• Habiba Mohamed publishes article on Egyptian Parliament and the Covid-19 pandemic

    19 October 2020
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    Image credit: Timep.org

    This recent blog piece published by Habiba M. Mohamed, a Research Assistant at CIDT, on the Global Partners Governance’s blog (October 2020). The blog piece, entitled “Egyptian Parliament and the Covid-19 pandemic: an active parliament regardless of the crisis”, tackles the impact of the global pandemic on the Egyptian public authorities, especially the Egyptian parliament.

    Abstract

    Despite the global pandemic, the Egyptian parliament remained quite active during this period of widespread anxiety. The media often reported some MPs blaming citizens for the rapidly spreading virus by neglecting the government’s directives in following the basic rules of hygiene, ignoring social distancing and not wearing masks in public places; forgetting that the larger categories of the populations lack the proper spaces or resources to abide by these rules. It is notable that 11 MPs and their staff members have been affected by the virus. This blog piece briefly discusses the main actions and legislations passed by the parliament during the first wave of the novel Coronavirus (between March and September 2020).

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    Image credit: timep.org

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  • Sarah Thomas publishes article exploring civil society through the eyes of practitioners

    25 September 2020
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    This recent article by CIDT’s Sarah Thomas is published in ‘Development in Practice’  (September 2020). The paper, entitled ‘Singing from the same song sheet? Exploring “civil society” through the eyes of NGO practitioners’ presents findings from qualitative research undertaken with forest sector civil society organisations in the Central African Republic.

    View the full article online.

    Abstract

    Although historically a contested concept, it has been argued that civil society has become a victim of its own ubiquity in development; its potential for radicalism and innovation blunted by donor-driven narratives and the unquestioning acceptance of those narratives by donor-dependent NGOs. Donor influence is charged with weakening civil society as an arena for political debate and citizen-driven change. This article presents findings from qualitative research undertaken with forest sector civil society organisations in the Central African Republic. It unearths and examines perceptions of the roles and values of civil society among practitioners themselves and the underlying drivers of consensual or contested understandings.

    The photo below shows Sarah with the team at CIED, many of whom participated in the research. The photo at the top of the page shows a workshops for the network GDRNE, at which Sarah conducted interviews and data collection for the study.

     

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  • Join our webinar on sustaining momentum for FLEGT as part of a green recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic

    22 September 2020
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    Human society is enduring one of the greatest global health crises of the past century: COVID-19. As the urgency of tackling the pandemic took centre stage, policy issues such as the implementation of the Forest Law Enforcement Governance and Trade (FLEGT) Action Plan and the Voluntary Partnership Agreements (VPAs) moved into the background.

    Meanwhile, logging, trade exports, manufacturing, and construction are continuing. Governments in Europe and VPA countries face a tough choice to balance the health and welfare of the population with meeting their governance and political commitments.

    About this event

    On 14 October 2020, Member of the European Parliament Karin Karlsbro – in collaboration with Fern, the Centre for International Development and Training, the Environmental Investigation Agency and the World Resources Institute, will host a webinar on the importance of sustaining momentum for FLEGT as part of a green recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.

    Speakers from EU institutions, timber producing countries, the private sector and civil society will debate how to mitigate negative impacts the pandemic may have on governance and forest peoples’ rights, and how FLEGT can play a positive role in recovery plans.

    Agenda

    Host: Ms. Karin Karlsbro, Member of the European Parliament (Renew Europe Group), Chair of the “Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade” Monitoring Group, Fern, EIA, CIDT and WRI

    Moderation: European Forest Institute and Fern

    Language: The webinar will be in English. Simultaneous interpretation in French will be available.

    Panelists will include:

    Panel 1

    • Civil society/government representative from Indonesia – The dangers of deregulation and how to tighten checks (tbc)
    • Obed Owusu-Addai – Co-founder and Managing Campaigner, EcoCare Ghana – Lessons learned from the VPA process during COVID-19
    • Patrice Moussy, Head of Sector, Directorate-General for International Cooperation and Development, Unit Environment, Natural Resources, Water, European Commission – Harnessing FLEGT for a green recovery

    Panel 2

    • Francisco Javier Escalante, Vice-Minister of Forest Development of the Forest Conservation Institute (ICF) of the Government of Honduras
    • Benoît Jobbé-Duval, Executive Director, Association Technique Internationale des Bois Tropicaux (ATIBT)
      – Perspective from the private sector on mitigating impacts and upholding the law
    • Horline Njike, Secretary General, Field Legality Advisory Group and Essylot Lubala, Coordinator, Observatoire de la Gouvernance Forestière
      – Lessons learned from independent forest monitoring in times of crisis

    View original article on the FERN website.

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  • Literature review on illegal wildlife trade explores preventative measures

    9 September 2020
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    Illegal wildlife trade (IWT) involves the illegal capture, collection, hunting, poaching, trade and smuggling of endangered, protected wildlife, derivatives and or its products. It is estimated that around 75% of newly emerging infectious diseases are zoonoses derived partly from illegally harvested and traded species (Wang et al., 2020). The 2002-2003, severe acute respiratory syndrome, or SARS emerged from wet wildlife markets in China and subsequently spread worldwide caused by a zoonotic coronavirus. The Ebola epidemic in West Africa and the global COVID 19 pandemic are stark reminders of the global catastrophic impacts of trade in wildlife species.

    For the past ten years, the University of Wolverhampton’s Centre for International Development and Training (CIDT) has been working in partnership with civil society organisations in the Congo Basin to strengthen forest monitoring and law enforcement and to address some of the underlying governance drivers which perpetuate these crimes. In 2018, CIDT and partners began to explore the synergies with wildlife monitoring and law enforcement. As part of this effort, CIDT conducted a review of the literature on illegal wildlife trade (IWT), looking particularly at local, regional and global responses and tools to combat IWT and related crimes.

    The review suggests that, given the failure of traditional regulatory and law enforcement options, complementary solutions need to be strengthened. These include a focus on alternative livelihoods; working with indigenous communities and civil society organisations on wildlife monitoring, investigations, and prosecution; and collaborative law enforcement with government agencies. The paper recommends significant targeted funding to fight corruption, improve transparency and strengthen government law enforcement capabilities as part of a post-COVID-19 recovery package.

    Click here to download the brochure.

    View online. 

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    Reference: Wang, H., Shao, J., Luo X, Chuai, Z., Xu, S., Geng, M and Gao, Z (2020) Wildlife consumption ban is insufficient, Science, 367 (6485) 1435, DOI: 10.1126/science.abb6463

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  • CIDT and Forus undertake study of Civil society in Africa

    24 August 2020
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    CIDT has conducted a pilot study of civil society in Africa for the global civil society alliance Forus; aiming to enrich engagement with their membership and inform a new strategy for 2021-2025.

    The study is focused at two levels – national and regional – and explores the identities of the national members and regional coalitions, the realities in which they operate and how this environment affects them and their relationships. The study was conducted in a participatory manner, through six country visits to: Zambia and Botswana from southern Africa; Gambia and Chad from central Africa; and the Republic of Congo and Benin from West Africa. Interactive in-country workshops and face-to-face interviews were conducted with national platform members and coordinators and other relevant stakeholders. In addition virtual interviews were conducted with national platforms in other countries, and an online survey was implemented with platform members and other relevant stakeholders, including donors.

    In July 2020, Forus and CIDT held two webinars, in English and French, to discuss and validate the preliminary results and findings with Forus’ anglophone and francophone African members.

    Some of the main findings discussed in the webinars included :

    • The proliferation of civil society platforms and networks in Africa, and the emergence of new forms of civil society, such as movements;
    • The struggle of networks to balance inclusion and efficiency ;
    • The challenge of striking the optimum balance between technical service provider to  members and being a powerful advocacy platform representing a strong voice for civil society in a complex political environment;
    • How to create a shared advocacy agenda at the regional level, without over-looking unique  national contexts;
    • How to build stronger internal governance and processes for leadership renewal;
    • How to develop innovative methods to guarantee gender mainstreaming and empowerment of women in the civil society sector.

    The study also raised the issue of financial sustainability and resource mobilisation as the central challenge facing civil society platforms in Africa and identified further contentious issues such as:

    • how to support diversity management and manage tensions between different member organisations (for example, faith-based organisations and LGBTQ movements);
    • the role of national governments and major international donors;
    • facilitating exchange and peer-to-peer learning across civil society platforms from other regions of the world.

    For more information about this work you can read this article on the Forus website.

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  • COVID response reaches indigenous forest peoples and vulnerable groups in Cameroon

    20 August 2020
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    The Field Legality Advisory Group (FLAG), Centre for Environmental Education (CED) and members of the Cameroon Community Media Network launched an extensive community and media campaign against the COVID 19 pandemic in the South, East, Centre, North West and South West Regions of Cameroon. During the months of July and August 2020, field animators accompanied by medical practitioners reached out to local forest and indigenous people’s communities and marginalised and vulnerable groups. Field visits offered the opportunity to relay a message of hope and solidarity in the fight against the pandemic of the Coronavirus. During the awareness raising sessions, particular emphasis was placed on respect of measures of good hygiene and social distancing recommended by the government and by the WHO in order to reduce the risk of contamination. The teams also distributed sanitation kits including soap bars, handwash, hydro-alcoholic solutions, masks and providing training on soap making in some communities.

    Vulnerable groups and district health facilities in the Anglophone North and South West Regions faced with over four years of war, were particularly targeted, such as the nomadic Bororo’s and the handicapped. Over 2,000 households were reached through socially distanced sensitisation and millions of others through community radio, online and television messages. On going data collection on the impacts of COVID on these communities and their livelihoods will provide much needed insights on measures needed for a more resilient post Covid recovery plans.

    This action is conducted within the framework of the CV4C project led by the University of Wolverhampton’s Centre for International Development (CIDT) in the Congo Basin, funded by the European Union, the FAO-FLEGT programme and DFID.

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

    18 August 2020
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    Rachel Slater and Dani Baur

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Some key highlights from the Facility include:

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

    14 August 2020
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    Zimbabwe school children

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

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

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

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

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

    As UNICEF said:

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

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

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

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

    Project Team Leader Mary Surridge notes,

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

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

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  • Alumni spotlight: Marcel Botelho leads COVID-19 responses in Brazil

    27 July 2020
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    Marcel Botelho on COVID19 panel

    Professor Marcel do Nascimento BotelhoThis month we catch up with Professor Marcel do Nascimento Botelho, who undertook a PhD with CIDT back in 2003. This was made possible through a DFID-funded partnership between CIDT, University of Wolverhampton and the Federal Rural University of Amazonia (Portuguese: Universidade Federal Rural da Amazônia, UFRA) a Brazilian public University located in Belem, Pará state, Brazil.

    In 2017, after an election process, Marcel became Rector of UFRA. Since then, he has put into practice all the knowledge acquired from the Pro-UFRA project and his PhD course at CIDT-University of Wolverhampton, to establish UFRA as a key player in the sustainable development of the Amazon Region.

    Leadership of higher education responses to combat COVID-19 in Pará state

    Under Marcel’s leadership, UFRA has implemented important COVID-19 research initiatives and is now leading a research group conducting a series of analyses on COVID-19 to support state government in its decision-taking process. UFRA’s contribution has helped to reduce the number of deaths in Para state by 45%, and positively impacted upon the wider Brazilian economy. Through a single two-week period UFRA interventions reduced state death rates in Para’s population of 8 million by 14%. The research team are using Artificial Neural Nets to predict new cases, deaths and hospital infrastructure, using data in different ways for each region to help optimise use of resources.

    In a recent letter to the UK Secretary of State concerning the success of COVID-19 initiatives, Marcel commented,

    “Back in 2001 your Department generously supported a project run with the University of Wolverhampton and Harper Adams University College to support the strengthening of the Federal Rural University of the Amazon (UFRA) in Belem-Para-Brazil, of which I am the current Rector. As a consequence of that support our institution has become a key player in the development of the Amazon region.  

    “As I write, we are providing vital scientific advice to the local and state governments about the Corona Virus (Covid19) outbreak in our region. Our ability to do this is in no small part due to the support which we received from DFID, and I would wish to acknowledge this contribution and express my thanks for it once again.”

    When did you attend CIDT and what you were studying?

    I was a University Lecturer at UFRA when I was selected to attended CIDT for the MPhil/DPhil programme.

    I started my course at CIDT in 2003 and returned to Brazil to conduct my field research at Universidade Federal Rural da Amazonia (UFRA). Essentially I studied several aspects of institutional and professional development applied to institutional strengthening, comparable to the ‘Rural Extension’ field of research.

    I completed modules in: Development in practice; Effective Communication; Project Management; Research Methods; Advanced Research Skills; Social Perspsctives in Development Practice; and Research Methods and Project Design.

    The following photos show Marcel during his time at CIDT

    How did you find your time studying with us?

    During my studies in CIDT I was exposed to an environment of International Development focused on building professional capacity for change. Thus, all classes, discussions with my professors and classmates and of course, the findings from my PhD research, helped me to understand the need to address change as a process that must be based on internal motivation rather than external factors and that the time for it to occur depends on the level of success in creating this internal motivation.

    How has your career developed?

    Following my studies, I returned to Belém, the capital of the state of Pará in Brazil in order to resume my work as a university lecturer at UFRA. In 2007 I was invited to be the International Advisor of UFRA when I supported two international agreements with the United States and France.

    In 2009 I was elected Director of the Socio-environmental and Hydro Resources Institute (at UFRA) for a four year mandate. During those years I implemented a participatory management strategy to develop the actions and projects within the Institute. As a main result of this management strategy it was possible to triple our research and extension budget with high impact upon the academic community and civil society. Some of our professors earned local, regional and even international prizes for their work during this time. The use of action research, which I had introduced as part of my PhD studies as a tool for professional development, allowed our professors to enhance their classes with clear benefit to our students.

    Following this I was appointed Teaching Pro-Rector from 2013 to 2017, with a focus on implementation of a course assessment and development program, and an academic control system. The first, was a huge success so that our undergraduate courses were, for the first time, ranked level B according to the national exams. The second, brought an accurate control to academic activities, but more importantly, brought the tools for online interactions amongst professors and students.

    During this time, I was elected President of Teaching Pro-Rectors of all the Federal Universities of the Amazon region and Vice President of the National Group of Teaching Pro-Rectors. These two groups were focus on developing strategies to strengthen undergraduate course policies.

    Accolades

    After becoming Rector of the Federal Rural University of Amazon via an election process, some achievements in Marcel’s tenure so far are:

    • The second best university in the region according to Ministry of Education
    • The best university in the use of public funding in the Amazon
    • 80% of the undergrad courses classified at B or A rank
    • The best Agronomy degree course in the Amazon
    • Permanent member of most boards of Agrobusiness in Para

    Individually, and as a result of the performance of UFRA, he received recognition including:

    • Agronomist of the year in 2017
    • Personality of Agribusiness in 2018
    • Commendation Order of Merit Cabanagem 2017
    • Commendation Honor to Merit of Education 2018
    • Commendation Merit of Civil Defence 2019

    The following photos show Marcel in his role as lecturer and Rector, as well as receiving an agronomy award:

    Publications

    You can view some of Marcel’s publications using the links below:

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  • Project support to the fight against COVID-19 in Kinshasa

    21 July 2020
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    June 2020 saw the launch of an awareness raising campaign against the coronavirus in the forestry communities of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). An association of non-governmental organisations – which together form the National Network for Independent Observers, Le Réseau National des Observateurs Indépendants (RENOI) – led the campaign. A strong delegation visited the District of Maluku, in the eastern part of the Congolese capital, Kinshasa; in order to raise the awareness of the inhabitants of this municipality against COVID-19, which has raged in the urban-rural area since March.

    This visit was an occasion for the network of environmental civil society organisations to carry a message of hope and solidarity in the fight against the pandemic of the Coronavirus, which has shaken the entire world. RENOI also distributed sanitation kits including soap bars, handwash, hydro-alcoholic solutions, masks etc.

    “Many people don’t respect social distancing measures imposed by the authorities. We try to raise their awareness and to do community follow-up. I am happy that you have brought these kits to fight against this illness here to Maluku. We hope this act will continue”, declared the deputy mayor of Maluku, Apollinaire Kwedi Makuntima.

    During the awareness raising session, particular emphasis was placed on respect of measures of good hygiene and social distancing recommended by the government and by the WHO in order to reduce the risk of contamination of this pandemic.

    “Malukhu represents the gate of entry of all the logs coming out of the forestry provinces, especially the Bandundu, Equator and Oriental provinces. We wanted to raise the awareness of the populations living in this district and those who live in communities where the wood arrives. If they understand the importance of protecting themselves, they will protect others and hence stop the spread of this sickness”, stated Essylot Lubala, the coordinator of the OGF organisation (Observatoire de la Gouvernance Forestière).

    This action is conducted within the framework of the CV4C project led by the University of Wolverhampton’s Centre for International Development (CIDT) in the Congo Basin, funded by the European Union, the FAO-FLEGT programme and DFID.

    Alfred NTUMBA, EnviroNews

    Translated by Habiba Mohamed, CIDT

     

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