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Conflict-sensitive approaches to development, humanitarian assistance and peacebuilding

A resource pack


Over the last decade there has been a growing realisation that humanitarian assistance sometimes feeds conflict rather than alleviates it, and that development aid sometimes exacerbates tensions.This has led to the development of tools to understand the relationship between programming and conflict.

This Resource Pack seeks to document current practice, available frameworks and lessons learned. At its heart is the concept of 'conflict sensitivity' - the notion of systematically taking into account both the positive and negative impact of interventions, in terms of conflict or peace dynamics, on the contexts in which they are undertaken, and, conversely, the impact of these contexts on the interventions.

The first edition of the Resource Pack is the result of extensive consultations on conflict sensitivity undertaken in Kenya, Uganda and Sri Lanka by a consortium of Southern and Northern NGOs, during 2002-2003. The project has made great efforts to reach out and raise awareness on conflict sensitivity, as well as to record indigenous and international practice. Through this work and the partnerships it has engendered, the project has provided a bridge between North and South, involving southern agencies not as mere recipients of conflict sensitive knowledge, but as shapers of the conflict sensitivity agenda.

The Resource Pack is designed for governments, donors and civil society (local and international) involved in development, humanitarian assistance and peace building. It does not assume that the reader has extensive knowledge of conflict transformation nor is it an academic discussion of conflict and related concepts. Its primary concern is to provide an understanding of current practice, available frameworks and lessons learned in relation to conflict sensitivity. It is a broad umbrella capturing different approaches such as 'Peace and Conflict Impact Assessment' (PCIA) and 'Do No Harm', as well as less-known organic approaches developed by practitioners in the South. In this sense, it does not offer new tools but rather presents broad recommendations on conflict-sensitive practice that organisations will need to further adapt in the light of their operating context, their needs, and their operational structures.

The Resource Pack is organised in separate stand-alone units and does not need to be read from cover to cover. It is structured as follows:

Chapter 1: An Introduction to conflict-sensitive approaches to development, humanitarian assistance and peacebuilding provides an operational definition of conflict sensitivity and related principles. It situates conflict sensitivity within the current debates in the fields of development, humanitarian assistance and peace building.

Chapter 2: Conflict analysis describes what is in effect the central component of conflict sensitivity. Building on a compendium of tools and the lessons learned from their application, the chapter presents key elements of conflict analysis, and guidance on how to undertake it.

Chapter 3: Applying conflict sensitivity at project and programme level defines the project cycle, linking the conflict analysis to each constituent step of planning, implementation, monitoring and evaluation. It describes how to undertake each step in a conflict-sensitive fashion, and the major challenges faced in doing so.

Chapter 4: Integrating conflict sensitivity into sectoral approaches defines sector-wide approaches and presents a framework for integrating conflict sensitivity into the programming cycle.

Chapter 5: Institutional capacity building for conflict sensitivity recommends processes and strategies for mainstreaming conflict sensitivity in implementing organisations and their partners.

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