Meeting Report

I. BackgroundII. Event overview  |  III. Session summaries  |  IV. Moving Forward


Session summaries



Incorporating data into programmes: Successful strategies and experiences

This session aimed at identifying successful strategies and factors that facilitate the integration of analysis and research/data into programmes and processes of social transformation.

Maximo Halty gave insights from his experience in Southern Kordofan State (Sudan). The goal of the UNDP Sudan Crisis and Risk Mapping Analysis (CRMA) is to enhance national capacities for conflict sensitive planning and transformation in Sudan. Their analyses aim to provide information to a variety of stakeholders, such as national actors, government, and NGOs, but also the international community working in Sudan. A major challenge was assembling information, as it was scattered among different data producers, especially in the hands of international actors. The common information management platform of the UN country team set up standard formats to facilitate sharing and interoperability and delivered the most up-to-date information across sectors. Initially CRMA did not want to engage with the central government. However, people at the state levels (not federal level) were very interested and wanted to take this initiative on. A major challenge was related to quality control versus rapidity of delivery and the contradiction between that this presents. UNDP’s idea was to quickly make data available and distribute it, with no time to waste in controlling the quality. A risk mapping conducted in consultation with local organizations helped identify the ten most important risks in terms of human security, which were then included in the maps. Halty pointed out that a challenge was to find alternative ways to address sensitive topics, such as issues that people did not want to discuss openly in public (including gender-related issues). Although the methodology used is valid for any geographical area, it is important to take into consideration that the tools may vary from context to context. Application of such a mapping process in other environments may be easier as there is often access to already existing information. Risk mapping does not necessarily involve a long and heavy methodology process. UNDP is currently in discussion with the state government on how to keep using CRMA in a quicker and lighter way, for example with mobile telephones.

Charles Ransford works for Cure Violence and added a public health perspective to the discussion [See presentation]. The initiative looks at violence like an epidemic or a disease, which can therefore be cured. Ransford explained that the mere exposure to violence and the fact of witnessing violence enhanced the risk of perpetrating violent acts. The ‘disease’ is transmitted through social learning (not necessarily intentional), social norms (reaction seen as need to use violence--you don’t want to but you feel you have to), neurological effects (exposure to violence has biological consequence on the brain), and modulating factors (e.g. context, age). To treat violence, the model of Cure Violence is based on three pillars. First is to detect and interrupt the transmission through mediation activities of public health workers from the community. Second, the behaviour of those at highest risk must change. And the third pillar is to change norms, by reversing social pressures so that violence is no longer expected and accepted. The Cure Violence model is being replicated in eight countries through 22 US cities and is currently exploring new partnerships as well. Finally Ransford highlighted that Cure Violence and PAHO used differing approaches, while the former focuses on curing violence (seen as a disease), the latter rather focuses on preventing it.

In her presentation, Vivien Carli from the International Centre for the Prevention of Crime (ICPC), examined experiences of interesting failures and successes of incorporating data from observatories into policies and programs [See presentation]. The ICPC provides technical assistance to different observatories, especially in the Americas. Carli first listed the requirements that are usually seen as key for success stories, which included political considerations, coordination and linkage with different actors, sustainability, political neutrality, good public visibility, as well as clear linkage between scope and functions. However, some observatories fail even though they fulfil these requirements. Explanations for such failures were the following: an oversaturation or total lack of observatories in the region; a mismanagement or lack of funding; a lack of buy-in by countries and other relevant actors; a lack of political interest; a too broad scope; a rushed process of scaling up to national level; and a poor transfer of skills or high turn-over. Carli concluded that an important factor was that observatories increased policy dialogue by bringing actors together over a common platform of data.

As a discussant for the session, Jorge Restrepo from CERAC (Centro de Recursos para el Análisis de Conflictos, Colombia) summed up by saying that there was a need to strategically manage information in order to influence peacebuilding and armed violence reduction/prevention programmes. One of the key messages from the public health sector is that violence, seen as a disease, needs to be prevented. He highlighted the three focalisation criteria: ‘what?’, ‘where?’, and ‘to whom?’.  From an observatory perspective, a general challenge is to know what is the use of a monitoring or observatory system. Similarly the observatory needs to know what are the available resources, since observatories do not collect data themselves but most often rely on data produced by others, which makes monitoring their own outputs difficult. A second criterion is the where: the level at which the observatory operates, at the local (often city/municipality), sub-national, national or international level. The where is tightly related to the to whom criteria. The inclusion of various actors, such as communities, is important for the work of observatories. Similarly, there is a need for buy-in from various levels (from the city level, to the national level). However, there is often a lack of feedback. The input from interviews or work with communities feeds into research projects but rarely returns to the communities. Good practices exist, for example, through a model of “babysitting”, Cure Violence follows up with its community work for several weeks, sometimes even months. They aim at the up-reach of their work and focus on the long term.