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Working better with INGOs on research Duncan Green, Oxfam June 2011.

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Presentation on theme: "Working better with INGOs on research Duncan Green, Oxfam June 2011."— Presentation transcript:

1 Working better with INGOs on research Duncan Green, Oxfam June 2011

2 First, understand your INGO Why are we interested in research? What do we mean by the word ‘research’ What does good research look like?

3 Why are we interested in research? Impact, impact and, er impact –Advocacy and campaigns –Improved programme design and delivery Otherwise, curiosity in short supply? –Often bad at keeping/conserving/valuing knowledge

4 What do we mean by the word ‘research’? Follows from requirement for impact Narrative > data – telling a story Witnessing Catching the eye of press and decision makers Clear messages in terms of –Problems –Solutions Which can mean dismissive of nuance, complexity or ‘two handed’ experts

5 What does good research look like? Relevant to public agendas Good review of literature Strongly rooted in poor people’s experience Tackles issues of power and inequality Clear message on problem and solution Killer facts, stats etc for impact Answers deadly ‘What’s new?’ question

6 Are INGOs any good at research? Strengths Rooted in communities and partners Commitment to participation and action research Advocate with policy makers Excellent comms Spot opportunities Weaknesses Better at qual than quant Methodology can be weak Short attention span Relations to DC researchers £ and capacity

7 How can UKCDS members engage better with INGOs? Encourage co-design from inception That means understanding evolving INGO thinking (luckily herding should make that relatively easy......) Immediate (0-3 year) herding on......

8 A retro theme – hunger and resource constraints Source: WFP

9 Global ecological boundaries (cannot be shifted) Consumption share of those living in poverty Environmental impact of global consumption Reality in billion

10 Global ecological boundaries (cannot be shifted) Consumption share of those living in poverty Environmental impact of global consumption Vision for billion

11 How well do we understand change? How Change Happens: steady state –What are our theories of change? How well do we understand, apply or even acknowledge them? E.g. 1: is social/political change mainly urban or rural? E.g. 2 Discontinuity and shocks –Emergence and complexity –How do we plan for/respond to the Arab Spring?

12 What do we measure and why? Pressure to prove impact and value for money poses threats and opportunities Threats: we measure what is easy, not what is important, e.g. –Rights and power –Volatility and Resilience > stocks and average flows –Poverty v wellbeing – fear and shame –The unpaid and unvalued world

13 A new global system is being born Networks & variable geometry (CSOs as well as nations) We won’t like aspects of G8 -> G20 –growth v aid; space for CSOs and Africa Piecemeal global (and regional) government –International Finance (Robin Hood, tax havens etc) –Environment (> Climate Change) –Trade and investment –Migration –Knowledge –International Humanitarian Law + ICC –Norms (eg via UN conventions)

14 Technology Practices v Products Normally Nice Technologies –Renewables –Low Carbon Transition –ICT –Water conservation Normally Nasty ones –Geoengineering –Nano –GM (+ nice biotech, eg markers) –Bad medium tech, eg foetal scanners

15 Gender and almost anything Almost total lack of disaggregated data e.g. Women in agriculture Caring economy and its links to the formal economy still largely ignored

16 Longer term herding likely on The end of North-South distinctions in –Aging –Urbanization –Domestic Taxation –Social Protection/welfare state –Mental Health –Disability –Obesity/non communicable disease

17 How well do we understand poverty? Voices of the poor: ill-being v poverty Multidimensionality beyond health and education: what about shame and fear? Multidimensional inequality The importance of volatility –Prevention: smoothing mechanisms –Cure: social protection, countercyclicality

18 Suggestions for UKCDS members: getting to the grassroots Access to communities works best if The research is relevant to the people and partners (e.g. Testing new approaches through action research) The research is properly discussed at draft stage and dissemination locally on publication Time and direct costs are properly funded You need buy in at country level, where staff may see things very differently from INGO HQ

19 Suggestions for UKCDS members: Involve NGOs from the outset Do consult NGOs at the outset and discuss overlap between priorities Do think about building NGO and partner research capacity Don’t decide the agenda and then try and persuade/buy INGOs Don’t say ‘you can do the voices of the poor bit’ Don’t just see INGOs as a channel to disseminate research

20 The Prize Constant and productive interchange between funders, HEIs and NGOs –Create incentives for better linking between the 3 groups –Focus on impact and relevance –Build space for collective reflection on research priorities among NGOs –Built NGOs capacity to understand, commission and use research (as well as do some)

21 Thank you! For more random thoughts From Poverty to Power blog on oxfamblogs.org/fp2p/


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