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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.  

Gaia Energy

Christian Aid partnership with Gaia Energy

Partnership for Change: Christian Aid in Kenya

Christian Aid has been working in Kenya since 1997, in partnership with local civil society agencies, public authorities, private sector actors, churches and other religious organisations. We are working to build community capacities and create enabling environments in which men, women and children can thrive and break out of chronic cycles of poverty.

Appendices - Marsabit County Resilience Study

Appendices to the Marsabit County Resilience Study. A fieldwork study carried out over two weeks in May 2017 to assess the value of investing in resilience work within pastoralist communities. 

The Climate Challenge

Case study on community adaptation and women's empowerment in Bangladesh.

Research methodology: guide to process tracing and realist evaluation

Process tracing was first trialled as a new approach within a series of theory-based evaluations of Christian Aid’s governance portfolio in 2015. The aim was specifically to understand and evidence how Christian Aid and its partners’ accountability practices were contributing to building more (downwardly) accountable relationships more broadly in the context of Bangladesh. The evaluation team added elements of realist evaluation to their evaluation design, in order to allow for greater flexibility of the methodology and ‘user-friendliness’ of the findings. ‘Flexibility’ because selection of methodology in this case preceded the final agreement on evaluation questions, and combining the two different methodologies would provide more room for the evaluators to adapt and tailor the approach based on the eventually defined questions; greater ‘user-friendliness’ due to realist evaluation’s focus on potentially more actionable ‘what works where for whom?’ questions that would complement the more theoretical ‘tracing’ of competing explanations through process tracing.  This guide focusses primarily on the steps necessary to conduct process tracing but includes a brief section on how and where to combine this with realist evaluation. There is a list of selected references at the end of the document for those interested in further reading. Related research Bangladesh: accountable governance - a theory-based approach (process tracing)

Kenya: guide to contribution analysis methods

Contribution analysis was used within a series of theory-based evaluations of Christian Aid’s governance portfolio in 2015, specifically in the Kenya country study.  The approach was used to try to understand and evidence to what extent Christian Aid’s and its partners’ governance approaches has contributed to better health outcomes.  This methodological guide was one of the deliverables of the evaluation and is aimed at Christian Aid staff who are interested in understanding alternative approaches to evaluating governance and other hard-to-measure areas of work.  The guide introduces the theory behind contribution analysis and the practical steps taken in applying the approach during the evaluation in Kenya.  Related resources Kenya: a closer look at older age and disability in health programming

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.

Low-carbon development in South Asia: leapfrogging to a green future

The report gives examples of the potential for low-carbon energy in Bangladesh, India, Nepal and Pakistan.