Conflict-Sensitive Programming

Learning about Conflict-Sensitive Approaches

Introducing the staff of humanitarian or development organizations to the concept of "Do No Harm" is an important first step in the process of incorporating conflict sensitivity. There are different types of workshops for that purpose, which should, however, always be considered as a starting point for a longer process. Currently, we are offering short presentations (half day), familiarization workshops (1 day), orientation workshops (2 days) and exposure workshops (3 to 4 days) on "Do No Harm". Additionally, we are also providing courses on the "Reflecting on Peace Practice" concept.

Workshops and Seminars:
Learning about "Do No Harm" (and "Reflecting on Peace Practice")


The "Do No Harm" framework is offering a tool to systematically analyse the impact of relief or development interventions on the conflict situation in their area of operation. During a two- or four-hours presentation, participants will be equipped with the basic knowledge about this framework and with an understanding of how aid or development interventions may negatively affect conflict settings. Depending on the time available, such presentations can be extended to a one-day familiarization workshop involving some practical exercises.

These short events are meant as an appetizer to create more interest in the "Do No Harm" approach. We are offering them as part of bigger events such as conferences or extended training programmes with a variety of subjects. Short presentations are also useful as a briefing for senior management, in order to get the institutional backing for more in-depth training of field staff.

Orientation Workshops

Our two-days orientation workshops are combining the presentation of the theoretical components of the "Do No Harm" approach with plenty of space for group work, so that participants will get a first experience with the practical application of the approach. Day 1 of an orientation workshop starts with an explanation of the background of the approach and the developments which have led to the "Do No Harm" framework. Based on the example of a case study in a distant setting, participants get introduced to a different view towards project results in a conflict environment. An analysis of the context of conflict, and a systematic analysis of sources of tensions ("Dividers") as well as of local capacities for peace ("Connectors") are the necessary steps for the application of this first part of the framework. Day 2 of an orientation workshop looks carefully at the details of an aid programme and how planning decisions can affect the conflict setting through either resource transfers or through implicit ethical messages. Understanding such inadvertent side-effects of project decisions in conflict situations should help to look for alternative solutions, for options to redesign a programme. A wrap-up of the complete "Do No Harm" framework finalizes the day, after which the participants should be able to understand how their own decisions might affect tensions in the environment of their projects.

The two-days orientation workshop is our standard workshop. It is particularly useful for headquarters staff outside of a particular project location, meant to start a reflection process about whether and how to best introduce the concept to the field operations in specific countries.

Exposure Workshops

Our three- or four-days exposure workshops add more practical exercises to the orientation workshops, applying the general knowledge to the specific situation on the ground. While the first two days of such an exposure workshop follow the same sequence as above, Day 3 assists participants in the application of the framework on their own situation. Depending on the composition of the group, this day offers the detailed analysis of concrete conflict settings from the work experience of the participants and assesses how typical project interventions might affect these settings. In case the workshop is addressing staff of a specific programme, this third day may even look at their own specific project decisions. On Day 4, the results are discussed with a view of developing ideas how to improve project implementation. This does also include a critical reflection on staff behaviour and on organizational procedures. At the end of the workshop, the relevance of the "Do No Harm" framework for the work of the respective organization should be assessed, and ideas for future co-operation should be suggested.

The three- to four-days exposure workshop is the most adequate training for field staff, as it not only explains the concept but makes it relevant to the real situation on the ground. Still, organizations should consider it as the start of a process, requiring more assistance over time!

Effectiveness of Peace-Building

In a similar way, workshops are also offered about "Reflecting on Peace Practices". Short presentations and one-day familiarization workshops focus on explanations of the content of the approach, while the two-days orientation workshop also contains practical exercises on defining entry-points and developing strategies for peace projects as well as reflections about measuring success. In a four-days exposure workshop, this is complemented by exercises in conflict analysis of the respective context of the participants, by the revision of own projects or by the development of ideas for new projects. In this regard, it is also important to look at potential partnerships in order to utilize the specific contributions of "insiders" and "outsiders".

"Do No Harm" and "Reflecting on Peace Practice"?

While "Do No Harm" looks at improving relief or development projects in a situation of conflict, "Reflecting on Peace Practice" addresses causes of conflict directly. Accordingly, the objective is different! Nevertheless, the two approaches are closely related, the limitations of the one resulting in the development of the other. Many practitioners feel that they need to know both approaches, and so we have sometimes offered combined trainings on "Do No Harm" and on "Reflecting on Peace Practice". In such cases, the programme of the respective two-days orientation workshops is used.