While some peacemaking interventions produce tangible and observable results, such as signed agreements or implemented ceasefires, the impact of peacemaking initiatives is generally hard to measure in a concrete and accessible way. The complex, dynamic and sensitive nature of HD’s work, and of the conflict environments in which it operates, makes it difficult to measure the impact of its operations. Yet, important steps such as gaining access to conflict parties, carrying out confidence-building initiatives, providing discreet support to official peace processes, or establishing reliable channels for communication to hard-to-reach armed groups, though less tangible, are no less valuable and impactful in building sustainable peace in the long term.
In response to the challenges of measuring the impact of peacemaking efforts, HD has developed an adaptive Monitoring and Evaluation (M&E) approach, which provides an evaluative framework adaptable to highly uncertain and complex situations. This enables HD to more effectively demonstrate the value and impact of its work. The organisation has taken the best elements of traditional M&E approaches and developed an innovative model, which draws on a wider base of evidence and assesses the organisation’s work at three levels:
Following several years of trialling and adapting, in November 2017 HD’s adaptive M&E method was captured in the publication Valuing peace: delivering and demonstrating mediation results, developed as part of HD’s Mediation Practice Series. Valuing peace is also available in French.
HD’s M&E approach allows the organisation’s projects to adapt rapidly to changing circumstances on the ground. HD uses a peer review method, which enables its operational teams to reflect critically on their project’s objectives, logic, achievements and risks together with trusted internal and external colleagues. Peer reviews result in better decision-making by providing additional insight and by challenging assumptions, analyses and strategies. They may produce immediate changes to the project’s design or strategy, or affirm the project team’s good judgement in a complex and highly dynamic operating environment. HD has openly shared this method for quality assurance with trusted partners and supported the conduct of pilot peer reviews in other organisations.
Where deemed necessary and appropriate, HD also conducts external evaluations and reviews, and seeks the opinion of expert advisers. The organisation supports the emergence of innovative evaluation approaches across the peacemaking sector by collaborating with counterpart organisations, donors, universities and think tanks. The overarching purpose of these collaborations is to examine how other tools – including criteria-based benchmarking, network analysis and data visualisation – can be used to more effectively measure and describe less tangible results. Since 2014, HD has hosted annual donor-practitioner roundtables that consider M&E issues faced by international actors working on conflict prevention, mitigation and resolution.