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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.  

Developing skills for life and making connections in Ghana

In this final update from our EU funded GEOP programme in Ghana, we discover how young men and women are gaining technical, business and leadership skills and are using their collective voice to create better working environments. 

Stories of change: case studies from GEOP Ghana, April 2019

Stories of change from Ghana, where our EU-funded GEOP project is helping people with disabilities access training, get jobs and set up their own businesses.  Project background Growing Economic Opportunities for Sustainable Development project (GEOP) is a three-year, EU-funded project that aims to foster strong partnerships between civil society and local authorities, to promote local job creation, revenue mobilisation and expansion of economic activities. The project is implemented in the Ellembelle District, Western Region, and Ayawaso East Municipal Assembly and Ablekuma South sub-metros of the Accra Metropolitan Assembly, Ghana. Find out more about GEOP here.

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)