Author: Stiles, J. M.
In March 2000, UNICEF Pakistan, in consultation with the Government of Pakistan (GOP) and UNICEF's Regional Office for South Asia, decided to undertake an in-depth evaluation of advocacy and social mobilization, one of the three fundamental strategies of the GOP-UNICEF Country Programme of Cooperation (CP). The evaluation covers the period from January 1999 to June 2001, roughly the first half of the 1999-2003 CP.
Purpose / Objective
The purpose of the evaluation is to help UNICEF Pakistan and its partners learn from the past, in order to plan and implement effective advocacy and social mobilization initiatives over the second half of the CP and beyond, keeping in view the CP's priorities and the GOP's ongoing devolution process.
Five key questions and related sub-questions guide the evaluation:
- What is the CP's overall advocacy and social mobilization strategy?
- What advocacy and social mobilization initiatives were undertaken during the first half of the CP?
- How have these initiatives contributed to the Master Plan of Operation's objectives?
- What have they cost?
- How can the GOP, UNICEF and their partners improve advocacy and social mobilization in the future?
In the programmatic area, it focuses on three key initiatives: Polio Eradication and Vitamin A Supplementation, Universal Primary Education (UPE) and Empowerment of the Girl Child.
This report draws on two major studies that UNICEF commissioned for the evaluation: one to document advocacy and social mobilization initiatives and to survey primary stakeholders; and, the other, to evaluate the UPE Sialkot Project. The author has synthesized data from these studies and many other sources in preparing this report.
In keeping with the utilization-focused model and the somewhat amorphous nature of the subject under investigation, the evaluation employed a wide range of methodologies. This consultant used the following methods:
- a desk review;
- a literature search pertaining to concepts, best practices and lessons learned in the field of communication for development;
- open-ended dialogue with members of the Reference Group;
- a written survey of selected GOP partners (N=8: 22% response rate);
- a written survey of UNICEF programme staff (N=14: 35% response rate) in Islamabad and the provinces; and
- site visits to the UPE Sialkot Project and the Girl Child Project.
Key Findings and Conclusions
The evaluation has identified areas where advocacy and social mobilization have contributed to the achievement of project and programme objectives, but attribution difficulties and inadequate monitoring data make it impossible to determine the extent to which advocacy and social mobilization have affected macro-level trends and indicators.
The case studies of the Girl Child Project and the UPE Sialkot Project provide the clearest evidence of highly successful advocacy and social mobilization initiatives under the current CP. These major projects have been well planned and effectively implemented, largely with the assistance of NGO partners. Both serve as models and have clearly made significant contributions toward the achievement of the broad objectives in the current Master Plan of Operations (MPO). Furthermore, they provide UNICEF and its CP partners with a rich body of knowledge and experience with which to chart new programmes and projects in the future. Some evidence suggests that the GOP's increased attention to children and women and its emphasis on the girl child are a direct result of UNICEF's persistent advocacy work.
The results of advocacy and social mobilization in other areas of the CP are mixed. Most other successful examples of advocacy and social mobilization have been small-scale, well-planned initiatives that have included clear outcomes and monitoring procedures.
General advocacy and social mobilization wherein UNICEF staff promote respect for the rights of children and women is regarded as a key staff function. However, UNICEF has not given this function the attention that it deserves, considering that this is perhaps the most important way UNICEF communicates its core values. The roles and responsibilities of staff in relation to general advocacy and social mobilization are inadequately reflected in job descriptions and in personnel policies. This type of advocacy and social mobilization is generally not well planned and monitored. It is important that all staff members have an orientation to general advocacy and social mobilization. Some need training and communication support materials to perform this function well. Above all, staff need to be clear on what these terms mean and how they are to apply them. Missing are the details of tactics, methods and nuances in this often highly sensitive work. Institutional memory is lost without documentation, and this impedes learning over time.
UNICEF and its partners increasingly, yet inconsistently, undertake advocacy and social mobilization within a rights-based framework. It is essential that UNICEF and its partners come to terms with this important issue since consistency is critical when an organization adopts a rights-based approach to programming. The Girl Child Project is a highly successful example of this approach. The CP partners must increasingly make the rights-holder model their priority. Lack of precision and inconsistency in the use of these terms, particularly in planning documents, has contributed to this misunderstanding. Not all of UNICEF's programme staff link advocacy and social mobilization with the rights of children and women.
The scope of advocacy and social mobilization under the CP is vast. The evaluation shows the need for more intensive advocacy and social mobilization in priority areas, such as the Expanded Programme of Immunization (EPI), where progress toward the goals of the CP is lagging. UNICEF and its partners may be trying to do too much and at too many levels, given that they are actively involved in some 40 programmes and issues where advocacy and social mobilization play a role.
The GOP's institutional capacity for advocacy and social mobilization is not as strong as UNICEF's. UNICEF's capacity is largely centralized in Islamabad at a time when increased support for social programmes is needed at provincial and district levels. Institutional capacity needs to be examined broadly, and in the context of the GOP's devolution process.
UNICEF's provincial offices and their partners have expressed the need for more training in advocacy and social mobilization. The GOP's devolution process makes it imperative for UNICEF to do more to build the capacity of its provincial offices and their partners working at the district level and lower.
UNICEF and its CP partners have lost opportunities to learn from their advocacy and social mobilization initiatives owing to a weak monitoring system. The present monitoring system places too much emphasis on activities and too little on results. Neither programmatic nor general advocacy and social mobilization are adequately tracked, and indicators are inconsistently gender- and rights-sensitive.
It is recommended that the GOP and UNICEF define advocacy and social mobilization and associated programme communication within a rights-based framework, and explain these terms clearly when they use them. The GOP and UNICEF should increasingly apply a rights-based approach in all advocacy, social mobilization and associated programme communication.
It is recommended that the GOP and UNICEF review the CP's advocacy and social mobilization initiatives with a view to a more sharply focused set of priorities over the next few years, within the Medium-term Strategic Plan.
It is recommended that UNICEF Pakistan take steps to ensure that its personnel policies, planning and monitoring and evaluation systems better reflect the roles of staff members in relation to general advocacy and social mobilization, and that staff receive orientation, training and communication support materials where needed.
It is recommended that UNICEF and its partners document non-programmatic and high-level programme advocacy and social mobilization more systematically in order to track progress and capture important lessons.
It is recommended that the GOP, UNICEF and their CP partners commission a study on the future of communication support to Pakistan's social sectors, with a view to developing sustainable institutional arrangements to support the GOP, where support is needed most over the long term.
It is recommended that UNICEF strengthen the capacity of its provincial offices and their programme partners in relation to advocacy, social mobilization and associated programme communication, and that UNICEF make the organizational changes necessary to sustain this capacity.
It is recommended that the GOP and UNICEF give greater priority to collaborative and participatory planning, monitoring and evaluation of advocacy, social mobilization and associated programme communication initiatives.
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Advocacy and Communication