Conflict-Sensitive Programming

How has conflict sensitivity entered the world of development?

This page explains the background of the Local Capacities for Peace Project, which resulted in the development of the "Do No Harm" approach. This process was a collaborative effort - managed by "Collaborative for Development Action" (CDA) in Cambridge, Massachusetts. The process included analysing cases from conflict areas all around the world, discussing findings with practitioners in the field, and testing the recommendations in a number of pilot implementations.

An Inductive Approach:
The Development of the "Do No Harm" Concept

The Initial Question

In late 1994 the Local Capacities for Peace Project was launched to answer the question:

How may aid be provided in conflict settings in ways that, rather than feeding into and exacerbating the conflict, help local people disengage from the violence that surrounds them and begin to develop alternative systems for addressing the problems that underlie the conflict?

An Inductive Approach

The approach taken by CDA was inductive, learning from local field experiences. Thus, fifteen case studies were conducted in fourteen different conflict zones to examine the interactions of aid and conflict. From the cases, lessons-to-date were compiled in a booklet entitled "Do No Harm: Supporting Local Capacities for Peace through Aid".

This booklet formed the basis for over twenty-five feedback workshops carried out with aid workers in a number of countries in which they "tested" the lessons against their own experience, added to and amended them and, thus, improved them. The learning from the entire effort is now published in a book entitled "Do No Harm: How Aid Can Support Peace - Or War" (Lynne Rienner Publisher, Boulder, Colorado).

While the "Do No Harm" book unfortunately can not be downloaded, several of the original case studies are available on this website (see "Material / Case Studies")
go to: Material / Case Studies

The LCPP Framework

All the findings from the process have been integrated into a simple diagram called "Framework for Considering the Impact of Aid on Conflict". This diagram shows how decisions on the programming level may positively or negatively affect the context of conflict in which projects are implemented.

The framework has been translated into various languages and can be downloaded from this website (see "Material / Documents").
go to: Material / Documents

LCPP Framework

LCPP's "Implementation Phase"

Following the publication of the "Do No Harm" book, 12 organizations operating in conflict zones tried to implement the findings in programme analysis, programme (re)design and programme planning. Learning was encouraged through the dissemination of "Do No Harm" principles and the presentation of the approach in exposure workshops. The implementation was marked by the integration of the "Do No Harm" framework into existing planning tools and by the adaptation of the concept to the specific environments of the selected projects. The experience gained during the implementation phase has been published in a brochure entitled "Options for Aid in Conflict - Lessons from Field Experience".

The options manual is available in English and French and can be downloaded from this website (see "Material / Best Practices").
go to: Material / Best Practices