Evaluating Inter-religious Action in Peacebuilding
The Effective Inter-religious Action in Peacebuilding Program (EIAP) is a three-year collaborative effort aimed at supporting inter-religious action in realizing its potential as a force for sustainable peace. It aims to foster cooperative exchanges among religious peacebuilders, evaluators, donors, and policymakers on how to evaluate inter-religious action in peacebuilding contexts.
At a time when religious differences are often a tinderbox, igniting or being used to fan the flames of violence, the role of faith-based initiatives and organizations in building peace could not be more crucial.
Although inter-religious action has powerful potential to shift communities and societies from fear and conflict to peaceful coexistence, there is a lack of understanding about how to effectively integrate this work into broader peacebuilding and development efforts, how to evaluate the overall impact of inter-religious action in specific contexts, and how to harness best practices and apply them in complex environments.
The EIAP was established in response to these challenges, by the Peacebuilding Evaluation Consortium (PEC), a partnership of the Alliance for Peacebuilding, CDA Collaborative Learning Projects, Mercy Corps, and Search for Common Ground.
The EIAP will convene a Global Council of religious leaders and peacebuilders with a background in evaluation who will shape this program and draft a Guide for the Assessment of Inter-religious Action (GAIA) which will be field tested.
Effective Inter-religious Action in Peacebuilding in Istanbul
Alliance for Peacebuilding, in partnership with CDA Collaborative Learning and Search for Common Ground, convened a group of 30 leading experts to discuss how to better measure the effectiveness of inter- and intra-religious action for peacebuilding. The meeting was part of the three-year program funded by the GHR Foundation entitled, Effective Inter-religious Action in Peacebuilding (EIAP) Program and took place in Istanbul, Turkey from June 15-17, 2016.
The first day included the EIAP Global Advisory Council members (11 members representing diverse religious traditions and geographical regions that include religious leaders, practitioners, and academics. Furthermore, a total of seven women sit on the GAC, representing a total of 64% of all members). The second and third day included a larger group, including practitioners, religious leaders, academics and evaluators. The purpose of the meeting was as follows:
- To share best practices and lessons learned in the field of inter- and intra-religious action for peacebuilding;
- To provide input into the Guide for Assessment of Inter-Religious Action (GAIA);
- To learn how to more effectively measure the impact of specific sub-sectors of inter- and intra-religious action for peacebuilding; and
- To strengthen ties across a diverse group of stakeholders working in the field of inter- and intra-religious action for peacebuilding.
During the first day, we focused how to best measure impact using the following OECD DAC criteria – effectiveness; relevance; consistency with values; impact; and sustainability. During the second and third day, we looked at five sub-sectors of inter- and intra-religious action for peacebuilding, including gender; violent extremism; secular; reconciliation; and humanitarian assistance to identify additional ways to measure effectiveness and impact.
At the end of the meeting, we identified a number of key challenges and opportunities to include in our upcoming guide (to be published in early 2017). They include the following: How to evaluate this complicated perspective on the intersection of divine/human agency? How can we ensure that we are being faith sensitive? How can we measure sustainability in regards to relationships and the ability for connections across religious divides to endure, esp. during times of crisis? Women and men experience religion in different ways and, therefore, we need to examine the impact of gender norms and roles.