Countering Violent Extremism and Risk Reduction: A Guide to Programme Design and Evaluation

Download PDF(1MB)

This report provides guidance to policy-makers and implementers of countering violent extremism and risk reduction programmes.

Countering violent extremism (CVE) and risk reduction (RR) provide two increasingly prominent frameworks for countering the influence of individuals and entities involved in violent extremism (VE).

Widely understood to describe a range of preventative and non-coercive measures, CVE may involve, for instance, community debates on sensitive topics, media messaging, interfaith dialogues, training of state governance and security actors, and a variety of initiatives with individuals deemed to be ‘at risk’ of being drawn to violence, such as vocational training and mentorship programmes.

While there are substantial overlaps between CVE and RR in terms of activities, and many authorities group them under the same umbrella, RR can be considered distinct because its activities more narrowly target individuals who were previously directly or indirectly involved in the production of violence, such as defectors from VE entities, or those serving sentences for terrorism-related charges.

This report aims to assist policy-makers and implementers by examining approaches through which to understand the drivers of VE and the wider context in which this violence occurs. It also looks at the design of CVE and RR programmes, and outlines key issues relating to programme monitoring and evaluation.

The report recommends that those involved in designing and implementing CVE and RR programmes should adopt robust classification systems for VE drivers; apply the ‘results frameworks’ and ‘theories of change’ approaches; recognise that CVE is not rebranded development programming; target ‘at risk’ individuals; mitigate risk without being excessively risk-averse; and explore possibilities for experimental and quasi-experimental designs. 


Dr James Khalil works as a consultant researcher and a design, monitoring and evaluation (DM&E) specialist on security-based projects in locations such as Egypt, Kenya, Mali, Pakistan, Somalia, South Sudan and Syria.

Martine Zeuthen currently works as Team Lead for the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI), implementing  an  EU-funded  pilot  programme  that  tests  key  assumptions  on  Strengthening Resilience to Violent Extremism (STRIVE) in the Horn of Africa.


Martine Zeuthen

Associate Fellow

View profile

Dr James Khalil

Associate Fellow

View profile

Explore our related content