• Conflict is the new ‘hazard’ on the social protection block

    9 March 2021
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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.

    Climate resilience

    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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  • CV4C webinar series: Achievements, reflections and food for thought

    3 March 2021
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    This webinar series took place from place from 22-26 February 2021. This page features all of the video recordings and presentations from the event. Over five days we highlighted the successes and lessons from the Citizen Voice for Change (CV4C) project, which came to a close in December 2020.

    Over 200 people registered to learn how forests in the Congo basin are managed for conservation, nature, economic development and livelihoods.

    The daily webinars focused on what has been accomplished and learnt over four years of the implementation of the Citizen Voices for Change (CV4C) Congo Basin Forest Monitoring project, implemented by national civil society organisations in the Congo Basin working in partnership with regional and international partners. Every day a different theme was the focus of experience-sharing from key players involved in collecting information and evidence on logging and forest exploitation in Cameroon, the Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of Congo, Gabon and the Republic of Congo. Five practitioner panels shared results and lessons from their engagement in strengthening the scope, quality and impact of independent forest monitoring in the Congo Basin.

    Download the programme: English | French

    Theme 1: A means to an end or an end in itself?: The challenges of Organisational Development

    Welcome and opening remarks

    • Overview of the CV4C project, Ella Haruna, CIDT
    • Opening Address, Prof Geoff Layer, Vice-Chancellor, University of Wolverhampton
    • Keynote statement, Thomas Pichet, FCDO FMGC Programme

    Theme 1: A means to an end or an end in itself? The challenges of Organisational Development

    Over the last two decades, Organisational Development (OD) has gradually emerged as the best springboard for ensuring the sustainability of non-state actors, including African civil society organisations. Despite the relative progress of organisational in the Congo Basin over the last ten years, it remains rather marginal, especially for environmental civil society organisations. At the same time, these organisations face many challenges that fundamentally affect their sustainability. To address these challenges, the CV4C project has devoted substantial effort on organisational development, driven by theory of change that more robust and resilient civil society organisations are also more effective in monitoring natural resource choices and policies. This webinar takes the lessons from the project as a starting point for further reflection on three essential components of organisational sustainability: financial sustainability, inclusion and human resource management.

    Teodyl Nkuintchua, Session Chair and Moderator

    Amelie Nkontchou (FODER, Cameroon)
    Sustainable financing of independent monitoring organisations in the Congo Basin: What can be done to make it work?
    View PowerPoint (English | French)

    Igerha Bampa (OGF, DRC), Laurence Wete Soh (FODER, Cameroon)
    Gender Mainstreaming in independent monitoring organisations in the Congo Basin: Experiences, challenges and lessons learned
    View PowerPoint (English | French)

    Olivier Meye (Brainforest, Gabon)
    Strategic Planning: from Plan to Action
    View PowerPoint (English | French)

    Guest speaker: Mireille Kayijamahe (Well Grounded, France)
    Organisational Development in the Congo Basin. Opportunities, challenges reflections from more than 10 years’ experience
    View PowerPoint (English | French)

    Theme 2: Independent Forest Monitoring: Lessons learned and perspectives on target audiences and data quality

    Since the inception of the CV4C in 2016, CSO members of the consortium have been striving to set up robust quality mechanisms to improve Independent Forest Monitoring (IFM) efficiency, efficacy and credibility, in order to enhance transparency and accountability in the fight against illegal logging. These efforts led to the creation and testing of a number of quality assurance instruments at various scales. For example, at organisational level through SNOIE in Cameroon by FODER, and development of internal Quality Management Systems (QMS) in DRC by OGF. A good example of quality on both a national and a regional level by FLAG, and at the international level – the Open Timber Portal by World Resources Institute and FLEGT WATCH by CIDT. These models respond to demands at the start of the project from users of IFM information and various stakeholders, who expressed the need for IFM as an approach to be more standardised, replicable, efficient and credible. From the onset, the project actively sought to address these concerns. The purpose of this webinar session is to share experiences on how the project has responded to these concerns by developing and implementing a number of instruments and tools. The session will focus on the emerging results achieved during the course of the project including the potential for scaling up and embedding the tools and instruments.

    Symphorien Azantsa, Session Chair and Moderator

    Serge Bondo Kayembe (OGF, DRC)
    Setting up the Quality Management System (QMS) and the Open Timber Portal (OTP): Opportunities for improving the quality of the mandated IFM
    View PowerPoint (English | French)

    Jean Cyrille Owada (FLAG, Cameroon)
    Ability of the innovative Verified Quality Management System (VQM) to strengthen the IM processes
    View PowerPoint (English | French)

    Angeline Kamden Modgo, Justin Kamga (FODER, Cameroon)
    Quality management of the IFM: The experience of SNOIE
    View PowerPoint (English | French)

    Achille Djeagou (WRI, DRC)
    The Quality and scope of IFM data for due diligence processes
    View PowerPoint (English | French)

    Theme 3: Strength in numbers: the power of networks and coalitions of interest

    The CV4C project believes that creating and maintaining strong links between IFM and advocacy nationally and internationally is critical in the face of inertia and a lack of response from officials to ensure that the evidence generated is used by decision- makers for law enforcement. Regional IFM platforms are well-placed to support both national advocacy networks and regional and international advocacy movements through strengthening voice, capacity-building and participation. This theme presents the various ways in which networks within and across the region have supported and acted as vehicles for project activity. This includes national platforms (e.g. RENOI, SNOIE network in Cameroon and the nascent SNOIE network in Congo-Brazzaville) and the role of the regional platform ‘Plateforme Africaine de l’Observation Indépendante’ (PAOI) – or the African independent monitoring platform. The panel will look at the role of networks in building civil society capacity and in advocacy/influencing.

    Stephany Kersten, Session Chair and Moderator

    Essylot LUBALA (OGF, DRC)
    National Network for IFM in the DRC: Challenges and opportunities
    View PowerPoint (English | French)

    Laurent Yangueta (CIEDD, CAR)
    Synergies between IFM and other State institutions: experience of the Consultation Platform for the fight against environmental crimes
    View PowerPoint (English | French)

    Serge Moukouri (FLAG, Cameroon)
    Challenges and opportunities facing IFM networks at the regional level: the case of the PAOI
    View PowerPoint (English | French)

    Theme 4: Closing the circle: Engagement with law enforcement agencies, the judiciary and the media

    Independent monitoring is an important instrument for improving forest governance in the Congo Basin for improving forest governance, transparency and the participation of non-state actors, in particular civil society organisations, rural populations and the media in the sustainable management of forests. IFM also has significant potential to contribute to law enforcement. In addition, the actions of IFM in the Congo Basin are increasingly aimed at strengthening synergies between the authorities in charge of law enforcement for an effective fight against illegal forestry. This theme aims to share the experiences of the CV4C project in the engagement of the media as well as the judicial authorities in the monitoring and repression of forest offences. It also draws lessons from the challenges of involving these authorities in identifying possible avenues for solutions.

    Virginie Vergnes, Session Chair and Moderator

    Fiston Mabonzi
    Independent monitoring and influence of the engagement of law enforcement agencies, the judiciary and the media: experiences of civil society in the DRC
    View PowerPoint (English | French)

    Flora Lamero, Rachel Ngo Nwaha, Lore Souhe
    Increasing the role of the media in natural resources governance: Where do we want to go and how? Experiences, lessons and perspectives
    View PowerPoint (English | French)

    Laurence Wete Soh, Horline Njiké
    Challenges of involving the judiciary in the fight against illegal logging in Cameroon: what are the possible solutions?
    View PowerPoint (English | French)

    Theme 5: ‘A tale of two illegalities’: Synergies between wildlife protection and forest governance

    The Congo Basin countries grappling with the challenges of forest illegality are equally ill-equipped to respond to the challenges of wildlife trafficking and organised crime. The international wildlife trade includes hundreds of millions of plant and animal specimens, estimated at billions of dollars annually. Grand scale illegality in the forest sector, poaching, ivory trade, illegal trade of bush meat and protected species, represent significant threats not only to forests, wildlife and ecosystems, but to regional development and security. Inadequate responses can be linked to a range of factors: inadequate legislation for wildlife offences; lack of recognition of wildlife crime as a priority crime leads to absence of strategic, tactical or operational focus; poor understanding of demand for and actors involved in the trade of illicit wildlife products; and lack of trained staff with the expertise and skills in specialist investigation techniques. This is exacerbated by porous borders and ineffective border controls; inadequate collaboration and information sharing between enforcement agencies; inadequate systems for intelligence gathering, analysis and use; lack of effective cooperation at local/ national/ regional/ international levels in information/intelligence exchange; grand and petty corruption in the agencies, and weak law enforcement management and monitoring capacity. This theme aims at exploring the synergies between wildlife crimes, and forestry crimes in the Congo Basin, from both a legal and a practical perspective. The theme will briefly present the project’s outputs: two Nexus studies from Cameroon and CAR, and a regional legal study.

    Willy Laywer, Session Chair and Moderator

    Samuel Nguiffo
    The judge and the forest in Central Africa: why illegal logging persist and intensifies in the Congo Basin countries?
    View PowerPoint (English | French)

    Ghislain Fomou
    Review of operational systems to combat illegal logging and wildlife exploitation in Cameroon
    View PowerPoint (English | French)

    Bienvenu Kemanda-Yogo
    Illegal exploitation of wildlife and timber in CAR: links, origins and purposes
    View PowerPoint (English | French)

    Closing remarks

    Dr Aurelian Mbzibain (CIDT, University of Wolverhampton)
    Closing address by representative of CV4C project

    Mathieu Auger Schwartzenberg (Task Team Leader, Agence Française de Développement)
    Closing address by representative of development partner

    Prof Philip Dearden (University of Wolverhampton)
    Closing address by representative of the University of Wolverhampton

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  • CIDT secures €2.2m for project to fight illegal deforestation

    15 February 2021
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    The University of Wolverhampton’s Centre of International Development and Training (CIDT) has received €2.2 million for a project that aims to tackle illegal deforestation in the Republic of Congo.

    The three year project, which has received funding from the European Union and the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) hopes to improve the livelihoods of forest dependent communities, contribute to biodiversity conservation and climate action.

    It’s hoped these goals can be met through supporting civil society organisations and local communities to strengthen their processes to enable effective monitoring to improve forest governance in the country. This will be done using an international standard (ISO 9001: 2015) as the basis to monitor and denounce those who exploit natural resources illegally. This new system will be used by project partners to document and disseminate such violations in a credible manner.

    Civil society is composed of voluntary, community and social organisations or institutions that contribute to the functioning of society and aren’t linked to the country’s government.

    The CIDT will be working with a number of partners from Africa and Europe on the project.

    Project Manager Dr Aurelian Mbzibain said: “The Republic of Congo is one of six Central African countries located in the Congo Basin with a forest coverage of 65 per cent.

    “The forest is the second largest provider of employment as 60 per cent of the population depend on forest resources.

    “However, the sector is confronted with illegal exploitation and corruption that cause the state to lose vast sums of money and contributes to forest degradation and denigrates the rights of local communities and indigenous peoples who have few livelihood options.

    “Since 2014, just one non-governmental organisation (NGO) has been mandated by the Forestry Administration to monitor forest illegality in the Congo.

    “Promoting a broader and decentralised surveillance framework is the key focus of this action.

    “We are delighted to receive this funding from the EU and FCDO which will enable us to continue the good work started with project partners under the CV4C project which ran from 2016 to 2020.”

    The team hope that by building the capacity of NGOs and their networks and expanding the range of stakeholders involved in decision-making processes, there will be a significant improvement of forest and land governance.

    This will lead to a reduction in poverty, negative environmental activity and generate more inclusive social and economic development.

    Dr Mbzibain added: “The development of a sustainable forest economy depends on a high level of transparency and active citizen participation in the management of natural resources.

    “If the governance of forests and land is improved and the benefits are shared equitably, then the national population will benefit from sustainable forest management.”

    The team will first be assessing the technical and organisational needs of the national partner organisations and then design and provide support tailored to those needs, along with those of national NGO networks and target stakeholder groups.

    The CIDT will lead the project, focusing on a number of areas, including development of national civil society organisations and technical assistance on independent forest monitoring and research.

    The other project partners are: FERN, Forests and Rural Development (FODER), Comptoir Juridique Junior (CJJ), Organisation pour le Développement et les Droits Humains au Congo (ODDHC), Observation Congolaise des Droits de l’Homme (OCDH), Association pour la Conservation de la Nature de la Likouala (ACNL), Cercle d’Action pour la Promotion du Bien-Etre Social (CABS), Espace des Jeunes pour l’Innovation et le Développement (EJID), and Cercle International de Recherches et d’Etudes des Civilisations beKwel (CIRECK).

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  • Illegal logging soars during Covid-19 pandemic in Congo Basin

    27 January 2021
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    ‘A study by the University of Wolverhampton’s Centre for International Development and Training (CIDT), has revealed that global climate goals and livelihoods of forest communities are at risk due to increased illegal logging in the forests of the Congo Basin. With the financial assistance of the FAO-EU FLEGT Programme, and the EU funded project RALFF led by Conservation Justice, CIDT carried out a survey of frontline communities impacted by the pandemic in the Congo Basin as part of its Citizen Voice for Change project (CV4C); which seeks to strengthen civil society independent forest monitoring and law enforcement in the region. The CV4C programme is co-funded by the EU and FCDO.

    “We were particularly interested in understanding the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on forest illegality and on the livelihoods of forest communities and indigenous peoples”, said Dr Aurelian Mbzibain, the lead author of the study and manager of the CV4C project. He added,

    “We surveyed 7000 forest dependent community members in three CV4C project intervention countries – Cameroon, Congo and Democratic Republic of Congo. The survey results clearly showed that forest dependent communities in the three countries are facing significant hardships, with the majority reporting a reduction or a total loss of income due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In particular, Government lockdown measures made it difficult for these communities to maintain access to forest resources that they depend on for their livelihoods.”

    Habiba Mohamed, a researcher on the project, explained that women participating in the study reported the most significant losses in income, and difficulty managing household expenses and their roles as caregivers.

    “Findings show that the pandemic has hit women from forest dependent communities the hardest, economically, socially and psychologically”.

    Many women reported an increase in fear and anxiety as informal social support groups have been banned as part of social distancing. There were also some reports of increased domestic and gender-based violence.

    In addition to livelihoods impacts, the study highlights the pandemic’s influence on forest illegality. Most respondents across the three countries perceived a decline in the presence of forest control officials on the ground. Dr Mbzibain explained that consequently, “the majority of respondents had the impression that illegal logging was increasing. Not just because of the lack of government control, but also due to the perceived rise in artisanal logging by chainsaw loggers and exploitation beyond permit boundaries”. Whilst the world watches the pandemic, global climate goals are being compromised when it comes to fighting deforestation.

    In respect of the illegal wildlife trade, the study had an intriguing finding, as Dr Mbzibain explains: “Our initial hypothesis was that illegal logging was likely to go hand in hand with illegal wildlife trafficking, however most respondents believe that wildlife trafficking in their communities has, in fact, declined”. Respondents had different explanations for this perception: poachers’ fear of COVID-19 as a zoonotic disease; the decrease in demand for game meat from urban areas and the limited access to transportation due to lockdown.

    Finally, the report presents a set of recommendations for various key stakeholders, corresponding to the clear need for action to strengthen forest law enforcement, including a stronger role for civil society independent forest monitoring actions.

    Download a copy of the report.

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  • 28th Jan 2021: Research seminar on Zimbabwe Longitudinal Study

    25 January 2021
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    From 2017 to 2020, CIDT was contracted by UNICEF in Zimbabwe to conduct a five-year nationwide longitudinal study into school survival. This event hosted by the Education Observatory features CIDT lead researcher Mary Surridge speaking about the project.

    Event details


    • Introduction by Phil Dearden (5 minutes)
    • Presentation by Mary Surridge (30 – 40 mins)
    • Q&A and Discussion (20 mins)

    About the study

    The study, which followed a cohort of 3,800 learners from across the country, focused on the critically transition point from primary to secondary school and beyond in order to assess the key factors that led to learners remaining and succeeding in school or dropping out. It also continued tracking those who did drop out to analyse the pathways taken and the impact on their lives.

    The study uncovered a wide range of interesting statistics and stories of determination and courage against all odds. The results have provided the Government of Zimbabwe and the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education with evidence to support its planning, policy shaping and expenditure on education. It highlights where and at what stage in the education cycle to prioritise spending in order to leverage the best results, particularly in terms of ensuring access to quality education for the most marginalised boys and girls. It has generated discussion about the role of government and communities in the education of the nation’s children

    Mary Surridge, team leader for this work has been at CIDT for 30 years and has worked in 36 different countries during that time, mostly in education, gender and social inclusion. She joined the University in 1989 in what was then the Centre for Curriculum and Staff Development in the School of Education.

    “I am currently doing Form 2 at M Secondary School. It is 17km away from home. I walk there every day leaving home early in the morning to ensure I get to school on time. School starts at 7:30am and for me to arrive by this time I must leave home around 3am. School finishes at 4pm then I walk back and usually get home around 8pm. I sleep for 4 to 5hours. The journey to and from school is indeed a bit scary as there are elephants in the area. I walk along with other children from my area who also attend the same school. We do meet elephants on our way to school and all we can do when we see them is run for safety. The elephants do chase us sometimes, but we are now used to that and when that happens we run as fast as we can so we do not become victims of the animals and still make it to school.”

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  • New programme launched to help poor and vulnerable people cope better with crises

    12 January 2021
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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:

    1. Routine, effective, and efficient delivery (what works)
    2. 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?
    3. 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?
    4. 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?
    5. Risks, accountability and technology – how can the risks and benefits of new technologies best be managed and how can accountability be strengthened?
    6. Climate and resilience – how can social assistance in crises contribute to greater resilience to shocks (including climate shocks) and support climate adaptation?
    7. 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.


    This article first published by the Institute of Development Studies on 12 January 2021.

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  • Online workshop supports development of the Moldova Decent Work Country Programme

    12 January 2021
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    In December 2020, Philip Dearden supported an online workshop in Results Based Management (RBM) and Monitoring & Evaluation (M&E) as an integral part of the formulation of a new Decent Work Country Programme for Moldova. The workshop was sponsored by the International Labour Organisation (ILO) and in attendance were 23 key representatives from the Government of Moldova, Trade Unions, Employers Organisations and the ILO.

    One key aspect of the workshop was to link the DWCP ‘upwards’ to the United Nations Partnership Framework (PFSD). This medium-term strategy and planning document articulates the collective vision and response of the United Nations system to national development priorities and details activities to be implemented in partnership with the Government of the Republic of Moldova, in close cooperation with international and national partners and civil society.

    Following the online workshop, results frameworks for the three key priority areas of the DWCP for the next three years in Moldova were developed. These were:

    • Inclusive and Productive Employment for Youth
    • Better Protection at Work
    • Improved Social Dialogue

    These frameworks will be further developed into a full and detailed DWCP by a series of agreed participatory actions over the next few months.

    Keeping virtual workshops engaging

    CIDT employs a participatory, practical approach in our workshops. Despite the challenges of working virtually, we are still able to be effective in this approach. Feedback on the workshop design and delivery was very positive with many participants commenting on how valuable the practical nature of the work was to their work in developing the DWCP:

    “Good friendly approach and many useful explanations.”

    “Positive interactive discussions.”

    “The active involvement really helps our understanding.”

    “The 7 key steps outlined are very useful.”

    “The problem definition and problem trees were really helpful in clarifying what we need to do.”

    “My understanding of how to develop indicators has improved dramatically.”

    The learning objectives of the ILO sponsored workshop were to provide a refresher on key concepts of RBM and M&E and practice their practical application as part of the formulation of a new Decent Work Country Programme for Moldova. Specific topics covered in the intensive multi-stakeholder workshop were:

    • The rationale for results measurement and the ‘results chain’
    • Seven simple planning steps and seven key questions to ask
    • Key concepts of results measurement and its application to key areas of intervention
    • Practical monitoring, review and evaluation tools

    Decent Work Country Programmes (DWCPs) promote decent work as both a key component of development policies and as a national policy objective of governments and social partners. The Moldova DWCP represents a medium-term planning framework that guides the work of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) in a country in accordance with priorities and objectives agreed upon with its tripartite constituents.

    Below you can view some screenshots of some of the work undertaken.










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  • Webinar series on COVID-19 and the Forest Sector – Experience from Forest Communities of COVID-19 Impacts

    6 January 2021
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    On 28 October 2020, the FAO-EU Forest Law Enforcement Governance and Trade Programme hosted the webinar “Experience from Forest Communities of COVID-19 Impacts”. This virtual event was part of FAO’s Forestry Division’s webinar series on COVID-19 and the forest sector.

    The event presented the results of two Programme-supported field surveys carried out by the University of Wolverhampton’s Center for International Development and Training (CIDT) and by RECOFTC. The COVID-19 pandemic has brought to the forefront a number of pressing global challenges. Health systems have been stretched thin and lockdown measures have taken a heavy social and economic toll, the devastating impacts of which are being felt by all – from urban residents of densely populated megacities to indigenous peoples living deep in the heart of forests.

    Recognizing that forest-based communities play a critical role as custodians of forest resources, the FAO-EU FLEGT Programme partnered with RECOFTC and CIDT to survey the immediate impacts of the pandemic on forest-based communities in several countries in Asia and Africa, including perceptions of law enforcement, as critical inputs towards designing suitable recovery programmes. Overall, the studies included both those communities that have community-designated forests and structures in place such as forest committees, and those that do not.

    The webinar presented the findings of these surveys and identified concrete actions to support forest-based communities, as a central part of forest-sector recovery efforts. Aurelian Mbzibain (CIDT) stated that Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities (IPLCs) surveyed in the Congo Basin – Cameroon, the Republic of Congo and the Democratic Republic of Congo – also suffered negative impacts of COVID-19, revealing a higher proportion of women impacted, who reported both economic losses but also an increase in domestic violence. Dr Mbzibain remarked that respondents perceived a lower presence of government forest control activities on the ground and higher levels of illegal logging, and made several recommendations, such as the need to strengthen independent forest monitoring by civil society and the ensuing need to improve access to digital technologies.  Furthermore, Dr Mbzibain encouraged strengthening participatory processes that include IPLCs and women in post recovery investment planning, ensuring that legality, sustainability and inclusive development are at the forefront of the post-recovery agenda.  As a last recommendation Dr Mbzibain highlighted the need for strong monitoring of government and private sector commitments to the fight against illegal logging, deforestation and forest degradation.

    David Ganz (RECOFTC) highlighted the importance of forests as safety nets for local communities in times of crisis and the role of community forestry in protecting forests against illegalities. Respondents reported that  lockdown had reduced food security and livelihood options of forest communities surveyed. Like CIDT, RECOFTC also found that women have been more negatively affected by the crisis than men.  Dr Ganz highlighted that  where community forestry committees were present and functioning, these were able to support members to better cope with the social and economic impacts of the pandemic and to mitigate the threat of forest crime. He identified seven key actions that need to be taken to build the resilience of forest communities, including: (i) supporting and strengthening community forestry credit mechanisms; (ii) strengthen capacity of governments and community forestry committees for disaster preparedness and response; (iii) enable and equip community forestry committees to mobilize, use and disburse funds efficiently: (iv) mainstream gender equality in policies and investments; (v) strengthen capacity of community forest groups to tackle forest crimes; (vi) improve digital access to improve market access and enable disaster preparedness and response as well as market access; ( vii) focus on investment on approaches that improve both livelihoods and address climate change, such as landscape restoration and management.

    Similar findings to those of these two studies were reported by Sophie Grouwels (FAO Forest and Farm Facility) with regard to pandemic impacts on Forest and Farm Producer Organizations (FFPOs), including decreased incomes, food insecurity, displacement and loss of lives. Despite these challenges, the vital role of FFPOs in responding to the COVID-19 crisis – as suppliers and buyers of a broad basket of products, as providers of a range of social protections services (health, education and child care), and as facilitators of the flow of information between local, regional and national levels  – was underlined.

    The findings presented in the webinar confirmed, once more,  that communities’ role in oversight and sustainable management of forest resources is indisputable, and that stronger and better organized community structures, including FFPOs and forest monitor networks, have the capacity to build resilience for the future – resilience of both communities and of the forests themselves to withstand economic and environmental pressure. In this context, FAO remains committed to supporting COVID-19 recovery efforts which maintain long term efforts for legal and equitable forest sector with community interests and role at the centre.

    The webinar also included an active Q&A session, summarized in the document attached.

    The FAO-EU FLEGT Programme of the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations is a global demand-driven initiative that provides technical support and resources for activities that further the goals of the EU’s FLEGT Action Plan. The Programme is funded by the European Union, the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency, and the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office of the United Kingdom

    This article first published by FAO on Wednesday 28 October 2020.

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  • Facilitating strategic planning for the American Forest Foundation, online!

    30 November 2020
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    Video conferencing

    For more than three-quarters of a century, the American Forest Foundation (AFF) has helped family forest owners care for their land. Following this long history as a grant-making industry association the American Forest Foundation is currently in transition towards ways of working which are financially sustainable and achieve impact at scale. CIDT supported with a results-based planning approach leading to a simple, coherent and consistent analytical framework to underpin the planning of each work-stream.

    Pre-Covid19, such support may have been provided via a facilitated face-to-face workshop. However, in this new era of virtual engagement, thirty hours of planning workshops were facilitated online with the use of virtual flipcharts, polling and breakout rooms.

    CIDT’s Ella Haruna supported this series of facilitated collaborative workshops to support two AFF teams to develop their value proposition. The Biodiversity team is working to increase the number of landowners across the South actively and sustainably managing their forests, and the Western team is working to reducing the risk of catastrophic wildfire in the West.

    The US South’s forests rank at the top of the world in terms of biodiversity and number of wildlife species. More than 500 wildlife species are at-risk due to years of conversion of forests to non-forest uses, fragmented waterways, and an influx of invasive species.

    In the West, frequent droughts and over grown forests are causing catastrophic wildfires, which strain forested watersheds and the water supply that comes from them. Protecting clean water is an urgent and pressing issue, with healthy forests acting as a natural water filter and storage system.

    By the end of the facilitated suite of workshops, the Biodiveristy and Western teams of AFF had:

    • been introduced to a suite of simple tools for results-oriented product design
    • identified the stakeholders in product design and the core focal problem to be addressed
    • analysed the root causes and effects of the focal problem and reframed these as solutions
    • used a range of objective criteria to scope out and prioritise strategic options
    • scoped out the ‘results chain’ and identified the risks to success and how these can be mitigated
    • identify success criteria (performance indicators) and independent sources of evidence (means of verification)

    Faced with growing threats to US forests, it is more important than ever that family woodland owners actively steward their land and protect our nation’s forest heritage. In collaboration with partners, AFF employs a number of strategies, programs and tools that help overcome the barriers to forest stewardship and engage more forest owners in conservation impact on the ground.

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  • Supporting the RNLI to chart a course for results

    30 November 2020
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    Most people are unaware that drowning causes the death of over 320,000 people globally every year (World Health Organisation 2017) leading WHO to label drowning as a ‘silent epidemic’. The RNLI International Department seeks to ensure that drowning prevention becomes a higher priority and better resourced in areas of the world with the greatest drowning burden.  Responding to this objective, they have developed two country programme strategies for engagement in Tanzania, Bangladesh and a third programme working towards global influence.

    CIDT has a long-term agreement with the RNLI International Department to strengthen capacity and CIDT’s Ella Haruna has been supporting the team to embed Project Cycle Management and Results-Based Management approaches in a number of ways.

    Over several months, we have provided technical assistance to firstly, develop the results framework for each programme and secondly, develop supporting frameworks for programme Monitoring Evaluation and Learning.

    • A results framework clearly articulates programme objectives at different levels, identifies risks and assumptions and explains how to measure and seek evidence for change.
    • A MEL framework is a very practical tool that elaborates what data will be collected, by who, when and the costs involved to support this.

    We also worked closely with the team to revise and review the International theory of change, to ensure that it articulates logic behind RNLI’s programme approach and that it reflects the theories of change in each programme. A results framework was also developed to measure the strategic outcomes at the Department level, with key performance indicators drawn up from the programme level in a technique known as ‘nesting’ of results.

    • A theory of change explores how we expect change to happen, through our project activities, in an existing situation. It shows the big picture with all possible, and complex, pathways.
    • Nested results is when results interlock or mesh at different levels, like ‘Russian dolls’ aligning results for the individual, team, project, programme, institution etc.

    Russian dolls

    Image: Matryoshka doll or babushka dolls, stacking dolls, are a set of wooden dolls of decreasing size placed one inside another

    If you would like to learn more about Theory of Change, Results Frameworks or Monitoring, Evaluation and Learning Frameworks then you may be interested in CIDT’s self-paced online learning courses.

    CIDT elearning portal


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