The time and money devoted to reducing armed conflict is a tiny fraction of the terrible human and economic cost of warfare! While the global economic losses from conflict in 2016 reached a staggering $1.04 trillion, just $21.8 billion, or about 2%, was spent on peacekeeping and peacebuilding activities combined during that year. Why is that? Why don’t we put more resources behind efforts to promote peace?
One reason is that both donors and the general public have doubts about the cost-effectiveness of peacebuilding work. One often hears,“There has always been war and there always will be and there is nothing that can be done about it!”. If people were aware of the 180 successful interventions cited in this website, it might change their minds.
Some in the field say that since it is impossible to assign a value to a human life, it is inappropriate to consider the cost of preventive measures. Yet, with the limited resources available, it is critically important to use them efficiently.
Donor organizations are challenged to find organizations that can make a good case for their cost-effectiveness in preventing or stopping political violence. Few peacebuilders have assembled the evidence needed to demonstrate that they have made the difference between war and peace. Many have tried to employ preconceived theories of change on trouble spots and have failed, increasing donor skepticism. Donors often prefer to support work to feed the hungry or to prevent the spread of disease, where organizations have data to show their results.
To get the support they need, peacebuilders need to make better use of evidence, both in deciding where and how to promote peace and to demonstrate that their results justify their cost. For example, there is increasing evidence that locally-led peacebuilding is more cost-effective than action designed by outsiders. Using such evidence in allocating resource would lead to better results and more donor support. The Better Evidence Project will soon be an easy-to-use source of evidence for use bt the peacebuilding community.