Learning across continents can be vital to improving programming in conflict affected areas. Annabel Morrissey, Programme Coordinator from the Within and Without the State programme, reflects back to a learning event held in February which aimed to share knowledge across several regions.
In February 2016, 55 Oxfam and partner staff from 18 countries gathered in Bangkok to take time out to reflect and learn from each other about working in fragile and conflict affected contexts. As one of the event organisers, it was a challenging prospect to plan an open enough agenda to be relevant to so many staff coming from such different and diverse contexts. How could lessons learned from the DRC be applicable to Myanmar?
What linkages would staff from South Sudan find with Afghanistan?
One of the key moments for me personally was the first evening of the event, where participants were given an opportunity to share about the different contexts they came from and how the conflict has shaped their own lives. Despite such varying backgrounds, there were a number of similar experiences across continents of growing up in conflict, being forced to flee, interruptions to education, and return back home after the signing of a peace agreement.
Many staff returning to their countries have told me how much they learned from each other and have kept relationships going. The DRC and Myanmar teams noted some interesting crossovers, despite such contrasting country contexts. The South Sudan team will be visiting the DRC team in the next month to share more from their own context and learn from implementation on the ground in the DRC.
The learning event was about taking stock of the vast body of work we’re doing, and what we’ve been learning in fragile and conflict affected contexts, in order to improve our programme effectiveness and encourage innovation. However, it is clear that we cannot separate the conflict situations in which we operate from our tireless frontline and partner staff who also have their own personal stories of living through conflict. They live, breathe and operate under the negative impact of conflict escalation every day of their lives. Aside from grappling with
issues such as how we really ensure we support gender justice in such contexts, or take a conflict sensitive approach to our work, a sense of global solidarity was established among staff.
You can watch our short video summarising some participant perspectives of the event below:
Or read our event report that goes into more detail about some of the topics that were covered.
This was the first step in bringing together different country staff to reflect on emerging trends and develop collective solutions for improving our programme effectiveness in fragile and conflict affected contexts and a number of initiatives have been launched out of this event, for more information, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Photo: Newly arrived IDP’s (Internally Displaced People) off the boat from Bor collect building materials to construct new homes in the camp at Mingkaman in South Sudan. Credit: Kieran Doherty/ Oxfam
Author: Annabel Morrissey
Archive blog. Originally posted on Oxfam Policy & Practice.