Hope for Building a Collective Peace Movement: Lessons Learned from Developing Collective Impact Networks in Nigeria and Sri Lanka

01/2019 | Sweta Velpillay

The Framework for Collective Impact in Peacebuilding, first published in 2017, was field-tested in partnership with Search for Common Ground in Jos, Nigeria, and Colombo, Sri Lanka. CDA provided technical support toward the development of locally driven, multi-stakeholder collective impact networks targeting local-level conflicts. Both networks in Nigeria and Sri Lanka are in their infancy and in varying stages of evolution toward becoming fully fledged collective impact networks. This paper synthesizes the lessons learned from the experience of bringing together diverse stakeholders toward the establishment of a network for a shared peacebuilding goal.

Some of the key lessons learned against the five conditions for collective impact are:

  • Organizations must be prepared to invest significant time and resources to build trust before reaching a joint understanding of the conflict and creating a shared vision.
  • Robust information channels and spaces for communication are critical for reaching collective impact, and they must be carefully managed.
  • Selection and representation of network members and leadership should be mindful of power dynamics and privilege, to not replicate existing societal divisions.
  • Donors, facilitators, and backbone organizations of collective impact initiatives should be aware of the perception of their own identity.
  • Backbone organizations and facilitators from the locality are more effective in understanding the context, power dynamics, and in establishing trust. They lend credibility to the initiative.
  • There is no one-size-fits-all model in developing collective impact networks or in the strategies to be used. Such efforts must be grounded in the local context, harness the desire for change, and should support the work of champions at the local level.