Mediation offers a cost-effective and proven method for resolving armed conflict. Between 1985 and 2015, 75 per cent of armed conflicts in the world were resolved through agreement rather than by force. In most cases these processes will have involved third party facilitation or support.
Professional mediators understand the high stakes involved in their work to prevent, mitigate and resolve armed conflict. In addition, they and their financial supporters are increasingly required to demonstrate ‘value-for-money’ to ensure continued funding.
However, traditional monitoring and evaluation (M&E) methods are not well suited to this task, typically imposing artificially linear project models on a dynamic conflict situation, as well as compliance reporting that moves attention away from real value.
Traditional M&E methods tend to focus on documenting the past and generating vast amounts of data, rather than enabling timely adaptation of the project in the present.
Traditional M&E approaches rely heavily on external evaluation consultants. Even in the best of cases this may interfere with the mediation process and impose a heavy time burden on the project team, leading to low acceptance of traditional M&E approaches by mediation practitioners.
In contrast, an ideal M&E approach for mediation should deliver useful insights in even the most dynamic and sensitive mediation environments, impose a light reporting burden, and be readily accepted by mediation teams. It should protect discretion and trust, enable rapid adaptation, and also provide some assurance that donor funds are being well spent.
The Adaptive M&E Model outlined in this publication seeks to move M&E practice towards this ideal, by pursuing three levels of inquiry, tailored to the specific circumstances of the project:
First – assuring the quality of professional judgements through peer review.
Second – assessing a project’s strategic logic and its implementation.
Third – measuring observable results wherever possible.
This Adaptive M&E Model is founded on critical reflection through rigorous peer review. This method supports better decision-making by mediation teams, while also providing reliable insights, and a strong basis for more investigative evaluation methods where needed.