Monitoring and Evaluation of Peacebuilding: The Role of New Media
The technological advances that facilitate our daily communication and organisation requirements have triggered hopes about their applicability in challenging circumstances, such as crisis or conflict situations. The world wide web and especially mobile phone networks are not any more reserved for higher-income countries but these technologies are today available in most of the world’s countries, including regions in which humanitarian, development and peacebuilding workers operate, constantly seeking new tools and instruments that help them master their challenging tasks (Smith et al. 2011, p. ix). According to statistics of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), mobile phone penetration rates are at almost 45% in low-income and about 7 % in lower middle-income countries (ITU 2011). About 56% of all mobile phone subscriptions are from poorer countries which at the same time experience the highest growth rates (Zambrano & Seward 2010, p.12). It is estimated that 80- 90% of people in less developed countries have access to a cell phone (Zuckerman 2009, p. 88).
Donors and the public have high expectations of how relief, conflict prevention and development interventions should be conducted and what outcomes they should achieve. Measuring the impact of peacebuilding activities is usually part of the Monitoring and Evaluation (M&E) of peacebuilding. While some experiences of humanitarian workers applying new media for their operations have already been reviewed by researchers, especially as regards beneficiary communication or humanitarian coordination (e.g. in the 2010 Haiti earthquake response), this study looks at the use of social media, Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) and mobile phones in peacebuilding. It focuses on the potential of new media to improve peacebuilding through supporting monitoring and evaluation