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Session 12. Strategic Planning

A Definition * B Background * C Tools and Excercises

This session draws on the findings from the previous sessions to examine what model of meaningful participation is most likely to succeed in a particular site.

Aim of the session

The aim of the session is to assist refugee-led organisations, their partners and other stakeholders to make realistic assessments of what can be achieved at a given time in a particular site. The session aims to develop effective and achievable strategic plans which support meaningful participation, address SGBV, and identify issues which need further advocacy work.

Suggested timing for the session

One full day, with on-going work depending on the decisions made.

Some PowerPoints to use when running this session

A. Strategic Planning – A Useful Definition

Strategic planning is a process in which key stakeholders define their vision for the future and identify their goals and objectives. The process includes establishing the sequence in which those goals should be realized so the organisation or group of partners can reach its stated vision.

B. Background reading to guide Strategic Planning

What is strategic planning?

Strategic planning is forward looking. The time covered by a strategic plan can range from several months to years. These plans can be easily shared, understood and followed by various people including employees, customers, business partners and investors.

Organisations and other stakeholders  should conduct strategic planning periodically to consider the effect of changing contexts, refugee movements, socio economic contexts and legal and regulatory conditions. A strategic plan may be updated and revised at that time to reflect any strategic changes.

Identify goals and objectives. …

  • Develop your strategic plan and determine evaluation strategies
  • Implement and share your plan with all relevant stakeholders
  • Revise and restructure as needed

The major parts of a standard strategic plan include the following:

  • Mission, vision, and aspirations
  • Core values and principles 
  • Objectives, strategies, and implementation plans
  • Measurements and funding streams

For an exercise addressing these points, see below, how to write a strategic plan.

Feminist development policy in the lives of refugees

This excellent article brings together the notion of intersectionality in refugee-led organisations and intersectionality, and is relevant to strategic planning.

Summary: This policy brief outlines how feminist development policy can be locally enacted by taking an intersectional approach to the provision of assistance to refugees and displaced persons. Refugee-led organisations (RLOs) play a key role in providing collective services, particularly in contexts where the host government is unlikely or unwilling to provide access to local social services. This is especially true in non-camp settings, and as global refugee policy moves away from encampment as a response to refugees the role of RLOs in refugees’ daily lives will only increase. While RLOs are an important part of life in a refugee community, they can be especially useful in supporting the needs of women, children, LGBTIQ refugees, ethnic minorities and diverse-ability refugees across multiple refugee communities city- or region-wide. Taking an intersectional approach to understanding the role of RLOs, in particular RLOs led by women, can help policy-makers identify networks of local actors who can effectively meet the social needs of all members of a local refugee community, including those who face particular marginalisation due to gender, sexual, religious or ethnic identity. The intersectional approach to working with RLOs focuses on meeting the needs of marginalised identity groups across the entire refugee population in a city or region. For example, refugees representing multiple ethnic groups or nationalities might have their own ethnic or national RLO, but that RLO may not be able to meet the unique needs of women, children, LGBTIQ and religious minorities within the community. An intersectional approach means engaging all the RLOs in a city or region to meet the social, health and protection needs of marginalised community members, with the understanding that in doing so the wider needs of all community members will be met. RLOs are part of a wider ecosystem of services and organisations that support refugees, and while they play a unique role in enacting feminist development policy for refugees, they have limitations. Policy-makers should engage them alongside official authorities from the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), and the host country government when possible. Given the challenges and opportunities that come with taking an intersectional approach to meeting refugees’ needs through engagement with women-led RLOs, we offer the following recommendations to policy-makers:

Motalebi, Nasim; Martin-Shields, Charles (2023) German Institute of Development and Sustainability (IDOS), Bonn, https://doi.org/10.23661/ipb5.2023 This Version is available at: https://hdl.handle.net/10419/271161 IDOS Policy Brief, No. 5. 

C. Tools to bring it together – all stakeholders

Ci This template for strategic planning can to be used to identify local conditions and contexts, to help decide which model of participation is most likely to succeed at this time and in this site, and what can be done to move things forward.

Below you will find a case study to work on as an exercise. 

The aim is to bring together the data from all of the areas we have covered in the training modules, and examine how this might assist us in effective program planning for refugee-led organisations

 Issues to be addressedWhat can be done to address or accommodate these in the short term?What can be done to address or accommodate these in the longer term?
What are the key structural issues that will impact meaningful participation in this site?   
What are the gender-related social issues that will impact meaningful participation in this site?   
What measures need to be taken to address SGBV in this site?   
How do we ensure that the lived experience of grassroots refugees, including women is taken into account?   
How can we include refugee men in this site?   
Who can we make effective partnerships with?   
What can we do to moderate the power of privilege in this site?   
What steps do we need to take to ensure that the projects and programs we develop/fund the move from humanitarian to using a human rights-based development approach?   
What type of participation is currently possible in the site?   

When this exercise is completed, draw up a strategic plan to shape future actions.

Case study

  1. The local authorities and the legal system in the host country are hostile towards refugees.  The refugees live in an enclosed camp, although some do work illegally in the local economy. They are not allowed to have bank accounts, and no work rights.
  2. Many women have never had the opportunity to go to school. They are mainly excluded from meetings between the leaders, UN bodies and camp authorities.
  3. The camp is a dangerous place, women are afraid to travel alone, bathrooms are unsafe. Local men, authority figures and family and community members all pose risks to the women and girls.
  4. At the moment, only refugees who speak English and who are literate are invited to meetings.
  5. Male refugees are very traditional in their cultural mindset, and also very protective of their wives, daughters and other female family members because of the high rates of SGBV.
  6. Some NGOs and INGOs do not work collaboratively together,  in part because there is competition for scarce funding.
  7. The whole site is very hierarchical, with those with most privilege having all of the power. Local NGOs are afraid they will lose their jobs if RLOs take over service provision.
  8. Senior staff changes frequently and donors usually only commit to short term funding, so there has been little movement towards a development model.  While a human-rights approach is often ticked on forms there is little evidence that it is implemented.

Cii Exercise –  How to write a strategic plan

  1. Develop a communal vision with all partners and stakeholders
  2. Decide what you want to achieve. What will be the outcomes of your projects?
  3. Describe the projects. What exactly do you want to do?
  4. Identify potential funders – Who might be interested in these projects?
  5. Ensure your projects meet the criteria and philosophy of the funders you are targeting.
  6. Consider the principals involved, i.e. AGD, HR approaches etc
  7. State key values, gender equality, accountability, accessibility etc
  8. Develop focus areas. Break the task down in to achievable chunks.
  9. Create specific objectives. What do you want to achieve in each section of the project?
  10. Define key performance indicators – What is your evaluation strategy?

Good Luck with your work!