Alumni spotlight: Ramesh Zutshi reflects on his ‘Forestry, Gender and Development’ programme back in 1992Continue Reading
Introduction by CIDT’s Des Mahony:
“Back in early 1992 I was, at 34, the youngest lecturer at the ‘Agricultural Education & Training Unit’ (AETU) and as the one with a forestry background, responsible to coordinate a 12 week bespoke British Council commissioned course called ‘Forestry: Gender and Development’ (FGD) for very senior Indian Forest Officers. The course was tasked to update these mid-career professionals on tools and approaches to increase social inclusion, gender equity, indigenous peoples community level rights and participation in rural development.
The AETU was within the School of Education and three times a year ran a very popular 12 week course called the ‘Overseas Technical Teachers/Trainers Award’ (OTTA) targeting staff from throughout low income countries technical agricultural/horticulture and forestry training centres (Africa, Asia, South America, the Pacific, the Caribbean etc.) to enhance and improve their curricula and educational delivery to improve food production, farming practices and natural resource management.
The FGD was the very first course AETU ran for the Indian forest service. It later became known as the ‘Forestry People and Participation’ course and ran annually throughout the 1990s, by the end of which the AETU had been renamed to the Centre for International Development & Training (CIDT).
Within that first mixed gender course group was a lively quick witted gentleman called Zutshi who had worked as a forest officer in Bihar state and within the Indian forest service that is a very tough state to work in for a variety of reasons. So he had plenty of very grounded experience to refer to in our sessions and discussions.
Zutshi had never before had the opportunity to visit Europe and he relished the whole experience of being here. For me it was a genuine pleasure to have spent time with Zutshi and later, when I had the opportunity to visit Dehra Dun, be entertained in his home in India. I still smile remembering his jokes and numerous recollections: he is an excellent story teller with fantastic factual recall interested in everything from philosophy to botany to ecology to politics etc. etc.
Here is his recollection of his time with us at ‘Wolverhampton Polytechnic’ of almost 30 years ago!
Recollections of my time at Walsall, Wolverhampton Polytechnic, Spring 1992
by Ramesh Kumar Zutshi, Retired Principal Chief Conservator of Forests and Head of the Forest Force of Jharkhand State, India.
Photo: 1992, Walsall Campus in front of ‘AETU’ building: 9 senior Indian forestry service program participants and staff involved in its delivery. Ramesh Kumar Zutshi is front 4th from right.
My time at ‘AETU’, Walsall campus in the spring of 1992
Thirty years ago in 1991 soon after my posting as a Professor with teaching and lecturing duties at the Indian Forest Service’s Indira Gandhi National Forest Academy the British Government offered me a bursary to go to the UK for one year under their ‘Trainers Training Programme’. I declined and said I couldn’t leave my family for a year and so was put on a 3-month course on ‘Forestry, Gender and Development’. Most of our Indian government systems were British and I had read English literature: Robinson Crusoe, Arthur Conan Doyle, Somerset Maugham, Thomas Hardy, Dickens and dozens of others. From these I was sort of familiar with the aloofness of the British, discipline, pubs and fish & chips! I hoped to see how the British had managed to rule over 64 countries and the course on Gender was secondary, as I saw it!
In March 1992, we nine Indian Forest Service Officers flew to the UK and landed in Walsall. The course program sounded novel, and I reckoned it had something to do with equality and opportunities for women. It was run by the ‘Agricultural Education & Training Unit’ (AETU) on Walsall Campus, Wolverhampton Polytechnic in the West Midlands, and our course tutor was a young staff member called Des Mahony. In the first week we attended the Oxford Forestry Conference on ‘Wise Management of Tropical Forests’ and learned a lot about management of Tropical Forests. Participants were from all over the world and there was opportunity to talk to everyone during mealtimes. Then we returned to Walsall and had lectures on what Gender Issues were really about, what were our expectations, forestry and development and also exercises in communication and leadership.
Midway through the programme we had a wonderful opportunity to meet and interview rural people in northern Portugal. This two-week study tour brought gender issues and rural development lectures alive for me. We stayed at the Hostel of Escola Superiora Agricola, at Refois de Lima and began visiting these 2-3 hectare small holding farms in the surrounding countryside. The terrain in this northern part of Portugal was undulating and hilly. The interesting thing was, each farm-lady offering us their own house wines, while questions were asked, information sought. This was probably the only place in Europe where we could see old farming family women riding on top of haystacks in a Bullock Cart. Besides farm visits, we looked at some plantations with Eucalyptus and other Exotic species, visited the Vino Verde Factory. Northern Portugal was chosen for this rural study fieldtrip because participants on our course and other courses were from Developing Countries. In most of Northern Europe, the conditions were not such that could help us understand rural processes, occupations, livelihood issues, role of men or women in rural communities. Concerning gender roles men in this part of Portugal had to work as migrant labourers in northern Europe and leave female relatives to manage these homesteads. In fact, gender roles, in this situation were altered because of the absence of men. So, in this trip we saw with our own eyes and came to understand how people in rural areas of a country like Portugal managed their land holdings, homesteads, incomes and processes involved. This gave us food for thought to reflect and compare with our own rural communities in India.
After the Portugal tour we returned to Walsall to make presentations regarding the visit. These presentations were attended by the faculty, two or three of whom evaluated our presentation and lecturing skills. They were noting down things like Repetitions, Gestures, Emphasis, Rambling, Involuntary Movements of Body Parts, and all other things necessary to make a lecture effective and understandable to the audience. These presentations were video-taped and given to us individually to look at them at our leisure along with a report of the evaluators. Fantastic, I thought, because, here you could reflect on the report about your presentation and see it for yourself. In my view, this was what helped establish me as a lecturer at the Indian Forestry Academy where I was teaching; and helped with problems during my lecture sessions with Indian Forest Service probationary trainees.
During the course we also had outings to the Black Country Museum, plantations and logging sites and a visit to London including Kew Herbarium. We had a trip to Scotland, Edinburgh mainly, where we attended a conference relating to domestication of secondary species and some ecology. We also met with the Forestry Commission personnel in their HQ Building. During my time I learned a lot about local customs and prejudices during such outings.
Impact of the course on my work after my return
By the time I came to the UK I had put in 19 years with the Indian forestry service, 15 of these in Bihar State in various Forest Divisions. I had been promoted to the Rank of Conservator of Forests in 1986, a supervisory position. I was posted mostly in areas, where large tribal populations lived so there was plenty of time and occasion to see how, men and women played their roles in the running of their households and affairs of the community they lived in. I had noticed all over my district postings that many tribal males quite often were inebriated from drinking rice beer by mid-morning while females had by then returned from the fringe forests with a head load of fuel wood with girl children trudging along with some edible forest fruits. Females would then provide breakfast of rice flour bread cooked over a terracotta girdle or a few Chapattis to the males and children, whilst males were generally loafing around. In logging season (October to June) they would find employment in forest coupes (delineated areas for felling) and log, billet, stack timber or firewood produced. In our households too, back in Kashmir, males of any family would be employed in remote areas and there being no motorised transport, they would be home once in 6-9 months. During this time, women did shopping for the household, normally the domain of males, alongside their duties of cooking, washing, winnowing and all other housework. Female children’s toys were generally kitchen related! Boys would get Cricket bats, wooden balls to play and bicycles too. So, from the beginning, there was this ‘gender conditioning’ taking place, all the time, in urban educated households too. The Walsall Course opened our eyes a bit more about this. I, personally, could recall practises, processes, traditions etc. in a different light. I must admit though, it was so in my household too.
It followed that, on arrival back to India to Dehradun and my academic job, I persisted with the Director of our Academy to recruit a female faculty member to support female students on our courses. Since there were always a dozen or more female probationers, it received favour from the Central Government and a female officer was hired on deputation from a State. So the female probationers had someone whom they could go to with problems specific to them. Later, when transferred as Dean and Principal of the State Forest College on the same campus, I likewise insisted on recruiting a woman to the college faculty. I would speak on ‘Gender Issues Related to Forestry Development’ on a regular basis to State service officers coming on short in-service training courses and in our Service Groups. Somehow, issues related to gender vis-a-vis these topics crept into my presentations on topics of Silviculture and issues related to conflict between mining and forestry too!
The best thing that happened due to the efforts of Walsall Faculty was that, I was now a more confident lecturer with some presence! I received top ratings from groups of probationers of the Indian Forest Service, the State Forest Service Trainees and from the one week courses of my own service people. It would gladden my heart when a participant, a rank or two higher than mine, came up to me, patted my back and complimented me on the content of my lecture, or fielding questions or keeping my lecture or discussion restricted to the time allowed to me.
This sums up Walsall for me. Trainer was trained, after all!
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The UN World Food Programme (WFP), with the support of CIDT through the Social Protection Learning Facility, has published three policy briefs that focus on social protection and COVID-19 in situations of displacement, climate-related disasters and rural/urban contexts.
CIDT lead the Social Protection Learning Facility, which is an initiative led by the WFP Regional Bureau for East Africa. The Facility works to provide research, analysis and technical assistance to WFP Country Offices, as they seek to use social protection systems as a mechanism to respond to COVID-19 in their respective countries.
The three briefings highlight the compounding impacts of COVID-19 in places that already face substantial challenges to reduce poverty, vulnerability and instability.
Social Protection and COVID-19 in Urban and Rural Settings
This policy brief looks at the impacts that COVID-19 has on lives and livelihoods in either rural or urban contexts. Whilst it is understood that COVID-19 may have a more urban geographic outlook, the pandemic has implications for the vulnerability of those in both rural and urban settings and the brief explores how social protection might respond to livelihoods in these two different contexts.
Social Protection and COVID-19 Amidst Climate Shocks
Social protection can be used to build resilience of households experience climate-related shocks and stresses. This policy brief looks at some of the potential impacts and implications of the coronavirus pandemic on climate resilience work in East Africa drawing lessons from WFP’s programming in a number of countries.
Social Protection and COVID-19 in Situations of Displacement
In fragile and unstable contexts, existing vulnerabilities are compounded by the effects of the pandemic, exacerbating the existing challenges of saving lives and protecting livelihoods. This policy brief explores the implications of the pandemic for social protection in fragile contexts and how approaches may need to adapt for improved delivery of services.
Initially set up in May 2020, the Facility continues to work in partnership with the WFP Regional Bureau and East Africa Country Offices and the delivery team remains focused on:
- Providing technical support: providing advice to Country Offices based on their collective experience and knowledge of social protection and country contexts; and
- Documenting learning: Compiling and disseminating lessons, findings and experiences for future policy and programme design decision-making.
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Article first published on the Institute for Development Studies website. Authors: Rachel Sabates-Wheeler, Rachel Slater (CIDT), Jeremy Lind, Paul Harvey, Pauline Oosterhoff, Becky Faith, Lars Otto Naess, Jan Selby, Tony Roberts, Daniel Longhurst, Brigitte Rohwerder, Ella Haruna (CIDT).
There has never been a more important moment to understand how to work with and help the most vulnerable people cope better with global shocks and crises. The global pandemic has shown how fragile our systems, communities and countries are – even in richer countries. The current status quo of social assistance in crises is deeply dysfunctional. Too many people in desperate need are getting no assistance and even for those that do get help, its delivery is too patchy to be relied upon.
Although social protection has the potential to address crises in different ways, the evidence base is thematically and geographically patchy. The Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office-funded (FCDO)-funded Better Assistance in Crises (BASIC) Research programme aims to inform policy and programming on effective social assistance in situations of crisis, including those experiencing climate-related shocks and stressors, protracted conflict and forced displacement.
We are working across eight cross-cutting areas as we continue to refine our research agenda in the programme’s inception year:
Routine, effective and efficient delivery
Whilst the ‘shock-responsive social protection’ agenda broadly has gained traction and produced multiple initiatives on the ground, less is known about its success and applicability in conflict-affected situations. The agenda has largely focused on climate shocks or ‘natural’ disasters, so very little is known about how, for example, longstanding programmes in Iraq, Syria, Yemen have been maintained.
What is known about how social assistance is sustained in crisis, especially those of violent conflict and instability? Across this theme, we are looking at the effectiveness and efficiency of a humanitarian response routed through social assistance, and at the ways that government-led social assistance can be routinely and sustainably delivered.
Financing and value for money
Financing assistance in FCA is complex, with strong siloes or restrictions between humanitarian, climate and developmental assistance, and often constrained options to improve the financing for programmes and systems development. At the same time, the “value for money” and cost vs benefit of investing in long term approaches to risk reduction are increasingly well established. However, the right balance of actors, programmes, and financial tools in fragile and conflict situations remains a fragmented discussion, even though in practice these often co-exist and need to evolve together.
Given the extremely risky world in which we live where shocks are expected, and a long-term perspective is necessary we will ask better questions about the trade-offs involved. This approach is interrogating how risks, to households and to government systems, are ‘costed in’ to any assessment of options, the balance between programming objectives and financing imperatives, and how short-term pressures can be transparently weighed against long-term costs and benefits.
Risks, accountability and technology
Aid agencies, governments and donors are investing in new ways of managing data and processes such as registration in ways that open new possibilities for greater accountability and efficiency but also risk new exclusions and violations of the rights of vulnerable groups. The use of digital technologies and pressure to innovate can be in tension with the precautionary principle; the voices and interests of affected populations must remain central.
The overarching research question is whether the most vulnerable people in crisis situations benefit from these systems? This involves shifting the focus from ‘inclusion errors’ (those who are included/benefit by mistake) to those experiencing ‘exclusion errors’ (those who are excluded from benefits by system failings/errors); either because of the design of the system of because of structural inequalities in access to and use of digital technologies.
We need to improve our understanding of the nature, causes and multiple dimensions of climate vulnerability and resilience within FCA contexts; and to examine the role that social protection plays, and might play, in enhancing climate resilience within these settings. This will involve examining how climate resilience should be understood in FCA settings, in the context of climate change affecting the incidence of sudden shocks; leading to longer-term environmental changes, and also the fact that climate adaptation and mitigation actions may cause or contribute to economic and political changes.
What role does social protection play, or might play, in enhancing climate resilience within FCA? We are focusing particularly on how social protection affects, or might affect, the availability of those environmental and socio-economic resources which underpin climate resilience, in both the short- and long-term.
Politics, principles, and the role of the state
Places that are marked by violence, conflict and contested public authority, present difficulties in extending social protection coverage and strengthening national systems for social assistance. Other stakeholders such as non-state armed organisations, religious figures and networks, clans, and customary authorities, often have a significant influence on provisioning and mediating decisions on who is covered and who is not – even in cases of ‘formal’ social protection.
With a focus on the politics of social assistance in crises in terms of formal policies and approaches of governments and international actors) and from below (how social assistance is governed at the sub-national level), this theme is exploring the ways in which crisis-affected populations seek to navigate access to social assistance in contested spaces, and perceptions of different support that is provided.
The increasing duration of exile is a consequence of the intractability of the political crises that produce displacement in the first place. Over the long term, displacement itself inevitably increases the difficulty of resolving such crises, increasing multiple vulnerabilities, damaging individual livelihoods and interrupting education. Climate instability may exacerbate both the causes and the effects of displacement. Over time, displacement becomes a further factor in ongoing instability at national or regional level.
While political will has recently manifested in the Global Compact on Refugees (GCR), it is a complex and dynamic political and conceptual landscape. The GCR emphasises self-sufficiency and sustainability of responses to displacement, which frames an important role for social assistance.
A variety of barriers means that existing programmes do not reach vulnerable and marginalised groups, while accessing social assistance can sometimes entail protection risks, such as violence, theft, bribery and intra-household and community tensions.
In this theme, we are focusing on what prevents social assistance from meeting the needs of excluded and vulnerable people during crises and what can be done to address this. Such intersecting vulnerabilities include those relating to gender, age, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, and sex characteristics, caste, ethnicity, and statelessness. Transformative approaches to social protection that focus not just on assistance but on areas such as the right to work, freedom of movement and protection from violence are therefore especially needed, precisely when they are most difficult to put into place.
Livelihoods and transformation
While mainstream social protection sits in the realms of ensuring lives and livelihoods are supported in the event of predictable stresses (such as seasonality, loss of income from retirement, disability, or unemployment), disaster response (and the humanitarian system that accompanies it) is about planning for and managing the fallout of extreme events (most typically natural hazards) such as droughts, storms, and floods, turning into crises. Indeed, the new ‘hazard’ on the social protection block is conflict.
We need to understand if the standard framings and interventions of social protection are suited to contexts of conflict and violence. How do we provide social protection and rights in these places, how do we set up systems that can change the structures in which people can access livelihood opportunities? This theme is looking at the ways that the sectors have approached risk, shock and livelihood resilience and explore if there are avenues for bringing these distinct conceptualisations and associated programming into one framing.
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Image: Women in Leadership Course for The African Union in Rwanda
‘The true tale of the lion hunt will never be told as long as the hunter tells the story…’ (African Proverb)
During the last few years we have witnessed a rapid growth of gender movements like #metoo, #timesup, #generationequality, but Black, Asian and ethnic minority voices remain at the periphery of these campaigns. CIDT’s Rufsana Begum argues that we cannot truly celebrate ‘International Women’s Day’ until women are equal with each other.
Speaking on intersectional approaches to women in leadership at the University International Women’s Day Careers Conference Rufsana shares some highlights from the session:
“Workplaces consist of invisible power dynamics and privileges that sustain social inequalities.”
Our inability or reluctance to dialogue openly and honestly with BAME women leads to marginalising their experiences. If there is to be real change it is imperative that we go beyond the ‘politeness protocol’, have ‘uncomfortable conversations’ in the workplaces and create inclusive spaces where BAME women can share their lived realities.
In the words of Morgan Jenkins (2018)
“We cannot come together if we do not recognize our differences first. These differences are best articulated when women of colour occupy the centre of the discourse while white women remain silent, actively listen, and do not try to reinforce supremacy by inserting themselves in the middle of the discussion.”
In this process, we understand the role power plays in our working relationships, how our privileges maintain status quo and challenge micro-aggressive behaviours that prevent BAME women from speaking out.
This is a call to action: interrogate power and analyse privilege in support of genuine equality
Privilege comes in many forms, including race, gender, sexuality, ability, language, wealth, physical fitness, safety, and educational attainment and even height. However, the people who have those things are usually unaware of their power and influence.
According to American sociologist, Prof Michael Kimmel, “Privilege is invisible to those who have it.”
“I am the generic person. I am a middle class white man. I have no race, no class, no gender. I am universally generalizable,” says Kimmel.
Privilege is systematic in favouring, validating and including certain social identities over the other.
Having privilege does not mean that an individual is immune to life’s hardships, but it does mean having an unearned benefit or advantage one receives in society by nature of their identity.
It’s important to understand – just because we have don’t have certain kinds of privileges, it doesn’t mean that we don’t benefit from other kinds of privileges. I’ll use myself as an example: I am a woman, Bangladeshi-British but I also have the privilege of living in the UK, I am heterosexual, holding a graduate degree, having financial resources, and access to healthcare.
Power is the ability to influence and make decisions that affect others.
Derald Wing Sue (2016); argues that “true POWER resides in the ability to define reality; where the members of the majority group are able to impose their world view on the rest of the members of marginalised groups which discounts their experiential reality where race/ethnicity are a constant factor.” Members of majority group possess the tools – education, media, social groups, peers, institutions – that define and reaffirm their worldview.
The worldview of BAME women and men is different from white people; acknowledging this is the FIRST step. Race, ethnicity and colour make up our social identity and how we experience and see the social world; therefore race issues are inter-connected with issues around gender equality.
“The biggest obstacle is that we keep trying to silo the issues and that we’re not seeing them as interconnected the way they need to be seen.” (Teresa Younger, 2020)
Once we understand that power gives us the ability to define reality, we are required to take an intersectional perspective in approaches to gender equality, where race/ethnicity are not a secondary issue.
When Kimberle Crenshaw coined the term intersectionality, she was describing the way in which multiple oppressions are experienced. This notion extends to dis(ability), sexual orientation, social class, religious discourse and so on. Where there are gaps in our understanding of underrepresented group experiences at work, an intersectional approach is the vehicle that allows for the experiences of underrepresented groups to be heard and understood.
The only way to understand and interconnect these aspects of identity is to listen to BAME women’s unique experiences and validating them.
So what next?
Go beyond the diversity data and explore nuances around BAME women’s unique experiences. You can encourage uncomfortable conversations when you:
- Acknowledge your privilege. We ALL have it.
- Become aware
- Educate yourself
- Reach out to diverse group members and hear their experiences
- Question existing power dynamics. E.g. in meetings who is consistently speaking? Whose voices are marginalised? Why?
- LISTEN – resist the urge to deny, invalidate, avoid the discussion – its human nature to avoid and defend. To TRULY create an inclusive culture, we need to make space for hear, validate and explore these issues of racism and discrimination that BAME women and men face every day.
- Lean into the uncomfortable. The only way to address the challenges associated with racism, sexism, other forms of inequalities and micro-aggression in the workplace is to be open to experiencing discomfort in an honest and forthright
Finally ask yourself: are you a Silencer or Amplifier?
Use your privileged voice to raise others up; you will not lose privilege in this process!
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The Institute of Development Studies (IDS) is leading a new Foreign and Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO)-funded programme which will inform policy and programming on how to help poor and vulnerable people cope better with crises including recurrent shocks, climate crises, humanitarian crises, protracted conflict and forced displacement.
The new Better Assistance in Crises (BASIC) Research programme is led by IDS together with the University of Sussex and the Centre for International Development and Training (CIDT) at the University of Wolverhampton.
The programme is being managed by Rachel Sabates-Wheeler at IDS and Paul Harvey from Humanitarian Outcomes, alongside research directors, Jeremy Lind (IDS) and Rachel Slater from the Centre for International Development and Training.
Paul Harvey said: “BASIC research is about finding ways to help people through provision of more effective social assistance in places where needs are most desperate, but where getting aid to people is hardest. Research in places such as Yemen, Iraq and Mali will explore ways in which humanitarian aid, social protection systems and adaptations to the climate crisis can work together to help people cope better with crises. We’re really looking forward to working on this critical agenda with the FCDO.”
Over 80 million people now forcibly displaced around the world
The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) recently announced that it estimated 80 million people are now forcibly displaced around the world as a result of persecution, conflict, and human rights violations., which continued unabated despite Covid-19.
Harri Lee, Social Protection Adviser in the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office said:
“We know that poverty is increasing — driven by conflict, climate change and now Covid-19. Crises are increasingly protracted or recurrent and humanitarian needs are rising, whilst financing and delivery models are mainly short-term and reactive. Social protection systems and approaches can help address these constraints; however, they are underutilised and one of the reasons is a lack of evidence.”
FCDO are pleased to partner with the IDS-led consortium for BASIC Research. This work will strengthen the evidence on what works to effectively deliver social assistance in different crisis contexts, so that vulnerable people, in particular women, children and people with disabilities, can cope better with crises and meet their basic needs.”
BASIC Research will look at:
- Routine, effective, and efficient delivery (what works)
- Financing and value for money – how can financing for basic assistance in crises by sustained, more nationally led, better value for money and less reliant on humanitarian aid?
- Principled and inclusive – what prevents social assistance reaching all those who need it and meeting the specific needs of vulnerable groups? How can coverage be extended?
- Politics and the role of the state – how can states best be supported to expand coverage and include refugees and other excluded groups and how can transitions to more nationally led social assistance be supported?
- Risks, accountability and technology – how can the risks and benefits of new technologies best be managed and how can accountability be strengthened?
- Climate and resilience – how can social assistance in crises contribute to greater resilience to shocks (including climate shocks) and support climate adaptation?
- Transformation – how can social assistance in crises aim to be transformative and promotive as well as protective?
BASIC (Better Assistance in Crises) Research is an FCDO-funded research programme and will run from 2020 to 2024.
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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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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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In 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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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:
- The current situation in relation to gender
- The gender-related changes in the past 10 years.
- The role of the NPGE in contributing to the change.
- 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.
CIDT supports rethink of capacity building for linking humanitarian and social protection programmesContinue Reading
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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Telford Innovation Campus, Shifnal Road, Priorslee, Telford TF2 9NT, United Kingdom