Oxfam's Work in Fragile and Conflict-Affected Contexts: Learning event Bangkok February 8-12, 2016

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A third of the world's poorest, most vulnerable and marginalized people are thought to live in fragile and conflict-affected countries. Oxfam's work in these countries aims to address their needs, but we recognize the importance of finding different ways to do this in these challenging contexts. In these environments, conflict is often violent, protracted and mirrored across society. These contexts are also among the most challenging for development agencies to work in. There is limited civil society space and capacity, direct threats to staff and partners, and in many cases few opportunities to engage or work with the state. In February 2016, Oxfam hosted its first learning event on working in fragile and conflict-affected contexts in order to bring together a range of Oxfam and partner staff to exchange programmatic and operational learning. The event was organized by Oxfam's Within and Without the State programme (WWS), which aims to improve the quality and effectiveness of civil society programming in fragile and conflict-affected settings. This report documents the outcomes and discussions of the event.
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   FRAGILE & Conflict Affected Contexts Oxfam’s work in Fragile and Conflict Affected Contexts Learning Event Bangkok February 8-12, 2016  In February 2016, Oxfam hosted its first learning event on Working in Fragile and Conflict Affected Contexts to bring together a range of Oxfam and partner staff to exchange programmatic and operational learning. FRAGILE STATE   WHERE THE GOVERNMENT CANNOT OR WILL NOT DELIVER CORE FUNCTIONS TO THE MAJORITY OF ITS PEOPLE, WHERE CORE FUNCTIONS INCLUDE SERVICE ENTITLEMENTS, JUSTICE AND SECURITY 2 “   Some really great knowledge sharing and relationship building ” A third of the world’s poorest, most vulnerable and marginalised people are estimated to live in fragile and conflict-affected countries. Our work in FCACs aims to address their needs, but we recognise the importance of finding different ways to do this in these challenging contexts. In these environments, conflict is often violent, protracted and mirrored across society. These contexts are also among the most challenging for development agencies to work in. There is limited civil society space and capacity, direct threats to staff and partners and in many cases few opportunities to engage or work with the state. Progress is often followed by setbacks, making it difficult to plan and operate. Transformative change is unlikely within our usual three to five-year strategic planning timeframes and restricted funding cycles. Yet if we are to reach the world’s most vulnerable people, we need to address the drivers of fragility and conflict and find ways of working most suitable to navigating these difficult contexts.The importance of taking time to reflect and learn on our approach to working in Fragile and Conflict Affected Contexts is a priority for Oxfam as a whole. FCAC EVENT PARTICIPANTS. PHOTO: SOFYA SHAHAB/OXFAM  Who attended? OPTINetherlandsLebanonTurkeyPakistanAfghanistanIndiaIndiaPhilippinesAustraliaMyanmarUKSouth sudanNigerNigeriaDRCYemenMALAWI 18 differentcountries 3 partnerorganisations 4 affiliates 55 participants 5 days  For the first time in Oxfam’s history, programme managers working in some of the most challenging contexts gathered to share insights, learn from each other and shape the way forward for Oxfam’s thinking on conflict and fragility. In total 18 countries were represented from Afghanistan to South Sudan, OPTI to Niger. Participants working in Fragile and Conflict Affected Contexts had the opportunity to reflect on how Oxfam has adapted its programming and learn about tools and approaches to improve effectiveness when faced with continuously changing conflict dynamics.Despite such a wide range of different backgrounds, contexts and approaches, there were some clear overlaps in both the challenges and potential solutions. The event culminated in the kick-off of joint multi-country programme development for future fundraising. Following feedback from participants during the event, Oxfam has recognised the need for an organisational commitment to the following: 4 “   It was great to hear how much people had in common across very different contexts ” Greater technical capacity support for countries working in FCACs including:   Technical advisory support for conflict analysis, supporting projects to be more sensitive to changing conflict dynamics, support for improving programme quality, additional support on programme development, mentoring and providing remote support for programme staff working in and on conflict in these contexts. Sharing tools and approaches among staff working in FCACs: Establishing a community of practice for staff working in FCACs and sharing practical tools on Compass that can be used by staff such as guidelines for programming in FCACs, gender and conflict analysis guidelines, induction courses on conflict sensitivity and MEAL guidelines for FCACs. Institutional Commitment from Oxfam’s Leadership on improving effectiveness and providing support to FCACs: Following the learning event, a letter was sent to the Executive Directors of all Oxfam Affiliates outlining the urgency for Oxfam to work collaboratively, with suitable systems and standards for working in FCACs and the importance of joining up humanitarian, development and campaigns, to increase effectiveness.
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