Increasingly, as the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration (DDR) of excombatants and community arms reduction programmes have become prevalent features of international efforts of post-conflict reconstruction, donors, implementing agencies and disarmament experts have become interested in assessing their results.

In September 2002, UNIDIR, with funding from the Government of Japan, began a two-year research project to evaluate selected "weapons-for-development" (WfD) programmes using innovative participatory monitoring and evaluation (PM&E) techniques. Unlike conventional approaches that make use of external consultants and ready-made criteria to assess project operations and outcomes, PM&E relies on the local beneficiaries themselves to carry out the evaluation on the basis of locally defined measures drawn from their daily experiences and perceptions. Placing local stakeholders at the center of attention, where they belong, PM&E offers a grounded perspective on the functioning and effects of WfD programmes that conventional evaluation methodologies may overlook and that is often richer in detail and more indicative of the actual results achieved.

Combining findings from three preceding detailed studies of WfD programmes in Albania, Cambodia and Mali, each available separately from UNIDIR, Listening for Change: Participatory Evaluations of DDR and Arms Reduction in Mali, Cambodia and Albania summarizes the important lessons learned in respect to both WfD policies as well as the applicability of PM&E methodologies in relation to assessing the effectiveness of DDR and arms reduction schemes. Key amongst these are that WfD projects do lead to improved local security perceptions and conditions and that the full participation of local beneficiaries in the evaluation, but equally in the design and implementation of WfD activities, are determinant, cost effective factors of success that alone are able to recognize and match appropriate solutions to scarce resources to local needs.

Citation: Robert Muggah (2005). "Listening for Change: Participatory Evaluations of DDR and Arms Reduction in Mali, Cambodia and Albania", UNIDIR, Geneva.