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USAID PRO-IP Policy: Supporting Indigenous Peoples’ Rights

Traditionally dressed Nepali elderly woman from Tamang people working in highland organic tea garden
Assessing and measuring the integration of indigenous peoples in USAID programming
  • Client
    U.S. Agency for International Development
  • Dates
    2020 - 2021

Accountability and understanding of USAID’s work with Indigenous Peoples.

The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) funds projects around the world that impact Indigenous Peoples, either as direct beneficiaries of programming or indirectly through changes to the social, economic, and environmental contexts in which they live. These impacts come with serious risks:

  • further marginalization or disenfranchisement
  • causing or exacerbating conflicts
  • undermining rights and access to resources

Before the 2020 launch of USAID’s Policy for Promoting the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (PRO-IP), there were no comprehensive agency-wide standards for how projects should consider these risks and engage with Indigenous Peoples. Now that the policy exists, USAID needs to understand the state of integration of Indigenous Peoples and how to measure adherence to the policy’s objectives and operating principles. 

Mixed methods research and participatory consultation for metrics development.

USAID contracted NORC to conduct a landscape analysis to understand the current state of engagement and integration of Indigenous Peoples in their programs and then develop learning questions and indicators to measure programs’ alignment with the objectives and operating principles of the PRO-IP. The landscape analysis involved a review of over 200 USAID documents and solicitations and semi-structured interviews in 16 countries. NORC also reviewed the policies of other donors and publications from Indigenous Peoples’ organizations to contextualize the PRO-IP’s guidance and consider perspectives on development programming from Indigenous Peoples themselves. 

After completing the landscape analysis, NORC is using its findings alongside participatory consultation with representatives of Indigenous Peoples to develop learning questions and indicators to measure adherence to the policy in the future. NORC is organizing workshops at global and regional levels with Indigenous Peoples’ organizations to ensure the metrics reflect their perspectives, needs, and priorities. 

Geographic variability and political sensitivities drive different levels of integration.

Findings from the landscape analysis reveal mixed results in implementing the PRO-IP’s objectives. While engagement is common, there was significant variation in the depth of engagement with Indigenous Peoples, processes to identify them, and establishing rules of engagement. They are often considered one category in a list of ‘vulnerable populations’ when they should be considered separately, given their unique rights. NORC also found that USAID’s projects often support organizational capacity building with Indigenous Peoples. However, efforts to foster enabling environments are more limited, especially in Africa and Asia. Additionally, political sensitivities in Africa and Asia make it difficult to identify Indigenous Peoples.

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