DAC Guidelines and Reference Series

1990-0988 (online)
1990-0996 (print)
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This series present internationally-agreed policy guidelines and suggestions from the OECD Development Assistance Committee.
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Evaluating Peacebuilding Activities in Settings of Conflict and Fragility

Evaluating Peacebuilding Activities in Settings of Conflict and Fragility

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08 Nov 2012
9789264106802 (PDF) ;9789264106796(print)

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Recognising a need for better, tailored approaches to learning and accountability in conflict settings, the Development Assistance Committee (DAC) launched an initiative to develop guidance on evaluating conflict prevention and peacebuilding activities.  The objective of this process has been to help improve evaluation practice and thereby support the broader community of experts and implementing organisations to enhance the quality of conflict prevention and peacebuilding interventions. It also seeks to guide policy makers, field and desk officers, and country partners towards a better understanding of the role and utility of evaluations. The guidance  presented in this book provides background on key policy issues affecting donor engagement in settings of conflict and fragility and introduces some of the challenges to evaluation particular to these settings. It then provides step-by-step guidance on the core steps in planning, carrying out and learning from evaluation, as well as some basic principles on programme design and management.

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  • Foreword

    The international community, including members of the Development Assistance Committee (DAC), has paid increasing attention to situations of conflict and fragility, acknowledging that these settings represent some of the great development challenges of our time. Rising levels of resources go into these contexts, but the fact that no fragile state has yet to reach any of the Millennium Development Goals is a stark reminder to us all that results are difficult to achieve and sustain in these situations. Finding answers to improve delivery is urgent, not least for the populations suffering from conflict and poverty.

  • Executive summary

    The high human, economic, political and social costs of violent conflict – coupled with a growing sense that such suffering and devastation could be avoided or at least mitigated – have led to increasing shares of development and humanitarian assistance being spent in settings of violent conflict and state fragility. In the decade to 2009 the share of overseas development assistance (ODA) to fragile, conflict-afflicted countries doubled to USD 46 billion and 37% of total available ODA. International actors now recognise the centrality of these challenges for global development.

  • Glossary
  • Introduction

    In recent years, the international community has paid increasing attention to situations of conflict and fragility, acknowledging that they are one of the great development challenges of our time. As growing shares of resources, time and energy are devoted to projects, programmes, and policy strategies for countries affected by conflict and fragility, more evidence of the effectiveness of these endeavours is essential. Donors, practitioners and developing country governments show mounting interest in learning more about what does and does not work, and why, and in improving understanding of what contributes positively to sustainable peace and development.

  • Conceptual background and the need for improved approaches in situations of conflict and fragility

    Chapter 1 outlines the conceptual background to working in settings of conflict and fragility. Arguing that such settings require a deep understanding of context and conflict, the chapter first seeks to characterise fragile and conflict-affected situations. It then looks at the purpose and goals of external engagement and describes, based on recent evaluations, how development assistance sometimes misses its targets and can even "do harm" when international partners have not sufficiently understood and adapted to the real context-specific drivers of peace and conflict. It is suggested that better conflict analysis and clearer targeting, together with more explicit and tested theories of change and results-based management can contribute to improving the knowledge base for development assistance programmes and facilitate evaluation.

  • Addressing challenges of evaluation in situations of conflict and fragility

    This chapter is first of the three that form the main evaluation guidance. Building on the conceptual basis of Chapter 1, it outlines key challenges to evaluation in these settings and then describes core principles for addressing these challenges, including the OECD evaluation principles. The chapter considers the role of conflict analysis and the need to understand the particular context of the intervention. These principles should guide an evaluation in fragile, conflicted settings throughout the process described in Chapters 3 and 4.

  • Preparing an evaluation in situations of conflict and fragility

    This chapter considers how evaluation commissioning agencies and planners may set up an evaluation. Its base premise is that effective preparation makes for effective evaluation. It thus examines each of the key preparatory steps, looking first at how to define the purpose of an evaluation and how to conduct (or commission) a conflict analysis. The chapter then goes onto discuss how to identify the key questions an evaluation must ask. It examines timing and logistics, co-ordination with other actors, selecting evaluation criteria, management, methods, the evaluation team, and the dissemination of evaluation results.

  • Conducting an evaluation in situations of conflict and fragility

    Chapter 4 considers the business of conducting an evaluation. It begins with the inception phase, and then looks at how to identify theories of change and the implementation logic underpinning the activity being evaluated. The next step is the issue of gaps in baseline data and how and where to source data in order to plug the gaps. The chapter looks at the criteria evaluators should use, focusing in particular on the DAC criteria of relevance, effectiveness, impact, sustainability and efficiency. It then describes how to bring an evaluation to a close. The chapter looks at drawing conclusions and issuing recommendations and at the reports evaluators produce. The next step the chapter discusses is communicating the evaluation’s (positive or negative) results to stakeholders and disseminating the lessons learned. Finally, to close the loop, the chapter emphasises the importance of feeding findings back into programme design and management.

  • Conflict analysis and its use in evaluation

    This guidance suggests the use of conflict analysis in planning, managing, and evaluating conflict prevention and peacebuilding programmes and policies. Conflict analysis helps to identify what is needed to address the conflict and to understand the context in which an intervention is to be implemented. As such, many practitioners will already be familiar with the use of this tool in designing projects and programmes. This annex seeks to further explain the role of conflict analysis in the context of evaluation.

  • Understanding and evaluating theories of change

    Theory of change is a flexible approach meant to encourage critical thinking in the design, implementation and evaluation of development activities. As described by Vogel (2012) "theory of change thinking" is being increasingly used in international development by a wide range of actors. This guidance encourages questioning strategies and activities that impact on peacebuilding and conflict prevention. It offers theories of change as one way to help evaluators assess and programme managers and decision makers think through the hypotheses of change and assumptions that underpin their work. Vogel describes theory of change as a process of analysis and learning that produces insight to support critical thinking throughout the programme cycle. It is also a flexible approach that may be helpful in encouraging innovation in programme strategies to respond and adapt to change in the context.

  • Sample terms of reference for a conflict evaluation

    To consider how an evaluation’s terms of reference (TOR) should be drawn up, this annex takes as an imaginary example the evaluation of a peace journalism programme (schematically outlined in Figure 4.1). It is provided to give readers an idea of the type of information to include in a conflict prevention and peacebuilding TOR. It is indicative and should not be taken as a form model. A real TOR would give greater detail. Further tips on drafting TORs can be found in Quality Standards for Development Evaluation (OECD, 2010c).

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