Build Peace Fellows 2016–17 — One year later

By Build Up
The Build Peace Fellowship Program is graciously supported by

The first cohort of the Build Peace Fellows program wrapped up a year ago. As they take their projects forward, we continue to support their work.

The past year has reinforced our understanding that the first prototype and pilot we complete during the fellowship is really only the beginning of the much larger process of implementing a peacetech project and the incremental efforts that change requires. This process of discovery and experimentation and all its twists and turns is fundamentally important to maturing work. A successful innovation process opens doors to many different possibilities for further development and strengthening of programs.

Here are three ways we’ve seen these projects grow past their initial ideas to bring meaningful input to their various contexts.

Social entrepreneurship for scale

The process of creating a peacetech tool can open doors to collaboration and entrepreneurship that can support scaling the process.

Diana Dajer (Policéntrico) is a Colombian lawyer specialized in administrative law, and a PhD candidate of Socio-Legal Studies at the University of Oxford. As a Build Peace Fellow, Diana created “Nuestro Desarrollo” (“Our Development”), a participatory planning and budgeting tech tool that fosters transparency, social inclusion, empowerment and peaceful coexistence in Colombia. The tool was designed and evaluated using a participatory design process in Medellín during the Fellowship.

Through a Research Accelerator Grant from the University of Oxford’s Skoll Centre for Social Entrepreneurship, Diana was able to further develop the tool. Now, it’s being licensed to Medellín’s Town Hall, with an implementation strategy to scale it as a digital complement to the existing participatory planning and budgeting processes.

The results of the design and pilot phases of the tool are also being used to produce a report for practitioners with evidence-based recommendations and lessons learned from the project.

In order to scale the use of the tool in other municipalities of Colombia, Diana has launched a start up in Colombia called POLICÉNTRICO. POLICÉNTRICO is a social enterprise incubated by Build Up that fosters local and sustainable development in Colombia, using participatory strategies to link communities, the private sector and governments. POLICÉNTRICO develops projects focused on the strengthening of local capacities and the development of civic technologies for social change, and advices on the design, implementation and evaluation of public policies. Policéntrico was also the co-organizer (with Build Up) of the Build Peace 2017 Conference in Colombia.

Full features for implementation

Most prototypes that come out of the year-long Fellowship program prove the concept, but need more work before they can be truly integrated into the peacebuilding process.

Author, director and producer, Jean Marie Ndihokubwayo is an Audiovisual Researcher at CENAP (Centre d’Alerte et de Prévention des Conflits), a peacebuilding organization in Burundi and a partner of Interpeace. CENAP is currently conducting a mixed method participatory action research process on Burundian youth’s vision for their country’s future. They are using qualitative (focus groups) discussions and quantitative (survey) data to support dialogue processes on various issues raised by the research.

As a Build Peace Fellow, Jean Marie created an online participatory analysis tool to display the quantitative survey data on Burundian youth’s aspirations for the future that was collected by CENAP. During the Fellowship, the tool was tested at a workshop that brought together young people and policy-makers.

Following this initial test, the CENAP team considered that the participatory analysis process supported by the web platform was an innovative and effective way to put young people and policy-makers in dialogue. CENAP hoped to use the platform for all their dialogue / validation workshops, and possibly also take it into high schools to promote data literacy and civic education. However, the platform required some additional features, including full administrative control for CENAP — something beyond the scope of the simple pilot interface.

Build Up worked with Jean Marie, the rest of the CENAP team, and Interpeace to fundraise for a 2.0 version of the platform. The update was recently completed, and tested at a workshop with young people. CENAP have now put in place an implementation plan to roll out the platform for regular use in the second half of 2018.

Foundations for impact

Sometimes the application of technology in peacebuilding processes reveals more foundational issues that can be addressed through traditional approaches.

Maude Morrison managed the Early Warning Early Response (EWER) Program for the Center for Diversity and National Harmony (CDNH), a local NGO focused on reducing communal violence and promoting social harmony. The CDNH team had a manual process to track rumours of communal violence from a network of approximately 100 local informants who they call on a regular basis. As a Build Peace Fellow, Maude created a rumour tracking app for Android phones.

Building on Maude’s fellowship, CDNH continued the partnership with Build Up to further develop their rumour tracking work. One of the key lessons from the pilot of the app was the low level of information literacy and ability to manage rumours — a recognition that hampered the use of the app at the local level.

Build Up and CDNH collaborated to train the EWER team on rumour management and information literacy, as well as to help them work through the challenges and lessons learned from the app prototype. Together, we developed a curriculum for rumor management and information literacy and a trainer training. Another important step was a review of lessons learned in order to understand how to take the difficult process of rumour management forward in practical ways, given the lack of real traction that the app prototype had among local users.

As a result of this engagement, CDNH now has a customized curriculum for their local network on rumour management and information literacy, which they have already delivered on multiple occasions. They also continue to explore additional technical solutions to rumour tracking, such as a messenger bot.

Looking Forward

The Fellowship process was one of personal growth for the cohort, but also one of growth and discovery for the organisations they support. We think it’s important to see the different directions that these organisations have taken the work, and the opportunities that arose from being open to innovation.

If you’re wondering what else we learned during the 2016–17 Fellowship, you can read about:

We’re applying these learnings to a growing number of fellowship programs — globally, in Syria and in Myanmar — that all work to recognise and catalyze better local peacebuilding through innovation.

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Build Up transforms conflict in the digital age. Our approach combines peacebuilding, participation and technology.

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