2000 CAB: Mid-Cycle Evaluation UNICEF 1998-2002 Amazon Programme: Suriname
The expansion of the Amazon Sub-Regional Programme for an additional five years, lasting between 1997 and 2001, was the direct result of UNICEF's progress in improving the conditions of women and children in the Amazon territories during Phase One. In this First Phase, the Programme's budget was set at $ 4.5 M for planned projects in eight territories encompassing the Amazon Basin: Brazil, Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, Guyana, Peru, Suriname and Venezuela. Of these eight participating countries, only Bolivia, Ecuador, Guyana and Suriname received Phase Two funding to continue the Amazon Programme. Suriname was granted US$ 388,350 in April 1997 for activities to be implemented over a period of 2 years, targeting a population of 40,000 indigenous and tribal people in the interior and 13,000 internally displaced people in poor peri-urban neighborhoods. The objective of the Amazon Programme is to improve the quality of life of the children and women in the Amazon region.
Purpose / Objective
The Evaluation will undertake a Performance Review of the UNICEF / AMAZON Programme to:
- determine the results of the different interventions undertaken in the specific context of the country
- provide recommendations for the active inclusion of a rights and Primary Environmental Care (PEC) focus in the processes for current and proposed phases of the Amazon Programme -- with special emphasis on strengthening this approach with partners and within public policies
- assess the levels and the effects of synergies included within the Amazon Programme at both state and civil society levels: including other donor agencies and /or international agencies, local government bodies, national NGOs, community-based organisations, private sector groups, as well as special interest groups such as women's, children's, indigenous peoples' organisations
- record and assess any resistance, and/or tensions expressed or referenced by institutions, communities, and other key actors during the implementation of the Amazon Programme;
- assess the advancements and achievements made by projects defined in the country's Master Plan of Operations
Interactive workshops were held at central and local Government level, as well as at community-based level. The tools used were user-friendly and highly participatory. A total of 5 workshops took place in Suriname: one at central Government level, one at local government level and three at community level, including a workshop for children who participated in the Peer Education project. Individual interviews and field visits were also conducted.
Review was done of key documents such as the Master Plan of Operations (MPO), Annual Planning and Evaluation Reports, Reports produced by the Amazon Programme (including reports of surveys and implemented projects), relevant unpublished material (with permission granted) and statistic reports and key documents that provided data on the situation of women and children in the country.
Key Findings and Conclusions
The period under review has been a transitional phase for the UNICEF-assisted Programme in Suriname - a shift was made from a fragmentary to a strategic approach. This drastic change had some repercussions for the management of the Programme, as well as for planning, coordination, implementation and monitoring processes. The strategic approach required a proper operating coordination structure which, as it appears, has been difficult to manage because of the Sector Coordinators' lack of time and UNICEF's bureaucratic procedures. In 1997, with the inception of the second phase, the Amazon Programme (SIABP) was incorporated in the GOS/UNICEF Programme of Cooperation as one of its five components or sub-programmes, and its focus was expanded to include elements of the other four components (SIPME, ECDP, HCLP and CRP). However, SIABP was not properly integrated with the other components and partially failed to maintain the connection with the national planning and coordination level. Moreover, all interviewed partners qualified the UNICEF-assisted Programme as a highly ambitious initiative with too many activities and a confusing coordination structure consisting of various sector focal points.
Merely because of the continuing weak support of the Government counterparts due to staff shortage, the inclusion of SIABP in the Multi Country Programme complicated the implementation of the area-based component. Aside from this, the force majeure factors in the country impacted negatively on the effectivity of the public sector, while civil society partners also demonstrated a weak implementation capacity. The transitional phase of the Amazon Programme was therefore characterised by several constraints that need to be addressed more properly in the next phase. Given the particular circumstances, SIABP has not been able to achieve all its planned activities and results. Many activities were delayed because of strikes in the public sector and limitations in implementation capacity.
In spite of the constraints encountered and the challenging context of the country, there is a strong rationale to continue the Programme in Suriname. It is evident that the Amazon Programme is on its way to achieve several of its objectives and emerging inter-sectoral links justify continued strengthening of these positive developments. Adaptations made along the process have improved the operations of the Programme, while some constraints continue to be challenging; for example, the weak coordination and implementation capacity of Government and NGO counterparts at all levels: national, district and village levels. In particular, the fact that the Programme has not been able to sufficiently address local capacity needs in selected areas, indicates where stress should be placed in future phases.
There are clear indications that the Programme has been managed from a rights rather than a charity perspective, given the several activities targeted towards strategic and sustainable changes at sector and inter-sectoral levels. Good results were, for example, realised on issues regarding Child Rights, Early Childhood Care and Education, and Health Care, thereby increasing awareness levels with regard to Child Development, Survival and Protection at national and local levels. Women's and Indigenous Rights, and environmental issues were, however, absent on the agenda. Closer links could have been established with counter partners responsible for programs and activities in these particular fields of interest. Compared to the Maroon population, Amerindian communities have hardly benefited from the provided opportunities. Just like the Maroons, the Amerindian people are a deprived minority but they continue to be marginalised, even in programmes specifically designed to empower them.
Appoint a National Programme Coordinator. This person should be assigned with the specific task of overall management of the GOS/UNICEF Programme, while some responsibilities of the PLOS/UNOTC Coordinator should be delegated to this position, for example financial management. It is expected that financial management and monitoring will improve. Experiences of the past years indicate that in spite of all efforts invested, PLOS has been unable to effectively coordinate the progress of the Programme because the Coordinator has many other responsibilities related to the monitoring of all UN Programmes in Suriname.
In keeping with the Programme's intention to promote an intersectoral approach, it is stressed that current mechanisms, including the Sector Coordinators, the National Steering Committee (NSC), the Working Groups, the District Teams (DT) and Sub-committees are maintained and further strengthened in their respective roles and responsibilities. It will be necessary to organise a periodic meeting between NSC and DT so as to improve the coordination of the Programme and establish better national-community linkages. Obviously, this will contribute to better monitoring of area-based projects by the NSC and, eventually, to increased ownership.
It is urgently recommended that actions are undertaken to ensure and enhance community participation in project planning processes. In this perspective, we propose that individual multi-phased Village Development Plans, composed of a set of priority interventions, are formulated with the active participation of the village community, village council and DT. Apparently, monitoring and evaluation of these plans and their activities should be organised on site, involving the total community, the DT and the NSC.
Capacity building training for the DT, sub-committees, village councils and key persons/CBOs in the community as well as activities that aim to transfer knowledge and skills should be given higher priority, to promote realisation of decentralised governance through improved planning, implementation and monitoring skills at these levels. The results will, ultimately, contribute to a bottom-up approach and to greater ownership of development initiatives at community and district levels.
Excellent results achieved through sub-committees accommodate an alternative way to guarantee the successful implementation of the Programme. The increased development and involvement of such mechanisms should be explored, particularly in Sipaliwini and peri-urban Paramaribo, where the implementation of the Programme is hampered by the absence of a District or area-based Team.
As to avoid fragmentation and to promote a common understanding and implementation in different areas of the integrated area-based approach, the contents of SIABP should be more clearly defined. It is not clear which activities belong or do not belong to the SIABP approach and strategies. In this perspective, SIABP must also be more integrated with other components of the UNICEF-assisted Programme in Suriname to avoid confusion between the different components.
The inclusion of an Indigenous rights perspective in the Programme's strategies is justified although rights issues are strongly politicised and quite sensitive, in particular issues of land rights and economic zones. The impacts of strongly increased mining and logging activities on the local communities, as well as the related issues of increased school dropout, environmental diseases and commercial sex, request urgent attention. Brokopondo and Sipaliwini are the most affected areas.
It is recommended that the ethnical and cultural plurality of the society is taken more into consideration and that Amerindian communities are included among the direct beneficiaries. Their involvement in the Marowijne and Sipaliwini Districts should be promoted more actively, while their specific needs should be addressed more properly, as these may differ from those of Maroon communities, given their social and cultural differences.
Other donors should be given the opportunity to contribute to the Programme's objectives and goals, especially in those fields left untouched or weakly addressed by the Programme. Partnership could be built with Agencies and NGOs specialised in capacity building, environmental management, Women's Rights and Indigenous Rights. In addition, the Programme should continue and increase collaboration with UN agencies, especially PAHO, UNFPA and UNIFEM, the latter already working closely with UNICEF in Brokopondo.
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