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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.  

Fair and equitable research partnerships case study: Eric Gutierrez

Funding for research in international development often includes a focus on fair and equitable partnerships. Academics from the global North are increasingly encouraged by funders to include academic partners based in the global South and civil society practitioners in their research projects. But achieving this is complicated: partnership and research are both political. This case study is one of a set of resources that has been designed to help academics, NGOs, CSOs, research brokers and funders put principles for fair and equitable research partnerships into practice. The case study explores insights from Eric Gutierrez of Christian Aid, who was involved in a successful application to the Global Challenges Research Fund for a research project looking at the way economies transition from war to peace. The project is led by SOAS University of London, a respected UK university. Christian Aid became involved in the project because it had previously worked with SOAS to commission research. In this case study, Eric reflects on the experience of being involved in the research application process. He talks about the time and work involved in the application, the challenges of tight deadlines, and the structural barriers that limited Christian Aid’s role. He discusses on Christian Aid’s experience in lobbying for policy change, and how this kind of work can be overlooked by academic actors with less experience of ensuring that research leads to policy change.

Fair and equitable research partnerships case study: Kate Newman

Funding for research in international development often includes a focus on fair and equitable partnerships. Academics from the global North are increasingly encouraged by funders to include academic partners based in the global South and civil society practitioners in their research projects. But achieving this is complicated: partnership and research are both political. This case study is one of a set of resources that has been designed to help academics, NGOs, CSOs, research brokers and funders put principles for fair and equitable research partnerships into practice. The case study explores insights from Kate Newman of Christian Aid, who reflects on her experience of participating in an moderator panel for the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC), convened to make funding recommendations to the AHRC based on a ‘Network Plus’ call funded by the Global Challenges Research Fund. It was Kate’s first time on an academic moderator panel, and she found the experience very challenging. She was not clear about her specific role on the panel (was she there to represent a civil society voice, or as an individual participating in a panel?), there were no clear criteria against which the proposals should be evaluated, and there were vastly different expectations of academic research and development impact across the panel. Kate asks questions and makes recommendations for future panels to enable better participation of civil society representatives on similar panels.

LPRR final evaluation report

The Linking Preparedness, Response and Resilience (LPRR) project, which is part of the DFID funded Disasters Emergencies Preparedness Programme (DEPP), was carried out from 2015 to the end of March 2018. The project was delivered by a consortium led by Christian Aid, which included Action Aid, Concern, Help Age, King’s College London, Muslim Aid, Oxfam, Safer World, and World Vision. The LPRR project brings together the expertise of response and resilience professionals (and frameworks) in order to support communities affected by emergencies and at the risk of violence. The consortium was present through a research component in eight countries, namely Bangladesh, Democratic Republic of Congo, Philippines, Colombia, Indonesia, with pilot projects in Kenya, Pakistan and Myanmar. The project was delivered through three distinct strands: conflict prevention, humanitarian response, and learning.

LPRR knowledge co-development paper

Co-production is a process through which partners draw upon their own learning to feed into a collective knowledge creation process. It fits well within international development, humanitarian and resilience-building processes, where the multi-partner nature of many current projects ensures there is a multiplicity of perspectives that can be drawn upon. It can also be democratic – where all forms of knowledge are valued – and so create ownership; work to find a balance between theory and practice and strengthen (and build) technical capacity and process Co-production was explicitly employed in the Linking Preparedness, Resilience and Response (LPRR) project, part of the DFID funded Disasters and Emergencies, Preparedness Programme (DEPP). It explored how humanitarian response can be strengthened to enable (and not undermine) long term community resilience building. Christian Aid (CA) led the project with seven consortium partners – World Vision, Action Aid, Help Age International, Concern, Oxfam and Muslim Aid. The project collaborated with King's College London (KCL) who led the research function. The purpose of this practice paper is three-fold: To explore the learning environment amongst consortium partners i.e. group learning and the tools and processes employed to facilitate this To detail the challenges and enablers of an implementing NGOs, Christian Aid and other consortium partners, co-producing knowledge with an academic institute, KCL; and To assess how the project helped to build capacity amongst relevant agencies – including in-country partners.

LPRR: Empowering communities to lead humanitarian response

The DFID DEPP funded LPRR consortium is led by Christian Aid and includes Action Aid, Concern Worldwide, Help Age, King’s College London, Muslim Aid, Oxfam, Saferworld and World Vision. It aims to increase preparedness and resilience capacity in conflict and response settings. As part of the project, King’s College London University designed and implemented a study in Bangladesh, Colombia, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Indonesia, Kenya, Pakistan and the Philippines. It was one of the rare approaches which specifically asked 327 crises survivors and first responders from past humanitarian emergencies to draw upon their own experience and expertise to guide improved humanitarian response programming for long term resilience.

LPRR: briefing note

The Linking Preparedness Response and Resilience (LPRR) project is part of a growing portfolio of Start Network Engage projects funded by UK aid from the UK Government, through its Disaster and Emergencies Preparedness Programme (DEPP). LPRR, started in January 2015, will run until the end of December 2017. It seeks to increase preparedness and resilience capacity in conflict and response settings by improving resilience-building strategies in multi-hazard and multi-risk environments. Led by Christian Aid, LPRR joins together nine agencies (Action Aid, Christian Aid, Concern, Help Age, King’s College London, Muslim Aid, Oxfam, Saferworld and World Vision) to promote resilience in humanitarian responses to disasters and conflict contexts.