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Evaluating support to conflict-affected people and peace building in Myanmar

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We are evaluating a programme delivering humanitarian assistance to refugees and internally displaced persons to improve its future work.

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Yadaira Orsini

Yadaira Orsini, Rob Morris, Robert Morris, Nick Travis, OPM Myanmar UK Department for International Development

Protracted conflict in Myanmar has led to a significant rise in Myanmar refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs) requiring humanitarian and development assistance over the past three decades. We were invited to evaluate the UK Support to Conflict-Affected People and Peace Building in Burma programme that was implemented between 2012 and 2017. This large, complex programme included components delivering humanitarian assistance to refugees and IDPs, health services to displaced populations and migrant workers, peace building projects and community-driven development interventions along the Myanmar-Thai border.

This evaluation provided an assessment of the relevance, efficiency, and effectiveness of the programme with a focus on generating lessons to inform future design and implementation. In addition to a desk-based review of relevant project documentation, the evaluation involved two weeks of fieldwork in Myanmar and Thailand, including visits to refugee camps funded under the programme.

Challenges

The UK Support to Conflict-Affected People and Peace Building in Burma programme combines support to a range of sectors, across a number of territorial areas and through different delivery modalities. The programme has evolved over time as some components were transferred elsewhere, stopped altogether, or expanded. The resulting complexity posed a major challenge but also an opportunity for learning from these diverse approaches.

Our approach

We designed a light-touch evaluation that involved the following steps:

  • Design and negotiation of evaluation questions and matrix to focus on areas where opportunities for learning were considered greatest;
  • Design of a sampling framework to select relevant components and project for inclusion in the evaluation;
  • Desk review of background literature, business cases, project design documents, annual reviews, project reviews, logframe data, financial data and internal evaluation reports;
  • Primary data collection through key informant interviews and focus group discussions with DFID staff, implementing partner staff, external stakeholders, intermediate beneficiaries and final beneficiaries;
  • Analysis of interview transcripts using NVivo;
  • Delivery of final evaluation report and actionable recommendations relating to each finding.

The core team drew on the external academic expertise of specialists in south-east Myanmar to inform analysis and conduct peer review of evaluation outputs.

Outcomes

The final evaluation report and findings were presented to DFID at a project completion meeting. The report was praised by DFID for its identification of specific, practical recommendations that are clearly linked back to each evaluation finding and associated evidence base.

Together with informal learning and additional scoping research, the evaluation findings constitute part of the evidence base that will be used by decision makers to define the nature and volume of future UK support to conflict-affected communities in south-east Myanmar. This should enable improved programme design to deliver greater impact to those most in need in line with the UK’s aid strategy in Myanmar.