Written evidence from Peace Direct
1. A NEW APPROACH
1.1 Peace Direct practices and promotes an unusual
approach to aid delivery in conflict-affected and fragile states.
We seek out successful local peacebuilding organisations, and
fund them to carry out peacebuilding programmes they define and
direct themselves. This gives them power over their own solutions
and futures, and has distinct benefits in value-for-money, sustainability
1.2 We call this approach "locally led peacebuilding"
(LLP) and it is the core concept that informs this paper. We believe
it has wider lessons for how all types of aid might be delivered
in the future.
1.3 This is a fundamental break with the prevailing
practice, in which international players decide priorities and
utilise their own knowledge and personnel first - an expensive
and slow procedure that leaves too little behind afterwards. The
statistic that 40% of conflicts restart within 10 years of a formal
peace treaty is indicative of the failings of this top-down, outsider-led
1.4 Our goal is to help to bring about a world
in which local people lead in the peaceful resolution of their
own conflicts. To this end, we advocate that local capacity should
be assessed and deployed first, with appropriate external support;
and "outsiders" from the international community should
be deployed only where local capacity is unavailable. In this
scenario, a significant percentage of donor funds should be allocated
to locally-led programmes, wherever possible.
1.5 DFID gave us an 18 month core grant in 2009-11,
to explore our approach and to pool lessons from all of our peacebuilders
at a series of knowledge-sharing conferences. Currently we fund
a wide variety of peacebuilding initiatives in Sudan, DRC, Zimbabwe,
Burundi, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Pakistan and Kashmir, as well as closer
to home in east London. Our insights are based on this experience.
The most recent quarterly report of the International
Security and Stabilisation Support Strategy (ISSSS) in DRC highlights
the failure to operationalise a new tribunal for South Kivu. Despite
$8.05 million allocated by 12 of the world's biggest donors, a
magistrate has not been found to occupy the new building in Bukavu.
At the same time, Peace Direct's local partner,
FOCHI, has created five local courts which are fully operational
and supported by the local magistrate in Uvira. FOCHI estimates
that this cost only £25,000, of which 60% was provided by
the community in voluntary donations. FOCHI further estimates
that the cost of maintaining the courts will be met 90% by voluntary
During the same period, the existing operational
magistrate dealt with only 8 out of 2,000 cases last year, and
charged costs so high as to exclude most people in South Kivu.
This example shows the low cost, high effectiveness
and sustainability of enabling local organisations to find their
own solutions, which draw on local knowledge and community "buy-in".
By comparison, the internationally led option was slow, costly,
ineffective and exclusive of the beneficiary community. The FOCHI
project was supported by Peace Direct with DFID funding.
2. CRITIQUE OF
2.1 In our experience, DFID pays too little attention
to the potential of locally led, grassroots organisations, while
over-emphasising the value of building the capacity of national
2.2 Clearly, DFID is not responsible for the
continued fighting and suffering in eastern DRC. Nevertheless,
DFID shares responsibility for an international approach that
has treated DRC as a post-conflict state and failed to address
the ongoing local causes of instability and fighting in the east.
The national-level approach adopted by DFID and other international
donors (including the UN) has ignored many of the local causes
of conflict, such as land disputes and localised ethnic conflicts.
The failure to address these root causes of violence and instability
in DRC means that fighting and a humanitarian catastrophe continue,
almost a decade since the signing of the various peace agreements.
2.3 In many conflict-affected states, central
government has little reach outside of the main towns, or not
into the conflict zone itself. In such scenarios, the main effective
agents for peacebuilding are civil society organisations (CSOs),
particualrly local peacebuilders (LPBs). By focussing on national
government, DFID is neglecting this existing capacity. Its emphasis
on national government comes at the expense of building up capacity
at different levels of government and within civil society. Presumably,
the logic of this is that failed states fail because governments
are not capable enough. Unfortunately, this ignores the fact that
many failed states fail because the wrong people are in government
or the government may lack legitimacy. Failed states are often
characterised by oppression, corruption, self-interested politicians
and a propensity to incite violence to divide society. Yet these
are the people and institutions that DFID often chooses to support.
It does not need to be this way. If a small proportion of the
expenditure spent on government institutions was passed directly
to inexpensive CSOs, DFID could impact effectively at both national
and grassroots levels.
2.4 This would work during the primary phases
of a conflict, when LPBs are the main indigenous force working
to build and maintain peace. It would also work in the secondary,
post-conflict phase, when national government may become more
engaged and needs to be held to account by the community. In that
secondary phase, LPBs that had received proper support could provide
the nucleus for an experienced and reliable civil society to develop
and flourish, at little further expense.
2.5 This would create a better transition from
weak to strong government, as it is in the most vulnerable areas
that civil society and social networks fill the gaps of the national
governmentresolving conflicts, supporting the neediest
and providing basic services. When a government is visibly filling
those gaps, civil society still needs support to move from "service
deliverers" to "service monitors", empowered to
hold the government to account.
In Burundi, where ethnic conflict has become a
political conflict, local civil society was able to keep peacebuilding
on the UN and government agenda, despite resistance from the ruling
party. If this had not happened, the government would have persuaded
donors to focus on its priorities and not the priorities of local
people. Such ability for a government to influence donor spending
is dangerous where corruption is rife and politically motivated
murders are a daily occurrence in communities.
In Somaliland, as cited in our booklet Ripples
Into Waves, a strong government was viewed
as a predatory government by citizens. Encouraging the dispersion
of power by supporting lower tiers of government and the development
of inclusive civil society institutions, means that governments
need to have regard to other representative organisations, such
as trade unions, media, legal networks, faith organisations and
business. This reduces the likelihood that large sections of the
population will continue to feel excluded from power or will eventually
return to using force to achieve their ends.
2.6 Therefore there needs to be a better way
of maintaining and strengthening the existing civil society before,
and in parallel with, giving support to the government. Our central
recommendation is that in every fragile state, DFID should allocate
a proportion of funds specifically for strengthening local civil
society. With an initial focus on LPBs, this fund could support
civil society through the transition to holding governments to
account as the country itself transitions to a more stable state.
3. KEY DEVELOPMENT
DFID AND OTHER
3.1 Support to local organisations can fill
the gaps until government is ready
We agree with the moves of DFID towards security
and justice and its acknowledgement of the importance of local
organisations. However, the latter is not always put into practice,
with DFID resources still favouring government institutions which
remain ineffective. Support to local organisations in parallel
to central support could provide a better transition, with governments
taking on responsibility from civil society when it is ready,
as outlined above.
3.2 Increase support to local organisations
Providing aid to targeted local organisations can
create a foundation from which other CSOs can be supported. Creating
collaborative local networks and providing grants specifically
to local organisations needs to increase.
The support from DFID to the FSC Fund in DRC is
welcome, providing regular small grants specifically to local
organisations. More of this is needed, but the grants must be
released quickly for it to be really useful in creating new ways
of working that are suitable to the fast pace and urgency of fragile
3.3 Stay connected with civil society
In DRC, the UN and DFID still seem to view local
organisations as not their priority, instead seeing it as someone
else's responsibility - STAREC in the case of the UN and Christian
Aid in the case of DFID's FSC Fund. In the latter case, this may
make sense in terms of overcoming DFID's administrative limitations
on many small grants but it distances DFID further from local
civil society. This could lead to an unnatural focus on national
government. DFID needs to ensure that it is connected to local
civil society outside the main towns.
Peace Direct is supporting a network of 20 LPBs
across the east of DRC. These local peacebuilders come from very
rural areas in the heat of the conflict. They have conducted joint
conflict analyses, developed strategies for local conflicts and
proposed impressive collaborated projects. They provide excellent
centres of information and could act as a constant conflict analysis
resource at a very low cost: the South Kivu focal point has met
10 times, had 18 exchange visits and spent 6 days analysing the
conflict for a total cost of less than $4,000. They have created
a platform of local peacebuilders with which the international
community can engage. Involvement of DFID in this process would
be welcome, an excellent opportunity to share knowledge and expertise
and a means for DFID to identify LPBs that it would like to support.
Peace Direct has had discussions with FCO in Pakistan
about replicating a similar model there.
4. MOST EFFECTIVE
4.1 Maintaining support for local peacebuilding
PD recommends that a proportion of funding to fragile
states is given specifically to support genuinely locally led
initiatives. The amount may be specific to each country, but might
comprise for example 10%. This would encourage more agencies to
adopt the LLP approach and diversify the projects that DFID would
support, as they would be highly context specific. It is recommended
that local peacebuilders would be the first priority to build
a functioning civil society during conflict. This would prioritise
peace as a pre-requisite for development and ensure a country
emerges from conflict with a viable civil society that can support
the government and hold it accountable.
The CHSF grant issued to Peace Direct was designed
specifically for local peacebuilding and enabled a model of working
which has been very successful. However, no similar grant has
replaced that. We suggest that this kind of work is funded on
an ongoing basis; that a proportion of funds in any fragile state
is provided to local peacebuilding as standard; and that DFID
HQ has a fund which promotes greater awareness of local peacebuilding
4.2 Ensuring appropriate funding arrangements
Funding needs to be planned to meet the conflict
needs of an area and the capacities of local organisations.
4.2.1 Often the issuing of grants can be exceptionally
slow, to the point it can be useless for some peacebuilding and
conflict prevention activities. "Rapid Response Funds"
(RRF) can be deployed to allow local organisations to respond
immediately to emerging conflicts.
In Sudan, an unrestricted RRF to a local peacebuilding
network has successfully supported very localised and cost-effective
initiatives. These have not only resolved conflicts before they
became violent, but they have strengthened civil society in those
areas. Community-based organisations (CBOs) and individuals have
access to a maximum of $3,000 per initiative, and are mentored
to implement the initiatives themselves, fostering a wider and
stronger civil society.
In 2010, 13 significant conflicts were resolved
by local CBOs, at a total cost of $35,000, with a further 23 resolved
at no cost. The unrestricted nature of the RRF meant that responses
to conflict were versatile and appropriate, whilst strengthening
very local CBOs by giving them the opportunity to implement solutions
developed with the beneficiaries, leading to greater credibility
within the communities.
4.2.2 Giving local organisations the ability
to manage sub-grants, through relatively small unrestricted grants,
would enable greater ownership of projects, strengthen civil society
in an organic way, and provide a mechanism that encourages a diversified
4.2.3 DFID should ensure that its criteria for
funding organisations maintain their rigor without using criteria
that are likely to exclude smaller organisations. This may mean
at times being prepared to take more risks in funding new partners,
but it should allow for greater peacebuilding impact in the long
4.3 Identifying local capacity
Better assessment of existing capacities needs to
be made from an early stage and civil society should not be seen
as a nice "extra", but instead as essential for rehabilitating
a fragile state and holding governments to account. Analysing
this capacity would enable DFID to better realise who was filling
the gaps of government, providing outside expertise only where
absolutely necessary. Such assessments are an essential step to
identifying how local efforts can be scaled up.
With DFID funding, our information website Insight
on Conflict (www.insightonconflict.org) has identified over 500
local peacebuilders in 20 different countries. This is an essential
first step to understanding what capacity exists and how it can
be supported. IoC coverage of a new region costs approximately
£2,000 to set up in the first year and £1,500 per year
to maintain after that.
4.4 Scaling-up from local to national scale
DFID needs to give the opportunity for local organisations
to prove that they are capable of working on a large scale. As
the examples in our booklet Ripples
into Waves demonstrate, LPBs can have
a huge impact. Peace Direct recommends that DFID identifies three
pilot areas to work with a network of local peacebuilders, develop
joint conflict analyses at a local level and support collaborative
but locally-led projects.
A NATIONAL SCALE
Our booklet Ripples Into Waves (appended) shows
case studies of four countries where LPBs have made a national
impact: Kenya, Somaliland, Mozambique and Guyana. It can be read
on the Stabilisation Unit website at
5. HOW WELL
DOES DFID SUPPORT
5.1 There is still a big divide between funding
structures and local organisations. Channelling funds through
international intermediary organisations needs to be accompanied
by a structure that keeps DFID connected to local civil societythis
can be done though regular shared conflict analyses with local
5.2 More unrestricted funding needs to be provided
to local capacities so that they can make their own decisions.
In doing so, it creates an important process that develops communities
and civil society together.
DFID ORGANISED TO
6.1 In DRC, there is not a single representative
of HMG based in the entire east of the country, the region that
continues to suffer from militia fighting and the worst impacts
of the war. DFID should appoint a civil society liaison officer
to support and engage with the networks and joint conflict analyses
described above. It should also assess whether similar gaps exist
in other conflict-affected states. A presence in the capital city
is not always sufficient.
6.2 DFID's evaluation move from "attribution"
to "contribution" is welcome, but more work needs to
be done on monitoring and evaluation, to make it more accessible
and less dependent on quantification. All agencies struggle with
this aspect, and efforts by DFID recently to engage INGOs in developing
this together have been welcome and should continue.