In the business of ‘doing’ – how gender is operationalized in land governance working with displaced communities in Somalia | Land Portal

Photo:  AU UN IST PHOTO / TOBIN JONES. (CC0 1.0 Universal)

In the business of ‘doing[1]

The Saameynta Joint Programme is a project aimed at achieving durable solutions for internally displaced people in Somalia, which currently hosts 3.8 million IDPs. Land governance is at the center of this effort, understanding that tenure security is a fundamental piece of the puzzle to enable durable solutions.

The project recognizes that displacement is a barrier to improving living conditions for all affected, but that gendered dimensions of displacement need to be addressed strategically in order for solutions to truly benefit everyone. At the beginning of 2023 the Saameynta team found themselves reflecting on how these dimensions had been addressed since the inception of the project in 2022. Engaging with the knowledge management component offered by one of the project’s three donors, further sparked questions leading to the commissioning of a formative mid-term evaluation on the project’s gender considerations. The three-phase evaluation, which is underway, is planned to share final recommendations by Q2 2024.

 

Saameynta and Land-at-Scale

Saameynta (which means ‘impact’ in Somali) is a collaborative endeavor, governed and implemented by IOM, UN Habitat and UNDP, while working closely with the local governments in the cities of Baidoa, Beledweyne and Bosaso as well as the Federal Government of Somalia. Through the Somalia Joint Fund, Saameynta is supported by three governments, among them the Kingdom of the Netherlands, through the Land-at-Scale Programme (LAS), Switzerland and Norway. Additionally, LAS involves a knowledge management component aiming to help capture the experiences of the 11 country projects included in the programme, to support adaptive programming, produce and share knowledge amongst land governance practitioners.

 

From policy to practice – making use of the (evaluation) process

Stipulated in the Saameynta’s core document is the guarantee that “Saameynta [therefore] aims to ensure that gender equality and empowerment of women and girls be part of every project endeavor – from land tenure to socio-economic, development, access to justice, capacity building and decision-making processes of the leadership of this multi-sectoral project.” But how and by whom is this to be ensured? After having decided that there was a need to look deeper into how this is currently taken into consideration, IOM together with its LAS knowledge management partner KIT (the Royal Tropical Institute) initiated the process of developing the Terms of Reference for the evaluation.

Tackling gender issues includes a “significant learning component, not just assessing the policies, operations, and structures of an organization from a gender perspective but also collectively aiming to reach a higher level of awareness, competencies, and sensitivity.”, as is pointed out in the ILC Gender Audit Guide.

Mindful of this, the evaluation is structured not only to give actionable recommendations at the end of the process, but also to allow for emergent learning[2] and reflection amongst the implementing partners in all phases. To encourage this, the ToRs include interventions that allow for stakeholders to come together and reflect and give input on preliminary findings.

One of the tools that will be used are sensemaking workshops. Sensemaking can be described as an activity and process for developing a shared understanding, where people jointly make sense of information in way that extracts insights, encourages learning, and creates meaning from experience. In this process, space is also given to openly discuss successes, failures and lessons learned in a safe environment. The plan is to involve key stakeholders in this process, starting with gathering actors from within the implementing agencies to collectively analyze the findings from phase I. Results from this workshop can then further inform the evaluation in phase II and III, while also support the awareness raising and competence in how Saameynta’s gender considerations can be implemented moving forward.

 

Evaluation structure

The evaluation is divided into three phases, where in phase I the focus is on engagement with the programme and its practitioners. A transformative gender evaluation or audit is an opportunity to investigate internal structures and identify (un)conscious patterns that might not be conducive to working to ensure gender equality. An additional advantage of phase I’s internal focus is to make sure that questions that can be answered through collecting data and experiences from the implementing staff and already existing documentation, are not addressed to stakeholders in phase two, avoiding to contribute to over-research and fatigue of national and local stakeholders.

The preliminary findings of phase I will help guide phase II and the qualitative data collection in communities where Saameynta is being implemented. Phase II will engage local stakeholders to explore how they understand gender equality in their context, their views and priorities. This will be a discovery phase, meant to help ground the programme’s gender programming in the local context.

In phase III a final analysis of the information collected, and the preliminary findings will be done and gathered in a final report where the main findings and recommendations are presented. As set out in the terms of reference given to the evaluation team, the objective is for evaluation to be formative for the work being done within Saameynta as the project is about the reach its halfway point.

 

Learning, accountability and adaptation…

 …are a few of the outcomes that this evaluation aim to support. A learning opportunity for project staff, stakeholders and partners to reflect on what has worked well and what needs improvement. Further, lessons learned from the evaluation can be used to inform future Durable Solutions programming and interventions, as well as be shared by other Land-at-Scale partners. In the current transformative phase from a predominant humanitarian focus to a more developmental approach in Somalia, conducting a thorough evaluation on gender considerations comes timely. This strategic shift signifies a crucial juncture where long-term stability and progress are prioritized over immediate relief efforts. Examining gender dynamics at this juncture is essential as it ensures that development initiatives address the unique challenges and opportunities faced by people of different genders. By embedding a gender-sensitive perspective into the evaluation process, the programme does not only promote inclusivity but also foster sustainable and equitable development.

In Somalia a range of events such as droughts, floods and famine impacts the displacement situation on a regular basis, which in turn makes tenure security challenging. Being able to assess how gender considerations are operationalized and identify ways to adapt to these changing circumstances is key to fulfill commitments. Last, the evaluation also provides an opportunity to assess the projects progress and hold stakeholders accountable for their commitments.

 

Authors: Rebecca Rosario Hallin KIT- Royal Tropical Institute, Karel Boers, IOM Saameynta.

 

[1] The concept of “the politics of doing” can for example be found in writings by Carol Bacchi, Professor of Politics at the University of Adelaide and Associate Professor Joan Eveline at the University of Western Australia. Simplified the concept can be described as centering how policies are created, enacted and what practices that are used to implement them, as well as questioning the distinction made between outcome and process. Since this gender evaluation will not only look at outcomes of Saameynta’s gender considerations, but also take into account the policies and practices underpinning them, the politics of doing-approach can serve as a useful lens.

[2] See for example  Darling, M., Guber, H., Smith, J., & Stiles, J. (2016). Emergent Learning: A Framework for Whole-System Strategy, Learning, and Adaptation. The Foundation Review, 8(1). https://doi.org/10.9707/1944-5660.1284

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