The important related themes to consider when doing the VRA

VRA and Gender Justice

A gender justice approach is fundamental to successful resilience building.

The VRA process can also contribute to greater gender justice by giving women a space to participate in decision-making and an opportunity to shape future decisions and actions that really work for them.   

‘Facilitators need to be acutely aware of all pre-existing power dynamics associated with gender inequalities, local crisis and deep rooted cultural practices and sensitivities before exploring ways to support marginalised voices. Do no harm principles must be at the forefront of any VRA work to be undertaken.’Mohammed Qazilbash, Country Director, Oxfam in Pakistan

To do this a VRA must be informed by questions like: how are gender inequalities and power dynamics shaping risk? Who is exposed to what hazards? What are the direct and indirect consequences for different socio-economic groups and individuals, and their ability to recover? What impact does gender dynamics have on new or emerging risks?

Using a gender-sensitive lens will improve our analysis of the context and enhance programming by building everyone’s coping capacity, rather than increasing the gap between the most vulnerable and those who flourish.

Youth and Gender: when exploring how gender inequality impacts on the risks an individual might face, it is important to consider the varying risks and vulnerability a woman may experience at different life stages. For example, the risks an adolescent girl may experience would differ from those of an elderly woman – the spaces they occupy are different, how they are seen in the community is different, the duties/roles they are expected to play will differ, their decision-making capacity will vary, their access to finances, health services etc. will differ. All this will have an impact on the risks a girl, adolescent woman, elderly woman would experience.

VRA and Conflict

When carrying out a VRA in fragile and conflict-affected contexts, it’s essential to comply with minimum standards on conflict sensitivity throughout the VRA process. Conflict-sensitivity principles ensure ‘no harm’ is done when conducting a VRA and designing resilience-building actions.

Top tips for VRAs in fragile and conflict-affected contexts:

  • Read any pre-existing conflict-sensitivity analysis as part of VRA preparation and ensure necessary action is taken in the design of the VRA process and its analysis – see : ‘Gather relevant pre-existing information’.
  • In a fragile or conflict-affected context, civil society space can become squeezed and there can be a lack of clarity on governance structures and duty-bearers. We need to use existing local-level networks and partners in order to understand who can be involved and how we can support their constructive and safe engagement.
  • Manage donor expectations to ensure they understand the limitations that the context can place on both the quality of our information and how we can use it to propose possible interventions.
  • The VRA therefore needs to be carried out pragmatically, and any subsequent recommendations need to be able to adapt to the changing context.

For Oxfam programmes please contact the team for more information about our programme quality CAMSA guidelines.

Youth and Conflict: A persons experience of conflict dynamics is often strongly linked to their age and gender. The risks a young woman may face during conflict will vary from that of an older woman. For example, their experience of gender-based violence may vary given their differing roles in the home and community, girls and young women may be more likely to be targeted by soldiers, and with conflict negatively affecting civil society and livelihoods, young women may be forced to engage in riskier forms of employment. Similarly, the risks young men face will differ from that of older men, such as young men may be targeted for involvement in violent conflict or the wider ideological targeting of young people.

VRA and Youth

The youth population is growing fastest in some of the low to middle income countries in which Oxfam works – in Pakistan, 55% of the population is under 25; in Afghanistan, the figure is 64%; in Niger 69%; and in Tanzania 64%. Many of the communities we work in will have a high population of youth who will experience risk and vulnerability differently to adults and will have new and innovative solutions to build the capacity of their communities.

As members of society, young people deserve a seat at the table to have their concerns and solutions listened to. Working with young people to understand the age-related risks that they face will allow you to design a programme that builds everyone’s coping strategies, enabling all members of the community to bring their perspective and expertise to actively contribute to building a more resilient community for all.

When undertaking the VRA with young people, consider the following:

  • Hold a separate VRA workshop with youth – with power dynamics between young people and adults, it can be difficult for youth to be open about the risks they experience in a room with adults. Before the workshop, consider partnering with a local youth organisation to support the recruitment of young people and the facilitation of the workshop
  • Consider the timings, location and care responsibilities of the youth knowledge group, taking into consideration for instance; school times, ability to travel (especially for young women), cost, etc.
  • During the workshop, use youth-friendly language and creative activities. See Youth Wording Index for examples of alternative words to use
  • Bring the youth group and adult group together after the initial sessions to present the findings and workshop the action plan together. Take time to build common bonds between the adults and young people in the community – use team building activities or discussions to build empathy and understanding of the others point of view. Ensure space for young people to lead and for youth voice to be heard during the meeting.
  • Set a requirement that a minimum of two youth-targeted solutions are incorporated into the resilience action plan.
  • After the workshop, adapt any action plans or reporting to reflect youth-friendly language or approaches. Consider writing the action plans with young people or testing the wording and content with young people before final sign off.

When developing a workshop or programme, you can use these tools to ensure it is youth-appropriate: