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Integrity Insights: Supporting FCDO to improve the use of social protection approaches during crises using evidence

Integrity’s Midline Evaluation of the FCDO Better Assistance in Crises Programme (BASIC) has now been published. This blog outlines what the evaluation found in terms of BASIC’s ability to improve the use of social protection approaches during crises.

As part of our ongoing evaluation partnership with the FCDO Social Protection team, Integrity is pleased to publish our independent Midline evaluation of the FCDO Better Assistance in Crises Programme (BASIC). This evaluation presents evidence on the programme’s performance, covering how effective it has been in providing technical assistance, and research services to improve the use of social protection approaches during crises.

Protracted crisis and social protection

Humanitarian crises are increasingly protracted or recurrent, with 86 per cent of aid going to crises lasting three years or more. Short-term responses are typically costly, and there is a global desire for crises responses to be more effective and efficient, especially given Goal 1 of the Sustainable Development Goals – Ending poverty in all its forms. Research suggests social protection approaches could support better responses to protracted crises and BASIC aims to advocate, enable and encourage the increased use of these approaches during crises.

In particular, BASIC seeks to bring about change through three main ways:

  1. Progressive convergence between humanitarian assistance and existing social protection systems
  2. Using humanitarian assistance to support the development of new social protection systems
  3. Integrating humanitarian caseloads into existing social protection systems

The midline evaluation provides some positive signals that BASIC is working as intended and identifies some areas for improvement.

Programme contribution, influence and engagement

Evidence indicates that BASIC has the potential to contribute to more effective, efficient, and inclusive use of social protection approaches, most concretely through supporting the development of FCDO programmes. Efforts to influence and engage with other donors and agencies were more limited at this interim stage but are a key focus for the programme going forwards.

BASIC has had success in influencing in specific areas – such as the integration of GESI perspectives – and may have a comparative advantage in other areas, including the integration of climate change considerations with social protection responses to crisis.

Tackling uncertainties

Delivery uncertainties have impacted the programme’s ability to meet its objectives. In the past two years, UK Aid has gone through a significant period of adjustment with shifting strategic goals, new institutional responsibilities for delivery, and a diminished budget. The practical consequences of budget revisions have become increasingly evident, delaying some activities, and reducing programme efficiency. These evolving resource uncertainties highlight the need for BASIC to evolve and strengthen its support to coordination and influencing functions, especially with a more diverse set of donor and agencies.

Evaluation uptake

Evaluation evidence can achieve greater impact when it is coupled with clear uptake and engagement plan and activities.

For evidence to be useful, it needs to be available to the right people at the right time. Following FCDO best practice, the evaluation team took several steps to proactively create opportunities for stakeholders to engage with and use the evaluation:

  • Careful consideration of key stakeholders and evidence needs – covering who the evaluation’s key audiences are, why evidence is needed, when and how it would ideally be used, and the day-today challenges people face in using evidence.
  • Mapping evidence products to these needs – technical reports provide detailed information on findings and hold evaluators accountable for evaluation design and delivery. But they are not always the best tool for helping practitioners and decision makers. We also produced non-technical summaries and presentations, a high-level, visual summary of our case-based evidence, and held a learning event with over 20 FCDO advisors globally to share experiences about the use of social protection approaches during crises.
  • Consulted FCDO and programme teams on the evidence produced – to give key stakeholders the opportunity to challenge or critique the evidence base and how it was used to draw inferences about the programme prior to publication and afterwards.
  • Collect data on uptake and use of evidence products – to help us revise how evidence is validated, presented and shared in future phases.
  • Introduce plans to monitor the uptake of recommendations – to provide accountability to HMG that evaluation recommendations are being considered and acted on where relevant to do so.

To date, the results of the midline have helped suppliers refine their knowledge management systems, encouraged more focused cross-supplier coordination, and supported the case to safeguard resources for specific activities like providing practical guidance on integrating GESI perspectives into the design of social protection approaches.