With APNOR and the RLA having the ambition to ensure that the voice of refugees at the centre of decision making processes, the chairs of the RLA wanted to ensure that a participatory process was utilised to inform the structure that would surround the fund, such as for example the application form, and assessment criteria, etc. With this ambition in mind, a process was designed and approved by the RLA to incorporate those that would receive the funding would have a voice in how it was set up. Adding to this ambition of ensuring the fund is refugee-centric, the RLA Pooled Fund Trustees are all people with lived experience and are the decision-makers for this fund.
So what was the process that was used?
For this project, a joint decision was made to use 1-on-1 Zoom interviews with RLO/I’s who were to be a part of this project and to complement this data with relevant literature as well. This decision was made in co-design with the RLA co-chairs, it was through these discussions that who to interview, and the questions used for the interviews were created.
The interviews were also designed in line with various guidelines related to meaningful participation such as those out forth by the Global Refugee-led Network (GRN and Asylum Access, 2019), the Ethical Guidelines proposed by the Refugee Studies Centre (2007), and the Ethical Guidelines proposed by Clark-Kazak (2019), as well as the work by Müller-Funk (2021).
With these guidelines in mind and aligning with the rights-based approach, interviewees were asked for their consent to be a part of this process through a signed consent form (or verbally given consent) and were also provided with an information form outlining the project and how the information that they would provide would be utilised. While they were also compensated for their
The interviews themselves were based on using a narrative approach to enable interviewees to speak about their experiences and share their views. They were made up of a mixture of open and closed questions and were designed to gather information about all the various aspects of the grants process from application to final reports. They were carried out with groups from across the Asia-Pacific, with some of the groups being relatively new and others being much more established, with the aim of having a diversity of experience and geography.
The interviews were transcribed, and transcriptions were shared with the participants for their clearance to ensure that they are a fair and accurate record of the interview. Once cleared the transcripts were analysed using a thematic analysis approach and this data was used as the basis from which the grant tools were created.
Once this process was completed, the draft tools were shared with the interviewees for feedback, this feedback was then incorporated into an updated version which was then shared with the Trustees. The Trustees then provided feedback which was incorporated before they finally cleared the final version which you will now see in use on our website.
The aim of the process was to support empowerment and the process was designed to not only gather information but also to provide learning opportunities for all involved.
This was in part to address the power dynamic that is at play when donors interview and engage with potential recipients. It is hoped that by having multiple feedback opportunities and thinking of it as a learning exercise for both the donor (in this case the RLA) and the potential grant recipients that this power dynamic was addressed. Interviewees were also compensated for their time.
Stayed tuned for the next installment in this blog series which will talk about the key things that we have learnt so far on this journey.
Please note that we refer to refugees here, but generally mean people forced to migrate against their will, and seek to include people who are without formal UNHCR and/or State recognition.