2000 CBD: UNICEF External Evaluation of Supported Mine Action Projects
Author: Horwood, C.; Crossland, A.
UNICEF has been supporting this project, implemented as part of the strategic operations of the Cambodia Mine Action Centre, since the project's inception in March 1997. UNICEF has come to regard Community Mine Marking as an effective and successful activity contributing to lower accidents and deaths from mines in rural north-west Cambodia. The project has not been externally evaluated by UNICEF or other agencies since it began in 1997. CMAC monitor and audit the project as part of their internal monitoring and quality assurance procedures. The first and last CMAC audit was conducted in December 1999.
Activities presently supported under the CAAC project, which are evaluated in this report are: Community Mine Marking with the Cambodian Mine Action Centre; the Cambodian Mine Incident Database with the Cambodian Red Cross and Handicap International; Mine Risk Education with the Mines Advisory Group and World Education (as of July 2000); and the Integrated Mine Database with the Cambodian Mine Action Centre.
Purpose / Objective
This evaluation seeks to assess the direct impact of the Community Mine Marking (CMM) activities as set against their stated objectives and goals. It will also evaluate the impact of its activities in terms of secondary or indirect benefits and related issues considered important by the evaluation team.
The methodology used was based on direct observation, site visits, village interviews, data analysis, individual interviews and review of documentation. Small village surveys were carried out in areas covered by mine risk education (MRE) and areas not covered by MRE, and between children attending school and children not attending school. Information was gathered in the provinces of Battambang, Banteay Mean Chey and Siem Reap Provinces, with visits to thirty villages: fifteen villages in target areas and fifteen villages in non-target areas (control).
Those interviewed at village level were the village chief, a school teacher, a parent with a child at school, a child attending school, a parent with school age children but they did not attend school, and a child not attending school. Also, 137 student teachers - graduates of CMRE training - completed questionnaires. A total of 317 completed questionnaire were used as the basis of the village survey analysis.
Key Findings and Conclusions
UNICEF has been actively supporting, influencing and funding a comprehensive package of interventions, some of which are highly effective. The evaluation focused on the specific projects listed below, but UNICEF has a wider strategic involvement in mine action through its long-term support of disability organisations and community development assistance in mine-affected areas. In addition to these, UNICEF Cambodia has been involved with the international campaign (to ban landmines) through its funding of conferences in Cambodia and support of the Ottawa Treaty and its implementation.
Through their funding of Community Mine Marking (CMAC), UNICEF supports minefield marking and limited clearance in high-risk, high prioritised locations in the north-west of Cambodia. This evaluation shows that the work of these 12 marking teams is targeted and cost efficient while maximising benefits to the affected communities due to the limited nature of their clearance. This is in stark contrast to the other demining / clearance units of CMAC which focus on large clearance sites, are inflexible in responding to changes in requirement, and which are logistically and administratively cumbersome.
Through their funding of Mine Risk Education in schools (initially through the Mines Advisory Group but now continuing through World Education), UNICEF is contributing to what will become a sustainable and formalised mine awareness programme in numerous school clusters in the most affected provinces in Cambodia. The evaluation reveals problems with selection of schools, the issue of non-school attending children and the quality of teacher capacity (in terms of time available and materials), but the project is at a relatively early stage and the findings of this evaluation, if applied, should assist World Education to provide an important contribution to mine awareness through the curriculum. However, the link between mine awareness and actual impact on children and their risk-taking behaviour is still unknown. Despite the availability of important data, this evaluation was not able to establish a correlation between mine awareness and incident reduction.
Through their support of the Mine Incident Database (CRC / HI), UNICEF is funding a most important development, which they first began in 1994 in partnership with MAG. The development of a national database that charts, in detail, the changes in monthly accident rates throughout the country is the first of its kind globally. Additional information collected through the victim questionnaires provided important keys to understanding the dynamics of how and why certain groups and communities in Cambodia continue to sustain mine accidents. The situation is not straightforward and this database provides an excellent tool for analysis, evaluation and, more importantly, strategic planning through prioritisation. However, this evaluation identifies ways in which the programme can be upgraded and how CRC/HI (with UNICEF) can encourage a wider and fuller use and application of the database. It is already having a positive impact and contribution to the mine action sector but its potential could be far greater.
UNICEF has also been supporting the CMAC integrated database for some years. This evaluation recognises the importance of such a database and commends UNICEF's support in bringing the database up to its current level of technical capacity and sophistication. However, the evaluation is critical of the minimal use made by CMAC managers and departments of the database, and the general poor use of verifiable data within the organisation. The integration of various different forms of data has made the CMAC database a potentially powerful tool for planning, monitoring and evaluation, but requires a different level of political and managerial will from within CMAC, if such potential is to be realised.
The evaluation examines the above projects and finds that UNICEF's involvement is comprehensive insofar that it is involved with the central national agency in Cambodia (CMAC) through funding of marking and clearance, and involved with mine awareness and data-collection through mine action NGOs (HI,CRC,MAG). In addition to this, the involvement of UNICEF results in a strong degree of synergy with the data from the Mine Incident Database (MID) directly supporting and informing the planning and deployment decisions of mine awareness as well as mine marking and limited clearance tasks. Equally, the data from the MID is an important component of the integrated mine database of CMAC. The MID was also an important tool during this evaluation study.
The evaluation stresses that much of mine action operates on an unverifiable assumption that current interventions are directly beneficial to mine-affected communities. This is not an unreasonable assumption and, certainly, mine action does not add to the threat in any way. However, in terms of verifiable indicators and direct correlation between mine action and reduced statistics, no linkage could be made. The tools used at present are not precise enough to indicate these linkages (if they exist) as there are many other factors affecting the context where mine-affected communities live, and where mine incidents occur.
The overall statistics indicate that there is a strong and sustained decline, nationally, in the number of mine incidents occurring. This is an extremely positive trend, which must not obscure the fact that tens of thousands of people continue to be affected directly by land denial. The massive need for land clearance continues. Equally, despite declines, there remain hundreds of thousands of mine victims in Cambodia who require on-going wide-ranging assistance. In this regard, the evaluation finds UNICEF's involvement since 1992 with disability agencies and the government ministry (MoSALVY), another element of a comprehensive, reinforcing approach to mine action in the wider meaning of the word.
In recent years, UNICEF Cambodia has made high profile and wide-ranging contributions to the mine action sector in Cambodia. It enjoys a good reputation for both the monetary inputs and the advice it gives as a partner agency. Despite the many detailed findings, critiques and project specific recommendation that this evaluation makes, it must conclude that UNICEF's contribution is currently relevant, effective and adds value to the mine action sector, disproportionate to the cost that the programmes entail. This evaluation endorses the current strategic direction of the CAAC in this regard and would encourage UNICEF to consider enlarging its contribution in the areas specifically identified in this report.
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