Lesson 33: Local capacity-building IV – Best practices


Building on previous Lessons 13, 14, and 30 on local capacity building and its relationship to post-mission peace and sustainability (Lesson 20), this lesson focuses on the findings of DL 6.3, which uses evidence from numerous interviews in the field in several conflict zones: Kosovo/Serbia, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Burma/Myanmar, Somalia/Somaliland, and Cambodia. It outlines some of the barriers to effective local capacity building as well as suggests several best practices to assist practitioners in the field. It also goes beyond peacebuilding/mediation tasks to address related areas of reform such as human rights and democracy.

A central focus here is on the role of non-governmental organisations (NGOs) as the main conduits between various local stakeholders (i.e., framed as ‘civil society’ or otherwise) and international donors in the realm of conflict prevention and peacebuilding. However, this must be seen as only a starting point, reflecting the current state of practice and based on evidence from several case studies. Toward this end, the cases in DL 6.3 address, in various ways, the key challenges involved in local capacity building for peacebuilding, as follows: 1) How local ownership and capacity building in peacebuilding are specifically conceptualised in the case study; 2) What are perceived as the substantial obstacles to achieving local ownership of peace initiatives, paying particular attention to the NGO-centric model; and 3) What are the best practices related to the particular historical context and the lessons to be learned for current and future peacebuilding interventions?

The main lessons identified from the five case studies involve the specific barriers to more effective local ownership. These include problems stemming from: varying donor policies/priorities; community-NGO-state interaction; funding structures; economic capacity; sustained inter-ethnic conflict; lack of a long-term strategy; lack of international accountability; lack of local capacity; development exhaustion; reporting requirements; the local political space; the disconnect between donor priorities and local needs; and varying timescales. The findings suggest a clear contrast between the current minimalist approach (i.e., where local ownership involves NGO-led local information gathering, some community participation models that seek to improve policy delivery, and the provision of technical training on peacebuilding, mediation, etc.) and a maximalist approach derived from a position in which local agency is foregrounded in projects, from project design, through implementation to evaluation.


This research advances several specific recommendations for the EU in this area: 1) Fund a broader range of civil society actors; 2) Foster inter-generational peace programming; 3) Establish a long-term stable peacebuilding fund; 4) Empower communities and address everyday problems as peacebuilding; 5) Provide core funding for organisations to sustain their activities; 6) Devote a portion of development funding to long-term peacebuilding activities; 7) Fund community engagement during the design stage of the tender process; and 8) Reduce the reporting burden on NGOs, ideally to one mid-term and one end-of-programme review.

Related Deliverables

DL 3.5
Report on the EU’s support to the conflict prevention work of other actors

Authors: Habbida, N., J. Adama Mohammed, K. Tumutegyereize, L. Heinzel, F. Colchester and D. Tucker
Lead Institution: European Peacebuilding Liaison Office

Published: 30 September 2018

[PDF, ~0.7MB; click to access]


DL 6.1
Evaluating international efforts on local capacity building

Authors: Juncos, A.E.G. Algar-FariaT. EdmundsK. ĐokićE. PlänitzK. Abdi and S. Simons
Lead Institution: University of Bristol

Published: 25 May 2017

[PDF, ~0.9MB; click to access]


DL 6.3
Report on best practices in EU local capacity building

Authors: Christie, R.G. Algar-FariaA.E. JuncosK. ĐokićM. IgnjatijevićN. HabbidaK. AbdiS. Simons and E. Gillette
Lead Institution: University of Bristol

Published: 24 September 2018

[PDF, ~0.7MB; click to access]