For more than 25 years, Creative has been a trusted partner of USAID’s Office of Transition Initiatives working for peace and democracy in communities experiencing political and security transition, conflict, extremism and violence. Creative has also supported USAID missions and regional offices to build on and expand their work in transition contexts through efforts such as the Partnership for Peace project that strengthens West African capacity and regional coordination to counter violent extremism.
Working together with local partners, Creative has helped to catalyze change in complex contexts, including disrupting crime and violence in Honduras; supporting democratic transition in Peru; assisting counterinsurgency in Colombia; countering violent extremism in Pakistan, Nigeria and Cameroon; supporting stabilization in Afghanistan; and aiding transitions from war to peace in Angola and Liberia.
To successfully affect change, Creative prioritizes community-level engagement, identifying and supporting actors who are considered or could become change agents and who have the legitimacy, vision and social capital to influence a peaceful transition. Creative’s programs support the ideas and efforts of host governments, civil society, media, traditional authorities, and non-traditional actors through small grants; encouraging their participation in design and program implementation and providing capacity building and connection to other resources.
A transition program must stay one step ahead of its environment. In all programming in these contexts, Creative emphasizes constant situational and conflict analysis, creativity, agility, calculated risk-taking, and the courage to tackle seemingly intractable issues. As political and security dynamics shift, Creative adapts its programming and operations to respond to new threats and opportunities, meet local needs, and move the needle toward stability, peace and democracy.
Our approach is guided by five key components:
Right leadership and staff
Complex programming requires responsive leadership and staff equipped with the analytic and operational skills to support the rigors of transition programs. Creative’s senior leaders – experts in CVE, peacebuilding, reconciliation, democracy building, and stabilization and transition assistance – work closely with donors and partners to consider programs through an entrepreneurial lens; applying best practices, innovative approaches and tools piloted in other transition environments. Creative takes a local-first approach to hiring and remain dedicated to sharpening critical thinking skills, encouraging risk-taking, and devolving program management to local staff.
Programmatic and operational agility
Creative supports changing programmatic demands and new strategic initiatives with quick, responsive tactical shifts. Headquarters and regional experts in procurement, security, HR, and grants team up with programmatic leaders to solve problems, adapt and respond to changes rapidly, and effectively provide surge support.
In countries experiencing transition, conflict and other disruptive trends, power dynamics, political will and threats are constantly changing. Creative’s management approach acts on early signals of these changes. Learning activities and early warning system assessments help to close information gaps. Creative’s programs ground risk management in flexibility, resilience and resourcefulness to enable responsive programming in a range of permissive and non-permissive operating environments.
Integrated monitoring, evaluation, and learning
Creative’s implementation approach incorporates field-led, complexity-aware monitoring, rapid analysis and evaluation. Teams and program management processes are structured to maximize iterative learning and understanding of local dynamics. We invest in adapting and developing tools to define and measure success, integrating learning questions and activities from project design throughout implementation.
Our programs serve as test labs for monitoring, evaluation and learning approaches, such as piloting Influence Mapping in northeast Nigeria and Cameroon to better identify and understand the growth of extremist groups. We employ our Fragility-Resilience Assessment Method (FRAMe) tool, in West Africa and the Middle East, to gather perceptions around community resilience and inform conflict analysis via key grievances and drivers, highlights cleavages and maps trends. Programs use data to support monitoring, evaluation and learning and manage programming around potential flashpoints.
Creative pilots new system, rapidly takes successful models to scale and incorporates them as best practices for subsequent projects. For example, in the Lake Chad Basin, our team analyzed social media in multiple languages to explore Boko Haram and ISIS-West Africa communication strategies and narratives around violent extremism. This analysis then informed social media messaging campaigns to effectively counter recruitment. In Honduras, a Stoplight System depicted current versus target levels of violence, cohesion and state control within a community, enabling the program to assess each activity, capture impact and measure progress against identified factors for violence.