August 25, 2021, discussion amongst the MEAL Hub members on the impact of COVID on organizations’ MEAL work.
The following points were discussed:
  • Accounting for COVID’s impacts – many organizations seek to assess the impact of their work as a part of MEAL … but how have organizations adjusted their approaches, understanding that the pandemic has had the most significant impact on people’s lives?
  • Faith actors – for those that specifically work with LFAs, how have they seen their LFA partners pivot in the pandemic, and how has that impacted MEAL efforts?
  • Faith and MEAL – for those looking to understand the intersection of faith and their work, what have they learned about the role of faith in their work since the pandemic began?

Join the Monitoring, Evaluation, Accountability and Learning Working Group (MEAL WG). Every other month, the group will host a learning exchange on MEAL and local faith actors. Learn more about the group and register here

The CCIH 2021 Conference held a virtual event in May with six sessions spread out over three weeks that focused on hearing from global voices and sharing practical experience and learning, with time set aside to make connections, and have meaningful dialogue and fellowship.

The theme: Cultivating Unity in Global Health.

Dr. Jennifer Philippa Eggert, JLI Senior Research Associate, presented Monitoring, Evaluation, Accountability and Learning (MEAL) and Faith: Beyond Western Approaches. She discussed how the JLI MEAL Hub showcases good practices among FBOs in MEAL. Watch the recording below.

Click here for more information on the conference, view the featured speakers, and the program

Read the Summary Brief of the Compendium of Good Practices on Conducting MEAL in Partnerships with International Actors and Local Faith Actors.

Living Water are looking for a thought-leader in monitoring, evaluation, and learning (MEL) to join their global Program Development team. This team plays a key role in supporting, growing, and improving the quality of their water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) programs in 18 countries. The Director of MEL will collaborate with regional and country office staff to create and enhance MEL systems and tools, build capacity for MEL, provide technical assistance, facilitate organizational learning, and increase the transparency and accessibility of Living Water’s program data to all stakeholders (with a priority on their program’s target recipients).

The successful candidate will be joining Living Water at an exciting time of strategy development and digital transformation. This role will play a key part in supporting both processes — both in how they evolve their program strategy based on what they’re learning through their data and also in how they increasingly build out digital methods for understanding and communicating their results.

Location: Remote

Read the position’s key tasks and responsibilities and applicant requirements

Click here to apply

The JLI MEAL Hub launched a new ‘Compendium of Good Practices Conducting MEAL in Partnerships with International Actors and Local Faith Actors’

The Compendium, launched this January, explores good practices of MEAL in partnerships between international actors and local faith actors. It is based on more than 30 interviews with representatives of secular and faith-based international organisations, local faith actors, and academics. It also includes a selection of 10 stories of change that illustrate the diversity of MEAL practices around the world.

Read the Compendium here.

View the summary brief here

The Compendium was launched in an online panel event that brought together speakers and stories of MEAL from different faith traditions and from across the world. Speakers included:

  • Dr Jennifer Philippa Eggert (Senior Research Associate, JLI)
  • Ana Maria Daou (Adyan Foundation, Lebanon)
  • Daryn Go (International Care Ministries, Philippines)
  • Joan Anderson (Soka Gakkai International, Japan)
  • Jessica Baumgardner-Zuzik (Alliance for Peacebuilding, USA)
  • Hamayoon Sultan (Independent Consultant, UK)
  • Moderated by Professor Mohammed Abu-Nimer (KAICIID, Austria) with a welcome by Kirsten Laursen Muth (CEO, JLI)

Dr Jennifer Philippa Eggert, lead researcher and author of the Compendium, gave an insight into how it was developed. She spoke of how the research team made concerted efforts to reach out to non-Western organisations, including Muslim, Hindu, Sikh and Buddhist organisations. The contributions and stories of non-Western and non-Christian organisations ultimately helped the Compendium move beyond its original purpose, by not just highlighting examples of good practice within Western frameworks, but also questioning the very need for these in all circumstances. As Dr Eggert concluded, “We hope to move the conversation one step further and really question if the end goal is for everyone to adopt Western-style MEAL, or is there maybe space for something else as well?”

The panellists gave an overview of their own organisational MEAL practices. Ana Maria Daou outlined Adyan Foundation’s methodology using the IMPACT acronym (Information, Measurement, Presentation, Accountability, Challenges, Transfer); Daryn Go spoke of how International Care Ministries used COVID restrictions as an opportunity to do regular phone surveys with local faith leaders, in turn ministering local faith leaders and developing faith-rooted, supportive friendships with them; Joan Anderson talked about Soka Gakkai International’s horizontal structure, which removes the power differential of donor-beneficiary relationships, and instead allows their MEAL approach to focus on monthly local meetings where participants can share feedback or stories of change.

The discussants, Jessica Baumgardner-Zuzik and Hamayoon Sultan endorsed the Compendium’s solutions-based and locally-rooted approach, and shared their own experiences of the power imbalance between international donors and local faith actors.

Attendees were able to participate in an ongoing discussion alongside their event, sharing their own questions, experiences and stories of MEAL in international and faith actor partnerships. Contributions included:

  • Questions around how to characterise and differentiate “Western” vs. “non-Western” MEAL. Some attendees asked if “Western” MEAL could be characterised as more quantitative analysis, whereas “non-Western” MEAL may be more focussed on storytelling. One attendee questioned if “indigenous MEAL” might be a more useful term.
  • Discussions around the costliness, complexity and burden of Western MEAL approaches for local actors that lack the resources to implement them.
  • The need to look at the power dynamic between international and local faith actors, particularly in the context of efforts to decolonise development.
  • Suggestions and stories of good practice MEAL approaches used by attendee organisations, e.g.: participatory learning approaches, storytelling, behavioural change communication, incorporating MEAL into the project implementation itself, developing MEAL tools in consultation with local faith leaders, feedback loops etc.
  • The benefits and challenges of storytelling approaches. While storytelling might be tied into a communities’ history and culture, utilising storytelling for MEAL can be challenging. One participant raised their experience of getting informed consent to utilise and analyse excerpts of stories from indigenous elders – who were concerned that their stories may be ascribed unintended meanings.
  • How to increase Western donors’ trust in MEAL approaches that rely more on stories and beneficiary feedback.

The session closed with a series of Menti survey questions, asking participants:

1. What do you think are the most important next steps for the JLI MEAL and Faith Hub?

2. How can the JLI MEAL Hub collaborate with your organisation on faith and MEAL?

Response to this second question included suggestions for the JLI MEAL Hub to facilitate knowledge and resource sharing, e.g. through sharing of best practice methodologies, case studies and pilot projects, sharing resources between members to avoid duplication of efforts, and facilitating shared learning on specific topics, e.g. through regular virtual events or by producing joint M&E guides on key topics. 

Many attendees spoke of their desire for the JLI MEAL Hub to support better connections and relationships, both between Hub members internally e.g. through regular internal meetings, but also externally with other donors and practitioners – for example, providing platforms for members to attend external meetings and share their successful case studies.

Attendees also suggested that the JLI MEAL Hub should support and facilitate research, for example through conducting its own research, facilitating peer reviews between members, and encouraging organisations to submit their research for publication. Attendees also recommended the JLI MEAL Hub develop capacity-building opportunities for individuals working in the arena of MEAL and faith.

The JLI MEAL Hub hopes for this Compendium to be a practical and transformative resource for anyone interested in, or working in, the areas of MEAL and faith – whether international donors, secular or faith-based development organisations or local faith partners. 

For more information, download the Compendium here, or sign up to the JLI MEAL Hub here

Read the press release for the Compendium launch here

*To translate this text to another language use the drop down at the top right*: Français, español, Português, عربي

 

A Statement from the Staff:  

It’s in our name! We stand for joint learning, understanding faith-based approaches, and local communities. JLI works with people around the world to learn about and share information (positive and negative) on the impact of faith groups in local communities and to support local leadership for positive change. True solidarity with local leaders requires us to be actively anti-racist and to operate in ways that affirm the need for equity and justice. The admirable aim to localize humanitarian and development work is defeated because we continuously fail to cede power to local partners. We support our staff members who are participating in the #BlackLivesMatter movement and assert that the lives of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, and Breonna Taylor, and all black women, men, girls, and boys, whose lives have been cut short through racism, matter.

Racial justice and decolonizing development are among the topics we reflect on and study in our work.  But now, joining the growing response to the injustice of systemic racism so painfully demonstrated, we commit to re-examining our way of working, to be explicit about the changes we aspire to make, and to holding ourselves to account. Acknowledging that we are participants, not observers, in oppressive systems, we want to do our part to end systemic racism in the US and elsewhere, and to dismantle discriminatory power structures in the humanitarian and development systems in which we operate.

We are based in the US with collaborators around the world. We recognize that our geographic location, backgrounds, networks, language, and a host of other material and immaterial advantages give us the extraordinary privilege and opportunity to support and effect change. In 2017, at the convening of the conference “Localizing Response to Humanitarian Need: The Role of Religious and Faith-Based Actors,” local faith actors shared their experiences of discrimination and exclusion by international actors, frequently white people with decision-making power. At the end of the conference, participants committed to using our privilege to support local and national faith actors by:

  • Sharing and amplifying the evidence of local faith actor contributions to humanitarian response,
  • Building mutual understanding and relationships between international actors and local faith actors,
  • Educating others on the role of local faith actors and advocating for their inclusion.

We affirm now to our national and local partners that we remain committed to these goals, and to strengthen the evidence base in which they are grounded, while also recognizing that there is even more that we can do to achieve them and work in solidarity. We seek to support and amplify the positions of local actors and believe that shifting power to local actors can reverse this course.

We are committed, above all else, to the local leadership of humanitarian and development systems, and to supporting the agency of national and local faith and non-faith actors. As a small staff team we commit to intensifying our ongoing efforts, to make these changes internally, and to hold ourselves to annual account to these standards and aspirations:

  • Advance the evidence-based case to our international humanitarian and development partners for their recognition and inclusion of the agency and leadership of local actors.
  • Counter discriminatory attitudes and practices from international faith and non-faith actors by speaking out when we witness it.
  • Allocate funding specifically for academics and actors from the Global South in all future budgets. Partner with scholars and consultants from the countries where research is taking place through the entirety of the research process from inception to conclusion.
  • Neither convene nor participate in discussions without diverse speakers.
  • Raise up the voices of black researchers, religious leaders, and humanitarian and development practitioners.
  • Ensure that published reports and bibliographies cite an inclusive and diverse representation of scholars.
  • Support further diversification and inclusivity of the JLI Board, Learning Hubs, and research partnerships.
  • Hold regular conversations among the staff team for a review of progress against these commitments, and for critique and questioning.
  • Speak up individually within our circles of professional and personal influence.
  • Encourage all our member organizations and institutions to speak out and make commitments on the topic of racism, decolonization, and full commitment to full localization in the humanitarian and development sectors.

There is no peace without justice. We stand in solidarity with people who are suffering from racial discrimination and commit to working together for a just, peaceful world.

Signed by the JLI Staff, 19 June 2020, (in recognition of Juneteenth in the United States)

Kirsten Laursen Muth, Jean Duff, Olivia Wilkinson, Rima Alshawkani, and Stacy Nam.

 

Here are some selected resources that we’ve recently found to be helpful:

Statements from JLI affiliates (please email us to add your statement):

https://irusa.org/in-solidarity/

https://www.worldvision.org/president-statement-racial-injustice

https://adra.org/denouncingracialinequality

https://ajws.org/press-releases/statement-robert-bank-george-floyd-institutional-racism-in-us/

https://corusinternational.org/blog/2020/corus-international-condemns-racism

https://mediacentre.christianaid.org.uk/christian-aid-statement-on-black-lives-matter/

https://www.tearfundusa.org/blog/our-commitment-to-racial-justice

The Board and staff of JLI are pleased to announce the appointment of Kirsten Laursen Muth as Chief Executive Officer of JLI. We know you will join us in a warm welcome when Kirsten takes office on June 15, 2020. Kirsten has worked with many of our members and looks forward to getting to know and work with all of them.Kirsten L Muth- New JLI CEO

With more than 30 years of international development experience, much of which has been within faith contexts, Kirsten brings a unique set of skills, perspectives, and relationships to lead JLI into the future. Building on what we have already accomplished, under her leadership we hope to hone our strategic direction, grow and develop our organization, strengthen our partnerships, and build new relationships.

Kirsten’s previous positions include: Special Advisor for Leadership Development and Senior Director for International Programs at Episcopal Relief & Development; Deputy Director of Programs at Church World Service; and Deputy Director of Training and Communication Education at Helen Keller International. She has collaborated with multiple UN agencies and has worked with government, non-profit, education, and faith organizations in more than 40 countries. Kirsten holds a Bachelor of Science, Foreign Service from Georgetown University, a Master’s Degree in Social Anthropology and Education from Teachers College, Columbia University. She has also studied textile design at Parson’s School of Design and the School of Visual Arts, and design fabrics. She and her spouse, Mike, live in upstate New York in an antique house with three pets and numerous wild visitors.

Kirsten succeeds Jean Duff, JLI’s founding President, who will continue to serve as Senior Advisor to facilitate a smooth transition for Kirsten and to provide support on specific projects as required.

We are most grateful for the hard work of the CEO Search Committee, chaired by Rick Santos, and for the unanimous endorsement by the JLI Board of its recommendation to appoint Kirsten as CEO.

We are looking forward to beginning this new phase of JLI’s work under Kirsten’s leadership.

 

Rick Santos and Jean Duff

JLI Board Chair and JLI President

Focus on Religious Dimensions and International Development Policy and Practice

We are launching an online platform and daily emails to collect and communicate information related to religious action responding to the COVID-19 pandemic. The aim is to organize information so that it can be quickly found and used by development policymakers and practitioners and religious actors who seek to work together in the COVID-19 response. This follows from a meeting at the Berkley Center at Georgetown University on March 11, 2020, “Consultation on COVID-19: Exploring Faith Dimensions.” An event summary of the discussion is available here. See other events here

 

The focus will be: (a) to link actors and observers focused on religious response and a broader policy community; and (b) to keep a constant focus on the most vulnerable communities (refugee communities for example).

 

We plan a daily very brief note that will come from the Berkley Center account, on a set of new developments linked to religious responses and questions. The organizers (Katherine Marshall, Berkley Center for Religion, Peace, and World Affairs, Georgetown University, Olivia Wilkinson, Joint Learning Initiative, and Dave Robinson, consultant) will initially take this as a mission; we welcome support from others. Please let us know if you have recommendations as to key messages. A goal is to curate information and to avoid overloading already overloaded information channels.

 

The platform will organize information in several categories, starting with recommendations on reliable sources of information about the pandemic itself. It focuses on (i) responses to directives to limit physical gatherings and their implications for religious communities; (ii) specific practices and adaptations of practices, messaging and advocacy, and countering negative religious voices; (iii) specific outreach to vulnerable people and communities; (iv) major advocacy efforts linked to religious actors; and (v), reflections on long term impacts and lessons.

 

View the Platform here.

Anyone can send information to us and we will post relevant material (send to covid19.faithresponse@gmail.com). We will send one update per day that represents the latest news or strategy related to religions and COVID-19. Daily updates will be linked to the online platform.

 

You are invited to opt into the email list here:

In 2019, JLI learning hubs held a number of webinars which sparked conversation, collaborations, and partnerships.

Faith Based Climate Program Webinar #1

Organization: Joint Learning Initiative on Faith & Local Communities

Published: April 2019

Faith Based Climate Program Webinar #2 

Organization: Joint Learning Initiative on Faith & Local Communities

Published: May 2019

Faith Based Climate Program Webinar #3 

Organization: Joint Learning Initiative on Faith & Local Communities

Published: June 2019

Faith Based Climate Program Webinar #4 

Organization: Joint Learning Initiative on Faith and Local Communities

Published: July 2019

 

JLI Gender Based Violence: Religion, Gender, and GBV Research Agenda Webinar

Organization: Joint Learning Initiative on Faith & Local Communities, PaRD SDG 5 Work-stream, & KAICIID

Published: May 2019

Gender Based Violence: Gender Justice Webinar 

Organization: Joint Learning Initiative on Faith & Local Communities &  KAICIID

Published: June 2019

Feminism, Religion, and Intereligious Dialogue Webinar 

Organizations: Joint Learning Initiative on Faith & Local Communities & KAICIID

Published: October 2019

 

Engaging Local Faith Actors in Urban Response Webinar 

Organizations: ALNAP, Joint Learning Initiative on Faith & Local Communities, Soka Gakkai International, World Vision Mexico, & UCL University College London

Published: May 2019

 

The State of Evidence in Religion and Development Research Webinar

Organizations: Accord Network & Joint Learning Initiative on Faith & Local Communities

Published: September 2019

 

Together for the Goals-Religious Actors’ Role in Sustaining Peace: SDG 16 Webinar 

Organizations: UKAid (DFID), Global Affairs Canada, KAICIID, Arigatou International, Catholic Relief Services, Danmission, The Network of Religious and Traditional Peacemakers, World Vision International and Joint Learning Initiative on Faith and Local Communities

Published: July 2019

 

Ending Violence Against Children Scoping Study Launch Webinar 

Organization: Joint Learning Initiative on Faith and Local Communities

Published: September 2019

 

El webinar de presentación del estudio exploratorio de JLI sobre violencia contra la niñez

 

Anti-Trafficking & Modern Slavery Faith and Freedom Scoping Study Launch Webinar 

Organization: Joint Learning Initiative on Faith & Local Communities

Published: December 2019

 

Humanitarian assistance ‘doing no hard though need not creed’?

Organization: CREID

Published: November 2019

Dr Olivia Wilknison’s Presentation begins at 10:00 minutes into the video.

See all webinars on JLI’s Youtube account