Following up on my successful work in Northern Ireland I met Carolyn McAskie, the United Nations Assistant Secretary-General for Peacebuilding, in New York in March 2007 to explore the prospects of using public opinion polls to help resolve conflicts in other parts of the world. That meeting led to my being invited to Humanitarian Dialogue in Geneva, which in turn led to an invitation to the Oslo Form 2007 and subsequently my program of work in support of the Sri Lanka peace process. Significantly, at the meeting in New York Carolyn McAskie thought it would be very difficult to apply the methods used in Northern Ireland in places like Africa so when I got an invitation to go to Khartoum to see if I could develop a peace poll questionnaire for use in Darfur I was very pleased to take up the offer.
By the time I got to Khartoum in July 2009 my work in Sri Lanka was well under way, I had completed a project with colleagues in Kashmir and as my first 'peace poll' had been carried out in the Canadian Arctic I was very pleased to find my self working with nomads again. Following several trips to Sudan that year including Darfur, as well as meetings with other stakeholders in Washington, Philadelphia, New York and London (State Department, World Bank, US Institute of Peace, UN and rebel spokespersons in Europe) a questionnaire was developed for pre-testing in November 2009.
The project was being carried out under the direction of Professor Monroe Price of the Annenberg School of Communication at the University of Pennsylvania in partnership with colleagues of his at Albany Associates and I was brought in as a consultant. As it turned out the development of the questionnaire went very well and with minor adjustments following the pilot everyone was ready to collect the full sample. Through the good offices of UNAMD (African Union/United Nations Hybrid operation in Darfur) and their DDDC program (Darfur-Darfur Dialogue and Communication) the results of their work were incorporated into the questionnaire along with all the suggestions from IDPs, nomads, tribal leaders, rebels, local and national government officials etc. etc.