Since 2004, Peace Direct has been at the forefront of thinking and practice around how to support locally-led peacebuilding efforts in conflict zones across the world. It has partnerships with local organisations in 14 countries, with connections to a broader network of local peacebuilders globally. These partnerships allow for collaborative opportunities, whilst also raising the profile of locally-led approaches. Peace Direct advocates for systemic changes to peacebuilding that can shift power to local actors, including more innovative, flexible approaches to financing local groups and referencing locally-led analysis in the development of policy recommendations. In addition to leading and participating in multiple networks, Peace Direct champions the agenda for the decolonisation of development aid and has co-authored Guiding Principles for donors and a meta-analysis on the effectiveness of local peacebuilding.
Peace Direct is committed to developing an overarching organisational approach to monitoring, evaluation and learning (MEL) that enables it to understand and communicate the collective and structural impact of the work that it supports, beyond the immediate outcomes and stories of individual change. The system aims to capture what success looks like across its partners, while remaining true to Peace Direct’s commitment for local partners to lead in its design, roll-out and implementation.
In its first phase of support, Peace Direct had to first take stock of existing MEL practices and design a participatory process through which its framework could be developed in a way that would appropriately meet the needs of all stakeholders involved. After consultation, it was decided to develop a Learning Framework that would combine the organisational and collective learning agenda of both Peace Direct and its partners that is separate yet complementary to the monitoring of individual projects.
The approach allows for each partner to identify their own learning questions while also co-creating an organisation-wide research agenda and data collection and analysis system that is context-relevant and useful. This is a time-consuming process, as it requires both Peace Direct and partners to unlearn ineffective traditional MEL practices; but one that is energizing partners to own their MEL process and learn from their work rather than have it led centrally or externally.
In its second phase of support, Peace Direct will consolidate the progress made, supporting its partners to fully implement the MEL framework to inform partner initiatives at the local level, feed into reports, proposals and learning spaces with donors, as well as advocacy and research work. It will also look at refreshing its strategy in its efforts to further operationalize its commitment to an anti-racist, decolonial and genuinely locally-led peacebuilding practice. The findings and learning from this work will also be shared widely within the peacebuilding sector.