Frameworks for Assessing Resilience (FAR)

Donor to the Project: Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency - SIDA

Implementing Parties: Interpeace’s Regional Office for Latin America in Guatemala, and Interpeace’s partner organizations in Liberia - the Platform for Dialogue and Peace (P4DP), and in Timor-Leste - the Centre of Studies for Peace and Development (CEPAD).

Dates: 2014 - 2016

Frameworks for Assessing Resilience (FAR) was designed by SeeD’s long-term strategic partner Interpeace, to better understand, address and assess the key sources of fragility and resilience within conflict or violence-prone countries. The FAR program combined multi-stakeholder participatory research in the three pilot countries – Timor-Leste, Guatemala and Liberia – with a dialogue process at the global level involving SeeD among various other international experts and practitioners. In this regard, SeeD contributed to the FAR programme by providing feedback to the initial Global Desk Review on Resilience and participating in two Global Methodology Workshops held in New York. Furthermore, SeeD took part in a week-long survey design workshop in Guatemala City and provided feedback to the final project report entitled “Assessing Resilience For Peace: Guidance Note” (published in April 2016).

FAR compared the identified resilience factors in order to explore where they were unique to particular country contexts, and where they would offer more generalizable experiences and analysis. The FAR program has demonstrated that resilience is indeed a useful addition to the peacebuilding approach with the potential to inform peacebuilding practice in ways that help prevent the onset and re-emergence of conflict and foster sustainable peace. Resilience strongly enhances the conflict prevention agenda and presents an added value to the efforts of the international community. While an assessment of resilience aims at influencing action and policy towards sustainable peace at all levels in the long term, the FAR program has demonstrated that assessing resilience is also an empowering peacebuilding exercise in and of itself as it mobilizes in-country stakeholders to take collective action towards transformative peace. This holds great potential both in terms of prevention and cost-effectiveness and should therefore be considered by donors in all peacebuilding, state-building, humanitarian aid and development initiatives. Apart from its inherent potential in conflict transformation, the resilience approach presents the opportunity of greater collaboration among practitioners, donors and policymakers working in various fields of international development.

Liberia Pilot Case: The Ebola outbreak had a dramatic effect on the implementation of FAR and significantly influenced the adaptation of both the focus and method of FAR research in Liberia. The impact of the Ebola crisis also made populations less willing and capable of discussing issues other than Ebola. These factors significantly influenced both the logistical implementation of the consultation process and its content strategy. The consultations therefore unavoidably focused on the ways in which the Ebola crisis interfaced with pre-existing drivers and history of the conflict, and the strategies that served to keep violence in check during the crisis. It was noted that despite the difficulties this presented, consultations offered a unique ‘real time’ observation of the relationship between resilience to conflict in the context of an ongoing national epidemic. FAR observed that distrust in the government increased following the highly militarized initial response to outbreak and lack of appropriate information dissemination. Communities increasingly relied on their local leaders and resorted to traditional practices to cope and survive. The government’s inadequate response to the Ebola epidemic also powerfully unveiled the reality of state fragility, the failure of state service delivery capacity (dramatically observable in the health sector) and the deficiencies of state-building processes implemented since the end of the war. In many respects, the Ebola crisis imitated the effects of conflict in the decimation of trust and social cohesion, and the potential destruction of sense of belonging.

Uptake of Findings: In Liberia, the FAR research identified opportunities and entry points through ways in which local community networks had effectively mobilized to disseminate information on Ebola prevention measures and revived traditional community safety protocols in order to contain the spread of the virus. The working group leveraged findings about networks and traditional customs, and their relation with trust in institutions to suggest guidance and support for community networks and integration in the government’s communication and outreach strategy, both in the specific context of a crisis, and more generally as part of wider efforts to build trust in the government.