Member Spotlight

December 2018


Mushtaq Muhammad Rahim

Title: Executive Director
Organization: Afghanistan Diplomacy Studies Organization
Technical Expertise: Rule of law, peace and reconciliation, conflict transformation.

  1. Why did you join this community of practice?
    I joined this community of practice to network with experts from across the world. I am expecting to share my experiences with the community, learn from other contexts, as well as engage with experts to discuss my understandings of different aspects of conflict management and peacebuilding. I am also looking forward to discovering new publications, books and research produced in different parts of the world.
  2. What have been some of your most interesting or challenging assignments?
    To date, the most challenging assignment that I have worked on has been on the development of an institutional framework and operational procedure for a peace agreement between the Afghani Government and one of the opposition groups, the Hizb-e-Islami (led by Gulbaddin Hekmatya). I was asked to develop the peace agreement into an implementation plan of action. This assignment was given at a time when the Afghani Government did not have any implementation policies in place for the peace agreement. Also, the team assembled to support me, did not have a background in peace agreement implementation and peacebuilding. I led the implementation secretariat, developed a plan of action, and came up with programmatic concepts for supporting the implementation of the peace agreement.
  3. 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 have a small library at home with resources related to conflict management and conflict transformation. However, we are faced with a lot of limitations in terms of accessing resources on the topic of conflict, peace and reconciliation as Afghanistan lacks resource centers.

Phoebe Farag Mikhail

Title: International Development and Education Consultant
Organization: Center for Education Diplomacy (educationdiplomacy.org) and the DiploFoundation (diplomacy.edu)
Technical Expertise: Education, education diplomacy, gender, children and youth, governance, advocacy, disaster risk reduction, training, learning and evaluation, content development.

  1. Why did you join this community of practice?
    I am very interested in learning about how peace education can intersect with education diplomacy. Education diplomacy uses the skills of diplomacy to promote effective cooperation across sectors and among diverse actors to solve education challenges and advance transformational agendas for education. I think peace education has a lot of overlap with this, and I think that education diplomacy might also be helpful in advancing peace education.
  2. What have been some of your most interesting or challenging assignments?
    My current assignment developing training and content for the Center for Education Diplomacy (educationdiplomacy.org) has been very interesting as I have worked with them to help define and develop the innovative and emerging concept of education diplomacy.
  3. What trends are you noticing in your area of work?
    I am noticing that there is an increasing need to innovate to meet some of the challenges we are facing today, especially in education. We need to cross sectors and collaborate more and more, and we need skills in those areas as much as we also need technical skills.
  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?
    For me it’s quite important to stay abreast of the news and trends in development, so my go-to resources are my email newsletters that I review regularly from Devex, INEE, NORRAG, Brookings, ACEI, and the DiploFoundation. I learned about Peace Exchange through one of them! I also use the Encyclopedia for Informal Education (infed.org) regularly.

Zuri Linetsky

Title: Senior Technical Specialist
Organization: Social Impact
Technical Expertise: CVE, research design, primary source data collection.

  1. Why did you join this community of practice?
    To exchange ideas related to research design and CVE research. The study of violent extremism, its causes as well as interventions that might mitigate support for violent militancy is evolving. Sharing ideas with others is a great way to learn about new approaches, innovative ideas and collaborate on compelling research.
  2. What have been some of your most interesting or challenging assignments?
    Leading a data collection team in northeast Nigeria and supervising interviews with female defectors from Boko Haram was the single most interesting data collection project I have been a part of. Additionally, helping to train survey data collectors in Mogadishu was a fascinating experience. Doing primary source data collection and analysis in South Sudan and Egypt (respectively) was a defining part of my professional career.
  3. What trends are you noticing in your area of work?
    Understanding what CVE is, as well as how to effectively learn from previous interventions are key challenges. Defining accurate indicators and outcomes related to CVE programming is also difficult. Similarly, single interventions in this area seem to show little durable positive effect; I think helping to build new and innovative forms of sustainable local governance is a critical type of invention.
  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 a single go-to resource. I have found Twitter to be a great place to look for interesting new research. Additionally, academic scholarship is a great resource, especially as it relates to CVE, because academic research on violence, terrorism and civil wars is voluminous and constantly evolving.

November 2018


Julia Canney

Title: Senior Program Assistant for Gender, Women and Democracy
Organization: National Democratic Institute
Technical Expertise: Gender and security, gender-based violence, human rights, transitional justice

  1. Why did you join this community of practice?
    As someone with a personal and professional interest in issues surrounding gender, security, conflict, and peace building, I joined the USAID Peace Exchange community of practice to engage more with like-minded scholars, as well as to be able to stay up to date on what the democracy and governance space can apply to its programs in terms of peace building and transitional justice. I am particularly interested in how women and gender is woven into the peacebuilding community’s work, and look forward to engaging with other USAID Peace Exchange members to discuss best practice in these areas.
  2. What have been some of your most interesting or challenging assignments?
    In my work on the Gender, Women and Democracy Team at the National Democratic Institute, I was able to engage with politically active women from all over the world in Washington, DC when they spoke about the violence that they have faced as women engaging in politics in their countries. I was particularly struck with the ways in which the women were harnessing this abuse to become stronger advocates and politicians for their causes, and how the work that we do as practitioners can help them do so.
  3. What trends are you noticing in your area of work?
    I’ve found that there is a growing acknowledgement by the international community of the positive impact the inclusion of women can have on democracy and peace building processes. While there are a lot of recent studies that have indicated how vital including women around the table can be, it is only in the past few years that the meaningful inclusion of women has been more vigorously followed – the idea that instead of counting women, we have to make women’s involvement count.
  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 really have a go-to resource that I use daily, but something that I refer to often is ‘Democracy Support Strategies: Leading with Women’s Political Empowerment’, a piece by Thomas Carothers supported by the NDI Gender, Women and Democracy team, which outlines some of the ways that women’s political empowerment can both aid and be aided in crucial transition periods for emerging democracies. While not specifically focused on countries emerging from conflict, it helps identify what types of programs may be most effective in advancing gender equality in politics, but also how engaging women can be a critical push for countries where transitions may be more difficult.

Selya Elmina Tyav

Title: Executive Director
Organization: Citadel Gate of Hope and Restoration Initiative (C-GATE)
Technical Expertise: Public Health Practitioner, Communication for Development Expert and a Peacebuilder

  1. Why did you join this community of practice?
    I joined the peace building community of practice to share experiences with peacebuilders in identifying good practices, challenges and gap intervention, with the goal of building a strong network of partners in sustainable growth, development and partnerships.
  2. What have been some of your most interesting or challenging assignments?
    Oftentimes as crisis arrears, you don’t know what will happen next until it happens. The Plateau State in North Central Nigeria has been consistently on the news for different forms of crisis arising from farmer-herder and ethno-religious conflicts. According to the State Emergency Management, on the recent conflict, over 38,000 internally displaced persons translating to 80% women, girls, and children are taking refuge in 31 camps. The crisis led to feminine, hygiene issues, destruction of infrastructure and disruption of livelihood. Many women are exposed to sexual exploitation and diseases. Children are malnourished, exposed to diseases and some are orphaned. Provision of comprehensive and affordable health care within the camps is grossly inadequate. This experience made me understand that local communities must be supported by intensive strategies towards decision makers and authorities.
  3. What trends are you noticing in your area of work?
    Citizen engagement in peacebuilding contributes to strengthening the reconstruction process in crisis situations. It facilitates citizen’s participation in government decision making. It’s also significant in creating an inclusive peacebuilding process that starts from the community through different channels of communication.
  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?
    Media sites, the internet, reviewed literature and journals provide me with useful information and perspective in my daily work in peacebuilding. I often visit sites like: The International Crisis Group, Search for Common Ground, Transitional Foundation for Peace, YouTube-across the internet through website, the UN General Secretary Site, peacebuilding manual/understanding conflicts etc. I hear stories and current trends in peace building not just in Africa, but across the World..

October 2018


Munawwar Alam

Title: Senior Devolution Adviser, USAID Kenya and East Africa
Organization: Office of Democracy, Governance and Conflict, USAID, Kenya

  1. Why did you join this community of practice?
    I joined this community of practice to broaden my knowledge base concerning Countering Violent Extremism (CVE) and its relationship to devolution in the Kenyan context. Within USAID’s Mission in Kenya, I lead the team that coordinates activities across the Mission’s program that contributes to the objective of effectively implementing devolution. During the Mission’s mid-term review of its country strategy, as well as other assessments and consultations, people frequently identified the need to socialize CVE across the Mission in all of its programming. Given the intersection between CVE and devolution in Kenya, I want to keep myself abreast with new and emerging thinking and developments in CVE and of lessons learnt from other countries.
  2. What have been some of your most interesting or challenging assignments?
    As a governance specialist I have faced the challenge of dealing with policy problems that do not correspond neatly with the conventional models of policy analysis. Moreover, there are chronic constraints to institutional reforms in developing countries. Therefore, promoting decentralization strategies in developing countries has been challenging especially when the reform is driven by political motivations.
    USAID’s Devolution portfolio is a cross-sectoral program that not only focuses on governance, but also covers social, economic and environmental aspects of devolution; hence, all development objectives complement each other. It is both interesting and challenging to me to ”sell” devolution to the other sector/technical offices how their contribution to strengthening devolved government serves to achieve human development imperatives in Kenya, including both social and economic sectors.Another challenge is that I am based in the office of the Democracy, Governance and Conflict (DGC). My base at DGC poses a challenge to coordinate and create synergies between different sectoral programs. However, the interesting part is the application of management experience and conflict resolution strategies, where I come across a number of professional and personal idiosyncrasies. I liberally use interpersonal skills to work towards mutual solutions while aiming to harness comparative advantages of respective teams and sectors to forge interdisciplinary and cross-sector approach to support devolution – sometimes I succeed, sometimes I don’t.Another interesting, as well as challenging aspect of my work, which is evolving, is the cross-linkage of CVE in governance as well as sectoral reforms. In many countries, CVE is impacting sectoral outcomes; both as a direct constraint to program implementation as well as because of shifting priorities and corresponding resource diversion to security sector. In Kenya, it is at the devolved level – the counties – that the primary responsibility to counter violent extremism rests, which implies improving certain aspects of devolved government that county governments are still learning: public participation, addressing those issues that serve as drivers for their citizens to become attracted to or involved in violent extremism, and to coordinate with the national government on issues such as security that remain the responsibility of the central government.
  3. What trends are you noticing in your area of work?
    In governance reforms, an emerging issue of concern is rising conflict and violent extremism that severely impacts development planning in all the sectors alike – health or agriculture, for example. One testimony of this correlation is the fact that no low-income fragile or conflict-affected country could achieve a single Millennium Development Goal target. In the Kenyan context, one of the objectives of devolution was to mitigate conflict and marginalization. Therefore, conflict sensitivity has to be embedded in sectoral planning processes.
  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?
    Usually, I access internet-based literature. Up until now, I have been using the Governance and Social Development Resource Center (GSDRC) of the University of Birmingham. The GSDRC has published topic guides and other references and case studies on governance issues, including CVE. I have just come across the Peace Exchange space that looks interesting and useful. I am sure I will be able to tap all the resources available through the Resource Library.

Nigina Valentini

Title: Technical Manager, M&E
Organization: Creative Associates International
Technical Expertise: Over 14 years of extensive experience implementing M&E activities for international programs in human rights, democracy and governance, peacebuilding, and CVE areas.

  1. Why did you join this community of practice?
    I joined to learn from other M&E professionals working on Countering Violent Extremism (CVE) and Peacebuilding programs, while simultaneously sharing my own knowledge and experience. This community of practice was very much needed, and I am happy to be a part of it. Development work often happens in silos, therefore having these kinds of communities of practice will help coordinate efforts and maximize the impact of development programs.
  2. What have been some of your most interesting or challenging assignments?
    Some of my most interesting and challenging assignments include:
    • Facilitating the development of company-wide theory of change (TOC) on Countering Violent Extremism (CVE) programming.
    • Working with 13 different grantees on harmonizing data collection and reporting on a set of indicators measuring women’s’ economic empowerment.
    • Conducting field work with Syrian refugees in Turkey.
    • Supporting human rights activists in closed/restrictive-societies.
    • Assessing the impact of CIPE programs by examining program objectives, benefits, influential factors, outcomes and long-term sustainability as part of 25-year evaluation report.
  3. What trends are you noticing in your area of work?
    Monitoring and Evaluation in CVE and peacebuilding programs is no longer secondary. Monitoring and Evaluation is now used for Learning, and Knowledge Management, which is a positive step. It is time that Monitoring and Evaluation is given more attention, funding. The learning derived from M&E activities can be applied to on-going or new programming. It is happening already, but there needs to be a bigger push, and having Communities of Practice such as this, I believe will help with advancing this agenda.
  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 quite a few sources, but I really find DME for Peace, EvalPartners, and UN sites useful for my work.

September 2018


Valentina Baú

Title: Academic Researcher and Lecturer
Organization: University of New South Wales
Technical Expertise: Communication for Development in Peacebuilding

  1. Why did you join this community of practice?
    I have joined this community to learn about and from the work of other practitioners or researchers in the field of peacebuilding, and to access useful resources. I would love to know more, in particular, about the use that others are making of the media and communication in their peacebuilding interventions. Or even to hear whether anyone out there is considering adopting both traditional media channels and communication technologies in their programs, in order to exchange knowledge and ideas.
  2. What have been some of your most interesting or challenging assignments?
    Exploring the use of participatory art with adolescents in an internally displaced people’s camp in Mindanao.
    Doing digital storytelling with FARC combatants in Colombia.
  3. What trends are you noticing in your area of work?
    The use of the media and communication for development are receiving an increasing interest in peacebuilding, and more and more initiatives are being designed keeping communication in mind. What is still lacking is a proper documentation of both the development and the impact of such work.
  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 use a lot the Communication Initiative website. Otherwise, I honestly find LinkedIn wonderful for the latest publications, especially in the non-academic literature. It’s about following the right people and organizations. It’s very helpful in receiving interesting stuff on your feed.

Kate Roff

Title: Editor
Organization: Peace News Network

  1. Why did you join this community of practice?
    I believe in peace journalism, and the impact that media can have – not just during conflict (on the countries involved and the rest of the world) but also during the pre- and post-conflict stages. Stories of people taking risks for peace are powerful, and lacking in mainstream media, so we wanted to fill that gap.
  2. What have been some of your most interesting or challenging assignments?
    We get to meet and interview people in conflict zones who are incredibly brave. One story that I found very profound was a teacher in Baghdad, Iraq, who started teaching displaced students (from different religious sects) on a rooftop when he didn’t have classroom space – his dedication was incredible.
  3. What trends are you noticing in your area of work?
    Both readers and investors are beginning to really recognize the potential for peace-building media, and the role that can play on the ground and in the larger media space.
  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?
    Most peace-building organizations have excellent newsletters that provide insight into their work. Conciliation Resources, Peace Insight from Peace Direct, Search for Common Ground, and a new one called Peacebuilding Deeply are all great sources.

 


May 2018


Joanna Springer

Title: Senior Research and Evaluation Specialist
Organization: Global Communities
Technical Expertise: Research, Monitoring & Evaluation, and Learning

  1. Why did you join this community of practice?
    To share and exchange resources on conflict sensitive M&E, and M&E for Collaborating, Learning and Adapting in fragile settings.
  2. What have been some of your most interesting or challenging assignments?
    Designing and implementing a longitudinal study to track community resilience outcomes in South Sudan for a USAID project, despite ongoing conflict and humanitarian crises.
    Rolling out a methodology for tracking social capital outcomes across a broad variety of community engagement programs, to establish an organizational database of achievements and learning across country contexts.
  3. What trends are you noticing in your area of work?
    1- Desire to track and measure intangible outcomes that are important to the sustainability of development interventions; 2- increase in the rigor of qualitative methods to understand a broader range of factors and dynamics impacting outcomes; 3- understanding that M&E teams need to have increased interaction with technical or implementing teams, in order to ensure uptake and application of programmatic learning, and continually develop M&E tools to address changing circumstances and adaptive management decisions.
  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?
    USAID Learning Lab for tools, strategies and approaches;
    DM&E for peace for webinars and reports;
    World Bank, ODI, Feinstein International Center for research and studies.

 


April 2018


Nathaniel Msen Awuapila

Title: Executive Facilitator/CEO
Organization: Civil Organizations Research Advocacy and Funding Initiatives Development (CORAFID), Benue State, Nigeria.
Technical Expertise: Conflict-sensitivity, Capacity building, Children’s Rights and Protection, and Research. I have worked mainly in Nigeria.

  1. Why did you join this community of practice?
    I believe that Peace Exchange provides an opportunity to learn from experts around the world, as well as share my knowledge and expertise with the community. I am member of Forum on Farmer-Herder Relations in Nigeria (FFARN). I believe that Peace Exchange offers similar opportunities.
  2. What have been some of your most interesting or challenging assignments?
    The following assignments stand out as the most interesting to me in the past few years.
    First, in January 2015, I initiated a proposal to integrate conflict sensitivity and peacebuilding in the USAID funded Sustainable Mechanisms for Improved Livelihoods and Household Empowerment (SMILE) Project, which is being implemented in Nigeria by a consortium led by Catholic Relief Services (CRS). Following approval of the initiative, I was contracted to carry out a conflict sensitivity and peacebuilding assessment of the project in 2 pilot states, Benue and Nasaraw. In 2017, I was re-engaged by CRS to carry out a baseline assessment with the purpose of integrating conflict-sensitivity on the SMILE Project. The assessment was successfully carried out, and selected stakeholders were trained and are now reporting progress being made in the pilot communities.
    Second, between July and December 2015, I served as a research consultant for West Africa Network for Peacebuilding (WANEP) Nigeria with responsibility of coordinating implementation of a study on the contributions of WANEP and other peacebuilding networks in north central Nigeria for the period 1999 – 2014. This assignment revealed the sources of challenges associated with peacebuilding work in Nigeria.
    Third, I advocated for the integration of the Protection Sector Working Group (PSWG) as part of Violence Against Children Response Plan for Benue State in 2015. The advocacy became successful in July of 2016, when I had the rare opportunity of serving as a consultant for the finalisation of Priority Actions to End Violence Against Children in Benue State. This scope of work was implemented for the first time in Nigeria. In 2017, I was invited by Action Aid Nigeria and the Edo state government as consultant for the formulation of Priority Plans to End Violence Against Children in the Edo state. This was successfully done and the state became the second in Nigeria to have integrated the State Plan for Children, a Protection Sector Working Group (PSWG).
    Fourth, I served as consultant with the responsibility of co-facilitating justice and security dialogue sessions for stakeholders in Jos North, Plateau State and also co-facilitated peacebuilding training for the stakeholders, in 2016 and 2017. The impact of the overall intervention has been salutary hitherto unfriendly communities now frequently engage and form alliances to address their common challenges.
    Fifth, I represent my NGO on the Forum of Farmer-Herder Relations in Nigeria, as the sole CSO representative from Benue State. In 2017, I was a contributing author of a policy brief published by Search for Common Ground on behalf of the Forum in December 2017. The policy brief was on, The Implications of the Open Grazing Prohibition and Ranches Establishment Law for Farmer-Herder Relations in the Middle Belt of Nigeria. The policy brief is the first of its kind addressing the subject matter by a learning exchange group in Nigeria.
    Sixth, one of my latest research works, The Culture of Violence in Nigeria: A Problem of Intractability or Weak Methods?, has been selected for publication by Cambridge Scholars Publishing as part of a volume titled Satyagraha/Ujamaa: Connecting Contemporary African-Asian Peacemaking and edited by Professors Matt Meyer and Vidya Jain. We await the copies from the press!
  3. What trends are you noticing in your area of work?
    Peacebuilding work in Nigeria is very challenging. The country lacks a policy framework to guide conflict prevention, and also lacks peace architecture. Over the past few years, peacebuilding work has been donor-led, with minimal initiative from the Nigerian government. Recently, interest in this area has become more pronounced, with over 100 active peacebuilding organizations working in various parts of the country. The need for peace architecture has also been acknowledged by the United Nations, when it reached an agreement with the Nigerian government to aid in building policy on conflict prevention and peacebuilding in 2017. With the establishment of a specialized body of peacebuilders under the umbrella of FFARN, which brings together more than 20 key peacebuilding institutes, CSOs and policy organizations, the country is already feeling the impact of core professionals engaging critical stakeholders. This means well for Nigeria.
  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?
    Currently unavailable.

 


April 2018


Francois Dupaquier

Title: CEO
Organization: FrontView
Technical Expertise: Monitoring and Evaluation, Research, External Audit, Training, and Operational Strategy and Support

  1. Why did you join this community of practice?
    As experts in complex crisis approaches, we follow all development in the field of conflict sensitivity, especially those in humanitarian relief contexts. We are specifically involved in the Middle East crises, where conflict sensitivity is a major concern with the increase of access problems and the related difficulties in terms of monitoring and evaluation. The Peace Exchange community is a precious source of information in terms of networking, research and best practices.
  2. What have been some of your most interesting or challenging assignments?
    We find interest in all assignments that we choose! But to speak more specifically, the work we did for a French medical NGO, in 2016, was very challenging as we supported humanitarian intervention in the field of emergency medicine and surgery in the war affected areas of Iraq, following the Sinjar and Mosul battles. We assessed the needs, developed a strategy, wrote proposals and fundraised. Since then, we have supported the operational follow up, developing a completely new internal procedures manual. We have also been involved in the entire project cycle management, with a strong focus on conflict sensitivity. It has been a rich experience assessing precisely the field situation, analyzing the stakeholders (as the relationships between Yezidi and Arabic communities) and designing humanitarian answers to avoid the emergence of conflict as much as possible.
  3. What trends are you noticing in your area of work?
    We are facing more and more difficulties related to humanitarian access. Without direct field access, and with more local partnerships for the projects’ implementation and with some new emerging modus operandi modalities as the cash based interventions, the questions of M&E and of conflict sensitivity must be seen as central components.
  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?
    We have our own works and methodologies, but with new trends and the development of new technologies, we need to be at the forefront of what has been developed and tested. Resources, like the Peace Exchange community, are key for us to work as one in favor of the populations that we serve.

 


March 2018


Mads Frilander2

Mads Frilander

Title: Global Conflict Analysis Advisor & Regional Technical Manager for East Africa and Yemen
Organization: Danish Refugee Council (DRC)/ Danish Demining Group (DDG)
Technical Expertise: Conflict Management and Security Governance

  1. Why did you join this community of practice?
    I joined the Peace Exchange community of practice to connect with other practitioners and academics working on conflict prevention and peacebuilding issues. I see it as an opportunity to learn from my peers through discussions about challenges, successes and lessons learned.
  2. What have been some of your most interesting or challenging assignments?
    I have worked on various conflict prevention and security governance issues for the past 15 years. Much of this time has been spent in eastern Africa where I have worked on very interesting issues around promoting conflict sensitivity of large-scale extractive industry and infrastructure initiatives, strengthening meaningful public participation and local solutions to conflict and security challenges in borderlands and working with local communities, civil society and security and justice providers to improve the safety of conflict affected communities.
  3. What trends are you noticing in your area of work?
    I think there is a growing recognition of the importance of bottom up approaches to security and justice problems and that peace and state building must be inclusive and take place at multiple levels of society. I also see a growing recognition that countering violent extremism initiatives need to be refocused towards community peacebuilding with more focus on addressing local concerns and strengthening community cohesion and state-citizen relationships.
  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 a specific go-to resource. I use various different tools and draw inspiration from research and lessons learned from our own work and that of other organizations working on conflict prevention and peacebuilding.

 


February 2018


Rachel Mims

Title: Program Officer
Organization: National Democratic Institute (NDI)
Technical Expertise: Youth Political Participation; Grassroots Advocacy; Child Welfare

  1. Why did you join this community of practice?
    I initially listened to a couple youth-focused webinars on the Peace Exchange and they were helpful. This platform has been a reliable source for current research as well as a gathering space for a diverse group of peacebuilding experts. The development of a democratic political culture should be a peaceful process and often democratic activists utilize peacebuilding approaches, however lack of political space, lack of transparency in the government, and lack of accountability can be contributing factors for violence. I joined the community of practice to learn from other practitioners, to share professional experience and to stay current on peacebuilding approaches.
  2. What have been some of your most interesting or challenging assignments?
    My challenges are often not attributed to a particular assignment but the attitudes and beliefs that contribute to many different environments. The most interesting challenge that I encounter is the pervasive, negative perception of young people and their value and capabilities. It is also challenging when young people risk everything to change the status quo and rally for accountability and justice, only to face a myriad of barriers and completely shut out of the decision-making process.
  3. What trends are you noticing in your area of work?
    I think a trend that many people are hyper aware of is closing space for civil society in many countries around the world. This trend directly impacts the most marginalized populations, including young people. I think this calls for an increased investment in young people as social change agents and political activists. I also find that many young people are encouraged to work with young people on youth issues, but this has less of an impact than working alongside the community and power holders to bring about change.
  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 a go-to resource that I use daily but I often reference advocacy and community organizing approaches because they are effective strategies for building power among people who have traditionally been denied a voice. I also reference Youth Power, UNDP’s Enhancing Youth Political Participation throughout the Electoral Cycle and Young People’s Participation in Peacebuilding: A Practice Note.

 


December 2017


jeanne-vuvan

Jeanne Vu Van

Title: Media Producer
Organization: Freelance, currently producing a Anti-hate Speach Campaign in the Democratic Republic of Congo for the NGO Radio La Benevolencija – Humanitarian Tools Foundation.
Technical Expertise: International Project management, Media Production and Communication for Development

  1. Why did you join this community of practice?
    I joined Peace Exchange last month for the webinar “Peace Exchange: Putting Youth in the Driver Seat to Prevent Violent Extremism.” I was particularly interested in this topic because I am currently working on the roots of violence, youth manipulation and trauma healing in the DRC.
  2. What have been some of your most interesting or challenging assignments?
    In 2006, I went to Laos to produce a film about the effects of Unexploded Ordnances (UXO) on development. In this country, the international aid assistance had faced a huge failure for more than 30 years. Despite massive food assistance, malnutrition was still severely affecting rural zones and the country was far from food self-sufficiency. As a matter of fact, a major issue was the pollution by UXOs -which had been disseminated during the Vietnam War- of agricultural lands. Furthermore, numerous accidents were reported every year, especially among children and farmers. It took several decades before food assistance organisations and Uxo clearance programmes started to adopt a common strategy in order to clean and decontaminate high community impact areas such as agricultural zones, roads, pass, vicinity of villages, etc. Safe lands were then officially released to communities and were followed by development programmes. A few years later, the Convention on Cluster Munitions (CCM) was opened for signature on 3 December 2008 in Oslo. As of July 2017, 108 states have signed the treaty and 102 have ratified it. In this case, not only did the villagers have to be sensitized on the presence of UXO in their lands but aid organisations and the International Community also needed to change their behaviour to reach their goals. This experience made me understand that local changes must be supported by intensive advocacy strategies toward decision makers and authorities.
  3. What trends are you noticing in your area of work?
    After having concentrated for many years on radio and TV as communication tools, I have observed a shift in the dynamics of the way populations use media in the recent years. I have spent a lot of my time in conflict environments that are volatile, and the importance of using various means of communication such as social media, mobile phones or blogs is more and more important. However, with the growing competition in the humanitarian sector, we must be careful of not misleading organisation branding and communication for development.
  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 really enjoy re-reading Annah Arendt’s magnificent work such as On Violence, which is a rare and precious work about the roots of modern manipulation and intoxication in politics, how it leads to violence and the means of counteracting it.

 


October 2017


Laura Gagliardone

Title: Program Development and Evaluation, Communications and Engagement Specialist
Organization: UNITED NATIONS (UN) and NGOs, Independent Consultant

  1. Why did you join this community of practice?
    I have joined this community of practice because, over the past 12 years, I have served the UN System and NGOs addressing peace and security, humanitarian affairs, gender equality, and youth positive development related issues. And I believe that exchanging good practices and ideas around Peace, Prosperity, and People, the three pillars of the 2030 Agenda which the UN and the US focus on is the chance to build sustainable communities and cities together.
  2. What have been some of your most interesting or challenging assignments?
    Some of my most interesting and challenging assignments have been:
    -Preparation of the Pop-up Note (a friendly and easy to read note) on the Evaluation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) Implementation Landscape as I have had to summarize how evaluators have got organized to advance the practice of Evaluation in this challenging times
    -Conceptualization of the UNCDF Communications and Advocacy Strategy for BankTheYouth, an initiative aimed to facilitate youth’s financial access
    -Preparation of the evaluation report ‘Women’s Allocation of Time in India, Indonesia, and China’ to demonstrate how women’s unpaid work contributes to national economic growth
    -Preparation of the Proposal to the UN and the Vatican for Humanitarian Assistance in the MENA region
    -Evaluations for the UN agencies (UNDP, IFAD, and FAO, in collaboration with the WFP and WBG).
  3. What trends are you noticing in your area of work?
    The practice of Evaluation has been evolving fast over the past years and it is more and more recognized as the chance to improve policies, programs, projects, initiatives, and organizations. Also, evaluators have understood the importance of communicating the evaluation findings and recommendations in an effective way and through social networks and media to modify people’s behavior and contribute to the sustainability of communities and cities.
  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 have been using resources available through various networks, such as: American Evaluation Association (EVALTALK), EvalPartners / EVALSDGs, EvalGender+, USAID Youth Power Community of Practice, DME for Peace, and Peace Exchange. Also, I regularly monitor the UN websites to stay updated on progresses regarding international development and security.

September 2017


David Nyiringabo

Title: Assistant Coordinator
Organization: Congo Peace Network
Technical Expertise: Peacebuilding

  1. Why did you join this community of practice?
    I joined this community of practice for two reasons. One is that I want to be part of important networks that can help me be more effective in the field of peacebuilding in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Second is that I want to share my experience in this domain with other people who are interested in it.
  2. What have been some of your most interesting or challenging assignments?
    Some of my interesting assignment has been to distinguish the government from the society. In International Relations one government can fight against another without having this decision going through referendum. But sadly, though citizens did not choose that, they are the ones to suffer hatred and violence.
  3. What trends are you noticing in your area of work?
    I have noticed that there is a great need of conflict analysis in DRC for a strategic planning. The other thing is that we need to find a link between non-violent resistance and peacebuilding.
  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 any specific resource I use daily but I get my information from different sources. If you have any, please share it with me.

March 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