Evaluation of the Inter-Departmental Conflict Pool

Our report assesses the Conflict Pool, which funds activities that contribute to peacekeeping overseas and support conflict prevention and stabilisation. It is managed jointly by DFID, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and the Ministry of Defence.

The Conflict Pool is a funding mechanism for conflict prevention activities, managed jointly by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, DFID and the Ministry of Defence. Based on case studies of Pakistan and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), this evaluation of the Conflict Pool’s Official Development Assistance element assesses whether it has led to a coherent, strategic and effective UK approach to conflict prevention.

The Conflict Pool was established to combine the skills of the three departments in defence, diplomacy and development into a coherent UK approach to conflict prevention. It has proved effective at identifying and supporting worthwhile conflict prevention initiatives and has delivered some useful, if localised, results. It has, nonetheless, struggled to demonstrate strategic impact, lacking a clear strategic framework and robust funding model. We found that its governance and management arrangements are cumbersome and has little capacity for measuring results. While, in the past, the Conflict Pool may have contributed to a more joined-up approach to conflict prevention, the inter-departmental co-ordination role is now played more effectively by other mechanisms.

While we believe that the Conflict Pool is a useful and important mechanism, significant reform is required to enable it to fulfil its potential. This was recognised in the July 2011 Building Stability Overseas Strategy and the recommendations in this report are intended to contribute to ongoing reforms.

As a result of our findings this review is marked Amber -red.

Recommendations

Recommendation 1: The Building Stability Overseas Board should develop a clearer strategic framework specifically for the Conflict Pool, to clarify its comparative advantage alongside DFID (particularly in regional programming) and identify how it will integrate defence, diplomacy and development into a multidisciplinary approach to conflict prevention.

Recommendation 2: By the next Conflict Resources Settlement (starting in 2015-16), the three departments should simplify the management structure for the implementation of Conflict Pool activities, while retaining a tri-departmental approach to strategy setting and funding allocation.

Recommendation 3: At the next spending review, the three departments should work with the Treasury to reduce volatility in the Conflict Pool budget.

Recommendation 4: To maximise its impact, the Conflict Pool should match its funding model to its specific objectives, balancing a proactive approach to identifying partners for larger-scale activities with a flexible and responsive grant-making process for promising local initiatives and paying more attention to leveraging other resources to take pilot activities to scale.

Recommendation 5: The Conflict Pool should adopt guidelines on risk management and conflict sensitivity.

Recommendation 6: The Conflict Pool should develop a balanced monitoring and evaluation system which encompasses both strategic resource management and real-time assessment of the outcomes of specific projects.