Peacebuilding Evaluation by Civil Society Organizations in Mindanao: Towards Robust Evaluation of Peacebuilding Programs



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Peacebuilding and conflict resolution is an exciting field of study and engagement. But trying to find out if peacebuilding efforts are really making a difference is often a tedious and painful process for many project managers and practitioners. This is especially true for peace and conflict resolution projects that operate in real-world conflict and fragile settings as these often pose serious and unique challenges to existing evaluation methodologies. This dissertation investigates the experiences of civil society organizations (CSOs) in evaluating their peacebuilding efforts by exploring their understanding of key evaluation issues and how these relate to peacebuilding and evaluation theory and practice. The central question that frames this study is: How do CSOs working in conflict and fragile settings in Mindanao want to improve evaluation to support peacebuilding efforts in that region? This qualitative study elicits the tacit knowledge of CSOs and their subjective understandings on how they think their peace projects are making a difference in addressing conflicts in their respective contexts, based on how they conduct evaluations. The study gathers data on at least three spheres of CSO endeavor: peacebuilding efforts, evaluation practices, and CSO understanding of key evaluation issues, dimensions, or concepts such as: causation, impact, attribution/ contribution, effectiveness/ success, issue of transfer, complexity, sustainability/ adaptability to change; and the effects on drivers of conflict. Data gathered on these key evaluation issues are used as a set of lenses for guiding the process of inquiry in scrutinizing evaluation approaches and challenges, and the possible improvements to make evaluation more supportive of peacebuilding efforts. The knowledge shared by CSOs based on their own experiences of peacebuilding and doing evaluations, compared with the current state of peacebuilding and evaluation theory, generates new insights that can provide some clarification on the commonly contentious issues in the evaluation of peacebuilding efforts, thereby enriching the peacebuilding and evaluation fields as a whole.



Civil society, Conflict resolution, Evaluation, Mindanao, Peacebuilding, Philippines