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Evaluation of Conflict and Peacebuilding Activities in Southern Sudan

Itad led an evaluation which assessed the performance of donor-supported conflict prevention and peacebuilding efforts in Southern Sudan.


In January 2011, citizens of Southern Sudan voted in an historic referendum which saw the creation of the world’s newest independent state.

The evaluation

This evaluation was conducted in the lead up to the referendum and assessed the performance of donor-supported conflict prevention and peacebuilding efforts since the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement in 2005. The evaluation covered the main donor programmes in the country, as well as a broad spectrum of activities under the themes of governance, justice and local peacebuilding – all activities that are designed to have an influence in reducing violence as well as strengthening the cultural and institutional resilience necessary for managing conflict without violence.

Our approach

The evaluation was carried out by a team of 16 international and national consultants between October 2009 and December 2010, and was led by Itad in association with Channel Research. Our approach employed a mixed methodology and consisted of two phases: an initial desk phase including a conflict analysis to assess the linkages between the different drivers and dynamics of conflict and peace, and a policy analysis to explore the extent to which a conflict-sensitive approach had been adopted by the donors. This was followed by field work to project sites across 7 States in Southern Sudan (and Khartoum) to verify the hypotheses and assumptions drawn from the findings of the desk phase. Sectors covered included Basic Services, Infrastructure, Local Governance, Rule of Law and Socio-economic Development.


Our evaluation concluded that donor contributions to conflict prevention and peacebuilding have been only partially successful. This is largely because donor policies and strategies did not fully take into account the key drivers of violence. This led to an overemphasis of basic services and a relative neglect of security, policing and the rule of law, which are essential in state formation. Over the years, a dominant discourse has emerged around ‘post-conflict recovery’ and ‘peace dividends’ on which the aid architecture was based – and yet, this is of questionable relevance in a context where continuing insecurity, humanitarian need and political fragility are the defining features. Rather, in dynamic conflict settings, an analysis of the political economy of the transition from war to peace must be constantly updated. Also, aid is not a neutral constituent and some donors have been wrong in trying to separate aid from political dialogue. There are certain sectors – security, policing, rule of law – where international support is of greater priority than basic services, and yet until recently, international assistance has prioritised the latter.

Finally, the evaluation concluded that several of the pooled funds have been highly inefficient. By contrast, some bilateral interventions have provided the most effective support towards conflict prevention and peacebuilding, based on frequent monitoring and, most importantly, a sufficient number and continuity of staff on the ground. The latter only serves to re-emphasize the importance of constantly updating and acting upon the analysis of the conflict and the local context.

Image © South Sudan General. Photo Credit: EC/ECHO/Martin Karimi (shared under CC BY-SA 2.0)