• 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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  • 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. 

    —–

    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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