A policy brief from the Center for Global Policy has found that programs to counter violent extremism need more funding and better collaboration to make them more effective.
The brief evaluated current countering violent extremism programs to see if they were having a significant positive impact, and then made a number of recommendations to improve future effectiveness.
It found that globally a wide range of programs to counter violent extremism have been launched in the wake of high-profile terror attacks, but it is difficult to evaluate how effective these programs are. As the path to radicalization is so complex, it’s difficult for program leaders to make an absolute link between their work and a reduction in terrorism, and as with all social science research it is very difficult to claim absolute causality. Also, as many such programs try to achieve long-term objectives — for example, intervening in schools to deter radicalization — it is too soon to measure the long-term effects of some of their work. In the brief, the Center for Global Policy explains, “We know from various studies that individuals radicalize and turn to violent extremism for a multitude of reasons. Simply put, there is no single path toward violent extremism.”
“Given the limitations and challenges associated with evaluating CVE programming, both [NGOs] and government institutions can benefit from more research, sharing results and the exploration of methods that can give greater — and
more unbiased — details on outcome,” the brief adds.
It also suggests that CVE practitioners should look to external evaluation tools to measure the effectiveness of programs, although it does recognize that these can be difficult to find and financial constraints are an issue for most programs.
Its policy recommendations are that CVE evaluations should be required to study both the direct and indirect effects of programming in order to get the full picture. It also encourages the design of both individualized programs and evaluations. The policy brief recommends greater collaboration between different programs and institutions, and its final recommendation is to continue CVE funding.
“Finally, evaluation research is costly, and community programs typically do not have the funding to conduct the needed advanced research evaluations,” the brief says. “Continuing to offer government grants or encouraging a private public fund CVE evaluation research will contribute immensely to effective monitoring and evaluation of CVE activities, and to learning opportunities for practitioners.”