Our main activity was the first of our National Policy Maker Roundtables. The theme of this was development in fragile states, using Afghanistan as a case study - and how the development sector can better communicate these complicated programmes to the public. Public support of overseas development is important, but perceptions of the importance of this, and the ways in which aid is delivered can be negative. This is particularly true for state-building activities in conflict-affected or fragile states - compared to, for example, a natural disaster such as the recent Nepal earthquake.
Our Round Table posed 2 questions:
How is the New Deal for Engagement in Fragile States (the New Deal) shaping aid in Afghanistan, with what impact? And how might the New Deal shape public support for ODA in the UK?
19 policy-makers and development experts attended the half-day discussion on 9th June, which was co-hosted by Chatham House. The breakdown of participants was as follows:
- 4 civil servants
- 1 Member of Parliament
- 2 media experts/journalists
- 2 private sector professionals working in Afghanistan
- 3 NGO staff working on Afghanistan
- 6 think tank researchers/analysts
- 1 academic
The report of the event is being finalised as I write and we intend to share it with British and Irish policy-makers, the NGO sector and our M4D partners within the month.
One of the think tank attendees, Bill Byrd, used the content of our National Round Table to shape his presentation and discussions at the International Round Table in Riga two days later.
Our other activity has been the development of our photo-journalism contest. In further consultations last month, we have agreed that the contest will be for experienced journalists and photographers who will work in partnership to produce a piece of original development journalism in Afghanistan.
A dedicated competition webpage is being developed, through which entrants will submit their proposals and examples of their work for the judges consideration. A media partner, who will publish the winner's work, is being sought - this is likely to be a British or international online media outlet, providing a large public readership.
BAAG hope to launch the competition in late July or early August, for a period of 6-8 weeks.
Finally, an activity we undertook back in April 2015 is about to bear fruit. BAAG is a member of BOND, the network of over 440 organisations working in or supporting international development. Their Conflict and Humanitarian thematic group worked with various NGO country-specific networks (including BAAG) to produce a briefing pack on the state of the world's humanitarian crises for the new influx of British MPs (post our May general election). BAAG provided this paper which has been incorporated into the pack of around 12 different country contexts. This week we heard that BOND will be sending the pack in the week starting 20th July to 50 MPs (those who hold Minister/Shadow Minister roles in relevant ministries or committees, chair/sit on those committees or who are foreign affairs spokespeople). BOND are also planning a media campaign to highlight these emergencies and BAAG will participate in that.