Guidance for Designing, Monitoring and Evaluating Peacebuilding Projects: Using Theories of Change
To advance the use of theory-based inquiry within the field of peacebuilding, CARE International and International Alert undertook a two and a half year research project to develop light touch methods to monitor and evaluate peacebuilding projects, and pilot these in Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Nepal and Uganda. This document, Guidance for designing, monitoring and evaluating peacebuilding project: using theories of change emerges from the efforts of peacebuilders who field tested the processes to define and assess the changes to which they hoped to contribute.
The main audiences for this guide are conflict transformation and peacebuilding practitioners, non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and donor agencies. Other actors in the conflict transformation and peacebuilding field may also find it useful.
1.1 The problem we seek to address
As peacebuilders, we want to know that our interventions contribute positively to mitigating conflict and building peace. To accomplish this, we must understand the conflict context in which we are working and clearly articulate the changes we seek to promote within it. We must select monitoring and evaluation approaches that can help us assess changes in the conflict context, the on-going appropriateness of our interventions, and the results - intended and unintended - to which we are contributing.
One of the long-standing challenges to successful peacebuilding has been the difficulty in measuring results and generating evidence that can help identify what types of interventions work best. Part of the challenge is that peace itself is an elusive concept, made up of innumerable factors that can be hard to define. Peacebuilding projects or programmes often seek changes in people's perceptions, attitudes and behaviours - areas that are less tangible than, say, their health or access to credit, and often more difficult to measure. If an intervention is successful in preventing a conflict, a further challenge is demonstrating the counterfactual (i.e. what would have happened in the absence of the initiative). Moreover, agencies have struggled to demonstrate how interventions that target grassroots level actors add up to building peace at the national or even regional level.
Achieving peace is a lengthy, complex process that involves many actors and interventions, some of whom work toward peace, while others promote the continuation of conflict. Conventional development models do not typically contemplate working with stakeholders for whom recourse to violence is the norm. Opportunities for peacebuilding evolve with shifting conflict dynamics. In peacebuilding, one step forward is often followed by steps backward. This guide seeks to help practitioners address these challenges.