An Independent External Evaluation of SCCRR’s Peacebuilding and Development Interventions
“In many aspects, Shalom’s contextually driven, rigorous but adaptable and forward-looking methodology represents a model approach towards peacebuilding in highly complex situations, such as those that pertain in Northern Kenya,…and reflects current best practice within both the peacebuilding and development sector”, (Mike Williams 2018)
In 2018, Shalom’s peacebuilding interventions in Kenya were evaluated by Mr Mike Williams, an International Development consultant, who has a vast experience of evaluating major international development organisations. Shalom was delighted with the process and the value of a professional assessment being proffered. The international development sector has placed a major emphasis on ‘development effectiveness’ over the last decade and therefore this thematic report looked at the overall results of the individual effectiveness, including key trends and issues arising and lessons learnt for future peacebuilding and human rights interventions.
Mr. Williams, in reviewing the design and delivery of the SCCRR project, put significant emphasis on the evidence on the ground, site visits to the conflict environment with SCCRR staff in Morijo, Maralal and Suguta Marmar in Samburu County. He was particularly looking at the effectives of SCCRR’s programme entitled ‘to build the capacities for peace and conflict management of communities through training, research, education / development in persistent inter-ethnic conflict in Turkana, Samburu and Marsabit counties.’
Mr Williams evaluated the work of SCCRR under the following key assessment criteria: quality of project design, quality of project implementation process and quality of project delivery.
A four-point rating system, as outlined below was applied to the performance in relation to the assessment criteria.
Green: There is strong evidence demonstrating that the project rates well against the criteria.
Green-Amber – There is evidence demonstrating that the project rates relatively well
Amber-Red – There is limited evidence that the project meets the criteria.
Red – There is no/extremely weak evidence that the project meets the criteria
Mr. Williams gave a green light rating for Project Design in regards to clarity and relevance, stating:
“the design of the project, as outlined in the logic model, was based on a clear set of four objectives on training, stakeholder workshops, research and peace education, that reflected the broader approach of Shalom. Conducting local research into the causes of conflict forms a key part of the approach. The dynamics of problem-solving workshops were based on Lederach’s methodology. The related results framework was also very logically developed, with specific (quantified) targets set. The overall design reflected a comprehensive and integrated approach towards peacebuilding that reflected the local context. A specific emphasis on formal education (including peace education and inter-tribal education in particular) was a very significant feature of the project in recognising the need to take a medium to long-term approach towards peacebuilding in highly complex situations”.
The target groups reviewed by Mr Williams were ‘poor rural communities living in very difficult circumstances in arid and semi-arid lands of Northern Kenya, where ongoing tribal conflicts are having a hugely negative impact on overall development in the region. The activities he visited in Samburu County included Samburu, Turkana and Pokot ethnic groups, all of whom are significantly marginalised. He observed that:
“community leaders of various types were specifically targeted for training because of their influence on the broader community. The project recognised the under-representation of women in conflict mitigation and decision-making at community level. A specific training module on gender issues was included in the plan. Shalom research on the Turkana-Samburu conflict achieved 40% female participation in data collection by questionnaires and 50% participation in focus group discussions”.
Mr. Williams stated:
“Shalom has strong technical capacity in research and peacebuilding with highly qualified and diverse mix of staff. Part of the Shalom support includes the upgrading of schools and provision of solar panels and the provision of peace manuals for schools, all of which are highly relevant and appropriate interventions”.
Mr, Williams gave a green light rating for quality of Project Implementation and Process. He noted that
“Shalom does not have a direct presence or offices on the ground but given the nature of its interventions, the lack of direct presence may be an advantage, as it enables and pushes local leaders and communities to progress the peacebuilding process without constant reference to Shalom as an intermediary’. From the perspective of conflict management, he notes that ‘it also means that Shalom can remain as an independent party rather than as one of the participants in the process. The community-based approach and efforts to develop community leadership were strongly evident during the field visit to Samburu”.
Apart from the relationships that Shalom has developed on the ground at community level, Mr. Williams noted that “Shalom also has developed relationships with local state agencies and actors, Church agencies and NGOs, in various locations across Kenya”. He referred to “a wide range of relationships at national and international levels, including the Inter-governmental Authority on Development (IGAD), Queen’s and Maynooth Universities in Ireland, the Catholic University of East Africa, Harvard Law School, and the Association of Member Episcopal Conferences in East Africa (AMECEA). Shalom (SCCRR) also has its own registrations and support networks in Ireland and the US, and support committees in Britain and Australia”.
In evaluating SCCRR’s project delivery, he gave SCCRR an overall rating of green/amber noting that:
“in 2017 that 83 conflict transformation and peacebuilding workshops were completed over 8 counties. 45 school projects were undertaken for 32 primary and 13 secondary schools (15,750 students). 11 other community infrastructure interventions were also undertaken. 12 primary schools (6,500 pupils) were targeted for the Shalom Peace Education Syllabus”.
In reading the mid-term and annual reports prepared by the SCCRR project team, he states:
“the 2017 mid-year report on Samburu and Marsabit counties, eight peace committees involving 175 people were reported as being already active, with another three committees (approx. 90 people) in the process of being formed. 11 workshops were reported for the two counties, including mostly intra-ethnic meetings, action planning, early warning channels developed, a common market revived, inter-ethnic sharing of a water pan, an inter-ethnic sports event and three conflicts prevented. Shalom automatically developed specific action plans to address each challenge in a local context. When all of these factors are taken into account, it appears that the project is delivering well against its original objectives”.
SCCRR received a green rating in practical evidence of meaningful change. Mr Williams noted that the focus of activities under this project was primarily on local, micro-level activities, with other Shalom interventions focussing at a broader level. He found through discussions and interviews during the field visit in Suguta Marmar, Maralal and Morijo, indicated
“many benefits for communities in inter-ethnic dialogue, even if there is still a long way to go. Particular benefits for children of different ethnicities were also evident through mixing in schools and participation in peace clubs. 14 specific stories of change from a variety of locations under the previous phase were provided in the 2015 application”.
SCCRR received a green rating in evidence of specific benefits for women, girls and vulnerable groups. Mr. Williams observed:
“seventy seven of the 175 members of active peace committees reported on in Samburu and Marsabit in 2017 were female, indicating a significant participation rate of 44%. As previously indicated, there was a strong focus on children from all communities also”.
In his conclusion, Mr Williams looked at specific examples of good practice in conflict prevention and conflict analysis and identified the following in regards to Shalom’s work:
- The use of local research to understand the issues behind conflict is a key factor.
- Shalom places a strong focus on building trust with the communities in the initial stages of interventions, as without that trust its peacebuilding interventions will not succeed.
- Targeting local leaders, including traditional leaders and formal authorities is a crucial part of the process in influencing communities.
- Shalom uses an integrated and systematic approach towards peacebuilding, including best practice methodologies from the peacebuilding and development sectors.
- The specific emphasis on education, including inter-tribal education and peace education within the curriculum, is a vital component in ensuring that the next generation have a greater understanding of how to deal with conflict and to build trust and collaboration among various tribal communities.
In his evaluation report and expanding on his observations, he states:
“grounding the project interventions on local research is crucial to its success, and the emphasis on education (and peace education in particular) is vital in forming and influencing the mind-sets of the next generation, in what is inevitably a long-term change process towards peaceful co-existence of a wide range of warring parties. The approach, with its emphasis on community leadership, stakeholder participation, high technical competency, logic models, results frameworks, stories of change and advocacy linkages also reflects current best practice within both the peacebuilding and development sectors. Shalom’s approach is a model approach towards peacebuilding, with a strong emphasis on local research to drive interventions; a systematic approach to implementation based on international best practice models of peacebuilding; a community driven way of working; the application of a results-based management system; and a forward-thinking focus on education for future generations of local peacebuilders”.
Mr. Williams gave SCCRR an overall green rating the highest rating, stating:
“In many aspects, Shalom’s contextually driven, rigorous but adaptable and forward-looking methodology represents a model approach towards peacebuilding in highly complex situations, such as those that pertain in Northern Kenya”.
This is a key endorsement of the model design and the interventions SCCRR have developed over a number years in the conflict zones of Eastern Africa. The success of Shalom has been only possible through the commitment, dedication and resilience of all our own interreligious staff, men and women, in Africa. This has entailed a belief in their own self-actualization demanding personal sacrifices on the road to becoming highly qualified experts and practitioners in conflict transformation. Equally admirable is their commitment to work persistently within the conflict zone. This work requires total commitment to the people. Peace does not emerge easily and it is so important to understand the different categories of peace. The continuum phases between manifest violent conflict and mere negative peace (getting the violence stopped) are fraught with evolving challenges and dangers. Likewise, the demands aligned to the critical interventions needed to transform negative peace to as state of reconciliation (positive peace) need long term perseverance. To view peace as just stopping violent acts is a very inadequate understanding of what holistic peace means conceptually and existentially. Conflict has a memory that is very resilient and is moored in the historical discourse of culture. If we do not transform negative peace to positive peace there is a high-quotient danger of it reverting to manifest violence/war again. The following simplified Shalom developed model design is an approach that is successful and essential if lasting positive peace is to be achieved from the grassroots up. It is the road-map, whereby the local communities are the architects of their own interdependent future overcoming conflict and underdevelopment.
Going forward, with respect to Mr. William’s definitive positive overall endorsement about Shalom when he stated (above) that Shalom’s approach
“reflects current best practice within both the peacebuilding and development sectors … and that the approach is a model approach towards peacebuilding”,
the governance and management of SHALOM-SCCRR will never be satisfied with anything less in terms of authentic facts and professionalism while ensuring best practice as a constant.
SHALOM (SCCRR-KENYA) BOARD AND MANAGEMENT SEPTEMBER 2018