• Supporting social protection programmes to adapt to the changing COVID-19 context in East Africa

    18 August 2020
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    Rachel Slater and Dani Baur

    Rachel Slater, CIDT’s in-house social protection expert, is leading a team to enhance evidence-based decision making, learning and accountability in World Food Programme (WFP) social protection work in the context of COVID-19 and other factors. This work is being undertaken with the WFP Regional Bureau and Country Offices in East Africa.

    Forming a virtual Social Protection Learning Facility, the experts support eight Country Offices, combining real-time evaluation of WFP’s activities with technical assistance to staff. WFP teams are navigating difficult trade-offs as they seek to support governments to adapt social protection in the region.

    The most effective and efficient way to scale up social protection is rarely clear cut and identifying and navigating trade-offs is common for any agency. The provision of technical support from the University of Wolverhampton and Institute of Development Studies (IDS) team helps staff make decisions by providing evidence from other countries about the options available and providing expert analysis and advice on alternative approaches.

    The Facility operates and responds flexibly to requests that are shaped by a constantly evolving situation. The team is designed to be adaptable across three interlinked areas:

    • Monitoring and accountability: Monitoring, assessing and reporting in real-time on social protection operations in the context of COVID-19;
    • Technical support: Providing advice to Country Offices based on their collective experience and knowledge of social protection and country contexts;
    • Documenting learning: Compiling and disseminating lessons, findings and experiences for future policy and programme design decision-making.

    The process of scaling up existing social protection programmes and creating new ones in response to COVID-19 has been rapid and substantial. The World Bank reports that, from 20th March – 10th July, the number of countries with planned or ongoing social protection responses to COVID-19 increased from 48 to 200, with a combined 1,055 active or planned social protection measures.

    Some key highlights from the Facility include:

    • establishing virtual learning and exchange spaces that encourage cross-regional sharing and discussion on emerging ‘hot topics’. These interactive forums highlight emerging good practice and innovation in support of social protection programming design and delivery for COVID-19 response.
    • modifying systems for targeting, verification and payment to ensure that social protection operations do not become a source of infection.
    • adapting programme design features, such as asset creation and income generation activities, to be more effective in urban contexts.
    • adjusting working practices and training activities to ensure social distancing and appropriateness.
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  • Adapting to keep longitudinal study on track through Covid-19 measures in Zimbabwe

    14 August 2020
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    Zimbabwe school children

    Since 2017 CIDT has been undertaking a longitudinal study into survival and drop-out of school in Zimbabwe. The baseline and midline and additional monitoring visits have been completed and the endline data collection was scheduled to take place during term two, May-June 2020.

    Once the COVID-19 pandemic had become a global concern, restrictions in both the UK and Zimbabwe threatened to derail this final stage of the project. In Zimbabwe, despite few registered deaths at the time, the government had imposed a certain level of lockdown from early April and it was unknown whether or when the schools would open in May.

    The study is tracking over 3000 students, interviewing the children, their teachers and care givers . The team were faced with the challenge of how to gather data from this quantity of people during a time of social distancing and facing the inability to travel internationally.

    The team initially presented three different scenarios, timings and costings to UNICEF: a delayed start in term two; postponing to term three; or postponing completely until early 2021.

    However, the Zimbabwe government is currently developing its National Development Plan for 2021-2025 and the Ministry of Education (the MoPSE) will also be developing an Education Sector Strategy Plan for 2021-2025; both to be completed by the end of the year. Since the ultimate goal of the study is to advocate for changes in Government policy, UNICEF and the Ministry were keen that a number of emerging findings and recommendations from the study should feed into these policy documents. It became clear that it was important for CIDT to complete and publish the final report by the end of October as originally scheduled.

    As UNICEF said:

    “We want the Longitudinal Study to be done, printed and disseminated so that we can use it as a lobbying tool… to inform sector plans.”

    The tracking process had verified the telephone contact details of over 2000 learners and their primary care givers. Ideally all questionnaires, as well as qualitative interviews would happen face-to-face, but given the timing it was decided to conduct telephone interviews. Online surveys were considered but the team felt they would gain a greater number of responses by telephone.

    Interviews for quantitative data collection with headteachers and caregivers began by telephone. With the need for privacy during calls, this method was not initially considered for student interviews. However, school opening was pushed back and schools are still not open in Zimbabwe. Therefore some telephone interviews have begun with learners, which proved to be very successful with students finding space and sharing devices with other students to enable them to participate.

    In a usual fieldwork scenario, verification would take place via the Ministry visiting a random selection of schools. UNICEF was keen for this still to take place as it can strengthen future lobbying efforts. To replicate this the project team were able to provide details of those interviewed to the Ministry so that they could make random calls to verify the research.

    Project Team Leader Mary Surridge notes,

    “With the endline back on track, the past three months have highlighted the need to be highly creative and adaptive. The pandemic situation has continued to shift and change. Working in very close contact with UNICEF has helped to keep all parties up to speed, and promoted the understanding that we are swimming in unchartered waters whilst still working towards deadlines that had to be met, to align with wider national priorities.”

    The endline report will focus on telling the individual stories of students, melding the quantitative and qualitative data collected to reveal the most important factors that lead to school survival or dropout. There will be a focus on the gendered aspects of survival and dropout, as well as the influence of the family and even the impact of COVID-19.
    The results from this research could have an impact on various educational issues in Zimbabwe, such as entitlement to state funded education, school fees, behaviour management and discipline and resources for learners with disabilities.

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  • Alumni Spotlight: We speak with former Chevening fellowship student Khin Khin Mra

    19 June 2020
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    Khin Khin Mra

    Khin Khin MraIn this Alumni Spotlight we talk to Khin Khin Mra, who studied with us back in 2010, when she was a programme officer for ActionAid Myanmar. As a consultant on gender and governance, Khin Khin now works on national strategies to promote gender equality and social inclusion.

    What did you study with CIDT?

    I was awarded the Chevening Fellowship for studies in ‘Government Relations with NGOs and Civil Society’ at the University of Wolverhampton in the UK. The Chevening Fellowship Course took place from 11 January to 1 April 2010.

    How did this course make an impact on you?

    I got a chance to learn about social exculsion and how community engagement strategies worked in practice in the deprived neighbourhoods in the UK. This is the place where I really learnt to see things critically and understand how different perspectives work on social inclusion. These have become critical aspects of my work on inclusion in governance in Myanmar.

    “I can’t believe that the relationship I built with CIDT ten years ago is still going well which makes me professionally resourceful and personally fulfilled connected to people I can rely on.”

    Where are you now in your career?

    I am currently working as a consulant on gender and governance. I worked as a National Consultant to the Department of Social Welfare, at the Ministry of Social Welfare Relief and Resettlement in Myanmar for 17 months, influencing Gender Strategy implementation and acting as a critical bridge between government, donors and civil society. I have worked with UNESCO and the Ministry of Education to ensure gender equality within reforms for pre-service teacher education and with DFID’s Centre for Good Governance programme.

    I have also worked to ensure local governance policies and systems in conflict affected areas are more inclusive of women and other excluded social groups. At the same time, I contributed to evaluation projects in Myanmar for international donors such as UNFPA, UNTF, USAID and the European Union.

    Years of experience with different agencies have enabled me to leverage the important interplay between international and national commitments, and research and practice as it relates to women’s rights, gender equality, local governance and development issues. This provides me with an excellent background to understand the links between the needs of communities and the legislative and policy frameworks. As one example, I contributed to work on the development and implementation of the government’s ‘National Strategic Plan on the Advancement of Women’.

    You can read the following articles by Khin Khin online:

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  • CIDT conduct review of Jamaica’s national policy for gender equality

    18 June 2020
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    Rufsana Begum and Mary Surridge

    Funded by the Jamaica Social Investment Fund, CIDT staff are working with the Bureau of Gender Affairs to conduct a review and revision of the National Policy for Gender Equality (NPGE) to ensure that the policy is current and meets the needs and concerns of all women, men, young women and young men and vulnerable groups.

    In spite of the COVID-19 travel restrictions, through local partnerships, national and community networks, the consultants will conduct online surveys, consultations, focus group discussions and interviews, to ensure the voices of those most marginalised are included in the review.

    The NPGE was approved in 2011, with a primary goal to ensure the principle of equality between women and men. The NPGE outlines Jamaica’s commitment to addressing the long-term systemic forms of discrimination both direct and indirect against women in the public and private spheres, identifying and overcoming the limitations to the empowerment of women and men and ultimately creating a society that values gender equality. The objectives of the NPGE are to:

    • To reduce all forms of gendered discrimination and promote greater gender equality and social justice.
    • To strengthen institutional mechanisms and develop the skills and tools required to mainstream gender in cultural, social, economic, and political institutions, structures, and systems.
    • To promote sustainable behaviour change and improve organizational effectiveness and the capacity of public sector entities to develop, implement and monitor gender responsive plans, projects, programmes, and policies.

    CIDT consultants, Mary Surridge, Rufsana Begum and national consultant Judith Wedderburn, have been contracted to undertake a comprehensive evaluation, review and revision of the NPGE.

    The review process explores:

    1. The current situation in relation to gender
    2. The gender-related changes in the past 10 years.
    3. The role of the NPGE in contributing to the change.
    4. What a revised policy should include

    Moreover, the current situation provides a critical opportunity for the consultants to test the robustness of the mechanisms for gender equality incorporated in the NPGE, in light of COVID 19, concerning the differential impacts on women and men, and the restrictions such as curfews and lockdown. Preliminary analysis by donors and NGOs highlight that COVID 19 is having significant detrimental impacts on the lives of women and those of their families, deepening pre-existing inequalities, exposing vulnerabilities in the social protection mechanisms in both developing and developed countries.

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  • CIDT supports rethink of capacity building for linking humanitarian and social protection programmes

    11 June 2020
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    Image credit: DFID/Vicki Francis. Crown Copyright/Open Government License.

    Rachel Slater has been working with Humanitarian Outcomes and staff at the IDS Centre for Social Protection to produce a high level briefing paper on linking humanitarian cash and voucher assistance with social protection systems for the Cash Learning Partnership.

    In a recent webinar and blog the team explore why, although ensuring that humanitarian actors better link the cash transfers they deliver in emergencies to national social protection systems is widely accepted as a good idea, in practice it remains so difficult.

    On the capacity strengthening side they argue that the current focus on technical capacity and hard skills (for example knowing how to target beneficiaries efficiently and how to set benefit levels) needs to be expanded to include functional capacity and soft skills (such as coordination or navigating the internal politics of governments and other organisations.

    Webinar: Linking Social Protection and humanitarian CVA – what do we really know and where to start?

    This webinar took place on 21 May 2020. You can watch the full recording below.

    Image credit: DFID/Vicki Francis. Crown Copyright/Open Government License.

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  • Delivering external evaluations for girls’ education projects in Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe

    9 June 2020
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    As CAMFED‘s institutional External Evaluator, CIDT’s Rachel Roland, Richard Nyirenda and Dani Baur, working with associates Patt Flett and Mariana Van Graan, have carried out midline evaluations for two girls’ education projects:

    • The Virtuous Cycle of Girls’ Education, which is being run in rural districts of Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe
    • Girls Learn, Achieve and Succeed, which is running in Tanzania (urban and peri-urban areas).

    The evaluations are part of a 4-year study tracking the education of marginalised girls in CAMFED-supported schools in terms of enrolment, attendance, retention and achievement, as well as onward study and income generation or employment.

    In both projects CIDT led the research methodology, design, fieldwork, analysis and reporting. During the midline study, a statistically robust quantitative study was undertaken that included a test for English and Maths that was marked by national exam boards and surveys with beneficiary children, parents and caregivers and teaching staff. At the same time an extensive qualitative research programme interviewed and held focus group discussions with beneficiary girls, teachers, parents, parents support groups, government officials and CAMFED national office staff. The qualitative study covered 8-10 secondary schools in selected districts across each country and setting.

    In Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe, only a minority of girls in the country have the opportunity to go to a secondary school. If they get a school place, they face problems of getting to and from school, both in terms of distance, they must walk, as well as problems with sexual harassment on their ways to and from school. Harassment often increases as girls get older.

    At school, key barriers to education are lack of sufficient desks, chairs, books and other educational learning equipment, as well as teaching methods that do not help girls to participate and learn, and the lack of specialist teachers in some subjects. In addition girls in particular suffer from lack of access to sufficient water and sanitation. Very often girls at school can’t afford lunch and their families can only afford one or two meals a day. CAMFED’s projects support girls to stay in school with a range of grants, equipment, support to learning and teaching and a mentoring programme for girls in school and school leavers, pioneered by their alumnus organisation. Please see the CAMFED Model for more information.

    In this work CIDT collaborated with Development Data, a national consultancy firm based in Zimbabwe and Zambia and UK organisation Women and Girls Inclusive. CIDT is honoured to have had the opportunity to contribute towards ensuring quality girls’ education through leading these evaluations.

    The midline reports have been signed off by the Fund Manager, PWC. CAMFED’s projects are part of the global Girls’ Education Challenge programme funded by the UK government and implemented in 18 countries. This global programme aims to improve the learning opportunities and outcomes of over one million of the world’s most marginalised girls. In Africa 33.3 million girls of primary and lower secondary school age are out of education[1].


    [1] Source: UNESCO Institute for Statistics (UIS, 2018). This number has risen from 28 million (UIS, 2015).

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  • Spotlight on CIDT’s work in Africa

    CIDT spotlight on Africa brochure

    CIDT was invited to showcase its projects and impact in Africa to the UK’s Ambassador for Africa, Emma Wade-Smith OBE, during a Trade Commission visit organised by the Department for International Trade at Derby University on 5th March 2020.

    Focused on Working in Partnership, the event was hosted by the Midlands Enterprise University of which the University of Wolverhampton is a member. A large proportion of CIDT’s work in recent years has focused on strengthening capacity of projects, programming and organisations in over 25 sub-Saharan African countries.

    We are proud to support multi-lateral agencies engaged in regional development including the African Union, UNIDO, UNICEF, DFID and the World Bank. CIDT has implemented three multi-million European Union funded grants in Central Africa and delivered longitudinal studies in Zimbabwe, Tanzania and Zambia.

    Click the icons on the map below to explore our work, for example, supporting green growth in Rwanda, infrastructure in Somaliland, education in Zambia or energy in Nigeria.

    Click here to download the full brochure.

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  • CIDT undertakes midline study on girl’s education project in Zimbabwe

    10 September 2019
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    CIDT’s Richard Nyirenda has completed two weeks of field work in Zimbabwe; conducting data collection as part of a midline qualitative study of a girls’ education project. The project is implemented by CAMFED (Campaign for Female Education) and operates in Zimbabwe, Zambia and Tanzania. CAMFED’s project is part of the global Girls’ Education Challenge programme funded by the UK government and implemented in more than 17 countries. This global programme aims to improve the learning opportunities and outcomes of over one million of the world’s most marginalised girls.

    CIDT is contracted as the external evaluator of the project. The midline evaluation is being undertaken as part of a 4-year study tracking the education of marginalised girls in Camfed-supported schools in terms of enrolment, attendance, retention and achievement. Concurrently, other CIDT members of staff, Rachel Roland (Project Manager and Team Leader), Dani Baur and associates, Patt Flett, Mariana Van Graan and Busisiwe Moyo have been conducting similar fieldwork in Zambia and Tanzania.

    This work represents a small but significant part of the CIDT commitment to challenging inequality and removing barriers to meaningful participation and improving the quality of education.

    During the midline study, interview and focus group discussions were held with beneficiary girls, teachers, parents, parents support groups, government officials and CAMFED national office staff. The qualitative study covered 8-10 secondary schools in selected districts across the country. The qualitative study was complemented by a quantitative study that was also undertaken at the same time.

    In this work CIDT is collaborating with Development Data, a national consultancy firm based in Zimbabwe and UK organisation Women and Girls Inclusive.

    The final report for the Midline Evaluation will be released later this year.

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  • ‘She-roes’: African Women working Together for Change

    18 April 2019
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    Over twenty African women participated in an action-oriented initiative seeking to enhance their leadership to bring transformative change focusing on peace, security and development in the continent, in line with Africa Agenda 2063. 

    The Centre for International Development and Training has successfully delivered a ‘Women in Leadership’ training workshop for 22 mid- to- senior level female staff from across the African Union Commission. The training took place from 23-31 March in Arusha, Tanzania. It was co-facilitated by CIDT’s gender experts Mary Surridge, and Rufsana Begum. This is the third women in leadership training since March 2018 and the suite of training has led to significant impact and lasting change; by multiplying the voices of African women leaders and enhancing their participation and leadership capacity in key decision-making processes. 

    Women leaders face structural and cultural barriers, reflected in the AUC staffing ratio of 65% men and 35% women, with the gender ratio becoming increasingly unequal as seniority increases. The workshop was designed to identify the unique challenges women face in leadership positions and to create enabling conditions to address them. Through peer learning, experience sharing and cross-generational dialogues, the workshop hoped to:

    • Lay the foundation to grow a cadre of strong women leaders within the organisation; and
    • Identify and nurture those with highest potential.

    Participants engaged in numerous practical activities, simulations and role plays, participant presentations, TED talk simulations, reflective journal writing and more. 

    Some of the elements covered in the workshop include:

    • Communication Skills
    • Body language for power and influence
    • Self-esteem 
    • Negotiation
    • Emotional Intelligence 
    • Assertiveness

    By catalysing and harnessing the power of women leaders, the AUC can realise the true potential of some of its best people. 

    3C’s – Communication, Connections and Community….

    By the end of the workshop: women had strengthened their capacity in communication, developed strong connectionsand built a communityof strong female leaders. Two emerging concepts (currently under discussion) are: 

    • “She-roes” a social media/WhatsApp platform for the participants to share experiences and lessons; 
    • ‘She-Speaks’ a development initiative that aims to harness videos produced by African Women at the AU on a website. This aims to counterbalance dominant narratives and western style/experience-based leadership videos. It will show case the challenges African Women face, their lessons and their stories to better reflect diversity and promote more inclusivity leadership videos.

    We hope that She-Roes and She-Speaks will provide a platform to share inspirational stories from African women for African Women. 

    Some of the feedback from the participants included: 

    • Very engaging and informative
    • Connection with other strong ladies
    • Very practical sessions 
    • The Ted Talk has built my skills for speaking in public
    • Stand on both feet to respect women’s leadership and self confidence

    Some of the most notable elements participants gained from the workshop were:

    • Negotiating skills and promoting myself
    • To be assertive visible, to have a strategic goal
    • Emotional intelligence and speaking up in meetings
    • Dealing with difficult colleagues and bosses
    • Have self-worth 
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  • Is targeting international development projects to women enough?

    8 March 2019
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    On International Women’s Day, Professor Rachel Slater considers a long standing question in gender and international development – will targeting women lead to gender equality and women’s empowerment?

    Each year, International Women’s Day comes a week or so before the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) at the United Nations. The CSW was established by the UN in 1946 to promote gender equality and the empowerment of women, and was expanded in 1996 to lead both monitoring and the review of progress and problems in the implementation of major UN declarations and actions on gender.

    What CSW achieves is quite a feat: it brings together the vastly varied countries of the United Nations and tries to get them to agree on a text about gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls. Of course, countries have divergent views on core feminist issues – from reproductive rights and health, to equal pay and employment rights – and these views are deeply embedded in cultural and religious norms. The result? That elements of the CSW may be watered down to be more palatable. However, this year reading between the lines of the draft text shows that, despite the difficulties of getting an awful lot of diverse people to agree, progress on gender equality and women’s empowerment can be made.

    This year the CSW focus on social protection, services and infrastructure brings it close to my own work. It’s clear – particularly from the report of the CSW Expert Group – that some of the things that we’ve known for a long time as researchers are starting to make it into the mainstream of policy-making and programme design, and will be taken up at the highest levels by governments.

    Rachel Slater presents at the Forest Governance Forum
    Rachel Slater presents at the Forest Governance Forum

    Most important of all is that we have to do far more than just target programmes to women in order to achievement women’s empowerment. Research demonstrates that targeting social protection programmes to women has good results – such as improved nutrition and health, and more children enrolling in and attending school – but it doesn’t, by itself, do much to tackle gender inequality or women’s empowerment.  To tackle this, the CSW calls for us to move beyond just targeting women. For example, they propose ensuring that social protection systems take into account workers outside the formal sector (especially women doing unpaid care work) whose contributions often go unrecognised.

    Professor Rachel Slater

    So, watch this space. If UN members sign the CSW declaration, there’s a risk that they’ll then do little to action its commitments. But UN Women will review progress in about three years’ time, and I will be back to reflect on how countries, including the UK, have performed on social protection and gender equality in 2022.

    This blog post originally published at the University of Wolverhampton website.

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