Between 2016 and 2017, EPI worked with an Afghan research organization, Saba Stori Research, to collect indicators of peace and violent extremism in eighteen villages of Eastern Afghanistan. The villages were divided between the two provinces of Nangarhar and Kunar. Both provinces had seen the development of groups aligned with, or calling themselves, the Islamic State (IS) in 2015. Fighting took place from 2015 onwards between Taliban and IS groups, as well as between both groups and the Afghan military, backed by American and coalition forces. EPI worked in ten villages in Nangarhar and eight villages in Kunar, spanning both urban centers and more rural areas, particularly closer to the border with Pakistan. In total, 1,845 indicators were collected. These indicators are rich with narratives about how violence is used, by whom and to what perceived end, providing insight into citizens’ lived experiences of the conflict. They expound upon countless facets of their lives; participants discuss the different rules that they live by, and who makes them, illuminating local power dynamics and the multiple, overlapping systems of governance in these spaces, typically treated as ‘ungoverned’. They explore the gendered nature of conflict dynamics and the connection between peace and the visibility of women and girls. They describe symbolic conflict: where and when whose flag can be flown, and the impact of peace and violence on rituals such as weddings, funerals, even independence day. These indicators provide tremendous insight into the everyday lived experience of peace and violence in Eastern Afghanistan. The research was funded by the U.S. Institute of Peace.
EPI Pilot Projects
Uganda, South Sudan, Zimbabwe and South Africa
EPI was initially developed in three villages and neighborhoods in each of Zimbabwe, South Africa, Uganda and South Sudan. After work was interrupted in South Sudan due to an escalation of violence, we made the decision to move work to two communities in the Montes de Maria region of Colombia. These pilots were funded by the Carnegie Corporation of NY and allowed us to road test and prove a new hybrid methodology to gauge peacebuilding and statebuilding in fragile contexts. The lessons learned from these these pilots are now being applied in our current projects as we refine the EPI methodology.