In April 2019, InterAction’s Results-Based Protection (RBP) team received funding from the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida) to carry out a two-year project called “Strengthening Ways of Working for Protection Outcomes.”
One integral part of this project aims to provide continuous and comprehensive support to NGOs working in select country contexts to uptake and apply results-based approaches to protection. We are currently starting year two of the project. However, there have been many changes amid the COVID-19 pandemic. As such, we want to answer some questions about our progress and how we envision carrying out our activities for the remainder of the project.
What are results-based approaches to protection?
Results-based protection (RBP) is a problem-solving approach used to address the complexity and ever-changing environment that surrounds protection issues in humanitarian action. It’s an approach that aims for results—results which are a reduction in actual risks that people face. By risks, we mean the violence, coercion, and deliberate deprivation people experience while in a humanitarian crisis.
The foundation of RBP rests on three key elements.
- Continuous, context-specific protection analysis
- Outcome-oriented methods
- Multi-disciplinary strategies
RBP underscores the importance of starting from the perspective of the affected population—those experiencing violence, coercion, and deliberate deprivation—and embraces methods of adaptability and strategic collaboration to achieve protection outcomes.
How were the country contexts identified?
The RBP team originally planned to provide support to NGOs working in three country contexts. In year one, the team conducted a country prioritization exercise that ranked a selection of countries based on a range of factors. These factors included characteristics of the crisis, such as whether the country is post-conflict, in protracted conflict, experiencing a refugee crisis, etc.; the extent of programming implemented in each context whereby protection is the desired outcome; and intersectionality with other InterAction priorities and workstreams; among other considerations. By doing this exercise, InterAction identified Nigeria and Honduras as the first two focus countries for RBP field support.
Starting in March 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic brought international travel to a standstill, and thus the RBP team’s ability to provide in-person support. Therefore, support to NGOs in Nigeria and Honduras during year two of the project will be done virtually, at least until international travel is once again possible. This opens the possibility to provide remote support to additional countries beyond Nigeria and Honduras. The RBP team is currently engaging NGOs in multiple countries to explore opportunities for uptake of RBP.
What exactly do you mean by “support”?
As we say at InterAction, there is no need to wait for the start of a new program cycle or the launch of a new big initiative—just Start Where You Are. This saying translates fittingly to RBP support, as we understand that each organization may be at a different starting point. On a broader scale, our support aims to foster collective analysis and strengthen context-specific problem-solving by drawing on each NGO’s strengths to solve protection issues and reduce risk for affected people.
Our support is tailored according to the needs of NGOs—international and national—working in-country and takes into consideration the specific operating environment, existing coordination structures, and other factors that affect humanitarian programs. InterAction’s team conducts thorough research on each country context before undertaking a mission. It carries out extensive consultations with a wide variety of actors to understand their priority protection issues and where gaps and opportunities exist.
Therefore, ‘support’ can mean a lot of things. These include hosting in-country or virtual workshops on results-based approaches to protection with a focus on a context-specific protection issue, organizing sessions to exchange good practice, supporting NGOs to use the risk equation when doing protection analysis, or providing feedback on project proposals through an RBP lens, among others.
Types of support the RBP team provides
- New opportunities to learn and apply problem-solving methods and techniques like design-thinking, outcome-mapping, outcome-harvesting, and empathy mapping.
- Multi-disciplinary and participatory workshops to develop context-specific theories of change.
- Introducing iterative methods to help adapt programming in real-time.
- Development of context-specific indicators that look at protection outcomes.
- Creating baselines to support the monitoring of and changes in risk patterns.
- Sharing resources and materials of good and emerging practice.
- Documenting efforts to help analyze, distill, and learn from good practice.
- Facilitating interagency dialogue.
- Providing linkages to key interlocutors.
- Building relationships for collective action.
- Helping to identify opportunities for leverage, influence, and dialogue.
- Other opportunities, capacity strengthening, or needs identified by NGOs and partners.
Are you documenting good practice so that others can learn from it?
Yes, we are! An essential part of this project entails documenting good practice. While engaging with NGOs in Nigeria, InterAction came across numerous examples of NGOs implementing iterative, context-specific, and adaptable programming to achieve protection outcomes. InterAction is documenting—through interviews, audio recordings, photographs, and other means—several good practice case studies to share with the wider humanitarian community and to build out its resource repository on the RBP website for actors everywhere to consult and learn.
How are things going in Nigeria and Honduras?
We undertook two field missions to both Nigeria (one in June 2019 and one in November 2019) and Honduras (in December 2019 and in February 2020. The team also visited Panama during the February trip to get a regional perspective). During these missions, InterAction held extensive bi-lateral consultations with NGOs and facilitated several workshops with international and national NGOs on results-based approaches to protection. In Nigeria, our staff fostered a group of NGOs (national and international) that are committed to coming together regularly to strengthen protection analysis. We also convened a group of donors to discuss their role in supporting the uptake of RBP. Overall, NGOs have been enthusiastic about strengthening results-based approaches to protection to tackle some of the most pressing protection priorities.
How is InterAction’s RBP team responding to COVID-19?
As humanitarians are well aware, crises hit hard and, often, without forewarning. In the spirit of results-based approaches to protection and working iteratively and adaptively, the RBP team is continuously assessing developments related to COVID-19. We have adapted our modalities of support and ways of engaging with NGOs at the field level accordingly. The original project objective of increasing the application of results-based approaches to protection by NGOs to achieve protection outcomes still holds.
As the team cannot currently provide in-person support at the field level due to travel restrictions, the majority of activities planned for year two will be done virtually, including the first annual RBP Practitioners’ Roundtable, RBP workshops, exchange of good practice, and others. If international travel is feasible before the end of the project, the RBP Team will aim to resume in-person support wherever possible.
Keep an eye out for future RBP Digests, where we will keep you updated on all things RBP!