The No Lost Generation (NLG) initiative in MENA
Submitted by: Annalaura Sacco, UNHCR Senior Regional Protection Coordinator
Email: [email protected]
Introduction to the project
MENA – 6 countries affected by crises in Syria and Iraq
2013 - Present
The No Lost Generation (NLG) initiative is a concerted effort by multiple stakeholders. Its aims is to offer access to children and young people affected by the crises in Syria and Iraq to education, protection and opportunities to engage positively in their community and society. The programming element of No Lost Generation is embedded in the Humanitarian Response Plans for Syria and Iraq; and the Regional Refugee Response Plan (3RP) in response to the Syria crisis. The NLG acts as a platform to amplify the voices, priorities and perspectives of children, adolescents and youth, through its own advocacy and through the response plans mentioned above.
Initiated in 2013 in support of the responses in Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey, Iraq, and Egypt, the initiative entered a second phase in 2016 which saw the scope of the initiative defined under three pillars: Education, Child Protection and Adolescents & Youth.
The initiative is steered by a partnership of operational organisations convened at the regional level in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) and enjoys strong support from key members of the international donor community and a cohort of champions – individuals with significant standing and influence who are able to promote NLG goals in their own networks.
NLG phase III was launched in September 2019 and sees an ongoing focus on joint advocacy to achieve policy changes, secure investment and promote good programming in support of the priorities of children and youth affected by the crises in Syria and Iraq.
Main activities of the Good Practice
- Produce and disseminate policy briefs, reports and events in support of NLG advocacy objectives in line with the Syria Refugee Response Plan and Syria and Iraq Humanitarian Response Plans- e.g. annual reports on NLG themes and high-level events in UNGA opening week 2017; at the World Humanitarian Summit, at Syria crisis pledging conferences etc.
- Maintain and support a cohort of NLG Champions who promote No Lost Generation goals and push for changes outlined in NLG advocacy objectives wherever possible in their private and public communications.
- Ensure that No Lost Generation is highlighted in the relevant appeal documents (HRPs for Syria and Iraq; 3RP).
- Develop and use mechanisms to track the volume, funding levels and results for programming in three areas (1. Education, 2. Child Protection and 3. Programming reaching adolescents and youth) in Syria, Iraq, Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey and Egypt; publish results quarterly in a newsletter targeting donors and influencers.
- Engage regularly with the donor community through: regular donor briefings at regional level, with each briefing focusing on a specific theme or programme area (civil documentation, sexual violence, and gender…) and annual bilateral meetings with all major donors.
- Establish and maintain an NLG website responsive to the needs of different audiences, with Arabic language content.
- Maintain a curated online knowledge repository linked to existing websites and knowledge bases of partners, to promote good practice & evidence in cross-sectoral programming, emerging areas and innovations relevant to NLG; establish an adolescent and youth online observatory (data warehouse).
- Produce a series of webinars to showcase different programme approaches (including private sector / No Lost Generation partner collaborations and gender) and foster exchange and learning.
- Facilitate and support 4 private sector / No Lost Generation partner collaborations NLG through a Tech Task Force; extract and share the learning from these. Scale programs through NLG partner organizations and hold annual tech events engaging the private sector on agreed thematic priority areas where new solutions are needed.
- Ensure the voices of children and young people are reflected in all No Lost Generation events and public outputs (events, reports, products, donor briefings, social media, newsletters etc.) including, where possible, the meaningful participation of children and young people in these events and platforms.
- Use mechanisms such as engagement with the regional adolescent and youth advisory group and its members to allow the priorities and perspectives of adolescents and young people to feed into NLG priorities, platforms and products.
- Partners include: ACTED, ActionAid, Basmeh & Zeitooneh, CARE, Concern, Dan Church Aid, the Danish Refugee Council, Finn Church Aid, Human Rights Watch, ILO, International Medical Corps, Intersos, IOM, the International Rescue Committee, NetHope, Mercy Corps, The Norwegian Refugee Council, OCHA, Plan International, Relief International, Save the Children, Terre des hommes, UNHCR, UNDP, UNFPA, UNICEF, Un Ponte Per, UNRWA, UN Women, Warchild, WHO, WFP, WVI and Y-PEER.
- Donors to No Lost Generation have included: Australia, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Korea, Kuwait, Norway, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Sweden, the United Kingdom, the United States, European Union humanitarian aid, EU Regional Trust Fund in Response to the Syrian Crisis, Open Society Foundation, Dubai Cares, the Malala Fund and the Bernard Van Leer Foundation.
How challenges were overcome
The following main challenges have occurred during the implementation of NLG:
- Clarity of purpose
The evaluation found that there remains some anxiety that NLG is duplicatory – partly because of partners’ efforts to use the platform for exchange of knowledge and learning, as well as joint advocacy (thereby potentially moving into the space of coalitions such as the Inter-Agency Network for Education in Emergencies - INEE - for example). The evaluation also found that some stakeholders were confused about the main purpose of NLG, again because of the extension of its use to support knowledge management. In phase III this challenge is being addressed by refocusing the initiative on joint advocacy (rather than knowledge management), developing a clear strategy with a theory of change, and the use of an ‘elevator pitch’ or short statement of purpose which is commonly employed by all partners when they refer to the initiative.
- Funding tracking
Tracking funding accurately in all six NLG countries for NLG pillars is challenging, given the multiple systems in use; the fact that these systems are not routinely used by all stakeholders; the fact that they are limited in their focus on child protection and adolescents & youth (whilst education is better covered); and their humanitarian-focused design which omits bilateral funding, WB concessional loans and other development funding. NLG has used an expert consultancy to explore the option of setting up a more fine-tuned financial tracking system which would take development funding into account and address other gaps / inaccuracies but doesn’t currently have the capacity to implement such a system.
- Limited capacity of partners
Regional level partners are very much overstretched given the urgency and size of the ongoing response. NGOs in particular are experiencing deficits in funding. This limits the extent to which each organization can commit and contribute to joint efforts. In phase III this has steered partners away from producing multiple reports, briefs and events, in favour of producing one annual report per year and using this as a basis for multi-stakeholder discussion and planning, in support of ongoing advocacy.
Results of the Good Practice
An independent evaluation of the initiative in 2019 found that:
- NLG was highly effective as a “clarion call” for the rights and needs of children affected by the crises in Syria and Iraq;
- NLG’s increased focus on youth and adolescents contributed to a 6.9% increase in funding for youth and adolescent programming in, from US$355.1 million to US$379.5 (in 2018), while other sectors saw decreases in funding over the same time period;
- NLG generated better disaggregation of data by responders working on child protection, education, and later, youth and adolescent programming;
- NLG stands as fairly unique in being a regional platform for promoting the rights of the child through integrated programming approaches; and
- NLG developed exceptional assets in how it brought committed individuals and organisations together to determine how best to meet the needs of children, youth, and adolescents, affected by crisis.
Additionally, the evaluation noted that the NLG’s influence and value are most aligned with advocacy, e.g. the ability to influence tipping points that create a significant change in policy and programme direction, coalition building, shaping policy agendas, influencing attitudes and behaviours, and building social movements.