[REPORT] AIPP Evaluation 2005-11: Achievements and Challenges in Strengthening the Indigenous Movement in Asia

AIPP_Evaluation_Binder1_1AIPP has undergone an organizational evaluation for its overall activities during the period of 2005-2011. The evaluation carried out in May-June 2011 by a team composed of Ms. Birgette Feiring and Dr. Sumitra M. Gurung has been published in a report titled “Evaluation of the Asia Indigenous Peoples Pact (AIPP): 2005-2011 – Achievements and Challenges in Strengthening the Indigenous Movement in Asia”.

The evaluation that came at a critical juncture when new challenges have emerged with the rapid growth of the AIPP was mainly focused on the institutional functioning of AIPP, funded by three donors that provide core funding: Interchurch Organisation for Development Cooperation (ICCO), International Work Group for Indigenous Affairs (IWGIA), and Swedish Society for Nature Conservation (SSNC). In addition, the evaluation made an overall assessment of the impact of programs and activities not included in the core funding arrangement.


Among other recommendations, the evaluation points towards two main recommendations, regarding institutional capacity and program consolidation:
* Take immediate action to strengthen prioritization and consolidate institutional capacity to handle the increase in demands and workload;
* Gradually pursue long-term partnerships and funding arrangements that will allow AIPP to respond to the needs and priorities of its constituents in a more systematic and sustainable way.

AIPP wishes to thank all those involved in the organizational evaluation and hope the evaluation will help bolster the achievements made by the AIPP and tackle the challenges that have emerged towards further strengthening the indigenous movement in Asia.


Two-third of the world’s indigenous peoples live in Asia, representing an enormous diversity of languages, cultures, histories, institutions and livelihood practices. Many are victims of human rights violations, discrimination, dispossession of land and development aggressions. Their institutional capacity to counter this pressure and to deal with an ever-increasing international, regional and national agenda on indigenous peoples’ rights is stretched to the limits.

Asia Indigenous Peoples Pact (AIPP) represents and collaborates with genuine and legitimate indigenous peoples’ organisations in the region and draws its strong mandate and legitimacy from this constituency. It is a unique, effective and highly relevant organization, which responds to a clear need for coordination, collaboration and joint action of its constituents. AIPP has empowered its constituents, enhanced their capacity to work locally and nationally and significantly contributed to raising the visibility and promoting their aspirations, including through research, documentation, publications, advocacy and networking at regional and international levels. AIPP makes effective use of existing and emerging opportunities for policy advocacy and has been instrumental in building solidarity of indigenous peoples in the region and beyond, including by facilitating common positions within the global indigenous movement and inspiring other regions by example. Impact is reflected in substantial policy influence and cooperation with UN agencies, donors, human rights organisations, NGOs and, to some extent, governments. There is a high degree of ownership and institutionalization of policy-oriented results, indicating a high degree of sustainability.

As a network organization, AIPP does not duplicate or substitute the role of its constituents and thus fosters solidarity and collaboration rather than competition. It has strong and strategic leadership and is guided by principles of democracy, transparency, accountability and gender equality, which contributes to a very high level of credibility and trust.  AIPP has experienced a rapid growth, in terms of membership, geographical coverage, staff, donors, funds, programs and advocacy outreach, which puts an enormous pressure on AIPP members, governance structures and secretariat

Members have high expectations to AIPP, particularly with regards to receiving assistance for capacity-building and fund-raising, while AIPP seeks opportunities for decentralization, assistance and leadership from its constituents. The pressure is felt at all levels and there is a need for a comprehensive and long-term strategy to expand the capacity of the network through training, capacity-building and institutional support at all levels, throughout the region.

AIPP has strong governance structures in place to ensure responsiveness to the key priorities of its constituents. Overall priorities are set by the General Assembly (GA), which also elects the Executive Committee (EC) and the Secretary General (SG). Program Committees (PCs) are established in relation to prioritized programs and the Thai Board oversees the functioning of the secretariat in Chiangmai. While adequate governance structures are in place, some PCs are dormant and some EC and PC members face challenges in complying with requirements for commitment and input. There is an aspiration that an increasing involvement of the EC can resolve some of the capacity constraints of the AIPP, but the Charter does not provide clear rules for eligibility, substitution or delegation to EC members and it is yet to be seen, whether constituents can ‘afford’ to let key leaders work outside their own organization. There may be an underutilized potential for the Thai Board to contribute more to AIPP activities.

Constituents are organized in 6 sub-regions, which play a key role as an intermediate priority-setting mechanism between the regional and the local levels.  However, the current funding pattern does not allow the AIPP to fully respond to these priorities. Also, some of the sub-regions are somewhat artificial constructs and have de facto merged with other sub-regions.

The secretariat is struggling to cope with increased requirements for highly specialised knowledge and analytical, technical and language skills. This implies an unsustainable workload, in particular for the SG, and in general pose a risk to the sustainability of operations.  Further, the pressure on the secretariat is felt by members in terms of non-responsiveness and weak follow up to events. The Secretariat translates the priorities adopted by the governance structures into strategic plans and work plans, but these could be strengthened to better reflect expected impact, and to specify indicators, tasks and timeframes. The secretariat is organized in thematic teams, but an increased focus on sub-regional programming would eventually lead to a structure, where staff would be primarily working in a thematic program area but also have responsibility for one or several sub-regions.

Given the scope of activities and institutional operations, the overall budget is very modest and indicates a high degree of cost efficiency; costs are kept at a minimum and implementation is undertaken by local organisations and activists. The current funding pattern is characterized by limited core-funding and short-term activity-based funding, which undermines the prioritization of AIPP governance structures, puts a heavy burden on the secretariat in terms of fund-raising, reporting and management and pose a risk to the sustainability of some program interventions and achievements. AIPP has strong and reliable administrative and financial management systems in place and it has a proven track record of complying with diverse donor criteria. Thus, donors can rely on AIPP’s own administrative and finance system, which should greatly facilitate the gradual transition into more sustainable funding arrangements.

AIPP program interventions are focused on 9 thematic areas, which are all relevant but some programs are dormant, reflecting the unpredictable pattern of funding made available. Compared to the needs, program outreach is still limited in scope but generally evaluated very positively in terms of results and efficiency. For some programs, there are concerns about effectiveness, impact and sustainability. The recently approved EU project will ensure stable funding of the human rights program over the coming years and increase AIPP financial sustainability by establishing a printing press. Also, merging some of the thematic areas, could potentially simplify the organization and strengthen the programmatic focus of the secretariat. Most activities are implemented by constituents but some have weak institutional capacity, implying an extra workload for the secretariat to ensure compliance with donor requirements.

International advocacy is an area where AIPP has had enormous impact in terms of raising visibility, issues, concerns, recognition and opportunities. Constituents value the internationalization of their concerns as one of the most important outcomes of their engagement with AIPP and can also point to country-level impact of the international engagement.  However, this is an area where tough prioritization is needed, as AIPP cannot participate in all events and processes under an ever-increasing international agenda. Prioritisation should be assessed based on the closeness and importance for AIPP priorities as well as the possibility to link advocacy to implementation mechanisms on the ground.

The evaluation points towards two main recommendations, regarding institutional capacity and program consolidation:

  •      Ø Take immediate action to strengthen prioritization and consolidate institutional capacity to handle the increase in demands and workload
  •      Ø Gradually pursue long-term partnerships and funding arrangements that will allow AIPP to respond to the needs and priorities of its constituents in a more systematic and sustainable way.
  • AIPP cannot tailor its interventions to individual situations of its constituents but it can further strengthen sub-regional programming and governance structures. It is therefore recommended to:
  •      Ø Combine thematic programs with sub-regional planning to gradually move towards sub-regional programs, addressing the combination of issues that are prioritized by the given sub-region 
  •         Ø Reduce the number of sub-regions from six to four, which would gradually have more operational functions in terms of program implementation  

It is recommended that the role and responsibilities of EC members are reviewed and strengthened:

  •      Ø Request the General Assembly to assess the feasibility of having working EC members, and define criteria for eligibility, substitution and delegation to EC members 

Consolidation and strengthening of the capacity of the secretariat to deal with the rapidly increasing pressure and work load, is the most urgent necessity of the AIPP:

  •      Ø Formulate an integrated strategic plan, based on the priorities indicated by the GA and adjusted to the available funding, with clearly defined objectives, results, activities and measurable indicators 
  •      Ø Elaborate a roadmap for the strengthening of the secretariat, building on a series of interlinked steps and initiatives 
  •      Ø Strengthen institutional policies regarding acceptable working hours, e.g. by instituting a mandatory leave day after working or traveling over weekends
  •       Ø Combine the thematic organisation of the secretariat with sub-regional focal-points,, gradually moving the secretariat from a purely thematic to a combined thematic/sub-regional structure, based on the capacity and skills of secretariat members

The evaluation concludes that the current funding patterns is a key constraint for the organization and its long-term sustainability, and therefore recommends to:

  •      Ø Organise an annual donor forum and request donors to actively pursue the principles of ownership, alignment and harmonization of efforts in their support to AIPP

In order to simplify program management and implementation, it is recommended to:

  •      Ø Merge the nine prioritized programs into five broad program areas: Human Rights; Capacity Building; Environment; Women; Research & Information-sharing.
  • AIPP has achieved impressive results and impact within the field of human rights and advocacy, but there is a need to strengthen prioritization and sustainability. It is recommended to:
  •      Ø Review the human rights program, to embed the EU project in a larger strategic framework, setting priorities for the international engagement and pursuing efficiency and sustainability of ongoing initiatives for human rights documentation, database and the Human Rights Defenders Network.
  • Research and information-sharing is a key area, but also fundamentally different from the need to ensure effective communication within AIPP structures. It is recommended to:
  •       Ø Review and further refine AIPP strategies for research and information-sharing and communication, with a view to simplifying and enhancing effectiveness of communication and making information accessible in a simplified and flexible way.
  • Capacity-building is the key priority of all AIPP constituents and it is thus recommended to:
  •       Ø Elaborate a comprehensive capacity-building strategy, diversified to the needs of the sub-regions, and present it to donors in a coordinated manner as the key priority of AIPP

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