Key Terms

Acronym/Term  Complete Term 
AAR  After-Action Review  
CAF 2.0 Conflict Assessment Framework
CBO Community-Based Organization
CDA CDA Collaborative Learning Projects
CGCC Center on Global Counterterrorism Cooperation 
CSOs Civil Society Organizations
DFID United Kingdom Department for International Development
FBO Faith-Based Organization
FTFs Foreign Terrorist Fighters
GCCS Global Center on Cooperative Security 
GCERF Global Community Engagement and Resilience Fund 
GCTF Global Counterterrorism Forum 
GESI Gender Equality and Social Inclusion
GLAM Global Learning for Adaptive Management Initiative
ISO International Organization for Standardization
LGBTI Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Intersex
LogFrame Logical Framework
M&E Monitoring and Evaluation
NGO Non-Governmental Organization
OTI USAID Office of Transition Initiatives
P/CVE Preventing and Countering Violent Extremism
PIRS Performance Indicator Reference Sheet
PQA Program Quality Assessment
RAN Radicalization Awareness Network 
RESOLVE Researching Solutions to Violent Extremism Network 
RUSI Royal United Services Institute
SMS Short Message Service
ToTs Training of Trainers
UN United Nations
UNDP United Nations Development Program
USAID United States Agency for International Development
USIP United States Institute of Peace



Acronym/Term Complete Term Definition

At-risk refers to individuals, groups, or communities who are particularly vulnerable to the threat of VE due to their exposure or susceptibility to VE dynamics and drivers.

(consolidated from multiple sources)

C-AM Complexity-Aware Monitoring

C-AM is a type of complementary monitoring that is useful when results are difficult to predict due to dynamic contexts or unclear cause-and-effect relationships. When the ability to predict outcomes and causal pathways is decreased, complexity-aware monitoring data provides a fuller range of outcomes, causal factors, and pathways of contribution.

(Source: Discussion Note: Complexity-Aware Monitoring, USAID, 2018)

CLA Collaborating, Learning, and Adapting

CLA is USAID’s framework for operationalizing adaptive management in the project cycle. CLA includes strategic collaboration and continuous learning for adaptive management and the conditions that enable these processes.

(Source: Discussion Note: Adaptive Management, USAID, 2018)


Community Cohesion (Social Cohesion)  

A cohesive society is one which “works towards the well-being of all its members, fights exclusion and marginalization, creates a sense of belonging, promotes trust, and offers its members the opportunity of upward social mobility.”

(Source: OECD)

Social cohesion is about tolerance of, and respect for, diversity (in terms of religion, ethnicity, economic situation, political preferences, sexuality, gender, and age)—both institutionally and individually. While the meaning of social cohesion is contested, there are two principal dimensions to it: (1) The reduction of disparities, inequalities, and social exclusion. (2) The strengthening of social relations, interactions, and ties.

(Source: UNDP)

Conflict Sensitivity  

Conflict sensitivity refers to the practice of understanding how aid interacts with conflict in a particular context, with the goal of mitigating unintended negative effects, and influencing conflict positively wherever possible, through humanitarian, development, and/or peacebuilding interventions.

(Source: CDA)


Connectors are core components of the Do No Harm framework. Connectors are sources of cohesion and trust in a community. Connectors demonstrate the local capacities people have for peace and serve to enable positive relationships among diverse people.

(Source: adapted from Do No Harm Workshop, Participants Manual, CDA, 2016)

CT Counterterrorism

Efforts focused on controlling, repressing, and tracking terrorists and terrorist activities.

(consolidated from multiple sources)

CVE Countering Violent Extremism

Countering Violent Extremism refers to proactive actions to preempt or disrupt efforts by violent extremists to radicalize, recruit, and mobilize followers to violence and to address specific factors that facilitate recruitment and radicalization to violence. CVE encompasses policy and activities to increase peaceful options for political, economic, and social engagement available to communities and local governments and their ability to act on them.

(Source: Updated from the U.S. Department of State & USAID’s Joint Strategy on Countering Violent Extremism, 2016)


Dividers are core components of the Do No Harm framework. Dividers are sources of tension, mistrust, or suspicion in a community that have in the past or may in the future turn into intergroup conflict. They prevent positive relationships from taking place.

(Source: adapted from Do No Harm Workshop, Participants Manual, CDA, 2016)

DNH Do No Harm

The DNH approach is a conflict sensitivity approach that is well suited to projects working in conflict settings. DNH can be integrated into most of the stages of a project cycle. It is meant not only to ensure your projects don’t fuel drivers of conflict or put you, your staff, and your beneficiaries at risk, but to ensure that your project contributes to preventing violent conflict or extremism. The core of the DNH framework is an analysis of dividers and connectors that damage or build relationships between groups.

(Source: adapted from Do No Harm Workshop, Participants Manual, CDA, 2016)

Drivers of Violent Extremism  

Factors that can favor the rise of violent extremism or insurgency as well as those that can influence the radicalization of individuals. Drivers are often divided into push and pull factors.

(Source: Development Response to Violent Extremism and Insurgency, USAID, 2011) 

Gender Equality  

Gender equality involves working with men and boys, women and girls to bring about changes in attitudes, behaviors, roles and responsibilities at home, in the workplace, and in the community. Gender equality means more than parity in numbers or laws on the books; it means expanding freedoms and improving overall quality of life so that equality is achieved without sacrificing gains for males or females. 

(Source: Gender Equality and Female Empowerment Policy, USAID, 2012)

Project Cycle  

The  Program Cycle is USAID’s framing and terminology to describe a common set of processes intended to achieve more effective development interventions and maximize impacts. It consists of these components: CDCS development, project design and implementation, performance management, evaluation, learning and adapting, and budgets and resources. We have adapted the program cycle for this CVE Reference Guide to refer to the following five project cycle phases: (1) Assess, (2) Design, (3) Implement; (4) Monitor and Evaluate; and (5) Learn.  

Pull Factors  

Pull factors have a direct influence on individual-level radicalization and recruitment and are drivers that pull individuals into the orbit of VE groups or movements—such as the appeal of a particular leader, self-appointed imam or inspirational figure, or the material, emotional, or spiritual benefits which affiliation with a group may confer.

(Source: Development Response to Violent Extremism and Insurgency, USAID, 2011)  

Push Factors  

Push factors are characteristics of the societal environment that are alleged to push vulnerable individuals onto the path of violence. These structural factors include high levels of social marginalization and fragmentation; poorly governed or ungoverned areas; government repression and human rights violations; endemic corruption and elite impunity; and cultural threat perceptions.

(Source: Development Response to Violent Extremism and Insurgency, USAID, 2011)

PVE Preventing Violent Extremism

Prevention of violent extremism needs to look beyond strict security concerns to development-related causes of and solutions to the phenomenon. Sustainable solutions for the prevention of violent extremism therefore require an inclusive development approach anchored in tolerance, political and economic empowerment, and reduction of inequalities.

(Source: Preventing Violent Extremism Through Promoting Inclusive Development, Tolerance, and Respect for Diversity, UNDP, 2016)

PYD Positive Youth Development

PYD is an approach to youth development that focuses on increasing youth assets and strengthening protective factors. PYD engages youth along with their families, communities, and/or governments so that youth are empowered to reach their full potential. PYD approaches build skills, assets, and competencies; foster healthy relationships; strengthen the environment; and transform systems.

(Source: Adapted from Promoting Positive Youth Development, YouthPower)


Radicalization is a process by which a person or group adopts extreme ideas or beliefs and comes to view violence as a justified means to advance them. While most people who adopt radical views will never use violence, those who do often adopt ideologies that rationalize their actions.

(Source: Radicalization Revisited: Jihad 4.0 and CVE Programming, USAID, 2016)


Recruitment refers to a process by which individuals already affiliated with a violent extremist organization enlist others into it. The extent to which such recruitment is conducted in a systematic and organized manner varies from case to case; at one end of the continuum, top-down recruitment is carried out by individuals (“recruiters”) who specifically are entrusted with this function, and who themselves operate within a specialized unit charged with this task. […]  “Self-recruitment,” by contrast, refers to a process by which individuals enlist themselves into [VEOs], physically or virtually; they do so with, at the most, only limited direct physical intervention or deliberate organized efforts by others.

(Source: Development Response to Violent Extremism and Insurgency, USAID, 2011)


Resilience can exist at different levels and take different forms. Therefore, the definition of resilience will depend on factors including which level of intervention or entity you are focusing on (individual, group, or community) and what type of shocks you are trying to advance resilience to (natural disaster, food insecurity, conflict/violence, violent extremism, disease, etc.). In general, USAID defines resilience as  “the ability of people, households, communities, countries, and systems to mitigate, adapt to, and recover from shocks and stresses in a manner that reduces chronic vulnerability and facilitates inclusive growth.”

Risk Management  

Risk management is the systematic approach and practice of managing uncertainty to minimize potential harm and loss and maximize potential opportunities and gains. The goal of risk management is “to set the best course of action under uncertainty by identifying, assessing, understanding, making decisions, and communicating risk issues.” Risk management is inherently an enabling process: rather than provoking decisions to stop programming, effective risk management processes create the conditions necessary for the program to proceed, and, indeed, succeed.

(Source: Risk Management for Preventing Violent Extremism Programmes: Guidance Note for Practitioners, UNDP, 2018)

Social Inclusion  

Social inclusion is the process of improving the terms for individuals and groups to take part in society and the process of improving the ability, opportunity, and dignity of those disadvantaged on the basis of their identity to take part in society.

(Source: World Bank)


A  stakeholder  is any individual, group, or organization who is directly or indirectly impacted by the activities or project to be implemented. Stakeholders can also positively or negatively influence the results of the activity/project. Examples of stakeholders include: local communities or individuals; national and local government authorities; civil society actors; local, regional, national,  and international non-governmental organizations; and indigenous peoples, religious leaders, members of academia, private sector entities, UN agencies, international donors, and special interest groups.

(consolidated from multiple sources)


In the context of development work, sustainability is typically sought at three different levels: (1) sustainability of results and impact of activities; (2) sustainability of project activities through their continuation after funding ends, replicating activities in additional locations, and/or implementing appropriate follow-on activities; and (3) sustainability of implementers—that is, the ability of the organization itself to continue to operate and implement other activities in the future.

(Source: Adapted from Incorporating Sustainability Plans into Grant Programs, NGO Tips, Capable Partners Program, USAID and FHI 360, 2011)

ToC Theory of Change

The ToC is an articulation of how and why a given set of interventions will lead to specific change. It follows a generally straightforward “if/then”  logic: i.e., if the intervention occurs successfully, then it will lead to the desired result.    

Source: USAID Learning Lab

VE Violent Extremism

Violent extremism refers to advocating, engaging in, preparing, or otherwise supporting ideologically motivated violence to further social, economic, political, or religious objectives.

(Source: Updated from The Development Response to Violent Extremism and Insurgency Policy, USAID, 2011)

VE Dynamics  

Understanding VE dynamics requires analyzing the interplay among local grievances, key influencers, mobilizing factors, external forces, violence levels, and potential triggering events in order to determine how VEOs exploit their operating environments and intertwine with local conflict dynamics. Mapping vulnerabilities against exposure to VEOs helps isolate risks and identify which structures, institutions, [add comma] or interlocutors can positively affect the VE dynamics.

(Source: Updated from the U.S. Department of State & USAID's Joint Strategy on Countering Violent Extremism, 2016)

VEO Violent Extremist Organization

Group or organization seeking to advance a violent extremist agenda.

(consolidated from multiple sources)