Development, humanitarian assistance, and peacebuilding activities interact with the context they are taking place in. In conflict-affected settings, development activities directly impact on the conflict itself. Our interventions may aggravate the conflict and do harm, or they could contribute in a positive way to maximizing development effectiveness and peacebuilding impact. Since the early 1990s, development actors have developed a variety of approaches, methods and tools to enhance understanding of a conflict-affected context, and the impact development and humanitarian assistance has on the context. Some of the groundbreaking and most significant efforts have been application of the 'Do No Harm' (DNH) approach, which is now considered an essential tool to ensure conflict sensitivity in development and humanitarian activities.
The United Nations Country Team in Nepal recognizes that its support for development, humanitarian assistance and peacebuilding must be designed and implemented in a conflict-sensitive manner, especially given the country’s recent emergence from violent civil conflict and its rapidly changing social, economic and political dynamics. Put simply, conflict-insensitive development may inadvertently do harm through causing or exacerbating tension, contributing to corruption and reinforcing societal exclusion and inequalities. It may also increase the risk faced by development agencies and damage an organization’s reputation.
Furthering the commitment of the UNCT Nepal; conflict sensitivity was carefully weaved in the UNPFN mechanism, from the concept note to the project proposal, as well as in the selection criteria, all UNPFN-funded projects were designed, budgeted and implemented in a conflict-sensitive manner. Tying conflict sensitivity to a funding mechanism was very effective in ensuring that CS is a serious consideration of the project and not just another box to be ticked in a checklist.
In the meantime, the Interagency Technical Team for Mainstreaming Conflict Sensitivity continued working in the UNCT in developing skills of the UN Staff in conflict sensitivity. The team also developed various knowledge products to help the country team become more sensitive in their development interventions.
After initial capacity was established in the UN, it was decided to reach out to government institutions in order for conflict sensitivity mainstreaming to have a positive contribution to the overall peace process. In the history of mainstreaming conflict sensitivity worldwide, the government has always been left out in this particular process, as it was always perceived as a capacity of war rather than a capacity for peace. With UNDP Nepal’s initiative to involve the government as an important stakeholder of conflict sensitivity, the Conflict Prevention Programme is seen to promote cutting-edge programming in this area, and is solicited for South-South cooperation partnerships for its work in mainstreaming conflict sensitivity in the government.
Knowledge Products on conflict sensitivity are developed. Series of conflict sensitivity training manuals and work book are developed and published. Stories and case studies about conflict sensitivity are collected and applied in the capacity building trainings. An animation video about the possible negative impact of development programs on conflict is produced. This will be used in trainings to make participants realized how their actions and behaviors impacts on conflict. Preliminary work promotional video production, which will be used to see the conflict sensitivity application, and e-learning package for conflict sensitivity is completed. Research on the economic aspects of conflict sensitivity is also carried out. This has given evidence to government and UN agencies how the integration of conflict sensitivity saves the resource wastage and makes program efferent and effective.