Nairobi Peace Initiative (NPI); also serves on the advisory board of Partners for Democratic Change
Interviewed by Julian Portilla, 2003
This rough transcript provides a text alternative to audio. We apologize for occasional errors and unintelligible sections (which are marked with ???).
One of our themes that we have been working on, is how do we evaluate your work? I can understand how I am describing the success we have had and in the changes you can observe on the ground, the people resisting incitement and seeing people living together again, but are you sure that by your sole intervention that this has happened? You also have the Red Cross with that over there, the Catholic Justice and Peace Commission on Human Rights has been working over there, and you have many other organizations with various themes, such as civic education, and we have also been working over there. How are you sure that by this peace engagement that you brought this type of result? The question is not just for practitioners like us, it is also broadly asked by the donors who have been putting money over there, who say how are we sure that we have been making a difference. Those communities may be having those structures, but that doesn't mean that they don't fight. They still fight--cattle stealing is still rampant, and this stealing is creating a lot of damage in the region.
The question is why do they still fight? Why is this kind of situation preventive and we have yet to have been intervening over there? In our organization we took that as a theme for research and the question is how do you value the peace work, because the parameters and indicators that are used to evaluate development are not fit in peace work. Working with the Eastern Mennonite University and with the churches of Kenya is a pilot program. We began looking back at our work, how did it come to be? What are those elements that we can pinpoint on and say this is a sign of progress in the work that we do? I'll show you one of the reflections, which is what we call strategic and responsive evaluation. It is like an enhanced logical frame. A logical framework is very limited, rigid. It makes a design for development work, not for assisting people's perception change, and people's internal transformation, you can obsess that by using the love frame. It is very easy, if you give me money and I construct bow holes, I'll show you bow holes after a certain time frame ie you will get your 10 bow holes and you can count the number of people who are coming to fetch whatever there. You have difficulty saying that this particular person has changed and he is more peaceful than he was before. To assess that change, it may not fit in the time frame that you design. That person might have a very slow pace in the change and that the change will only happen after a certain number of years and those years may be beyond your project time frame, so we redesign that kind of challenge and making a reflection around it.
Q: So how do you do it? Is it a longer time frame now for evaluation?
A: Yes, there are many lessons. We are now designing a website. Maybe we will put that one there, but we have a very small report, it's not even a book, and that report shows very well how we work, and the framework that we think in, and we call it learning model. We run away from failure and success. It hasn't been successful, but it has been promising. It hasn't been a failure, it has been challenging. It's not euphemism, but it s trusting the reality on the ground because if you put in the frame of success failure, then it is overloaded with a lot of judgment. I'm saying it might appear as a failure now, but transformation is taking place within people. After sometime, you will be amazed at looking at someone who was a failure, being successful in his action because the transformation is taking a slow pace in a long term basis, which goes most of the time beyond log frame. That's some of the reflection that we are making and we ask ourselves, why on the continent are people no longer mobilized for peace or when conflict erupts in a country, people are no longer as concerned as they was to for example, apartheid, or the struggle for independence. Civil society and communities in Africa, and abroad, are supporting peace efforts. With reflection like that, we will offer space for a professor like Professor Campbell of Syracuse University, we offered him space to articulate such dilemmas that we are talking about and he was looking at the framework of the Lusaka Peace accords in the Congo and reflection was also produced. So that's where we are at now.
Presently, we are looking at strategically where we make the highest impact in our intervention? We look at those people who have been marginalized in the peace that we need to promote, that now is our mission. We have focused on women in parliament, not just to raise awareness, but to bring women to participate in peace processes, to sit at the table of negotiation. They bring a different perspective. All the peace processes have been male dominated peace processes, and as you know, they can be frozen in their position and just block the whole process. Just imagine several decades of the conflicts in Sudan, women never participated at the table of negotiation. The peace processes going on in Somalia, women never participated in these processes. Peace processes in Congo, women were upset in the peace process. What we are doing is looking at how we promote women, and give them a rightful place to sit at the table of negotiation and bring a different perspective for conflict situations. These are critical areas that we are looking at these days. The other area is how do we lodge the information that we have in learning institutions? Now we are supporting the Institute of Peace that's from the continent, like the Mandela Ecumenical Center, which has the Africa Peace Building Institute in Zambia. We are supporting the West Africa Peace Building Institute, WAPPI, in West Africa. We go over there as ???s and we see together how to best design this so it can be done for the benefit for the continent.