Member Spotlight

May 2017


Cristina Sala Valdés

Title: Director
Organization: Voics Institute

 

  1. Why did you join this community of practice?
    I am director of Voics Institute, an independent institution committed to research, education and social change. We believe that every voice needs to speak out and therefore be heard (carefully and quietly heard). This being a diverse community brings us closer to that purpose. Lederach inspires much of our work. In one of his books he wrote: “Many victims of violence experience a profound sense of powerlessness, an overwhelming and deeply rooted feeling that they do not have a Voice in the processes of response and the decisions that affect their lives or in the events happening around them (…). Voice as metaphor has association with terms like inclusion, power and meaningfulness”.Our three pillars are: Peacebuilding, Communication and Social Change. We all at Peace Exchange share these concerns. How do we do it at Voics? (a) We explore the linkages between these three wide areas of knowledge and how communities, civil society and elites reflect on them and deal with the challenges they place in front of us; (b) Designing with communities what can we do to help them and how can we work together to bring welfare to their lives; and (c) Facilitating that the co-created experiences are spread among others that might find them useful.
  2. What have been some of your most interesting or challenging assignments?
    I have been working in Colombia (for a decade already) with the aim of co-creating for small communities the environment where sustainable peace could be something real. And my tools were/are communication, conflict transformation, community participation and evaluation. I can tell this is always something very challenging; and of course, interesting. Once, the representatives of the communications sector of three big communities in Colombia gathered because of the processes we together were pushing, and discussed about the way to inform, the words to use, the way discourses can inhibit or incite violence (meanly cultural violence). This was in April 2008, far long from the peace agreement. Preparing this meeting, managing everything, nourishing the relationships was challenging, interesting, but overall, it was worthy and very rewarding.
  3. What trends are you noticing in your area of work?
    I am not seeing trends, but community participation, approaching our work from an “ecology of knowledge” perspective and bringing alternative and marginal voices to the front have to be a must.
  4. Do you have a go-to resource that you use in your daily work? If so, what is it and why is it useful?
    There are variety of resources that fit best to one or another context. I could not say that there is “the one”. The thing is to know the more the better. We as peacebuilders, peace workers, social changers, need to be at the front of innovation and creativity when dealing with complex situations. We really need to find new answers for the voices that are speaking out.

March 2017


Anna Chernova

Title: Conflict Sensitivity Advisor
Organization: Oxfam
Technical Expertise: Conflict sensitivity, conflict analysis, national influencing in fragile contexts, conflict prevention/confidence building measures, civil society space.

 

  1. Why did you join this community of practice?
    I joined this community of practice to learn and share operational experience in conflict sensitive humanitarian and development response. As Oxfam is a campaigning organization, with strong focus on collective action and civil society partnerships – I am interested to share our advocacy experience in conflict settings, and to learn from other operational aid agencies and key peacebuilding specialists.
  2. What have been some of your most interesting or challenging assignments?
    Integrating conflict sensitivity into existing large-scale humanitarian operations in a shifting conflict context has been particularly interesting and often challenging. Reviewing our country context (and conflict) analysis and our theories of change for conflict sensitivity without making us too risk-averse has been challenging. Looking at our work in highly volatile contexts, like Yemen, for example – has been a particular challenge, as unpacking drivers of conflict can be a highly controversial exercise in itself. In the security sector, maintaining a gendered focus in conflict sensitivity is often difficult –but greater collaboration across sectors (i.e. NGOs and ministries of defense, security sector reform, etc.) is helping move this forward, inter alia via the WPS agenda.
  3. What trends are you noticing in your area of work?
    I’m noticing that actors who work in and on conflict continue to work in silos. While we are making some efforts to join up at country and operational levels, our overall strategic engagement is limited. Peacebuilding actors are often under-funded and humanitarian actors are working in high volume, but against very tight and reactive deadlines. We can benefit from more investment in aid architecture that would allow us to work together – bridging the divide between humanitarian, recovery, development and peacebuilding actors. We cannot wait for wars to end to start building peace and supporting local recovery efforts.
  4. Do you have a go-to resource that you use in your daily work? If so, what is it and why is it useful?
    I try to use a variety of resources and adapt them to our national or local contexts. Many of our country programs are looking for general tools and guidelines in their local languages that they can then adapt to their local context. We then try to learn from that experience and bring the learning back up to global level. We draw on the conflict sensitivity consortium, and specialized agencies like Saferworld, International Alert, CDA and others – who are able to provide us with expertise to be adapted to our programming context.

February 2017


Sarah Pickwick

Title: Senior Conflict Advisor
Organization: World Vision UK, Humanitarian and Resilience Team (HaRT)
Technical Expertise: Conflict sensitivity (including context analysis), policy & advocacy (southern & northern, including capacity building), East Africa, public affairs, research.

 

  1. Why did you join this community of practice?
    I joined this community of practice as I’m looking to connect and learn from other practitioners who are working on issues of conflict, especially conflict sensitivity/context analysis. I am hoping that by sharing some of the lessons we’ve learnt in World Vision that others will also be willing to share their tools and approaches and we can explore areas for collaboration. I co-chair the Bond Conflict Sensitivity Group, which brings together UK NGOs interested in conflict sensitivity, and so I hope to provide the linkages between that group and this community of practice where possible..
  2. What have been some of your most interesting or challenging assignments?
    In May 2016 I had an opportunity to lead my first rapid context analysis in DRC. We were using our context analysis tool called GECARR which stands for ‘Good Enough Context Analysis for Rapid Response’. The tool was created in 2014 within World Vision to provide a ‘good enough’ macro-level analysis of a country or a specific geographic context of a country. At the time the tool had been piloted on 5 occasions and then reviewed and formalized to create a 2.0 version in late 2015. The DRC exercise was the first time using the 2.0 version. The tool is normally used during or in anticipation of an imminent humanitarian emergency. In the case of DRC the analysis was at the request of the World Vision DRC office in the context of upcoming presidential elections scheduled for November 2016 and visibly growing tensions. It aimed to inform their preparedness activities as well as programming, security, advocacy and communications.Over the course of two weeks I led a GECARR facilitator team of six plus other national staff, spoke to 197 people across five regions of the DRC. The aim was to produce a snapshot of the current situation by drawing together the views of a wide variety of internal and external stakeholders, including local communities and beneficiaries through focus group discussions and key informant interviews. The analysis concluded with a scenario planning workshop to validate data and identify and outline 3 key scenarios likely to unfold in DRC in the next 6-12 months. Several of the key trigger dates and events identified as a part of this scenario unfolded and continue to unfold as predicted.The DRC assignment was a fascinating assignment to lead. For example given the volatility of the context, many of the GECARR logistics needed to change or adapt during the process. As facilitators we had to rely on the flexibility of the tool in order to make rapid changes at a short notice throughout the preparation and execution phases of the GECARR. If people are interested we have written a case study on this exercise, looking at some of the challenges and lessons leant.. 
  3. What trends are you noticing in your area of work?
    One of the key trends we are seeing is that the most vulnerable people, especially children, today live in some of the most difficult and fragile places, a fact well established by UN reports, human development indicators and by the experience of humanitarian organisations and workers. If we as aid agencies are going to work with the most vulnerable in such places, the need to implement programmes in a conflict sensitive manner becomes even more critical. There will be a need for increased investment in context analysis and do no harm approaches from the international community, so we can anticipate the interaction between our programmes and these fragile contexts, and work to ensure positive impact and actions while minimising negative impact both on identified needs and the community.   
  4. Do you have a go-to resource that you use in your daily work? If so, what is it and why is it useful?
    I find the ‘How to’ Guide on conflict sensitivity a big help in my work. It was an inter-agency publication put together by the Conflict Sensitivity Consortium in 2012 but still has relevance today in giving helpful guidance on how to integrate conflict sensitivity within the programme cycle. I also rely on many World Vision resources to explain our different tools. You can view them here.

December 2016


Chaitra “Chai” Shenoy

Title: Gender Based Violence Advisor
Organization: USAID, E3/Office of Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment
Technical Expertise: gender-based violence, dating violence, sexual assault, school-related gender-based violence, U.S. trafficking, laws & policy,community engagement and grassroots activism.

 

  1. Why did you join this community of practice?
    I joined this community of practice because I want to connect with other practitioners who are looking at gender and conflict from different lenses. I am looking to build my network of practitioners and figure out ways to cross-pollinate our ideas.
  2. What have been some of your most interesting or challenging assignments?
    As a recent hire, everything has been the most interesting or challenging! I am learning the gender architecture at USAID, particularly as it intersects with gender-based violence. It is wonderful and overwhelming that GBV has been integrated through different bureaus/offices. 
  3. What trends are you noticing in your area of work?
    I am seeing that more people are interested in understanding the intersection of gender-based violence and youth. I am seeing that more practitioners are understanding that social norm change is a key part of dismantling gender-based violence. I am also seeing that more individuals are seeing the intersectionality of this work, knowing that beneficiaries are not just victims or survivors of gender-based violence, but also sisters, employers, students, fathers, indigenous, etc. Therefore, I am seeing a trend to be more holistic in our approach in preventing and responding to gender-based violence.   
  4. Do you have a go-to resource that you use in your daily work? If so, what is it and why is it useful?
    A practical resource for working in a cubicle is trying to find white noise. For me, I use Coffitivity. I love this site and it helps me concentrate on my work. 🙂

November 2016


Dr. Taroub Harb Faramand

Title: Founder and President
Organization: WI-HER LLC (Women Influencing Health, Education, and Rule of Law)
Technical Expertise: Gender related development and health projects, early and forced marriage, public sexual harassment, counter human trafficking, women’s peace and security, sexual and reproductive health rights, gender mainstreaming and integration, qualitative data collection and analysis, technical research and writing, project evaluation, strategic planning and program design, training and local capacity building.

  1. Why did you join this community of practice?
    I am very excited to share WI-HER’s work through this online platform, it will provide us with the chance to learn from and engage with other passionate practitioners and leaders in the field, as well as give us the opportunity to highlight the areas in which are working to identify and implement creative solutions to complex health and social challenges to achieve better, healthier lives for women, men, girls, and boys.Through WI-HER’s extensive work in international development and health around the world, we have worked on gender-related efforts in conflict-affected areas and in communities experiencing the lingering effects of war and violence. The challenges faced by women, men, girls, and boys in conflict-affected areas are unique and can vary greatly from one situation to the next, with women and vulnerable populations often experiencing the most severe and long-term social, health, and economic consequences related to war, violence, and instability. WI-HER’s work around the world in conflict affected areas has made it clear that locally-tailored capacity building and training efforts are absolutely vital to ensure that the community as a whole is actively and equitably engaged in efforts to serve and protect the most vulnerable in conflict-zones, as well as stabilize, recover, rebuild, and thrive sustainably post-conflict. Working to enable localized ownership over development and health-related projects is essential, and must be accompanied with high quality, gender-sensitive training based on localized realities and with the engagement of diverse leaders, gate keepers, and stakeholders to truly make a lasting and empowering impact at the local level.
  2. What have been some of your most interesting or challenging assignments?
    Throughout my 35 years of professional experience around the world, and specifically through my exciting work with WI–HER, I have worked on a range of assignments that have been incredibly meaningful to me in terms of the project’s social and development impact and the inspiring individuals I have had the privilege of working alongside through these experiences. Currently, WI-HER is leading gender integration in efforts in 20+ countries globally through the USAID Applying Science to Strengthen and Improve Systems (ASSIST) Project. Under ASSIST, we are working on the exciting DREAMS Initiative, a project funded by USAID, The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and Nike, where we work to provide gender-sensitive training and capacity building to address the structural drivers that directly and indirectly increase girls’ HIV risk –  including poverty, gender inequality, sexual violence, and lack of education. We are working closely with incredible young women and girls (DREAMS Girls) in Uganda, many of whom have experienced conflict-related sexual and gender based violence at the hands of militant rebels, in addition to our local staff and implementing partners. WI-HER has designed an innovative capacity building and gender-sensitive training program that engages the DREAMS Girls, as well as their male sexual partners, mothers and fathers, and the local leaders and service providers from each of their communities, as DREAMS Trainers who will benefit from the training on reproductive health, healthy relationship building, HIV/AIDS, self-confidence, and economic empowerment. DREAMS Trainers will then return to their own communities and work with their individual peer groups to pass on their training and knowledge to a new generation of trainers. Through this method, we emphasize the importance of community-driven capacity building and program sustainability. In addition, WI-HER is providing financial support to DREAMS Girls who have transformed the knowledge gained through the DREAMS Initiative into income generating projects, ranging from a female farming collective, an artisan beaded bag and jewelry company, and a women-owned grain mill – all run and operated by young women who have experienced conflict-related sexual violence and abuse. I believe it is incredibly important to understand and work alongside communities to help address the significant challenges facing women, men, girls, and boys in conflict-affected areas, but also to emphasize that women and girls are more than their vulnerability and are incredibly powerful change-makers who have the power to transform their communities for the better.
  3. What trends are you noticing in your area of work?
    There has been an increasing emphasis on locally-driven capacity building and training throughout the field, stemming from the understanding that local communities know their own needs, challenges, and entry points better than any outside entity. WI-HER wholeheartedly believes in working alongside stakeholders within the communities we are implementing projects in so that we can best understand the social, economic, health, religious, and political complexities that may drive or exacerbate gender-related challenges, as well as the best methods to address these issues through culturally-sensitive and locally tailored methodologies. Working extensively within the field of gender and human rights, it has been encouraging to see the increasing emphasis on gender mainstreaming and the requirement to include a gender component within development projects around the world. At the same time, however, I have also noticed that the concept ofgender is often misunderstood or limited only the challenges, needs, and experiences women and girls, excluding men, boys, and persons with a diverse range of gender and sexual identities from the conversation and action.
  4. Do you have a go-to resource that you use in your daily work? If so, what is it and why is it useful?
    Due to the multi-disciplinary range of technical fields I work in (always utilizing a gender-sensitive lens and approach throughout) I regularly guide my project efforts based on country needs in addition to reports, technical guides, and policies developed by our donors and implementing partners, as well as the latest research and methodologies created by researchers and practitioners who have expertise in each project’s specific technical field.Throughout my gender-sensitive international development and health-related work, I also relay on the innovative gender-integration approach that I developed to guide WI-HER’s efforts integrating gender into programs, policies, and performance frameworks. Our approach to integrating and mainstreaming gender utilizes science and evidence-based best practices, alongside gender assessment tools, audits, checklists, and expertise to develop gender technical guidance and gender responsive performance monitoring frameworks to improve our donors, implementing partners and community stakeholders.

October 2016


Mavic Cabrera-Balleza

Title: International Coordinator
Organization: Global Network of Women Peacebuilders (GNWP)
Technical Expertise: National action planning on the UN Security Council Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security; Localization of international, regional and national policies; Community-based conflict prevention and sexual and gender-based violence prevention

  1. Why did you join this community of practice?
    I’ve been working on translating the groundbreaking UN Security Council Resolution 1325 and supporting resolutions on Women, Peace and Security into practical and necessary actions on the ground for 11 years now. I have a lot of experiences and lessons learned on the broad spectrum of women’s rights, gender equality, peace and security that I would love to share in the hope that they could inform future interventions. At the same time, the field is also evolving very fast and there is always a lot to learn. I’m thrilled to use an online platform to discuss our work and listen to or read about the diverse experiences out there particularly in community-based conflict prevention and in involving the youth especially young women in peacebuilding.
  2. What have been some of your most interesting or challenging assignments?
    I find our Localization of UNSCR 1325 and 1820 and the Girl Ambassadors for Peace programs at the Global Network of Women Peacebuilders most interesting and inspiring. Under the Localization, we work with governors, mayors, councilors, indigenous leaders, village chiefs, religious leaders, school teachers, local women leaders, youth leaders to analyze how these international laws actually apply to their communities; how best can they be used to make a difference in the lives of local populations especially those who have experienced or are still experiencing violent conflicts. We collaborate with local authorities and community leaders to develop Local Action Plans or integrate gender equality and peace and security commitments into community development plans. The community development plans are the blue print for everything that local authorities do in their communities. They include agriculture, environment, health and sanitation, education, public works, etc. However, nearly all of the community development plans we have examined in the 11 countries where the Localization program is implemented are either gender blind or peace blind or both! Through the Localization program we’ve facilitated processes that allow all key local actors to work together rectify this major shortcoming. For example, in the Philippines, the Localization workshop series we held in 2012 led to the inclusion of four women in the Bodong traditional peace council in Kalinga province—a 24-member century-old peace council appointed by tribal elders which, until then, was exclusively male. In another local area in the Philippines, the municipality of Real, Quezon, passed a resolution guaranteeing 50% women’s representation and participation in all appointed positions in local governance bodies. In Uganda, there is evidence of reduced incidence of gender-based violence in local districts where the Local Action Plans on the UNSCR 1325 and 1820 have been adopted.The Girl Ambassadors for Peace Program was developed by GNWP with the overarching goal to empower young women and girls in conflict situations to be positive role models in peacebuilding and countering violent extremism in their communities. From an early age, girls in many parts of the world are told: “You are only girls.” They are brought up to believe they should do as they are told, accept what they have and not ask too many questions. Women and girls are generally excluded from decision-making and peacebuilding processes. The plight of women and girls worsens in conflict-affected settings such as Afghanistan, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Iraq and Syria, where lack of access to education and information bars girls from leading and succeeding, making them more susceptible to both sexual violence and radicalization. Currently implemented in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and South Sudan, the Girl Ambassadors for Peace raises awareness and promotes the necessity for women’s participation in peacebuilding among local communities; and develop leadership skills among young women and girls in communities affected by violent conflicts. And since the literacy rates among women and girls in war-torn communities is very low (average of 20% in DRC and South Sudan), we cannot talk about leadership and peacebuilding policies if they cannot read nor write. Thus, the Girl Ambassadors for Peace also has a literacy education component. Seeing how the young women and girls who have participated in the Girl Ambassadors for Peace have developed into articulate, confident and socially-aware young women is probably one of the most rewarding experiences I’ve had in this work.
  3. What trends are you noticing in your area of work?
    There is an increasing emphasis on localization as a strategy in policy development and policy implementation. The 2015 Global Study on UNSCR 1325 highlighted that “Localization of approaches and inclusive and participatory processes are crucial to the success of national and international peace efforts.” At the 2016 World Humanitarian Summit, the call to reinforce local leadership and ownership in designing and managing humanitarian efforts was supported by Member States, civil society and the UN. I’m also very pleased to see growing support for conflict-prevention initiatives. The UN Peacebuilding Architecture Review recommended that when considering the UN’s peace and security activities, a strong emphasis must be placed on conflict prevention. Many participants in the consultations and global civil society survey for the 2015 Global Study on UNSCR 1325 strongly stated: Prevention of conflict must be the priority, not the use of force.
  4. Do you have a go-to resource that you use in your daily work? If so, what is it and why is it useful?
    I don’t have one go-to-resource but I often visit the Security Council section of the main UN website http://www.un.org/en/sc/ because the main policy framework we use in our advocacy are Security Council resolutions.

September 2016


Charlotte Watson

Title: Conflict and Security Advisor
Organization: Saferworld
Technical Expertise: Community security, conflict-sensitive development, conflict analysis, security and justice, reintegration of ex-combatants and, gender, peace and security

  1. Why did you join this community of practice?
    I work across three different policy areas at Saferworld – gender, peace and security, security and justice, and conflict sensitivity. This means it can be hard to keep up with all that’s going on and so joining this community of practice offers a great way to exchange ideas and learn from other members’ experiences. An online community offers a great way to interact with colleagues wherever they are and to share resources too.
  2. What have been some of your most interesting or challenging assignments?
    I spent the first half of this year working on a project that was both interesting but also very challenging. Saferworld has developed a growing body of work on gender, peace and security and has conducted some innovative research on masculinities and conflict. Building on this I worked with colleagues to design and develop a gender analysis of conflict toolkit. There has been increasing recognition over the past two decades that to understand the nature of conflict and design effective responses, peacebuilders must consider gender. The different roles and behaviours of women, men and sexual and gender minorities (SGMs) affect the way that conflicts play out, as well as the impacts they have on people’s lives. While there are many different ways in which the links between gender and conflict can be analysed, we decided to focus on one angle which is often ignored and this is where the challenging part came in! The toolkit was designed to help understand how gender norms – the ways in which societies pressure their male and female members to behave – can either drive conflict and insecurity or be resources for peace. The challenge was to develop tools that got to the heart of analyzing gender norms and how they impact on/or are impacted by conflict while not getting too bogged down in technical jargon but at the same time not oversimplifying issues. We wanted this to be something that was accessible and could be used by national NGOs and our local partners as well as experienced peacebuilding practitioners. As part of the process we worked with our Uganda team to test a pilot version of the toolkit in Moroto in Karamoja, North eastern Uganda. Based on this we amended (and in some cases simplified) questions and looked at how we could make the toolkit easier to use with less literate communities. I’m really pleased with how the final pilot toolkit has turned out and we’ve had a great response so far but it was definitely a challenging 6 months getting everything together.
  3. What trends are you noticing in your area of work?
    As I mentioned there is an increasing awareness that gender is not something that can be ignored or side stepped when working on conflict and peacebuilding. Donors are now frequently insisting that proposals both take into account gender considerations at the design stage and address gender dimensions in the implementation stage. This is definitely a positive step but, as gender sensitivity becomes a commonly used term the questions now being asked relate to the practical aspects, “how do we put this into practice?” is a common refrain along with “how do we build this into our conflict analysis?” This is where online communities such as Peace Exchange have value as a forum for exchanging learning and experiences. It took time and learning to build up the resources and knowledge on conflict sensitivity that exists today. Now it seems it’s the turn of gender sensitivity and conflict.
  4. Do you have a go-to resource that you use in your daily work? If so, what is it and why is it useful?
    Because I work on a wide range of issues I don’t really have a single go-to resource. I do still regularly turn to the Conflict Sensitivity Resource pack though and Responding to Conflict’s Working with Conflict: Skills and strategies for action. Saferworld has also published some really interesting work on gender and community security and on masculinities, conflict and peacebuilding which I also use.

Maureen Murphy

Title: Senior Research Associate
Organization: The Global Women’s Institute at George Washington University
Technical Expertise: Gender-based Violence in Conflict and Post-Conflict Settings

  1. Why did you join this community of practice?
    I am always interested in learning more about current research, monitoring and evaluation practices – particularly in the peacebuilding field. The community of practice allows for an exchange of ideas, research and methods that I find valuable.
  2. What have been some of your most interesting or challenging assignments?
    Researching sensitive topics, such as gender-based violence or reproductive health, is always challenging. Combine that with fragile contexts such as South Sudan and you are definitely kept on your toes. I’ve worked on numerous population-based surveys in South Sudan over the years and each one has been challenging in its own way. Currently, I am part of a research team at the Global Women’s Institute at George Washington University which is working on a new research project in the country about experiences of women and girls. Balancing security and ethical considerations with the needs of rigorous research has been a constant consideration for the research team, particularly as insecurity has increased in the country over the summer. I have found that adaptability is essential for a researcher working in a complex setting such as South Sudan. Despite the challenges of conducting research in these environments, I personally find it very fulfilling to work on projects that document the experiences of women and girls in these areas.
  3. What trends are you noticing in your area of work?
    More focus on using rigorous research methodologies in conflict and post-conflict situations to better understand the situation of women and girls and the effectiveness of interventions to prevent and respond to GBV.
  4. Do you have a go-to resource that you use in your daily work? If so, what is it and why is it useful?
    As my worked is focused on gender, particularly gender-based violence, I tend to use the Sexual Violence Research Initiative, http://www.svri.org/, and UN Women’s Global Database on Violence against Women, http://evaw-global-database.unwomen.org/en.

May 2016


Arik Segal

Title: Conflict Management Expert
Organization: Segal Conflict Management
Technical Expertise: Online conflict management, Track-2 Diplomacy, Peacebuilding

  1. Why did you join this community of practice?
    I joined Peace Exchange first and foremost to have access to knowledge in the field of conflict management and peacebuilding. In addition, it’s a good resource for networking and reaching out to potential partners in future projects. Finally, it serves as an excellent platform to expose and present my work to the peacebuilding community.
  2. What have been some of your most interesting or challenging assignments?
    As someone who works mainly in the Israeli-Arab conflict, the past few years have been very difficult to initiate and maintain meaningful projects due to the increase in violence and lack of peace negotiations. Donors, NGO’s and participants all strive to have a positive impact on conflict resolution through people-to-people dialogue and this has proven to be very difficult to perform. To deal with such challenges, I have been using technology as a tool in conflict management processes. Technology and social media in particular can assist in overcoming common challenges such as: power imbalance, Reentry, evaluation and more. Future technologies such as virtual reality and artificial intelligence hold even more opportunities to impact peacebuilding in ways still to be discovered.
  3. What trends are you noticing in your area of work?
    In my area of work, I have noticed some negative trends such as: “anti-normalization” – a movement that objects Israeli-Palestinian joint activities claiming they “normalize” the situation, lack of funding and termination of projects and peace NGO’s. However there are also some positive trends such as: emphasis on development and economic cooperation as drivers for peacebuilding and professionalization of the field which includes the increasing use of peace research, social psychology and technology (which I personally focus on) in peacebuilding projects.
  4. Do you have a go-to resource that you use in your daily work? If so, what is it and why is it useful?
    As my work is multi disciplinary, I do not have a single resource I use. Some of the resources I use include: Beyond IntractabilityHarvard’s Program on Negotiation Blog, and CDA’s website.

April 2016


Joseph Sany, PhD

Title: Technical Advisor
Organization: FHI 360
Location: Washington, DC
Technical Expertise: Peacebuilding, Governance, Youth and Civil Society

  1. Why did you join this community of practice?
    In the peacebuilding field, lifelong learning is critical. This community of practice is an opportunity for me and other participants to learn and share ideas around issues of peace, conflict and development. It is a space where different perspectives meet; and I view this as an opportunity to push the boundaries of knowledge and practice. Articles, sharing experience, webinars and discussions are some of the ways I expect to learn from the members of this community, and I hope to contribute as well.
  2. What have been some of your most interesting or challenging assignments?
    I think most of us in this field are tackling complex issues in very difficult environments. The issues we are dealing with have no straight solutions; each solution is unique and takes creativity, innovation and an important dose of risk and humility. Prior to joining the Civil Society and Peacebuilding Department at FHI 360, I supported the contributions of United States Institute of Peace (USIP) to the ACOTA program, where I trained peacekeepers deploying on peacekeeping missions. I trained these soldiers on conflict analysis, communication, negotiation and protection of civilians. In my almost-two decades working on issues of peace, I have never found a more enthusiastic group of participants. In all the 10 countries in Africa where I have trained more than 1 500 peacekeepers of all ranks,  participants responded with interest, showing eagerness to learn and asking questions that really forced me and my colleagues rethink how we train, communicate and transfer knowledge around issues of peace and conflict.In my current position with FHI 360, I am surrounded by a highly motivated team of people who believe in their work and, more importantly, the responsibility we have to contribute to peaceful and constructive change. That is really inspiring. Last November ( 2015), I had the opportunity to co-design and facilitate a conflict sensitive programming training workshop for FHI 360 program staff working in North Eastern Nigeria. The North Eastern states of Nigeria, including: Borno, Adamawa, Yobe and Bauchi are under relentless attacks by the violent extremist organization known as Boko Haram. Training participants were FHI 360 health project staff — medical doctors, pharmacists, and program managers; people who are not normally exposed to concepts related to the practice or study of peace and conflict.  We used a simulation-based approach to train on “Do No Harm” and the response from participants was very positive. The level of curiosity and engagement was motivating. Participants expressed their gratitude; in doing so, they reminded us that the skills and knowledge we, in this community, may take for granted are difficult to develop but critical to the success of development programs and the work of saving lives. Not that we needed to be reminded of the relevance of peacebuilding or conflict sensitivity, but it was a refreshing validation of the work we do.My take away from both cases, is the need to expand beyond our traditional community of peacebuilding practitioners and engage with policy-makers and practitioners from other sectors.
  3. What trends are you noticing in your area of work?
    I think we are seeing more collaboration and program integration happening, as well as a growing demand for more meaningful monitoring and evaluation. As far as integrated programming is concerned (some people use the term cross-sectoral programming), we can see this trend at the level of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) where, unlike the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), there are important interlinkages between goals and the need for sectoral collaboration at international, national and local levels. Development agencies and donors are recognizing that people don’t live their lives in sectors or in stove-piped ways; people’s lives are integrated and development practitioners including peacebuilders are catching up with this reality. We are all learning to work and integrate this new understanding. It is therefore becoming important to look beyond one’s sector and find synergies and opportunities for collaboration to achieve greater impact.Linked to the increased focus on integration and collaboration is the growing need for meaningful monitoring and evaluation that goes beyond accountability to inform learning and adapting. As I recognized in the beginning of this interview, we are dealing with complex issues; we don’t necessarily control or understand all the parameters as we design and implement peacebuilding or conflict sensitive development programs. Therefore, learning and adapting have become assets to optimize. We are seeking to design and use monitoring and evaluation approaches that help us understand the complexity of issues, and the interdependencies of response variables. It is not a surprise, then, that we are seeing increased interest in the “collaborating, learning and adapting” (CLA) approach, systems thinking frameworks, or complexity theory-driven methods.
  4. Do you have a go-to resource that you use in your daily work? If so, what is it and why is it useful?
    I do not have specific resources to share, as my work entails a lot of research and program design on a variety of topics within the fields of peacebuilding and development. Generally for my work, in addition to books and journal articles, I rely on blogs by practitioners, resources shared in communities of practice such as Peace Exchange, and international news sources.

G.M. Shoeb Ahmed

Title: Project Officer
Organization: SaferWorld
Location: Bangladesh
Technical Expertise: Community security, gender, small arms and light weapons, inclusive political processes, conflict sensitivity, peacebuilding, human rights, conflict risk reduction, youth development, women entrepreneurs, project cycle management, policy dialogue

  1. Why did you join this community of practice?
    There are several reasons I joined Peace Exchange including to learn from each other’s peace building experience and learn conflict sensitive development programming by collecting and building knowledge on a diverse set of materials, experiences, and reflections. Additionally through this website I expect that I will learn different tools of conflict research, analysis, conflict sensitive and peacebuilding pogramming. Moreover, I think this website will be helpful for me to know what training resources, frameworks, toolkits, guides, research, and literature I am using to learn about, apply and improve conflict sensitive programming which will be helpful for my experiences and strengthen the learning-doing link.
  2. What have been some of your most interesting or challenging assignments?
    In Bangladesh, the issues are very sensitive and challenging. When I (as a Saferworld employee) started a community security programme with the local partner BRAC, I received different perceptions from the community, local government and security providers. Firstly, understanding the conceptual clarity was challenging. Security providers directly accuse us and ask ‘Why are you working on security issues? This is our work not yours.’In Bangladesh we are building on the success of community security and conflict prevention pilot projects run by Saferworld and local partner BRAC over the last few years. It supports replication of the local level community security model on a larger scale to improve public security, build state legitimacy and contribute to an environment in which peace dividends can be better realized. Saferworld and BRAC are implementing the community security programme across 16 communities in five districts in Bangladesh, drawing on lessons learned and best practices from our pilot work. In many cases, it will be rural women leading local projects which will be integrated into a wider programme of community empowerment, giving them a voice in the community. Secondly, by involving religious leaders and using their influence in the local community in Bangladesh, we have been able to more effectively address safety and security issues and promote peace. In the inter-faith workshops they reviewed the results of their ongoing community work. For example, every Friday after prayers the Muslim leaders would use their sermons to offer advice to their communities, such as the negative effects of early marriage, drugs and eve-teasing. By using their influential platform these religious leaders were able to safely and effectively address these local concerns. The Imam of Bagerhat (Kachua) was very positive about the progress his community had made: “After establishing the inter-faith group in our areas, we are regularly able to coordinate peace messaging and incorporate it into our religious services to help reduce tensions within our religious communities.”
  3. What trends are you noticing in your area of work?
    Last few years the local level community security model on a larger scale to improve public security, build state legitimacy and contribute to an environment in which peace dividends better realize.
  4. Do you have a go-to resource that you use in your daily work? If so, what is it and why is it useful?
    I always use Saferworld’s outcome Harvesting and Photo project tools for monitoring purposes and because these two tools are very innovative and evidence oriented.
    Resource: SaferWorldUK

March 2016


Sabina Handschin

Title: Senior Program Officer Conflict Sensitivity
Organization: SwissPeace
Location: Bern, Switzerland
Technical Expertise: Conflict sensitivity, peacebuilding, human rights, disaster and conflict risk reduction, cash-based assistance, displacement and migration, education, child protection, results based management, project cycle management, policy dialogue

  1. Why did you join this community of practice?
    Peace Exchange’s community of practice is very much in line with the vision and spirit of the “Conflict Sensitivity Community-Hub (CSC-Hub)” initiative. The CSC-Hub initiative was born in fall 2014 during a conflict sensitivity Expert Retreat in Switzerland where over 40 leading international conflict sensitivity experts from Peacebuilding NGOs, Donors, Academia and Think Thanks discussed the status quo of conflict sensitivity implementation and questioned whether it was still relevant as a concept and working approach. Experts found that even though conflict sensitivity has been on donor’s and aid organization’s agenda for almost two decades and tremendous efforts have been made to develop tools, guidance and trainings, its implementation on the ground is still insufficient. Yet the concept remains ever more relevant looking at today’s fastly changing contexts, violence, escalating conflicts and the complexity and interconnectedness of actors involved. The Peace Exchange community platform greatly helps put the spotlight again on conflict sensitivity and stimulating exchange among practitioners and policy makers.
  2. What have been some of your most interesting or challenging assignments?
    As an Education Program Coordinator in 2008 in Eastern Chad during the conflict between rebel groups and the Chadian Government influenced by the Darfur conflict where conflict-insensitive program management not only put the programs at risks, but staff and beneficiaries as well. The most interesting and challenging assignment has however been in Goma/Eastern DRC in 2012 where attacks of the rebel group M21 led to widespread displacement and the destruction of schools and hospitals. In my capacity as the Education Cluster Coordinator, I faced the challenge that many organizations had non-flexible multi-year programs and earmarked budgets which did not allow them to adjust programs, activities and funds to the volatile context where needs continuously changed from one day to the other. I was in the odd situation to lobby for emergency-funds to refurnish destroyed schools and to offer emergency education to IDP-children in the very same villages (and schools!) where large-scale multi-million “regular” or “transition” programs were intervening – they were not in the measure to adjust to the new context, some even put their activities on hold in situations where needs were most compelling. To me these were neither context- nor conflict sensitive interventions.
  3. What trends are you noticing in your area of work?
    An increased awareness among organizations of the necessity to create synergies and engage in collaborative efforts rather than competition, be it in national contexts or internationally – the CSC-Hub initiative is a nice example of this new trend. Furthermore the emergence of new donors and players (philanthropic foundations, CSR-initiatives, donors from BRICS and Arab countries for example) which shape the discourse on aid, international cooperation and stakeholders’ roles in specific contexts in new ways.
  4. Do you have a go-to resource that you use in your daily work? If so, what is it and why is it useful?
    I am a fan of the “Conflict Sensitivity Resource Pack,” developed in 2004 but still to my taste one of the best and easiest to read guidance, the “How to guide to conflict sensitivity” a shorter and crispy version that still has everything in it as well as of the ODI Paper “Applying conflict sensitivity in emergency response: current practice and ways forward” that nicely contradicts the paradigm that emergency responses are too quick to take conflict sensitivity into account.
    Resources: Conflict Sensitivity Resource Pack, How to Guide to Conflict Sensitivity, Applying Conflict Sensitivity in Emergency Response

Britney Nemecek

Title: Conflict Sensitivity Specialist
Organization: Search for Common Ground
Location: Burundi
Technical Expertise: Conflict research, peacebuilding and monitoring & evaluation

  1. Why did you join this community of practice?
    Firstly, I often find that staying up to date on conflict research, new methodologies, and what other organizations are doing and innovating is extremely challenging while also working in the field. This online community does a fantastic job packaging otherwise dense topics into highly consumable, user-friendly, presentations, webinars, and reports; allowing me to keep in touch with what is happening in the outside world as much as my schedule can allow. Secondly, I truly support the shift towards a more open-source development community– in which we can put competition for grants aside– focusing on how to best collaborate, share, and innovate together to achieve our collective goals and create the greatest possible impact.
  2. What have been some of your most interesting or challenging assignments?
    Working to monitor and analyze on-going conflict throughout the recent election period in Burundi has been absolutely fascinating and extremely challenging. Especially dealing with the question of how to continue conflict research, in a conflict sensitive manner, during a potentially very dangerous time. It has also been really challenging to juggle the ethical responsibility to share information in a timely fashion -which could be essential to protection and informing urgent interventions—with standard report validation processes.I will actually be speaking about my lessons learned from this experience at the end of the month during the DME for Peace Thursday Talk on March 24 at 10 AM EST if you are interested to learn more.
  3. What trends are you noticing in your area of work?
    In addition to the growing trend of more emphasis on improved M&E practices in general, I notice that the desire to shift towards participatory approaches to DM&E is really continuing to gain traction. I really support this mini-revolution, and the idea that the intended beneficiary really does know what they need, and what-works, best.
  4. Do you have a go-to resource that you use in your daily work? If so, what is it and why is it useful?
    Does Google Translate count? Obviously, I use the DM&E for Peace platform often for toolkits, templates, and sharing experiences. I suppose an outside resource that I use often would be Stephanie Evergreen’s Website on Intentional Reporting & Data Visualization. I especially like receiving regular emails from her listserv on new topics around data that help me to be constantly thinking of new strategies and ways to push for improvement. I also have to mention Luc Reychler & Thania Paffenholz’s book, Peace-Building: A Field Guide… though I’m not sure it’s available online.
    Resource: Stephanie Evergreen: Intentional Reporting & Data Visualization

February 2016


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Michelle Shirley

Title: Program Officer
Organization: USAID
Location: Washington, DC
Technical Expertise: Conflict mitigation, Democracy and Governance, and Disaster Response

  1. Why did you join this community of practice?
    I joined PeaceExchange to learn from others. There are so many examples of peacebuilidng and conflict resolution happening at the local level that I want to learn about and apply in my work.
  2. What have been some of your most interesting or challenging assignments?
    My most challenging and interesting assignment was in Burundi. Working with local partners to develop and expand programs aimed at building peace and preparing for elections in a very challenging environment was a great learning experience. The desire by so many Burundians to move forward and leave the war and genocide behind was/is inspiring. Sudan, prior to the separation, was another challenge. I worked with communities that felt they had been neglected by the central government. We worked with local government and communities on improving governance by training local government officials and rehabilitating or supporting the provision of basic services, such as water and sanitation, health, agricultural livelihoods, and education.
  3. What trends are you noticing in your area of work?
    The emphasis on locally-led efforts.
  4. Do you have a go-to resource that you use in your daily work? If so, what is it and why is it useful?
    When we’re in the early stages of designing a new program, I always refer back to the USAID Theories and Indicators of Change guide. It’s been very helpful because it helps you logically think through what the intended purpose and objectives of a program are (e.g. If we train local government officials on how to provide basic services, then the people will feel that the government is responsive to their needs and will have more confidence in their leaders).
    Resource: Theories and Indicators of Change (THINC)

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Brian Calhoon

Title: Technical Manager, Governance and Conflict Practice Areas
Organization: MSI
Location: Washington, DC
Technical Expertise: Governance, conflict, and monitoring and evaluation

  1. Why did you join this community of practice?
    I am interested in learning what others are doing in different countries around the world to address conflict. I am also interested in seeing how different sectors adapt to working in conflict situations as opposed to how they operate in “business as usual” settings. It is great to see this kind of a community opening up as I’m sure that we will all learn a lot from each other in the coming years.
  2. What have been some of your most interesting or challenging assignments?
    There is not any particular assignment that stands out. My work in Haiti, Africa, and Washington, DC presents different challenges that are interesting in their own ways.
  3. What trends are you noticing in your area of work?
    The major trend that I notice is that we are all searching for what can work in a given context. It is very clear that what works to address conflict in one area may not work in another. It has been interesting to see how donors are increasingly monitoring conflict trends and context indicators that may affect programming.
  4. Do you have a go-to resource that you use in your daily work? If so, what is it and why is it useful?
    I guess that would be the International Crisis Group’s website. Their reports are timely and well-researched. Either I can use them immediately for work purposes, or I get to learn some new information about a conflict in the world that will be useful in the future.
    Resource: International Crisis Group Website