Everyday Peace Indicators began life because of a series of corridor conversations between Dr. Pamina Firchow and Dr. Roger Mac Ginty. Both were increasingly interested in accessing the local level as part of their research and capturing how people see peace, conflict and change in their everyday lives. Firchow had been influenced by her practitioner and advocacy work on development and arms control in Latin America, and Mac Ginty, who had mainly worked on top-down peace process, was interested in how peace was ‘received’ and used at the local level. He was also reflecting on his upbringing in Northern Ireland and how people navigated through the awkwardness (and possible dangers) of life in deeply-divided societies.
The corridor conversations touched on the most appropriate mechanisms to capture what individuals and communities really think about issues of peace and conflict, and the limitations of existing methods. Mac Ginty’s Indicators+ article was a first attempt to conceptualize – on paper – how a participatory indicator system
might work. At around this time, the Carnegie Corporation of New York had a grant call on indigenous knowledge systems in sub-Saharan Africa and Mac Ginty and Firchow were successful in applying. This gave us a wonderful opportunity to transform a seminar room idea into a fieldwork reality. Thus, the Everyday Peace Indicators project was born.
The first task was to identify the countries we would work in (South Africa, South Sudan, Uganda and Zimbabwe) and our partner organizations. We then set to work on piloting our methodology of focus groups, verification focus groups, surveys and follow-up work. There was much experimentation and hard work to get things right and it took us several years to develop the EPI methodology, but we did manage to pilot a robust system that worked and gathered large amounts of data.
Those early days of EPI coincided with a renewed interest in Design, Monitoring and Evaluation in the peacebuilding sector and a number of organisations became interested in the EPI methodology and the applicability of EPI to their projects and contexts. This began a series of collaborations with INGOs, international organizations and others (UNDP, IAF, USAID, USIP), and we are also delighted that the Carnegie Corporation of New York has continued to support us.
Our original plan to conduct EPI in South Sudan was thwarted by violence there, but we were able to move some resources to Colombia, which began a sustained interest in that country. In 2018, Dr. Peter Dixon joined EPI to expand and strengthen EPI’s
Pamina Firchow and Roger Mac Ginty at the US Institute of Peace in 2018
substantive work in the human rights and transitional justice sectors, as well as contribute to the evolving methodological questions we have faced in further developing EPI in Colombia and beyond. Together, Dixon and Firchow launched the Everyday Justice Project, a multi-sited study of local experiences of justice and peace processes in conflicted societies.
Along the way, we have been fortunate to work with great colleagues located in the US and Europe, as well as in conflict affected contexts where we work, who have all added to the originality and energy behind EPI. In 2018, we established an EPI NGO to give us more flexibility and continue our collaborative work.