especially important within a resilience context, as the pre-emptive baseline measurement that is usually used for measuring progress/success is not desirable here. Instead, an ‘outcome harvesting’ approach is more practical, as it does not measure progress towards predetermined outcomes or objectives, but rather collects evidence of what has been achieved, and works backward to determine whether and how the project or intervention contributed to the change. Within the LPRR project there is a need for rigorous evaluation, which balances accountability and learning. Given the ever-evolving evidence base of ‘what works under what conditions’ coupled with the need to demonstrate quality, impactful programming in both upwards and downwards accountability, these types of robust evaluations are essential. In order to ensure learning and accountability are achieved through evaluations, they must be well-planned and budgeted for. This is where the role of the learning strand comes in; by recognising that learning is essential at the outset, it enables it to be included within the design of the project.

Taxing Ghana's informal sector: the experience of women

This paper looks at the situation of women working in the informal sector in Ghana and their experience of taxation.