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What we know

Protracted crisis in Syria has led to the prioritisation direct objectives (outputs) and short-term objectives (outcomes) at the expense of long-term objectives (impact). This has meant there is insufficient evidence to understand the impact of  Gender-based Violence (GBV) programmes in emergencies.

Our consortium (Syrian Expatriate Medical Association, Syria Bright Future, and Women Now for Development), with Elrha’s support, has studied possible innovations to better measure the impact of GBV programmes. We have done this through:

  1. identifying what already exists,
  2. finding new ways of approaching old problems,
  3. exploring collaborative ideas that make better programmes possible, and
  4. refining and rethinking programmes to make them more beneficial to communities.

The GBV sub-cluster Turkey Hub has also shown outstanding support to this project as it paves the way to innovation within GBV programming. The sub-cluster is especially interested in the development of standardised Monitoring and Evaluation (M&E) tools and practices which is one of their 2019 work-plan priorities.

What we identified

After reaching out to organisations implementing GBV programming, we identified:

  • the most common approaches in monitoring and evaluating GBV programmes,
  • the extent to which organisations adhere to principles of humanitarian action and the four approaches of monitoring and evaluation,
  • key challenges facing the monitoring and evaluation of GBV projects.
Focus Group Discussions in action, Turkey, June 2019. Credit: SEMA.

Following this the consortium were able to draw out lessons learned and invited participants to brainstorm potential innovations in GBViE M&E. These innovations focused on:

  1. The Advantage of Technology:

Digital platforms, and electronic software that allow applications to be downloaded on smartphones will join the efforts of humanitarian actors. It will assure the safe and meaningful access of GBV survivors to services, and vice-versa to receive their direct feedback, satisfaction, or concerns.

What makes this an innovative opportunity? The GBV SC highly recommends these technology-based approaches. However, GBV SC has not yet taken any commitment in this regard. It is also of benefit to humanitarian organisations interested in standardising M&E approaches to GBV programming, but who have not yet been able to achieve this in the Syrian context. Digital tools have been tried in other similar contexts e.g. Iraq and similar sectors, from which we can take learnings and apply in the Syrian context. For example, the health cluster in Syria has a system for collecting all health information which informs best practice and programme development, which could be applied for GBV programming.

  1. The Advantage of Success Stories:

Although the concept of a success story may vary from one organisation to another or from one person to another, success stories are still considered as useful practices in evaluating GBV projects. This is true especially when those stories are found in such a complex and sensitive society socially, culturally and in terms of security.

Why this option needs an in-depth exploration? It is necessary for large-scale sharing of success stories with stakeholders and implementing partners to provide a conclusive impression of the impact of GBViE programmes. This will contribute to the positive change of attitude of humanitarian workers and the community itself about GBV projects or programmes.

What next?

Based on our learnings through this study, our recommendations and next steps for exploring these innovations include:

  • To work at the GBV sub-cluster level when developing technology-based practices, social media applications, or digital platforms, is beneficial. This is because such coordination ensures human and financial resources, enlarges scale of access, widens the dissemination and adoption of findings, and facilitates remote management.
  • To support the GBV sub cluster  and the M&E working group in standardising M&E tools.
  • To bridge the gap between GBV technical and M&E teams ensuring more regular communication. To also increase the capacity of both GVB technical and M&E teams, through training so that M&E responsibilities can be undertaken by GBV staff.
  • To attract and train more female M&E staff. This will improve data collection, supporting more beneficiaries to evaluate services in a safe and confidential manner that considers gender sensitivity. Especially given the restricted access of male’s to safe spaces for women and girls.
  • To highlight “learning and accountability” components in the Monitoring, Evaluation, Accountability and Learning (MEAL) department which require a complete system based on transparency, governance, and policies. Learning and accountability should not be considered as a tool for spotting and error-spying for humanitarian workers.
  • Organisations that rely on themselves in designing their M&E tools, should employ a scientific approach to ensure the quality of the implementation which contributes to impact measurement.

In addition to the above, a range of external and interrelated factors should be considered. For instance: social and cultural attitudes in the community, attitudes of humanitarian actors towards ‘gender’, efficacy of humanitarian actors, changes in social roles of men and women during the crisis, and the involvement of men in GBV programmes.

Feature photo: Kinda Al-Hourani, Consortium Project’s Researcher, with IMC. July. 2019. Credit: Rasheed Akhtarini, SEMA.

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