Design, Monitoring and Evaluation for Peacebuilding

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Attending Evaluation 2016? These sessions are not to be missed!

Author, Copyright Holder: 
Jack Farrell


Are you attending next week’s American Evaluation Association’s Annual Conference: Evaluation 2016? Check out DME for Peace’s recommendations for what’s not to be missed in Atlanta! For a list of all the events, check out the Evaluation 2016 website.

Can’t be in Atlanta? Follow DME for Peace on Twitter & Facebook for live coverage of all of the events in Atlanta.


Wednesday, October 26th

Evaluating Business Contributions to Peacebuilding

When: 4:30-6:00pm

Where: Room - M302

Session Description: Much evidence on how businesses contribute to peace is anecdotal, or based on highly generalized assumptions about the relationship of economic fairness or well-being to peace. This think tank seeks to explore evaluation criteria and methods that can generate more reliable evidence about peacebuilding impacts of a business initiative in a conflict context. We will focus on a few challenges to monitoring and evaluation peace effectiveness of business operations: Can we develop “metrics” for peacebuilding effectiveness, given the importance of context and the intangible nature of many peacebuilding impacts? How might we evaluate the often unanticipated and inadvertent impacts of day-to-day operations of companies on peace in relation to outcomes of more intentional efforts? How should criteria and approaches for evaluating contributions to peace relate to other risk mitigation and sustainability frameworks that assess corporate compliance with human rights standards, as well as development and environmental impacts?



Thursday, October 27th

Standards for Peacebuilding Monitoring and Evaluation

When: 8:00-9:30am

Where: Room - A708

Session Description: Peacebuilding organizations operate in complex, quickly shifting environments, where the interaction between poverty, weak institutions, and violence, make the design, monitoring and evaluation of programs particularly challenging. Although the peacebuilding community has made significant strides in the last two decades with the prolific development of guides and tools, the practice has progress to make. To some degree the multiplicity of guides and tools makes choices for evaluation designers and managers of monitoring systems even more difficult. Development of a set of practical standards in the peacebuilding community could contribute to strengthened approaches to M&E, greater learning and increased effectiveness. This session will contribute to a broader discussion by the Peacebuilding Evaluation Consortium to forge a set of commonly recognized standards for peacebuilding M&E. The session will begin with framing of the issues, and then divide into groups to discuss evaluation and monitoring standards.

Developmental Evaluation: Where Evaluation Meets Program Design

When: 1:00-1:45pm

Where: Room - M108

Session Description: The increased interest and use of Developmental Evaluation (DE) holds great promise for the fields of international development and evaluation alike. However, the dearth of DEs that have been conducted in development means there is little awareness and evidence of DE and its potential benefits for program design and effectiveness. Through the Developmental Evaluation Pilot Activity (DEPA-MERL), we are introducing and testing the feasibility of DE at the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). Our panel of DEPA-MERL partners will share lessons learned about how to design and operationalize DE based on our experience in the first year of this innovative project. This discussion will offer practical guidance and considerations for attendees interested in using DEs to enhance program design and implementation at USAID and beyond.

Co-design Approaches in USAID’s Program Cycle
When: 1:00-1:45pm

Where: Room - International South 10

Session Description: As part of the Aid Effectiveness/Busan Agenda, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) endorses the principles of local ownership and development cooperation. USAID believes that placing more emphasis on collaborative design, when feasible and appropriate, will increase the shared value of development results with the end users and beneficiaries, leading to an increased sustainability of development programs. This panel will explore the innovative and collaborative ways USAID is designing and implementing its development programming in close collaboration with local actors at the strategy development stage, as well as through co-design of USAID projects and activities. Finally, the panel will investigate the implications that co-design processes have on the evaluation of development programs and how evaluative thinking is built into these USAID co-design approaches.

Conflict sensitivity of evaluation processes: what impacts are we leaving behind?
When: 2:00-2:45pm

Where: Room - L505

Session Description: This roundtable session will feature a brief presentation and discussion about the impacts that evaluation processes have on conflict dynamics and inter-group relations. This AEA roundtable session will offer a valuable opportunity to share the findings gathered to-date as part of CDA Learning’s study and to solicit additional input and analysis from participants on how to design and conduct evaluations that are conflict sensitive. The roundtable session will feature highlights derived from CDA's desk study and interviews with experts. Roundtable participants will be asked to note down unintended negative impacts on inter-group dynamics that they have observed in past or ongoing evaluation processes. Participants will spend time in small groups discussing practical steps that can help to anticipate, reduce and prevent such unintended impacts. Plenary discussion session will solicit additional input from all participants to be synthesized into a practical guidance on conflict sensitivity of evaluation processes.

Designing Randomized Control Trials (RCTs) in a Conflict Context

When: 2:00-2:45pm

Where: International South 3

Session Description:Considered by some to be the “gold standard” evaluation methodology, randomized control trials (RCTs) remain controversial for both ethical and logistical reasons. For peacebuilding programs, which generally operate in complex and fluid environments, designing a successful RCT is particularly challenging. In these contexts, the RCT design must meet rigorous methodological standards yet also be flexible enough to respond to inevitable changes – for example, outbreaks in violent conflict, or politicization of the RCT process and results. This panel will discuss the design and implementation of RCTs by two international peacebuilding nonprofit organizations, Search for Common Ground and PeacePlayers International. The examples examined will draw from a variety of contexts, including Israel and the Palestinian Territories, and Southern Africa. In addition, special considerations such as conducting an RCT with children and youth in a conflict setting will be discussed.

Local Ownership of M&E: Participatory Monitoring and Evaluation Methods in Design and Practice


Where: International South 1

Session Description:Even the best evaluations can be hindered at their conceptual phase by a lack of proximity to the field, both in the physical and social senses. However, incorporating local partners and beneficiaries throughout the entire life cycle of monitoring and evaluation projects and systems offers a way to alleviate some of those limitations. Local actors can provide deep contextual knowledge of the operating environment, the cultural setting and norms as well as the actors and dynamics among various actors. The International Republican Institute and Search for Common Ground will share their best practices and lessons learned in incorporating locally-relevant participatory methods into the design and practice of monitoring and evaluation systems and processes.

Friday, October 28th

Intuiting Need: Utilizing rapid versus in-depth assessment of D-MERL practices


Where: Room - L503

Session Description: The BalanceD MERL consortium, on behalf of the U.S. Global Development Lab at USAID, has developed a new rapid and in-depth assessment for organizations or programs to determine their level of “balance” along the ‘Design, M&E, Research and Learning’ (D-MERL) spectrum using four key principles: trustworthy, right-sized, relevant, and responsible. The rapid assessment was created to facilitate preliminary self-analysis of how balanced the organization or program is, both on principles, and in regards to integration of D-MERL (in itself and within program management). A follow-on in-depth assessment, conducted by external experts, was created to then identify where and how the organization or program needs to be adjusted to increase balance. This guided think tank discussion will aim to leverage M&E perspectives and feedback on rapid and/versus in-depth assessments. The objective will be to enhance learning on how to better connect these assessments that build on one another, using examples from conflict analysis, HH surveys to participatory focus groups, etc.

It's OK to Fail: Exploring opportunities for honest communication to improve democracy, human rights and peacebuilding

When: 11:00-11:45am
Where: Room - L505

Session Description: Although fail faires, as informal outlets to learn from mistakes, are taking place in the development community, these events are less prevalent in democracy, human rights and peacebuilding—where operating environments are complex, data is sensitive, and mistakes can lead to crises. Because of these challenges, it is perhaps more important to form opportunities for honest sharing, allowing donors and practitioners to learn from one another. Through examples of feedback systems and questioning why failure is difficult to communicate, speakers from the Peacebuilding Evaluation Consortium, Department of State, and USAID will lead a discussion on: using buzzword-free communication to show how learning can drive program design, and effectively suggesting alternatives to donors to improve program logic and funding mechanisms. This off-the-record session intends to initiate a frank discussion on identifying funding, implementation, and evaluation failures; and, will explore how best to develop a post-conference platform for collaborative learning and action.


Saturday, October 29th

Measuring the Effectiveness of Inter-religious Action for Peacebuilding

When: 9:45-10:30am
Where: Room - M108


Session Description: At a time when religious differences are often a tinderbox, igniting or being used to fan the flames of violence and instability, the importance of engaging religious actors could not be more crucial. For years, religious actors have played a powerful role mitigating conflict and building peacebuilding. However, there is a lack of understanding about how to effectively measure the impact of such work. In order to address this gap, a draft guide has been created entitled, ‘Guide for the Assessment of Inter-religious Action’ (GAIA) as part of the Effective Inter-religious Action in Peacebuilding Program (EIAP). The purpose of the session will be to present the draft guide and solicit feedback from others who have engaged in this field of work. The feedback will feed into the final draft of the guide – and ultimately generate key guidance on how to evaluate inter-religious action and develop a framework for ongoing learning.