Peace Responsiveness in Practice: FAO irrigation & water management projects contributing to Peace in Somalia


By 2018, years of drought in Somalia had seen irrigation structures decay and access to water resources became more precarious. Both were contributing to recurring community conflicts. A Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) -led project sought to respond by partnering with Interpeace's Somalia team. A participatory context analysis identified the issues driving conflict and outlined opportunities to address them. A programme clinic then pooled the expertise of FAO, Interpeace staff, Somali government representatives, and conflict affected citizens to recommended adjustments to the project that would ensure it was peace responsive. These included pursuing transparent and fair procurement processes, recruiting more unemployed youth, and strengthening water governance mechanisms. Within 2 years, the project not only improved irrigation & water management, but also contributed to peace and security by strengthening local ownership, improving inter-community relations, and promoting livelihoods.

Integrating gender in peace responsiveness

The paper provides a conceptual framing for understanding the integration of a gender lens into peace responsiveness, and provides actionable tools for organisations to achieve optimal peace impacts and promote gender equality.

Substantively, the paper posits that neither “gender” nor “peace” outcomes can be fully advanced without consideration of each other: they each represent sets of issues and processes that are inextricably linked. However, to integrate what are each often thought of by international organisations as cross-cutting “lenses” may bring complexity.

To respond to these challenges, the paper offers a “Gender and Peace Responsiveness Spectrum of Ambition”, a tool intended to assist organisations in assessing the depth of their programming interventions’ gender integration, while also working to enhance this. The paper also includes practical, illustrative examples of different degrees of gender integration in conflict- and peace-related programming. It also reflects on commonly occurring issues and dilemmas that practitioners and organisations may face in applying the spectrum.


Peace Responsiveness: Moving from ‘doing no harm’ to actively contributing to peace


Peace Responsiveness refers to the ability of actors operating in fragile and conflict affected contexts to deliberately contribute to peace. It builds on Conflict Sensitivity and the principle of ‘doing no harm’ by aspiring to maximise collective efforts in the service of peace. It is not about changing what we do – we will remain humanitarians, development experts, stabilisation actors, and peace actors. Instead, peace responsiveness is about adapting how we work to ensure our actions are complementary, and help create a peaceful and enabling environment necessary for our different strands of work to flourish. This entails ensuring interventions are locally owned, led, and responsive to ever-changing conflict dynamics. It also requires understanding in more depth the specific configurations of power and drivers of peace and conflict within a context, with the aim of identifying how each of our work and operational mandates can effectively contribute to reducing violent conflict and supporting a society’ efforts towards sustainable peace.

Sustaining Peace in Practice: building peace is everyone’s responsibility


This video was developed by Interpeace, with contributions from its partners the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the International Labour Organization (ILO), the International Organization for Migration (IOM), the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF),  the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA). A preview was first screened at Geneva Peace Week 2022.

We live in an era of uncertainty and risk. Finding the means to build peace is as challenging as it is necessary, and it is incumbent upon all of us, not just peacebuilders, to ensure our activities and policies play positive roles in both preventing new conflicts and permanently ending those already underway. That is the essence of Proactivité pour la paix: it calls for integrated approaches that harness the respective strengths of actors from multiple different sectors to deliberately contribute to peace. Building peace is everyone’s responsibility - we cannot deliver on our global promises of healthy, safe, and resilient societies without it.

Introducing Peace Responsiveness: because peace cannot be built by peacebuilders alone


Peace is everyone’s responsibility and cannot be achieved by peacebuilders alone. Peace Responsiveness requires every actor to be sensitive to conflict dynamics, and to work proactively to ensure that all activities and policies operate in ways that improve peace.

The landmark 2016 and 2020 Sustaining Peace resolutions of the United Nations, the 2016 World Humanitarian Summit and the more recent recommendations of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development’s Development Assistance Committee (OECD DAC) on the Humanitarian-Development-Peace (HDP) Nexus call for significant reform to how international humanitarian, development and peace action reinforce each other to create more effective and sustainable approaches that address structural causes of violence. Significant gaps between policy and practice remain. To address this challenge, Interpeace has developed the operational approach of Peace Responsiveness.

Peace responsiveness: a paradigm shift to deliver on conflict sensitivity and sustaining peace

The Version of Record of this manuscript has been published by Taylor and Francis Online on October 15th, 2022, and can be accessed through the following link: Peace responsiveness: a paradigm shift to deliver on conflict sensitivity and sustaining peace. The article will be part of the forthcoming Development in Practice Special Issue on ‘Conflict Sensitivity/Do No Harm in Development, Humanitarian & Peacebuilding Practice’ – to be published in early 2023, and co-edited by Susanne Schmeidl, Anthony Ware, and Claudio Alberti.


Though the principle of “Do No Harm” is widely accepted, conflict sensitivity is insufficiently implemented in practice. This is frequently perceived as a failure of knowledge or capacity, but more often speaks to deeper challenges and gaps in organisational cultures, individual mindsets, and larger barriers in the aid system. Interpeace supports organisations to adopt peace responsiveness – a holistic approach to transform the ability of actors to act in a conflict-sensitive manner and to deliberately contribute to peace. This paper focuses on the organisational, individual, and systems-wide changes required to implement conflict sensitivity and peace responsiveness in practice.