Measuring Progress or Measuring Success? Thoughts on M&E in Next Generation DDR

During a briefing in Haiti, Desmond Molloy, former chief DDR implementer of DPKO, recalls a struggling DDR program. Long gone were the days of first generation, state building DDR in Africa. Desmond was faced with a dilemma: should he follow traditional protocols that didn’t apply to the power structure and conflict in Haiti or should he create a new program that embraced the changing dynamics of DDR?

In the end, he, with an ‘integrated’ team from DPKO and UNDP, created and piloted the Community Violence Reduction (CVR) approach and programme as a way to engage the Haitian community and reintegrate gang members. As I sit here flipping through piles of notes, I wonder what innovative approach can be applied to the monitoring and evaluation process in DDR, and if there is any way to take inspiration from Desmond’s actions.

Three main guides on utilizing M&E in DDR programs exist. They are authored by the IDDRS, UNDP, and S/CRS. The practical dilemmas that these three guides pose is highlighted below:

  1. Generic Objectives, Generic Indicators

Using quantitative indicators can help with tracking the progress of disarmament and demobilization. For example, one way is to count how many guns are still believed to exist in a community and how many have been collected. However, quantitative indicators do little to measure reintegration, the most time consuming and often rushed and/or neglected component of DDR. I posit that measuring reintegration in DDR should focus on qualitative indicators, such as interviewing community members and creating focus group studies.

  1. Power of Outside Influences and Assumptions

More emphasis should be given on the power of outside influences and how that ultimately affects the program. This should be integrated in the logical framework and not just the overarching report. Equally important are assumptions that DDR practitioners can identify that may prohibit or weaken the progress of the program.

  1. Measuring Success

Often DDR is measured not in success but in failure. I posit challenging this thought process to erase the dichotomy of success/failure in monitoring and evaluating a DDR program. If the DDR program “succeeds” in demobilization and reintegration but the ex combatants refuse to give up their guns, has the program failed? I argue that focus should be on individual objectives and not on the program as an overall whole. This is a very difficult approach that should be handled with care when presented to donors. More research needs to be carefully conducted on this subject.

By Meredith Bapir