Do No Harm (Local Capacities for Peace) - Advantages and Limitations

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  • Do No Harm does not necessarily require a deep understanding of specific analytical methods. It is a framework that is easy to understand and works with the knowledge of local people.
  • Increases awareness about development and conflict interactions.
  • Increases sensitivity of the role of donor-funded projects within a conflict context.
  • Thinking along the line of connectors and dividers has proved to be a useful framework for analysis, with which aid organisations should assess their own immediate and longer-term impact. It is also a good entry point for the planning of conflict sensitive interventions.
  • It emphasises the need for better cooperation among development actors. Uncoordinated or even competitive behaviour by aid organisations strengthens enmities amongst the local population.
  • Underlines local people’s opinions about impacts: The LCP approach highlights how conflicts are about perceptions and the meaning that people attribute to events, actions taken by organisations, etc. In conflict situations, people often have a clear perception of project attributes and specific actions (Whether the project fuels the fires of suspicion and competition, or whether it is fair and inclusive). The local population is an important source of information.
  • It minimises the potentially negative impact of projects on conflict. Understanding and observing the cultural, political and socioeconomic impacts and side effects of a project’s work reduces the possibilities for unintended negative impacts. It also reduces the likelihood of projects being politicised.
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  • External forces and influences are not adequately taken into account. Outside forces affect and sometimes perpetuate war. This approach does not bridge the gap between communities at war, and the international context, in which the war occurs. It also fails to respond to the linkages between macro politics and international assistance.
  • The results depend on the participants. Connectors and dividers can be biased depending on those participating in the exercise. Not everybody has sufficient critical self-reflection, especially if the participants come from the conflict parties themselves.
  • There is a tendency to focus more on negative impacts. It is often easier to identify the negative impacts of aid than to clearly assess its positive impacts on the conflict.
  • Evaluations of impacts on peace and conflict cannot be mere snapshots. Since conflicts are dynamic, impact assessment also has to become a dynamic process. Under changing circumstances, today’s dividers may be tomorrow’s connectors. LCP has to be seen as a continuous process.
  • LCP needs to measure what are often immeasurable outcomes. Assessing the attempts to lessen conflict is difficult along two dimensions. The first has to do with the criteria or indicators for assessing progress. The second involves attribution (If violence decreases, this cannot honestly be traced to back to the programme’s efforts).
  • Attempt to integrate Do No Harm as an operational instrument in an organisation often faces objections and resistance from within.

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