DME for Peace, ConnexUs’ sister platform, was launched in January 2012 to develop a culture of knowledge sharing in the peacebuilding field. Since its launch, over 285,000 unique users from 191 countries have utilized the platform, accessing our community resources, participating in and leading Thursday Talks, and mentoring emerging professionals on the foundations of monitoring and evaluation. Here are three key lessons we have learned from 10 years of DME for Peace:
Learning needs to be integrated, not isolated.
There have been huge advances in design, monitoring, and evaluation of peacebuilding programming, yet the lessons learned and evidence generated are not necessarily being utilized in the design and implementation of programming. We need to do more to integrate learning in programming to ensure that it engages all practitioners, not just evaluators. This requires both a culture and attitude shift to make evidence accessible and application-oriented.
We also need to be deliberate about our efforts to showcase learning. Publishing a resource or an evaluation does not guarantee utilization – it needs to be accompanied by a dissemination and socialization strategy that allows the end-user to engage with the resource.
Local voices need more accessible structures to contribute to the knowledge ecosystem.
The DME for Peace library has amassed over 2,000 publicly sourced resources from practitioners around the world, but we need to do more to capture the expertise of local practitioners, showcase their work, and amplify their voices.
What constitutes quality evidence, and who contributes that information, is being driven by Western and Global North actors. We need to reconceptualize what we consider to be knowledge or quality evidence to more explicitly include the insights of local practitioners. This reconceptualization also needs to expand how we contribute knowledge, moving beyond the 60-70 page formal evaluations and reports to creating structures that are more accessible to a global community, such as sharing voice notes and video clips via WhatsApp and other channels that practitioners are familiar with.
Technology is a tool and not the golden solution: Not every project needs a shiny new website or digital community of practice.
Yes, I know your donor wants a shiny new website with their logo on it, but do you really need it? Does the field really need it? Have you thought about what will happen to that website when your funding ends?
We need to move beyond project-specific products, such as digital communities of practice, and focus on complementing and collaborating with current efforts. This will allow us, as a field, to utilize resources more effectively and not duplicatively. By embedding and integrating future projects within existing platforms, we can build on the work of others, meeting the needs of our current projects, while also promoting long-term and sustainable engagement with the lessons learned from previous projects.
The success of our field is built on a culture of cooperation and collaboration, and through more sustainable and long-term thinking, we can make a far greater impact through partnership with established digital spaces. If you have any questions or ideas about this, or maybe you want to partner with us for your next project, feel free to click here & email me.
In 2022, we’re taking these lessons and implementing some pretty big changes to DME for Peace. We want to continue to meet the needs of our global community by supporting learning, showcasing the work of practitioners, and, hopefully, improving the effectiveness of programming through access, connection, and impact.
Here’s to 2022.