Religious Actors for Peace (RAP) in Afghanistan
About the publication
- Published: May 2016
- Series: --
- Type: NGO reviews
- Carried out by: Norunn Grande
- Commissioned by: --
- Country: Afghanistan
- Theme: Conflict prevention and resolution, peace and security
- Pages: 53
- Serial number: --
- ISBN: 978-82-7548-961-4
- ISSN: --
- Organization: Kirkens Nødhjelp
- Local partner: Sanayee Development Organization (SDO), Miller-White Training and Consulting (MWTC)
The evaluation was commissioned by NCA with funding from the British Embassy in Kabul to assess the relevance, impact and effectiveness of the RAP project and to draw lessons learned and strategic recommendations for further involvement of religious actors. The recommendations are to guide the future programmes involving religious actors. RAP was a continuation of the two earlier phases of the project “Mobilizing Religious Actors for Peace” (MRAP) completed in 2013 and 2014.
To assess the effectiveness of the project to the extent that the programme has achieved its planned outcomes, analyse project’s wider impact and contribution to peacebuilding in Afghanistan, identify best practices, make recommendation on how to strengthen women participation in the project and to make recommendations both at operation and strategic level regarding future development of the project.
A mix of quantitative and qualitative methods were used for this evaluation to assess the performance of participants and how they include what they have learned in their practical work. Transformative change was also measured in the participants by tracking their statements made in public during gatherings, interviews, and focus group discussions. Participants were further asked to explain how this change guides their choices and actions in ordinary life.
Increased knowledge and improved skills: By actively using participatory teaching methods, facilitators were successful in improving the knowledge and skills of the participants. Religious actors were empowered to work in their communities using their newly acquired peacebuilding knowledge and skills.
Solidarity across regions and ethnic divides: The platform to meet and engage with Ulema from all over Afghanistan gave participants a great opportunity to familiarise themselves with different religious leaders and to learn about their work in their respective communities. This helped to decrease negative connotations across religious and ethnic lines.
From violent to non-violent attitude and behavior: In focus group workshops, it was observed that participants were able to reflect on their long held beliefs and critically analyse them. For instance, one participant explained that in Afghanistan to admit mistakes is considered a sign of weakness. However, another participant disagreed and a friendly discussion ensued. Examples like these suggest that participants have established trust and respect with one another and are open to change in their views and attitudes.
Increased motivation and empowerment: Increased motivation and willingness for change in the religious leaders indicates their commitment to lead people towards a more peaceful society.
Relationship between the program costs and results: The large deviation between allocated budget and funds spent was because of too short a timeframe. It is a major achievement to organise most of the planned activities within 7 months. It seems however that the rapid implementation has been fulfilled to a certain extent at the expense of quality assurance. The stated need for quality trainings, mentoring, guidance and networking could benefit from more time and more staff resources for follow up.
Perception of current challenges and opportunities: The programme brought positive change for participants by strengthening their capacity, skills and motivation and even changing their perceptions, attitudes and behavior. The overall impression is that RAP-participants manage to see options and opportunities for positive change towards a more stable and peaceful society despite the difficult situation in the country. A cautious optimism is also present among stakeholders.
Sustainability: The participants expressed their commitment to apply the skills, and knowledge in future. However, there is a need to ensure that these participants will have the right platforms to contribute positively through their newly acquired skills in a sustainable manner.
Continuation, consolidation, and commitment: Planned activities in the 3rd phase are a preparation for the next phase, which is to follow up with the participants and ensure the momentum is not lost. After mobilising more than 400 participants, the first priority should be to consolidate and ensure structures for them to be motivated to continue the work. A leadership structure is already in place and regular meetings should be held to share lessons learned and for further training. Not to lose momentum, the first meeting should be called as soon as possible once funding for the next phase is in place. Peacebuilding is a long-term process. Short-term project intervals should be replaced by longer term commitment, i.e. 3 – 5 years.
Continue process of institutionalising ownership: With the new structure for RAP in place, there is a foundation for institutionalising ownership of the religious leaders. Capitalizing on the existing trust with the participans, the next phase can help increase and eventually intitutionalise ownership.
Strategic assessments: For RAP actions to be strategic, they should be coordinated and delivered through close follow up to have a broader impact. RAP network and its newly elected board should have formal partnerships with relevant governmental ministries and institutions.
Gender: The number of female participants should be increased in the programme on all levels. More female trainers will motivate greater female participation.
Reaching out to remote areas: RAP-participants from the districts are concerned about the need to share their experiences and insights with people who live in remote areas. This is an opportunity for participants to transform their communities and constituencies. Therefore, efforts should be made to reach out further to more communities by training mullahs from far away districts.
Include Conflict Sensitivity: To avoid unintentional and unwanted effects of the program there should be a plan to include assessments for conflict sensitivity.
Non-Violence and Islam: Explore possibilities for cooperation with other peace initiatives for training and research.