Maximising the peacebuilding potential of development programming
27 July 2012
Saferworld is working with international aid and development agency, Tearfund, to understand the peacebuilding potential of its ‘Water, Sanitation and Hygiene’ (WASH) programmes in conflict-affected countries – and the lessons that can be applied to wider development programming.
Development projects in conflict-affected countries nearly always have an impact on local conflict dynamics, but this can be positive or negative, subtle or dramatic. Being ‘conflict sensitive’ is about minimising any negative impacts and maximising the positive ones.
In practice, conflict sensitivity is usually equated with ‘doing no harm’, but how might development practitioners go further and ensure they are actively contributing to peacebuilding and statebuilding, as well as delivering development outcomes?
Saferworld has been working with Tearfund to look at the opportunities for this in Tearfund’s ‘Water, Sanitation and Hygiene’ (WASH) programming. Saferworld and Tearfund worked together to develop a research proposal that would assess these opportunities. This was then funded through DFID’s Conflict, Humanitarian and Security Department.
Crucially, the research is not ‘evaluating’ the peacebuilding impact of Tearfund’s WASH programming, as it wasn’t designed with that purpose in mind. Instead it is asking ‘what opportunities to make a positive contribution to peacebuilding and statebuilding’ there could have been had these been explicit programme objectives alongside the main WASH objectives.
Tearfund have commissioned the Overseas Development Institute to visit some of its field programmes in South Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo. When these country reports are in, Saferworld and Tearfund will produce a final report on the research programme. This will include recommendations on what programming tools and approaches might be useful for maximising the future peacebuilding and statebuilding impact of WASH, and wider development programming.