Meta-Review of Inter-Religious Peacebuilding Program Evaluations

August, 2015 | Jennie Vader

This review seeks to understand what the current trends are in the evaluation of inter-religious peacebuilding programs and to assess the quality of evaluations. It is also meant to enhance the evidence base for inter-religious action in peacebuilding by emphasizing the need for robust independent evaluations and enhanced evaluative thinking in order to increase the use of evaluation for both accountability and learning.

Religious communities have powerful potential to contribute to sustainable and peaceful societies – and their contribution and inclusion to peacebuilding has never been more critical. In the past two decades there has been a plethora of academic research, by scholars and practitioners like Mohammed Abu-Nimer, Scott Appleby, Marc Gopin, Ayse Kadayifci-Orellana, and Katherine Marshall, and initiatives, like the US State Department formed the Religion and Foreign Policy Working Group and the US Institute of Peace Center for Religion and Peacebuilding, illustrate the belief that religious actors must be a part of the larger diplomatic, development and peacebuilding agendas.

Despite all this interest and research however, engagement with religious communities still has not recognized its full potential as a key factor in development and peacebuilding. Part of this is based on a lack of understanding about how to effectively integrate this work into broader efforts. While we know, for instance, open-ended dialogue over the religious divide aimed at bridging various rival groups can be an effective tool for peacebuilding, we still do not know much about the optimal timing, sequencing, and method of engaging religious actors.


Suggested Citation: Vader, Jennie. “Meta-Review of Interreligious Peacebuilding Program Evaluations.” CDA Collaborative Learning Projects as part of the Peacebuilding Evaluation Consortium, 2015.


In 2014, the Peacebuilding Evaluation Consortium (PEC) began a partnership with the GHR Foundation to address the knowledge gap, particularly around the contributions of inter-religious action to peacebuilding through a new program: the Effective Inter-religious Action in Peacebuilding. The goals of the program are two-fold:

  1. generate guidance on how to evaluate inter-religious action, and
  2. develop a framework for ongoing learning regarding what constitutes effective inter-religious action.

While this report is made possible by the Carnegie Corporation of New York, it is a foundational first step in understanding how the field currently measures inter-religious peacebuilding. As a baseline of sorts for our inter-religious evaluation practices, this report will also provide insights on how to improve inter-religious evaluation.

The Alliance for Peacebuilding and CDA Collaborative Learning Projects would like to acknowledge and thank the peacebuilding organizations that contributed their program evaluations for this effort – and actually practicing the principle of transparency for the sake of better peacebuilding practice: Catholic Relief Services, the Center for Interfaith Action on Global Poverty, Karuna Center for Peacebuilding, Nansen Dialogue Center, Nigerian Inter-Faith Action Association, and Search for Common Ground.