The following section offers guidance on how to start your assessment, including potential objectives and guiding questions.
Why is a violent extremism (VE) assessment relevant for your organization?
- To help prevent VE by improving the understanding of factors contributing to radicalization
- To inform the design of activities that are intended to prevent or counter VE
What will this module help you achieve?
- Identify key steps and questions for the assessment
- Establish the connection between a VE assessment and VE programming
- Understand how biases and previous experiences affect the assessment of local VE dynamics and drivers as well as resilience factors
How can we reduce bias and identify blind spots in VE analysis?
- Determine what motivates us to undertake this assessment
- Establish the needed level(s) of analysis (national, community, individual, etc.)
- Assess how our background affects our analysis by asking ourselves: what are our key assumptions, and have they been tested?
- Determine if our background leads us to misinterpret anything. Are there alternative views to consider?
- Ascertain if we can mitigate potential harm in the way we conduct our assessment
Intro to conducting an assessment
Once you’ve defined what violent extremism (VE) means in your context, below are some basic questions to start your assessment. This module is focused on helping your project design team to understand the dynamics and drivers of violent extremism and conflict, and the interplay among them, to help you to design your project. VE dynamics are shaped by the interplay between latent grievances and resiliencies, and the key actors who mobilize people and resources based upon them to advance social, political, or economic goals through ideologically justified violence. VE drivers are factors that can favor the rise of VE (know as “push factors”) as well as those that can influence the radicalization or recruitment of individuals (known as “pull factors”). Mapping vulnerabilities and push factors against exposure to violent extremist organizations (VEOs) helps isolate risks and identify which structures and key actors can positively affect the VE dynamics.
This module will not focus on conducting baseline assessments for monitoring and evaluation, which can be found in the Monitor and Evaluate module.
Identifying vulnerable populations
- What populations are the most vulnerable to radicalization and/or extremist recruitment in your project’s target areas?
- Are there factors that influence recruitment by violent extremist organizations (VEOs) (e.g. age, gender, residence or geographic origins, level of educational achievement, socio-economic status, ethnic and religious affiliation)?
- What are the main grievances and sources of tension or stresses (push factors) that can influence vulnerability to VE?
- What are the pull factors that would motivate individuals or groups to engage in violence (because of these push factors)?
- How do these factors differ among men and women (boys and girls)?
- How might gender impact the radicalization process?
- Which of these factors are the most relevant in your project’s target areas?
- What are the relationships and group dynamics that could be contributing to VE?
- What are key institutions and relevant practices or policies that can influence vulnerability to VE?
Understanding VEO actions and recruitment
- In which geographic areas are people exposed to which VEOs? How are the VEOs structured and how do they operate (organization, funding, communication, etc.)?
- What is understood about where and how recruitment is currently happening?
- Who are the main actors and key mobilizers in the system around recruitment and radicalization?
- What are the real or perceived characteristics or features that VEOs with influence in your project’s target areas offer to appeal to potential recruits?
Understanding trends in the VE threat
- Is the threat of VE decreasing or increasing in the target area, and is the threat changing in the nature, scope and tactics used?
- What are key internal and external events and forces that can influence vulnerability to VE in the project’s target areas?
- What are other contextual dynamics – related to conflict, gender equality, social inclusion, etc. – that can influence vulnerability to VE? How do or can VEOs exploit these dynamics in their operating environment to advance their goals?
CVE landscape and local resiliencies
- Are there government policies and strategies in place for CVE?
- Will the national level government engage with our project on this issue?
- Will local/provincial level government authorities be receptive to engagement with our project on this issue? Do they see violent extremism as a problem, and do they see that civil society has a role to play in addressing it?
- Will there be security concerns for an organization like ours to work explicitly on the problem of violent extremism?
- What are the factors (people, organizations, cultural practices, belief systems, etc.) that can be leveraged to prevent, mitigate and disrupt VE in certain communities?
- Who are the key influencers (positive and negative) related to countering and preventing violent extremism in your target areas?
- What lessons drawn from past or current CVE initiatives can help to design future CVE projects?
Implementing an assessment often carries the same risks as implementing a project. Therefore, when thinking about conducting an assessment, it is important to:
- Consider your risks and take a conflict-sensitive approach so that you do not put yourself or your project participants in harm’s way. Find more information in the Cross-Cutting Section on Conflict Sensitivity.
- Identify your assumptions so that you are transparent in presenting your analysis.
VE and conflict impact people and groups very differently. Therefore, it is important to think through stakeholder-engagement strategies so a variety of perspectives and voices are captured in your work. Before you conduct an assessment, consider:
- How to effectively involve youth. In most cases, youth are a key target group of P/CVE projects. Their involvement in all phases of the project cycle is especially important, but also challenging. The Positive Youth Development (PYD) framework provides useful strategies and implementation tips. Find more information on PYD in the Cross-Cutting Section on Youth Involvement.
- How to integrate a nuanced understanding of gender. Assessment frameworks featured throughout this module will help you to disaggregate your analysis according to different groups of people, including men and women. The Cross-Cutting Section on Gender and Social Inclusion page also provides useful strategies and implementation tips for how to engage different social groups.