Assessing Progress on the Road to Peace: Planning, Monitoring and Evaluating Conflict Prevention and Peacebuilding Activities

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Within the field of conflict prevention, there is still a quest to find appropriate methods and ways in dealing with planning, monitoring and evaluation. This issue paper brings together the experiences of academics and practitioners dealing with planning, monitoring and evaluating conflict prevention activities. It evolved out of the experiences of Global Partnership for the Prevention of Armed (GPPAC) in setting up a planning, monitoring and evaluation system.

Key findings:

Radical changes are needed in the re-search and practice of violence prevention and peacebuilding. Equally important are improvements in the knowledge management. Exchanging, organizing, synthesizing and disseminating knowledge remains a major problem. Radical changes are necessary in the payoff matrix of waging war or waging peace. Despite the fact that most people profit from peace, influential minorities continue to profit from violent conflicts. Civil society must not only increase its peacebuilding efforts, but should also guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence by the conflict profiteers.

  • Representatives of civil society are at the centre of the daily ups and downs of a peace process. They become a key source of information when it comes to assessing the indication of a trend of the peace and conflict impact. Whether as a beneficiary of, or as an observer to the intervention, representatives of civil society are of great importance to the peace and conflict impact evaluator. One must always be aware of the dangers of bias, but triangulation of information-gathering and information analysis should effectively limit these risks.

  • There is a need to develop systematic planning, monitoring and evaluation procedures for conflict prevention and peacebuilding interventions. The Aid for Peace approach and the Reflecting on Peace Practice Project both contribute towards this aim. Attribution remains a difficult issue. Options for dealing with this difficulty include focusing on the outcome level and measuring change within a programmes sphere of influence or instead of focusing on Peace writ Large, linking the operational level of the intervention with the respective scale of the conflict-level.

  • It is extremely useful to make explicit the operating Theories of Change - in the context of programme design, as well as during an evaluation. Getting the design right is key to ensuring programme effectiveness. The use of linear methods for planning, monitoring and evaluation conflict prevention work as well as for networks is perceived as problematic. Organisations are creative in developing planning, monitoring and evaluation (PM&E) methods that are adapted to the needs of their organisations. Networks such as GPPAC are complex systems and planning, monitoring and evaluating such networks is a new field with many challenges.

  • Donors, for the most part, don’t recognise the specific needs for PM&E for conflict prevention and networks. Flexibility and openness towards innovative methods is needed from both sides; donors as well as NGOs.