ITL has always been about moving beyond business as usual, asking searching questions such as ‘how are things currently done, and is this the best way to do them?' This spirit of restlessness and continuously striving to do better is embedded deep into the fabric of ITL.
To achieve greater and more lasting change, we know that we need to go beyond this and embed what we learn from these projects in our ways of work across Christian Aid, coupling innovation and learning together.
To see how that might look in this new phase of the ITL journey, we explore three examples from the first phase of In Their Lifetime.
Sustainable Agriculture and Livelihoods (SALI) Project, Kenya
The SALI project organised 2,000 farmers into producer groups. This gave them collective strength in sharing resources as well as bargaining power with buyers. They also benefited from a key feature of the project – critical weather forecast information provided via SMS.
The project was one of our first projects focused on climate services, so an in-depth analysis was undertaken after the project, which informed the development of all our subsequent work in this area across 12 countries.
What we learnt from this project played an early role in what is now a significant focus on climate services, impact forecasting, agrometeorology and early warning/early action for climate adaptation across Christian Aid’s work.
Our ITL CLIMA project in Nicaragua is built on these learnings, but takes the next leap forward through the development of an approach which puts producers themselves firmly in the driving seat, building locally sourced climate knowledge and skills - so they become active agents of change in the fight against the impact of climate change.
Inclusive Markets Programme, Global
ITL’s Inclusive markets programme supported producers around the world to boost productivity and quality, reach new markets and secure better prices.
The projects we delivered generated significant learning for the programme not only in terms of understanding how markets work, but also in identifying where Christian Aid can add value by enabling dialogue amongst key players in the market leading to the identification of blockages, as well as opportunities.
Christian Aid developed an approach to market development work in our Inclusive Markets programme. This put all those involved in markets (e.g. farmers, producers, input suppliers, processors, traders, wholesalers and retailers) in contact with one another, so that they identify the best solutions themselves.
It also generated information for us on the challenges and opportunities when attempting to build commercial capacity within cooperatives.
As we seek our next tranche of projects (which will focus on livelihoods and economic empowerment), we hope to build on these learnings and initiate further change.
Segovia Cash Transfers, Nigeria
Sometime opportunities arise where there is a chance to use a small amount of seed funding to test a particular concept, approach or tool. That is what happened with Segovia Cash Transfers project.
In 2017, £20,000 of ITL funds were invested in a pilot in north-east Nigeria which trialled Segovia (a cash transfer service) to manage mobile payments securely and quickly to communities in need.
Our aim was to see if the tool increased the efficiency of cash transfers, sped up processing and distribution, and reduced security risks, and if so, to scale up this approach across all countries where cash transfers were utilised.
What did we learn from the Segovia trial?
Segovia proved too expensive for use in individual projects, where we were able to negotiate better rates within the formal banking system than we could via the platform.
That said, it did have a number of benefits. Mainly, it proved a great tool for our global humanitarian team to collate all our cash transfer programmes into a single source, allowing cross-project and cross-country monitoring. This is vital to assess the wider impact of delivery and make decisions accordingly.
It also taught us about working with private sector partners, and how by involving them more as programme partners rather than simply service providers, there is the potential to allow space for sharing learning, developing innovation and collaboration.
Within this new phase of ITL we plan to continue to identify and invest in smaller seed funding opportunities which may emerge, alongside some of our larger ITL projects.