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South Africa learning review

Learning from our work in South Africa

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.  

SABI Learning Review: Triggering Citizen Action

SABI community citizen action for effective governance and improved public services. Has it succeeded?

Nepal earthquake mid-term review

A mid-term review of Christian Aid's response to the Nepal earthquakes of 2015. Compiled by an independent assessor, this report includes key findings, recommendations, background and methodology. The management response and annexes can be found at the end of this document. This is an internal document, being shared for the benefit of others working on this response and to highlight key learnings and recommendations.  Summary The earthquakes of April and May 2015 had a devastating impact on the people of Nepal. According to the Nepal Government Ministry of Home Affairs, there were 8,891 fatalities, 22,302 injured, 604,930 homes destroyed, and a further 288,856 homes partially damaged. The national economy was affected with erosion of the asset base of the people; houses, farm produce, livestock, latrines, drinking water sources, irrigation canals, access roads, health/education facilities, etc. In this context, a multi-sectoral needs assessment (MSNA) was conducted by Christian Aid (CAID) in four heavily damaged districts (Gorkha, Dhading, Dolakha and Sindhupalchowk) immediately after the earthquake. The MSNA followed the United Nations for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) guidelines and identified five priority sectors requiring the most support: Shelter Livelihood and Food security, Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) Education Gender Equality and Social Inclusion CAID responded to the aftermath of the earthquake through relief and recovery. The relief phase focused on providing immediate life-saving support; temporary shelters, safe drinking water, hygiene kits, temporary latrines, food basket for one-month period, and targeted trainings such as masonry and carpenters. In the recovery phase, CAID continued support to all four major sectors with the aim of strengthening the resilience of communities and institutions from the impact of natural disasters. Activities included housing support, prototype housing, winterisation kits, toilet support, school shelter, community and school water rehabilitation, cash grants, livelihood support such as goat, seeds, and rain water harvesting distribution were conducted. Method The evaluation used a range of qualitative and quantitative methods for data collection. Qualitative data was collected through focus group discussions (FGDs), key informant interviews (KIIs), in-depth interviews (IDI), case stories and observations of communities. Qualitative data collection questions were categorised by sector, and in line with the CHS commitments. Quantitative data was collected and analysed using Statistical Package for Social Sciences (SPSS). The analysis was mostly descriptive in nature, with percentages, mean and frequencies. Download the report above to read the full analysis and findings.

Sierra Leone: women and politics - qualitative participatory research

A participatory governance assessment in Sierra Leone, focused on Christian Aid’s partner SEND and its women in governance project in Kailahun district.

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.