Evaluation in Violently Divided Societies: Politics, Ethics and Methods

Posted on 24 September, 2013 – 3:38 PM

Journal of Peacebuilding & Development
Volume 8, Issue 2 (2013)
Guest Editors: Kenneth Bush and Colleen Duggan

“Those who work in support of peacebuilding and development initiatives are acutely aware that conflict-affected environments are volatile, unpredictable and fast-changing. In light of this reality, evaluation and research in the service of peacebuilding and  development is a complex enterprise. Theories of change and assumptions about how peace and development work are often unarticulated or untested. While much work continues to be done on the theories, methodologies and praxis of peacebuilding, we suggest that the international aid community, researchers and practitioners need to think more deeply and systematically about the role of evaluation in increasing the efficacy of projects and programmes in violently divided societies (VDS).

Core questions that underpin and motivate the articles contained in this special issue include.

• How does the particular context of conflict affect our approaches to, and conduct of, research and evaluation?

• Specifically, how do politics — be they local, national, international, geopolitical — interact with evaluation practice in ways that enhance or inhibit prospects for peace and sustainable development?

• What can we learn from current research and evaluation practice in the global North and South about their impacts in VDS?

• Which tools are most effective and appropriate for assessing the role of context? Should there be generic or global assessment frameworks, criteria and indicators to guide evaluation in VDS, and, if so, what do they look like? Or does the fluidity and heterogeneity of different conflict zones inhibit such developments?

• How can evaluation, in its own right, catalyse positive political and societal change? What theories of peacebuilding and social change should best guide evaluation research and practice in ways that promote peace and sustainable development?

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