‘Strength is from a Union; Working Together You Go Far’: Understanding Collective Impact Using an Analytic Framework

October 2018 | Kiely Barnard-Webster

Disclaimer: At the request of the Network and the case organization involved in this work and owing to the politically sensitive climate in the country where this work is being implemented, the case remains heavily redacted (country name and identifiers, Network identifiers, and case agency name have all been removed). We ask that those drawing lessons learned from this case refer to it as the “Boendoe” case.

This case study has a twofold purpose: to document the achievements of a peacebuilding network and to analyze the extent to which CDA’s Framework for Collective Action helps understand these achievements. This case does so by examining a Network in Country X that is an informal group of 18 civil society organizations that coordinate 198 peacebuilders, development actors, and human rights activists from all provinces of the country. Though it started as an early warning-early response network, it is experiencing a shift from pure “conflict prevention” work to longer-term peacebuilding and community development.

Three key contributing factors to successful collective action at community/provincial level include:

  1. Locally driven initiatives fueled by long-term commitment of the group to peace;
  2. Convening diverse local peacebuilding actors that allows for strategic partnership and creates the opportunity for learning; and
  3. Responsible technical support of Organization A that offers long-term support without interfering in local dynamics.

Three key challenges to collective impact in this case include:

  1. An uninviting political context where Network members operate under fear that they will be directly targeted by pro-government groups or officials;
  2. Making strategic decisions about whether to remain dedicated to addressing incidences of violence around election periods or to also address deeper root drivers of conflict;
  3. A lack of a consistent stream of funding which affects the functionality of the Network.