The Peacebuilding Evaluation Consortium
A Field-Wide Solution for a Field-Wide Challenge
“I predict that we will look back on this work as a watershed moment in unravelling the most difficult questions about ‘what works’ in peacebuilding,”
–Melanie Greenberg, Alliance for Peacebuilding President & CEO
While the peacebuilding field has made meaningful strides developing innovative strategies to measure and learn from its current practices and programs, many of the fundamental challenges of peacebuilding evaluation are based on funding structures and systems which are beyond the capacity of any one actor to change. As a result, advancing the field of peacebuilding evaluation requires a whole-of-community effort. In response to this reality, the Alliance for Peacebuilding (AfP), Besa: Catalyzing Change, CDA Collaborative Learning Projects, Mercy Corps, and Search for Common Ground (SFCG), and formerly the Center for Peacebuilding and Development and the US Institute of Peace, partner together on the Peacebuilding Evaluation Consortium—a field-wide effort to address the unique challenges to measuring and learning from peacebuilding programs.
Each evaluation stakeholder—whether a funder, practitioner, evaluator, policymaker, or local partner—has a role to play in improving peacebuilding evaluation, or maintaining the status quo. Made possible by the Carnegie Corporation of New York and the GHR Foundation, the Peacebuilding Evaluation Consortium fosters unprecedented open dialogue, exchange, and joint learning among donors, scholars, policymakers, local and international practitioners, and evaluation experts.
The Peacebuilding Evaluation Consortium is guided by the partners of the Consortium and a body of international peacebuilding evaluation experts and key stakeholders, the Peacebuilding Evaluation Consortium Advisory Board:
- Adam Suleiman – President, African Evaluation Association
- Asela Kalugampitiya – International Monitoring Specialist at UNFPA
- Colleen Duggan – Senior Program Specialist, Corporate Strategy and Evaluation Division, IDRC
- Mark M. Rogers – Peacebuilding Practitioner, Trainer and Program Evaluator, Rogers Consulting Service
- Mohammed Abu-Nimer – Professor, American University’s School of International Service in International Peace and Conflict Resolution; Co-founder and Executive Director of the Salam Institute
- Peter Woodrow – Executive Director, CDA
- Reina Neufeldt – Assistant Professor in the Peace and Conflict Studies Program, Conrad Grebel University College, University of Waterloo
- Ricardo Wilson-Grau – Independent Evaluator and Organizational Development Consultant
- Thania Paffenholz – Senior Researcher, Centre on Conflict, Peacebuilding and Development at the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies in Geneva
- Ziad Moussa – President, International Organization for Cooperation in Evaluation – IOCE
The Peacebuilding Evaluation Consortium (PEC) aims to address the root causes of weak evaluation practices and disincentives for better learning by fostering field-wide change through three strategic and reinforcing initiatives:
Developing Methodological Rigor
Peacebuilders are often not trained in social science research and the resources the field has to execute sophisticated evaluations are low. As a result, peacebuilders have not tended to have rigorous, quantitative skills in data analysis and evidence gathering. The Peacebuilding Evaluation Consortium bridges the gap between state-of-the art methodologies and resource-constrained peacebuilding programs through the following activities to improve and expand range of methods, tools, and processes available for rigorous evaluation of impacts in peacebuilding.
- The Network for Peacebuilding Evaluation on DME for Peace is an online community of researchers, evaluation experts, and peacebuilding practitioners. As a hub for the field to exchange lessons learned on cutting-edge research methodologies, the Network is home to our popular Thursday Talks series on the first and third Thursday of each month from 10:00 am-10:45am Join the NPE listserv by contacting Ella Duncan at firstname.lastname@example.org, and become a member of the NPE here.
- Accessible and Appropriate Tools for Peacebuilding M&E – While general guidance is now available for peacebuilding evaluation, many practitioners still need guidance on specific peacebuilding program evaluation as well as which evaluation methodologies apply well to peacebuilding. In response, USIP and Mercy Corps, in partnership with the PEC, is currently developing rigorous, yet accessible and appropriate evaluation tools for Negotiation and Mediation training programs. The tools will be incorporated into a Practitioner’s Guide and will include a general survey template and database to help measure capacity development in peacebuilding contexts. The Practitioner’s Guide will be published on USIP’s website in June 2015 upon completion of testing in the field.
For those that are less familiar with peacebuilding evaluation, the Peacebuilding Evaluation Consortium has developed an all-encompassing Peacebuilding Evaluation Online Field Guide, ready for release in the summer of 2015, with vetted evaluation methodologies for peacebuilding programs. Subsequent versions of the Online Field Guide will also offer specific guidance, principles, and tools on a wide range of peacebuilding programs: Governance and Economic Development, and Media. The Online Field Guide will also provide tools for Conflict Sensitivity in Evaluation and Evaluative Options. Look for this next version of the Online Field Guide in 2017.
Improving the Culture of Evaluation and Shared Learning
If the peacebuilding field wants to better understand and improve its impact, there needs to be a cultural shift across the field that values transparency, embraces open inquiry, and shares knowledge from successes and illuminating failures. Using proven principles and practices, the Peacebuilding Evaluation Consortium creates safe spaces for mutually-beneficial knowledge exchange.
- DME for Peace – DME for Peace (Design, Monitoring & Evaluation for Peacebuilding) is an open-source platform that provides over 4,000 peacebuilders, evaluators, and academics with an interactive space to share best and emerging practices on how to design, monitor, and evaluate peacebuilding programs. With more than 700 resources, blog posts, and webinars on peacebuilding M&E, and a platform designed to accommodate users in locations with low bandwidth, DME for Peace has made peacebuilding evaluation learning accessible to users in more than 100 countries. A project of Search for Common Ground, this online resource is the backbone of exchange on peacebuilding evaluation that complements existing general evaluation platforms.
Fostering the Use of Evidence to Inform Peacebuilding Policy
Although most policymakers and funders agree in principle why peace is an important goal, few understand the very technical how and what of building peace. As a result, there is a need to demonstrate, in tangible and accessible formats, the benefits of peacebuilding. With the growing evidence of peacebuilding’s impact gathered from increasingly sophisticated evaluations, the Consortium is sharing relevant evidence on ‘what works.’
- Guiding Principles for Peacebuilding Funders—During the fall of 2012, the Alliance for Peacebuilding and USIP began working with the broader peacebuilding community to develop a set of principles that outline the basic tenets of good evaluation practice in conflict-affected settings. In partnership with the United Nations Peacebuilding Support Office in New York City, the Geneva Peacebuilding Platform in Geneva, the United Kingdom Department for International Development in London, the World Bank Center for Conflict, Security and Development in Nairobi, and Humanity United in San Francisco, USIP and the Alliance for Peacebuilding hosted six feedback sessions on a set of draft principles.
Since then, AfP has revised the principles based on the feedback session discussions and developed an annex to the principles that reviews more than 130 resources on evaluation theory, practice, and policy. Read more about the global feedback process in “Guiding Principles for Donors to Foster Better Peacebuilding Evaluation: An Update on the Consultation Process” in the Journal for Peacebuilding and Development.
- Stakeholder-led Solutions—The Peacebuilding Evaluation Consortium facilitates solution-oriented meetings among funders, international and local practitioners, evaluators, and policymakers. By creating safe spaces for the development and transparent sharing of evidence-based policy recommendations for sustainable peace and security, the Consortium is going beyond the usual dialogue of what should happen to improve peacebuilding to what will happen to change the way the field examines and applies its practices.
- Exploring How to Measure our Effectiveness – Read our Report from the 2016 “Consultation Roundtable on Peacebuilding Cost-Effectiveness: Exploring the Research Agenda“
Published ResourcesSupernatural Belief and the Evaluation of Faith-Based Peacebuilding (2016)
“The Peacebuilding Evaluation Consortium has broken new ground in this field, and provided invaluable assistance to both practitioners and grantmakers, alike, in their efforts to promote peace.”
Stephen Del Rosso, Program Director, International Peace and Security, International Program at the Carnegie Corporation.
For more information, contact Nick Oatley, Special Adviser for Learning and Evaluation at nick@AllianceforPeacebuilding.org.