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Evaluation report

2000 Global: Evaluation of the Capacity Building Programme on Child Labour

Author: Back, L.; UNICEF NYHQ

Executive summary


The purpose of the present research has been to evaluate the Child Labour Capacity Building Training Programme, the central part of which was a Workshop organised in Turin between 30 June and 11 July 1997. The programme was funded by the Government of Luxembourg and implemented by UNICEF (Headquarters and ICDC). The aim of the Programme was to contribute to the formulation of UNICEF policies and to build staff capacity to address child labour problems within a child rights perspective.

Purpose / Objective

The evaluation was expected to draw conclusions and formulate recommendations to further capacity building in the area of child labour. Another aim of the evaluation was to generate recommendations for capacity building in the wider context of human rights-based programming.

Conclusions and recommendations specifically address issues related to technical capacity building on child labour. The section lessons learned will discuss insights on capacity building in the wider context of how UNICEF promotes child rights as defined in the CRC of 1989 and on the basis of UNICEF' Mission Statement of 1996.


The study has made use of several methodological approaches that complemented each other:

· A comprehensive desk review was undertaken, which concerned all relevant documents on the countries that were represented in the Turin Workshop.
· Interviews were conducted with the organisers of the Turin Workshop (ICDC and Headquarters) and staff in charge of the follow-up.
· The evaluation made use of the results from surveys among participants of the Turin Workshop itself conducted at mid-point and at the end of the event.
· For the purpose of this evaluation, a survey that focused on the follow-up to the workshop in the respective Country Offices was conducted.
· Visits to selected countries and regions by the evaluation coordinator allowed for more in-depth and contextual information.

Key Findings and Conclusions

The Capacity Building Programme on Child Labour (1997-99) was successful in strengthening UNICEF's in-house technical expertise necessary to formulate policies and programmes to progressively eliminate child labour and acquire practical tools to plan and evaluate relevant activities. A major outcome of the Turin Workshop of 1997 was a policy paper entitled "UNICEF Towards a Global Strategy on Working Children." UNICEF staff and representatives from some partner agencies were trained to plan and evaluate activities designed to eliminate child labour. These achievements were realised against the background of increasing interest in child labour in most countries.

The strategy paper "UNICEF Towards a Global Strategy on Working Children" contained a comprehensive analysis of child labour from a child rights perspective and an innovative statement as to policies and strategies to eliminate child labour. The paper resulted from a collective effort of all participants of the Turin Workshop. To fulfil provisions of Art. 32 of the CRC, the main emphasis must be on the prevention of child work that is detrimental to child development through the provision of better developmental opportunities. Strategies include strengthening of household and community capacity to provide for and protect their children as well as expansion and improvement of primary education systems. There is a need to mainstream child labour issues in Country Programmes and to build alliances with other partners at national, regional and global levels. Cooperation with IPEC (International Programme on the Elimination of Child Labour) implemented by the ILO is deemed particularly important.

The training component of the Turin Workshop of July 1997 was satisfactory, but there have been inadequacies in the assessment of training needs before the Workshop as well as in planned follow-up activities afterwards. There has not been a comprehensive report on the overall capacity building programme. Participants of the Workshop expressed satisfaction at the content of the Turin Workshop. When the programme was designed in 1997, its concept of capacity building was innovative in the sense that it comprised more elements than only training. The Workshop was to be accompanied by preparatory reviews of country information and literature and follow-up activities such as the establishment of a mutual support network and technical consultations. The realisation of these additional activities at country level was uneven. In cases where country information was assembled, this was not used for a proper capacity and training needs assessment before the workshop. Follow-up activities were not systematically supported and monitored by Headquarters, the ICDC (International Child Development Centre) or the Regional Offices. However, interesting follow-up activities, which had not been planned, were implemented in most regions: regional workshops, some of which resulted in major publications.

Since 1997, there has been an overall improvement in the technical capacity of several Country Offices to deal with child labour in a child rights perspective. All Country Offices visited for this evaluation have, at their disposal, competent staff in this regard, some of whom participated in the Turin Workshop and / or in regional follow-up workshops. The impact of the Turin Workshop must, however, not be over-estimated. Most offices implemented the programme Children in Especially Difficult Circumstances since the late 1980s, for which specialised national programme staff was recruited and which allowed for an accumulation of knowledge and experience related to child labour. In most countries, there was growing interest in child labour, which was also stimulated by the Oslo and Amsterdam Conferences of 1997. Since 1992, the ILO-IPEC Programme has played a major role in many countries. The improvement of UNICEF' technical capacity in the visited countries thus results from a combination of several factors: a growing interest in child labour among governmental and non-governmental partners resulting in a mobilisation of national expertise, a strengthened partnership with ILO-IPEC, better documentation of knowledge and experience, as well as strengthening of technical skills under this Programme. Moreover, there have been improvements in capacities to apply the child rights perspective in Country Programming. The approach requires a broader and more integrated process of design, planning, monitoring and evaluation of programmes and projects.

The present Programme has not succeeded in promoting communication among the Country and Regional Offices in the area of child labour. Since the planned mutual support network never came off the ground and follow-up especially by Headquarters and ICDC remained relatively weak, there has hardly been any exchange of experience and results among the former participants of the Workshop. There are also major language barriers, since, for example, most of the comprehensive documentation in Brazil and other Latin American countries is only available in Portuguese and Spanish. Modern communication channels like the Intranet or the Internet are not used in this context. It should be mentioned that there is an attempt to establish a tripartite database on child labour (ILO, World Bank, and UNICEF), but this initiative is not linked to the present Programme.

Lessons Learned

The overall goal of eliminating infringements on the fulfilment of children' rights as defined in the CRC of 1989 requires a strong commitment and appropriate action by governments as well as a broad range of institutions at the national, regional and global levels. UNICEF has to work in partnership with all the relevant actors and stakeholders and build its capacity in areas where it can make a difference. UNICEF can thereby build on its comparative strengths in at least four dimensions: (i) its goal and mandate focusing on overall child development and its policies and strategies emphasising an integrated human rights-based approach; (ii) its traditional focus on family and community development and its strong links with civil society, including marginalised strata of the population in both rural and urban areas; (iii) its long-standing working relationship with both governmental and non-governmental organisations as well as the private sector; (iv) its highly decentralised field structure which allows for the definition of policies and strategies at national, regional and global levels in a participatory manner, and in full respect for ownership by
national and regional partners.

The definition of goals, objectives, policies and strategies is a major part of organisational capacity building. UNICEF' decentralised structure allows for a bottom-up formulation process. Policy formulation at country level could take into account accumulated experience of UNICEF support, both in traditional intervention areas and through an innovative programme like Children in Especially Difficult Circumstances. The focus should be on good practice as to how UNICEF can make a difference in the context of initiatives and contributions of different national and international partners. Consultations at the regional level could consolidate the statements, which could eventually be integrated at the global level. The respective consultations would have to involve major governmental, regional and global partners.

There is a continuous need for strengthening of UNICEF staff capacity. The respective process must be based on an assessment of what staff is actually required to do at different levels, i.e. a clear answer to the question capacity for what? The Capacity Building Programme related to the Turin Workshop was right in emphasising skills to plan, monitor and evaluate. These skills are required at all levels for all programme areas. However, the broad range of areas where UNICEF can make a difference (see above) calls for many more skills, e.g. related to policy analysis and advice, advocacy and communication etc. Needs must be assessed in country and regional contexts. At the same time, there is a need to follow up on specific training by providing management support and allowing for communication among those who assume comparable responsibilities and / or who perform similar tasks.

There is room for improvement in UNICEF' capacity to learn from experience. This involves a strengthening of the monitoring and evaluation function at all levels as well as the enhancement of mechanisms of documentation and dissemination of results and outcomes. The implementation of traditional programmes and projects may have generated valuable insights that are also relevant for newer programme areas. Similarly, new programmes and projects should be adequately monitored and evaluated in an objective manner. The lessons learned should be incorporated in new policy formulation, e.g. mid-term and end-of-cycle reviews at country level and the Medium-Term Plan at the global level. Documentation and dissemination of results should overcome language barriers and possibly also make use of modern information technology, e.g. the Intranet and the Internet.

The concept of capacity building should be expanded beyond the scope of strengthening of technical expertise of UNICEF staff. There is a growing consensus in the literature on capacity building (and related concepts) that technical expertise is but a small part of capacity. Organisational capacity to achieve something in a given area, for example child labour, is influenced by many factors, including clarity of mission and mandate, clarity of role and niche in relation to other actors, and mechanisms that ensure adaptation of that role as appropriate. Other factors are leadership, attitudes and values, appropriate division of labour and mechanisms, which link different roles within the organisation effectively in relation to the goal and financial, technical and information resources as well as relations with other organisations. Each of these factors contributing to capacity obviously requires different focused capacity building interventions.


There is a need to refine and up-date the policy statement on child labour formulated during the Turin Workshop of 1997. A new statement should take into account UNICEF' relevant experience on the ground in several countries and progress that has been made in introducing the Human Rights Based Programming Approach in most of UNICEF's work. The statement should focus on the role of education as an effective tool to prevent and eliminate child labour. It should formulate strategies that would take into account insights into the relative importance of economic poverty at the household and community levels and social-cultural factors that lie at the root of the phenomenon. It should also define UNICEF' unique contribution as compared with that of other partners, e.g. ILO-IPEC, the World Bank and other governmental and non-governmental organisations.

The procedure to refine and up-date the policy statement should, to the largest possible extent, make use of UNICEF' decentralised organisation and management. Several Country Offices have supported projects and programmes addressing child labour in recent years and accumulated invaluable knowledge and experience, which shows great variations. UNICEF could initiate a process of policy formulation in countries with substantial experience and consolidate results at the regional and, eventually, at the global levels. The bottom-up approach would involve consultations at national, regional and global levels. The outcome would be a more sophisticated statement that would be likely to have a greater effect as a tool for advocacy and the definition of strategies.

The Capacity Building Programme on Child Labour (1997-99) has been an innovative attempt to strengthen UNICEF staff capacity in a new child rights area, which deserves to be pursued and consolidated in the future. There is, however, a need to expand the process in two directions: (i) on the substantive side, child labour may increasingly be considered in a broader child rights perspective with an emphasis on inter-sectoral linkages (e.g. with education, health); (ii) on the side of the capacity building as such, the question may be explored, what are the technical capacities UNICEF staff needs in its work. The latter is likely to go beyond mere planning and monitoring and evaluation, as emphasised in the past Capacity Building Programme, and include, for example, skills to advise on legislation, analysis of macro-economic policies, poverty analysis, education policies, communication etc. UNICEF staff skills should be complementary and, in some cases, additional to technical capacities existing in the countries and regions, with the understanding that UNICEF staff will, in many cases, be called upon to strengthen national capacities.

To adequately address child labour, there are considerable variations as to technical capacity requirements for UNICEF staff in different countries and regions, which cannot be fully satisfied by a single worldwide Capacity Building Programme. Further capacity building activities should be more country- and region-specific. The Turin Workshop assembled UNICEF staff employed in 16 countries of seven regions. Participants' knowledge and experience not only in the field of child labour, but also related to general skills such as design, planning, monitoring and evaluation, varied widely.
More importantly, there are considerable differences between realities on the ground that led to child labour (e.g. bonded labour in India, AIDS orphans in Uganda, denial of civil rights in Brazil etc.). These dimensions have to be addressed very specifically by a proper human rights-based programming approach in each Country Programme. A bottom-up approach is likely to be more
fruitful: first, address capacity building and policy formulation in each of the countries and regions and only then develop the overall framework. The outcome will be more substantial than under the process implemented under the present Programme, in which the Turin Workshop preceded the regional workshops. Regional Offices and UNICEF Headquarters (Child Protection Section in Programme Division) have a major responsibility to stimulate and coordinate these capacity building activities.

There is a need for increased monitoring and evaluation of UNICEF supported experience in the area of child labour. There should also be better documentation and dissemination of results and outcome. It is recommended to review existing evaluation studies on child labour, to assess their quality in terms of methodological soundness and to draw interesting lessons learned from
successful and less successful programmes and projects. Moreover, Country Offices should actively document their experiences with a new child rights issue like child labour, and disseminate the information not only through regular reporting (e.g. Annual Reports), but also through studies and publications. Staff capacity will be greatly enhanced if everyone knows what others are doing. Regional Offices as well as Headquarters (and possibly ICDC) should stimulate and coordinate the process. A possible form for such improved communication would be the publication of case studies in the official languages of the United Nations. T

The use of modern information technologies (Intranet, Internet) could possibly be considered. At the outset, possibilities of better use of existing human and financial resources should be explored. However, it may not be excluded that real improvement in communication might entail additional work requiring more staff and the mobilisation of specially earmarked financial resources.

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