What is UNICEF doing for Peacebuilding, Education and Advocacy?

Publication Year:
April 21, 2020
  • SDG 4 - Quality Education
  • SDG 16 - Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions

In too many parts of the world, conflict has been putting children and young people at risk and, all too often, taking their lives. Around the globe, conflict has swept people from their homes, spread hunger and disease and destroyed the facilities and infrastructure needed to support lives and livelihoods. Conflict has in many places wiped away the gains made through decades of development effort and blocked the path towards future progress and prosperity. Under these circumstances, it is vital to learn what steps can be taken to promote peace, resilience and human security.

The present report - Evaluation of UNICEF’s Peacebuilding, Education and Advocacy Programme (PBEA) - documents an important and innovative effort to harness education in support of peacebuilding. Over the past four years, UNICEF has been implementing the Peacebuilding, Education and Advocacy Programme (PBEA), supported by funding from the Government of the Netherlands. PBEA was a four-year programme (2012-2015) aimed at strengthening resilience, social cohesion and human security in 14 countries recovering from conflict or at risk of falling into conflict. The chosen approach was to strengthen education policies and practices with a view to building peace. Indeed, PBEA provided an opportunity to test whether a social service such as education can be successfully harnessed to promote peace.


  1. PBEA has, by and large, achieved substantial results in each of the five PBEA outcome areas and is following appropriate and the most promising practices for peacebuilding programming, However, a number of important lessons were learned about programming choices that are required for UNICEF to increase the likelihood of achieving sustainable peacebuilding results.
  2. PBEA has demonstrated that the choice of using a social service such as education for delivering peacebuilding results is the right one, even though some of the necessary building blocks are yet to be put in place. Given that PBEA has piloted new approaches to working in and on conflict for UNICEF, the results achieved are satisfactory given time and resource limitations.
  3. UNICEF is well positioned to engage in peacebuilding work based on its mandate and institutional strengths. However, the organisation needs to navigate sensitivities, identify entry points, focus resources on high risk environments to achieve scale and emphasise the primacy of context specific programming.
  4. PBEA’s emphasis on conflict analysis based programming was the right approach and leads to responsive context specific programmes that can contribute to peacebuilding.
  5. Programme implementation partnerships, including new partners, have enabled UNICEF to increase its reach and access and deliver peacebuilding results. Highlevel advocacy partnerships and management of implementing partners for better knowledge exchange across organisations are required.
  6. PBEA demonstrated that conflict-sensitive and/or peacebuilding programming that attempts to address drivers of conflict requires strong leadership support to enable cross-sectoral collaboration and ultimately mainstreaming of peacebuilding solutions.
  7. PBEA programme management has developed well to support accountability and learning and to mobilise support of multiple sectors. Adjustments to allow more flexibility for COs to focus on local needs and increased capacity for RO backstopping improved performance. Dedicated programme staff with peacebuilding expertise significantly improve CO programme management.
  8. The PBEA resource allocation process was, by and large reasonable, transparent, and communicated clearly. However, utilisation and management of funding was not as efficient as it should have been, mostly due to the fact that donor accountability and accountability for funding decisions was at the global level, while accountability for results was decentralised.


  1. UNICEF should articulate a clearer vision for its role and contribution to peacebuilding in conflict affected and fragile contexts, and integrate this vision into corporate strategies, global programme policy, country programme strategies, and in key messages from UNICEF leadership.
  2. As a minimum programme of action, UNICEF should institutionalise conflict analysis approaches as a part of the programme development cycle, and ascertain the use of conflict analysis findings in adaptation and design of programmes and policies, including mandating strict adherence to “do no harm” principles.
  3. UNICEF should consolidate lessons learned from the two areas of mainstreaming peacebuilding into the education programmes and using education to deliver peacebuilding results in fragile contexts, and use them to develop resources for education sector planning.
  4. UNICEF should develop a partnership strategy that will set parameters for its engagement with peacebuilding work, determine how to better leverage the capacities, experiences and skills of its partners (traditional and potential), and unleash the organisation’s influence to heighten the likelihood to achieve peacebuilding results for children and youth.
  5. For the next generation of peacebuilding programmes, UNICEF should continue to mobilise funding, earmarked, pooled, or other resources, to a level that will facilitate global visibility and learning, while ensuring proper financial and results accountabilities at the decentralised (country office) level.
  6. UNICEF should secure funding (new or unspent PBEA funding) to enable continuation of critical activities in PBEA implementing countries that are presently facing conflict and/or humanitarian crises, and to afford the rest of the country offices the opportunity to incorporate key PBEA lessons into their next UNICEF regular programming cycle.
  7. The PBEA team at HQ should identify a mechanism to update country level result statements developed in this evaluation to ensure a full and final compilation of results for future learning, as well as make proper institutional arrangements for completion of PBEA research initiatives and management of knowledge products.

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