Inconvenient Realities: Discussing the recent IOB evaluation - Session Report

Secretariat of the Knowledge Platform Security & Rule of Law
Afghanistan Mali, South Sudan,

On 5 October, the KPSRL network discussed the evaluation ‘Inconvenient Realities: An Evaluation of Dutch Contributions to Stability, Security, and Rule of Law in Fragile and Conflict-affected contexts’, by the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ independent Policy and Operations Evaluation Department (IOB).  The goals of the session were to:

  • Understand the key arguments and recommendations from the IOB report;
  • Provide space for international partners to relate to these findings;
  • Identify paths to realistically reframe development cooperation in FCAS, with specific attention to stabilization and security, and rule of law.

Key findings of the discussion:

  • Re-assess objectives in FCAS to more realistic proportions: a donor has limited influence in the complex social contract and everything depends on ownership.
  • Prioritize downward accountability and conflict sensitivity, which means investing in local knowledge.
  • Look for examples of decentralized budgets and continuous involvement of communities for adaptation and evaluation. This way, programmes are more embedded in actual realities, but it also stimulates downward accountability and ownership.   
  • Keep lines of communication open with inconvenient actors and profoundly think through your intervention’s exit strategies. While upholding ethical principles, it's also important to acknowledge the limitations of avoiding engagement with certain authorities.
  • A stronger narrative is needed to explain the relevance and necessity of SRoL in FCAS. Transparency about dilemmas and challenges, while showing incremental results. Show risk of not engaging and make FCAS voices heard.
  • Adaptation demands interaction during the design and implementation, less allocated funding and flexibility in switching goals more profoundly if feedback points in that direction.
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