Peace Direct are an amazing international peacebuilding charity that support local communities in stopping war and building lasting peace.
We want to help them track what they are working towards achieving, so we met up with them to talk about what they do, why they do it and how they track their global impact.
When you think about how you make a change in those really difficult environments, what does change look like?
PD: It’s about people having hope and a promising future, free from violence. That is so difficult to measure though, and that’s such a huge challenge for us, and one that we are constantly working on...it’s about setting up monitoring and evaluating tools and working out signifiers that are context specific.
As Peace Direct work in conflict zones where dangerous situations are caused by a plethora of scenarios, they’ve had to get creative and think outside the box when establishing their signifiers...
“In the Democratic Republic of Congo there are signifiers to measure prosperity. We look at the materials people build their houses with, whether their children are in school, and the number of pairs of shoes people have. The more shoes, the more likely they are to be secure and less likely to join a militia group which suggests there will be less conflict.”
Aside from quantitative signifiers, Peace Direct have been working to map conflicts across Burundi…
PD: We are working on a mapping project in Burundi...where local organisations report signs of conflict and human right violations as they are breaking out and try to react to stop them. In one case, we identified that a conflict would move and violence was likely to breakout in a certain area. The conflict did move there but, through our early warning, violence was limited. A demonstration that this works.
The international community, including the UN have acknowledged how important mapping and early warning systems are in preventing violence escalating and told us that our mapping work provides them with the most up to date information on the Burundi conflict. But that’s unique to Burundi because of how the situation developed...but we’ve recently started some work in Democratic Republic of Congo to try and do similar mapping work.
What do you think are the main challenges in measuring the impact, across different countries, with different people, different partners and different sizes of organisations?
PD: It is often difficult to identify the indicators and then collect the data consistently as we’re working in conflict zones, the most fragile and difficult working environments. It’s about identifying that it’s really important to question whether the work is having an impact, that it is not just for funders but genuinely, are we helping people build sustainable peace? it ‘s about adapting to the environment and making monitoring and evaluating suitable for that project.
“Stories are a great way for us to track impact.”
Peace Direct told us that it’s not just quantitative data that they are collecting to assess their impact, telling stories and hearing of stories from partners in similar situations, they can adapt their methods for maximum results. The stories that Peace Direct tell of their work and it’s impacts in local and national communities emphasise the incredible work they are doing and their success. Like the story of Badar who, as a result of his training with Aware Girls, helped a young boy who had been radicalised to abandon his suicide mission and return to school.
Although each conflict situation is different, do you find that you have the ability to take a few indicators and apply them across many projects in different countries or do you need different ones for each?
PD: Sometimes our projects are so different, they don’t translate but, yes, we can use some. In every project we monitor the number of people we help, directly and indirectly. Often there are also indicators that relate to how safe and secure people feel which we can apply across projects, so things like being able to walk outside after dark, or being able to express their opinions, and dealing with conflicts non-violently. Stories of change, of course, span across all projects.
In a dream world, what are you trying to achieve in each situation?
PD: There are three main areas to this:
Early warning to prevent outbreaks of violence
Helping communities to rebuild lives after war
Tackling the root causes of violent extremism
“If we go, who will be here, who will do anything about this?”
Local partner, Syria.
Peace Direct are extremely dedicated to their incredible work and believe that commitment to the cause is essential for success in bringing peace to conflict areas. Check out their amazing work here.
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