Listening for Change: Participatory Evaluations of DDR and Arms Reduction in Mali, Cambodia and Albania
Development planners regularly use participatory approaches in the design, implementation and evaluation of their projects. Disarmament specialists, however, have tended to underestimate the potential importance of participatory monitoring and evaluation (PM&E) to disarmament, demobilisation and reintegration (DDR) and arms reduction. This report from the United Nation Institute for Disarmament Research (UNIDIR) summarises the findings of a UNIDIR research project on PM&E and DDR and arms reduction. Carried out in Mali, Cambodia and Albania, the project generated a number of findings, with far-reaching implications for those supporting DDR and arms reduction.
DDR and arms reduction - in particular ‘weapons in exchange for development’ programmes - can have positive effects in fostering peace and increasing perceptions of security. Approaches to designing and evaluating DDR and arms reduction schemes are, however, frequently top-down and formulaic. Ensuring the participation of primary stakeholders is a vital and cost-effective strategy for increasing DDR and arms reduction schemes’ chances of success. PM&E is a viable tool for assessing DDR and arms reduction schemes, but should be balanced against other approaches to measuring interventions’ effectiveness.
The UNIDIR project raised a number of important issues for donors, policy-makers and practitioners considering DDR and arms reduction activities:
- Indicators – DDR and arms reduction schemes often adopt standardised and foreign-defined indicators to measure the success of interventions. The UNIDIR project identified locally-defined indicators focusing on the impact of a programme.
- Incentives – the UNIDIR project focused on which incentives were seen to be effective in specific areas. In Mali, for example, respondents identified geographic, seasonal and demographic factors affecting the type of incentives likely to be effective.
- Agency – recognising and supporting the agency of primary stakeholders is crucial. Local and national leaders, religious and customary institutions, women’s groups and individuals are all vital to the success of DDR and arms reduction.
- Learning by doing – balancing the interests of primary stakeholders with those of donors and project implementers is difficult. PM&E faces constraints in regard to DDR and arms reduction. It requires flexibility and may not be appropriate in some cases.
The UNIDIR project generated a number of lessons:
- Donors, policy-makers and project implementers should acknowledge and harness the agency of primary stakeholders when designing DDR and arms reduction initiatives.
- Donors, policy-makers, project implementers and primary stakeholders must establish PM&E systems early on in DDR and arms reduction in order to increase programme effectiveness.
- PM&E systems can raise new and fundamentally important perspectives, expand and redirect priorities and interventions and allow for opportunistic and dynamic responses.
- PM&E systems for DDR and arms reduction should aim to develop simple, measurable and locally appropriate indicators to measure progress.
- DDR and arms reduction initiatives should ensure that carefully designed public awareness and sensitisation campaigns reflect local understandings and priorities.
- DDR and arms reduction efforts should prioritise the destruction of small arms and light weapons and encourage an approach that advocates reductions in armed violence.
Author: Robert Muggah
Source: Muggah,R., 2006, 'Listening for Change: Participatory Evaluations of DDR and Arms Reduction in Mali, Cambodia and Albania', United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research, UNIDIR/2005/23, Geneva, Switzerland
Size: 50 pages