Human rights’ refers to rights that have legal/constitutional protection. In the development sector, rights-based work extends the argument to include basic services, dignity and justice (among others) as rights that citizens are entitled to. Rights may beheld as a cross-cutting theme that can guide grant-making strategies across portfolios like livelihoods, education, health etc. It can be tricky, though. Four challenges-
- NGOs as external catalysts can play an important role. However, donors will have to work closely with their partners to build capacities, addressing governance issues and laying down roadmap for eventual withdrawal.
- Developing local leadership in communities is an important priority. Donors have to determine how best to achieve that goal – should constitutional bodies like local governments be strengthened? Are there potential conflicts with local governments if NGO-led development programs/projects initiate and support parallel community-based organizations?
- Identifying indicators: expected outcomes may not be tangible (awareness, uptake, legalization etc) and/or be highly subjective
- Time horizon for impact assessments: how soon can donors expect visible and sustainable impact? There are usually pressures on donors to report results and outcomes on a quarterly or six-monthly basis. This may affect the choice of projects funded
- Evaluating the effectiveness of having ‘human rights’ as a cross-cutting theme is also likely to be challenging