Context and P/CVE Project Design

Articles & Insights

December 01, 2017

Police and community members during an event in Kamukunji Nairobi

“It is clear that killing them all is not the solutions to the problem. Usually, poor planning, translates to fodder for extremist use in radicalization and recruitment.”

— Analysis

The phase of terrorism and counter-terrorism has hit the global discussions on development and conflict management; hard. Most of the donors re-aligned funds to respond to countering violent extremism; with governments pledging to put more money into counter terrorism even as they also try to soften their grip from the hard power approach. It is clear that “killing them all” is not the solutions to the problem. 

Usually, poor planning, translates to fodder for extremist use in radicalization and recruitment. Just as preventing and countering violent extremism (P/CVE) programs, violent extremism (VE) is multifaceted with a vast array of drivers and triggers that require joint efforts when dealing with the challenge. Most extremist groups have their cultural, structural and psychological characteristics that play an imperative role in the process of radicalization and recruitment. The same can be stated of the communities where the processes take place.

The multiplication of roles, action and reaction processes that lead to radicalization and recruitment cannot be applied to a one size fits all. Even with a basic understanding of some of the issues and the fluidity of the context, there are confronts that face development partners, governments, donors,local and national organizations with projects in communities. This analysis focuses on the challenges faced during project development and offers recommendations on areas that need attention. 

It also sheds light on community resilience and complexity awareness in international development, as a consideration during project development and implementation. Apart from the complexities associated with violent extremism , its overall branding requires new tools to resolve.1 While this analysis remains true from a CT perspective, it may not be the case from a community engagement perspective. Applying conflict management strategies with a P/CVE lense would be instrumental in dealing with violent extremism in the community.

As mentioned in the introduction, different environmental factors determine our perception and the manifestation of violent extremism. This makes organizations align their work to the needs of the community from a macro level. However, this reorganization should be influenced by the knowledge and an understanding of policy at the micro-level of the community.2 While such influences lack in programs, the result is poor communication from the stakeholders including governments; enabling extremists to penetrate the different sectors while providing “negative” avenues of dealing with their grievances.3 

Change takes time and, more time means more money on the part of the implementation and also on the part of the donor. Yet P/CVE activities have had the sense of urgency in their implementation,4 a factor that has contributed to a reversal on the gains due to limits on ownership and an end of funding for programs. The sense of urgency and the question of value for money5 has created programs with unrealistic objectives, ambitious theories of change and the challenge of attribution.6

When pegging analysis to expectations, most of the discussions are determined by the donors with a lot of the plans and documentation trying to push programs towards the prevent angle of dealing with violent extremism.7 It is also clearly articulated in the UN Secretary Generals’ Plan of Action8 document that lays out seven significant priority areas. 

Even though this is a better model of dealing with the problem, the question of measurement from an evaluation perspective comes to mind. “How do we ascertain change if certain actions have not taken place and, what is the indicator of success in most prevent activities?” The prevents strategy, therefore, accumulates many assumptions before and during reporting.

P/CVE projects also face the challenging need to identify the right population for the activities planned. In most cases, the “at-risk” population is not clear and programs gamble with profiling certain categories in the community to justify engagement with them.9 This is not sustainable. The push to look at community resilience in different areas for program implementations is important but may not be enough to quantify expenditures in the project. The value for money vs. the time-line for implementation, questions how; “little evidence” (amounts) can be quantified as success.10

The miscalculations due to poor policy advice and the challenges mentioned above require a critical analysis. Specific recommendations can be applied to assist in developing programs that cut across the areas mentioned.

  1. Various policy briefs have been developed to provide recommendations on the different activities that organizations need to be part of as a way of developing great programs with measurable results in the community. Both the Ankara document on good practices11 and the USAID 201112 policy document highlights the need to have an assessment of the challenges in the community while providing an alignment to drivers as mentioned by the 2009 Drivers Guide.13 Even though both documents stress the need to have baselines, the best alternative would be a continuous assessment process that incorporates the changing trends as the program develops. This would be in the form of a learning process that determines how different factors change program activities and affect the objectives, indicators and the overall goal.

  2. Terminology is a challenge both at the policy level and even at program implementation level. With this confront in mind, project development should try and avoid utilization of jargon in the project development14 and implementation. However, having a basic guiding process that provides boundaries including geographical reach, for the project and its implementation, would suffice in project development. This recommendation also applies to understanding the local context where the project is to be implemented. A better understanding of the conflict dynamics and the basic local definitions assists in the development of models that work well as indicated in the US joint strategy document.15

  3. In a multifaceted field of P/CVE, local and national organizations have the challenge of specializing on the specific needs in the community vis-a-vis program activities. Targeting the project activities and aligning to different national and international policy guidelines provide an avenue of success and ease the process of coordination. The National Counter Terrorism Strategy16 in Kenya, The IGAD strategy17 and the UN Plan of Action18, provides different thematic areas for activities. An alignment process will ensure that funding for activities is well shared within the vast area of need in the community resulting to a reduction in the duplication of roles. At implementation level, communication procedures with the community are also essential.19 For programs implementing alternative narratives, having one point of contact for communication on activities with the community helps to build trust.

  4. Ownership in community projects is vital to ensure sustainability and progress due to participation. An analysis of projects in Kenya and Pakistan indicate that trust building is the starting point for acceptance and ownership by a community.20 In addition, being precise on whether the project is P/CVE specific or P/CVE related, assists in the development of linkages for evaluation and program implementation.21 As part of ownership process, working with the community to develop an assessment matrix is crucial to the success of the project. With the complexities associated with program implementation, the utilization of participatory systemic inquiry22 (for example), is essential to ascertain most if not all of the assumptions that may be encountered during program implementation. Putting the assumptions into perspective during program development is as critical as knowledge and understanding of how international actions affect projects implemented locally.23

  5. Community resilience is important in program development and implementation. As a recommendation, inventing the wheel has not been wholly successful. A study by USIP on Community Resilience to Violent Extremism highlights the need to have local solutions to local problems.24 In fact, a project being implemented at local and national level needs to amplify “What Works” in the different communities.25 However, this should be done with conflict sensitivities to the needs of the community. With that in mind, projects need to be careful about general branding, activity branding and even donor branding (in some instances) to ensure that the project does not harm.26

Finally, research is a continuous process and though there are arguments to suggest that sometimes too much research is done at the expense of project implementation, the process should be encouraged and continuous. The recommendations listed in research work should be targeted and actionable. The Journey to Extremism provides such actionable recommendations including; identification of the grievance before program design, an analysis of tipping points and stressing on the need to have P/CVE related projects that bare dividend.27 These should be used as reference points for program development, funding and implementation.

Referencing

1 Ris, L., & Ernstorfer, A. (2017). Borrowing a Wheel: Applying Existing Design, Monitoring and Evaluation Strategies to Emerging Programming Approaches to Prevent and Counter Violent Extremism. Newyork: Carnegie Corporation of Newyork; Stites, E., & Bushby, K. (2017). Livelihood Strategies and Interventions in Fragile and Conflict-Affected Areas: Assessing trends and changes from 2012 to 2016. Overseas Development Institute. London: Secure Livelihoods Research Consortium.

2 Ris, L., & Ernstorfer, A. (2017). Borrowing a Wheel: Applying Existing Design, Monitoring and Evaluation Strategies to Emerging Programming Approaches to Prevent and Counter Violent Extremism. Newyork: Carnegie Corporation of Newyork.

3 Ozonnia, O., Yahya, M., Banfield, J., Kipgen, C., Botha, A., Elman, I., . . . He. (2017). Journey to Extremism In Africa. Newyork: UNDP.

4 Ris, L., & Ernstorfer, A. (2017). Borrowing a Wheel: Applying Existing Design, Monitoring and Evaluation Strategies to Emerging Programming Approaches to Prevent and Counter Violent Extremism. Newyork: Carnegie Corporation of Newyork.

5 Jackson, P. (2012). Value for Money and International Development: Deconstructing Myths to Promote a More Constructive Discusion. OECD Development Co-operation Directorate; Fleming, F. (2013). Evaluating Methods for Assesing Value for Money. Australian Evaluation Society . Better Evaluation and Creative Commons.

6 Burns, D., & Worsley, S. (2015). Navigating Complexity In international Development: Facilitating Sustainable change at Scale. Warwickshire, UK: Practical Action Publishing.

7 Ris, L., & Ernstorfer, A. (2017). Borrowing a Wheel: Applying Existing Design, Monitoring and Evaluation Strategies to Emerging Programming Approaches to Prevent and Counter Violent Extremism. Newyork: Carnegie Corporation of Newyork.

8 UN Secretary General. (2016). Plan of Action to Prevent Violent Extremism. Newyork: United Nations.

9 Global Counter Terrorism Forum. (2013). Ankara Memorandum on Good Practices for a Multisectoral Approach to Countering Violent Extremism. Ankara: GCTF.

10 Ris, L., & Ernstorfer, A. (2017). Borrowing a Wheel: Applying Existing Design, Monitoring and Evaluation Strategies to Emerging Programming Approaches to Prevent and Counter Violent Extremism. Newyork: Carnegie Corporation of Newyork.

11 Global Counter Terrorism Forum. (2013). Ankara Memorandum on Good Practices for a Multisectoral Approach to Countering Violent Extremism. Ankara: GCTF.

12 USAID Policy. (2011). The Development Response to Violent Extremism and Insurgency. Washinton DC: USAID Policy.

13 Denoeux, G., & Carter, L. (2009). Guide to the Drivers of Violent Extremism. Washington DC: USAID.

14 Farsight. (2016). Designing Countering Violent Extremism Programs: A Strategic Overview. Nairobi: Farsight.

15 US Department of State. (2016). Department of State & USAID Joint Strategy on Countering Violent Extremism. Washington DC: US State Department.

16 NCTC Kenya. (2016). National Strategy to Counter Violent Extremism. Nairobi: NCTC Kenya .

17 IGAD. (2017). Regional Strategy for Preventing and Countering Violent Extremism. Addis Abbaba: IGAD Secretariat.

18 UN Secretary General. (2016). Plan of Action to Prevent Violent Extremism. Newyork: United Nations.

19 GCTF. (2012). Good Practices on Community Engagement and Community-Oriented Policing as a Tool to Counter Violent Extremism. Antalya: GCTF.

20 Farsight. (2016). Designing Countering Violent Extremism Programs: A Strategic Overview. Nairobi: Farsight.

21 Farsight. (2016). Designing Countering Violent Extremism Programs: A Strategic Overview. Nairobi: Farsight.

22 Burns, D., & Worsley, S. (2015). Navigating Complexity In international Development: Facilitating Sustainable change at Scale. Warwickshire, UK: Practical Action Publishing.

23 IGAD. (2017). Regional Strategy for Preventing and Countering Violent Extremism. Addis Abbaba: IGAD Secretariat.

24 Metre, L. V., Muliru, S. Y., Chome, N., Kisia, A., Claes, J., Heeg, J., & Carpenter, A. (2016). Community Resilience to Violent Extremism in Kenya. Washington DC: United States Institute of Peace.

25 Global Counter Terrorism Forum. (2013). Ankara Memorandum on Good Practices for a Multisectoral Approach to Countering Violent Extremism. Ankara: GCTF.; Metre, L. V., Muliru, S. Y., Chome, N., Kisia, A., Claes, J., Heeg, J., & Carpenter, A. (2016). Community Resilience to Violent Extremism in Kenya. Washington DC: United States Institute of Peace.

26 Holmer, G. (2016). Countering Violent Extremism: A peacebuilding Perspective. Washington DC: United States Institute of Peace; Organization for Security and Co-operation In Europe. (2014). Preventing Terrorism and Countering Violent Extremism and Radicalization that leads to Terrorism: A community-Policing Approach. Vienna: OSCE; Ginkel, D. v. (2017). Violent Extremism and Development: Witnessing a Fundamental Pivot. Netherlands : Netherlands Institute of International Relations .

27 Ozonnia, O., Yahya, M., Banfield, J., Kipgen, C., Botha, A., Elman, I., . . . He. (2017). Journey to Extremism In Africa. Newyork: UNDP.