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Evaluation report

2004 ALB: Mid-Term Evaluation of Promoting Social Cohesion and Conflict Prevention and Improving ECD in Northern Albania



Author: Kolpeja, V., National Albanian Center for Social Studies

Executive summary

Background:
Christian Children's Fund (CCF) has been active in Albania since 1999 and in the northern part of Albania since 2003. The two-year project "Promoting social cohesion and conflict prevention, and improving ECD in Northern Albania" began in 2003, initiated and supported by UNICEF and World Bank.

The Project came after a pilot project "Garden of Mothers and Children" implemented in Bathore area (new settlement near Tirana capital) during March 2001-2002, as a holistic ECD program that reflects the universality of children's rights and assuring transference of capacities of culture care in concrete responses towards the physical, social and cognitive needs of the children. During its implementation and, in the long run, the project is expected to produce important outcomes:

(a) improved access to ECD activities and improved learning environment of pre-school children;
(b) empowerment of women and build trust within communities;
(c) increased interactions between communities and authorities;
(d) sustainability of project intervention.

Purpose/Objective:
The main objective of the Mid-Term evaluation is to assess the impact, relevance and sustainability of the project regarding the improvement of access of deprived children to ECD activities, and supporting of social cohesion and conflict prevention through community dynamics generated from current ECD activities in selected areas in the northern part of Albania and allow corrections in the Project prior to its termination in March 2005.

Methodology:
Data was collected through primary and secondary sources, a round of interviews, focus group discussions and participatory exercises, combining quantitative and qualitative approach. Primary information was mainly collected through:
a) 180 face-to-face interviews with experimental and control groups;
b) 36 focus group discussions with experimental and control groups of women, men, young people and professionals;
c) 24 individual interviews with local and central level public officials working in participating communities;
d) 80 interviews with children aged 3-6 (40 for the control group and 40 for the experimental group).

Secondary information was mainly gathered from INSTAT, MoE, MoH, MoLSA, MoLG (at central and local levels, if available), initial and regular CCF reports, as well as internal project evaluation from CCF.

Findings and Conclusions:
The project has had an impact on the access of poor children and mothers to the pre-primary education system and qualified primary health care services, through setting up the new structures of GMC, health mobile teams and resource centers. The project has set up 30 pre-school informal community centers Gardens of Mothers and Children (GMC), which operate at very low cost, offering activities that improve the environment where the children grow up according to ECD concepts.

The Project has improved public maternal and child health services using new elements: humane and child holistic development. The provision of services by four mobile health teams named as service groups has increased markedly the access of rural people to health information and health services, and covers a part of these needs for specialized medical service: each community benefits 24 to 51 medical visits in a month. New structures offering multi-services within 2 regional hospitals of Kukes and Peshkopi have increased the access of children and their mothers towards humane health services: on a daily basis, each center serves about 10-20 children and 15-20 mothers/pregnant women.

The project contributed to provide knowledge about child growth, child care, and child development, with particular focus on parental role to around 2,222 mothers (or 42 percent of mothers with small children in project area) and 908 fathers (17 percent of fathers with small children in project area) through peer training, home visits, regular meetings, workshops and TV programs.

The project has contributed to empower women, mainly in three directions: the project has increased the range of opportunities for women to access information; the project has created new possibilities for women to be involved in addressing the most critical issues as well as to be part of the solution, thus the project has realistically increased women's participation; the project, through the investment at capacity building, has promoted the willingness of women to be organized in local organizations.

The project has influenced behavioral changes of professionals of education and health at local level. Local authorities of Public Health and Public Education are supportive and collaborative. The public officials of public health and public education departments at local level have been involved in project implementation, particularly in activities related to the provision of training and different types of services.

Recommendations:
Despite achievements, the report picks up some concerns and, based on that, provides some valuable recommendations that relate to ways of increasing the professional abilities of GMC staff through on-work learning programs and inclusion of pro-social behavior in the GMC curricula. The report strongly emphasizes the role that the learning and education process of parents has on the child’s psychosocial development and preparation for primary school. The continuous investment on raising mothers' awareness on health care and nutrition is mentioned as well.

More information and training should be offered to fathers regarding issues that they do not easily accept, such as the importance of spending time with children, sharing feelings and reasons, resolving problems and concerns as well as giving responsibilities to children, etc.

Of particular importance for the sustainability and continuity of the project are the collaboration and coordination among local actors and between local and central institutions. Special attention should be paid to the collaboration with all ministries (MoES, MoPH, MoLSA, MoLGD) in order to introduce in their policy agenda, the models and experience from the project.

The Project should take responsibility for strengthening cooperation and coordination with other community development programs such as LGP (Local Government Program) financed by UNDP. Project should speed the women empowerment process by building up partnerships with other projects, particularly with those that support women micro-businesses and professional trainings.

The management of education funds locally would be one of the ways to improve the quality of learning and increase the access to basic education as well as create room for the application of alternative sustainable models based on the local conditions. To increase the sustainability of the project and ensure continuity, the municipalities and communes could offer buildings and other state properties. It is an important step towards ensuring the local ownership of the project.

The Project should improve the participation of women in the decision-making process, by transferring Board of Fathers in Boards of Fathers and Mothers. The Project should speed the women empowerment process by building up partnerships with other projects, particularly with those that support women micro-businesses and professional training schemes.

The Project should concentrate efforts in the creation of conditions for long-term sustainability through the design of a clear strategy, prepared in collaboration with formal and non-formal local institutions/organizations and task force as well as the transfer of ownership, coordination and management to legalized local actors.

The last comment regarding project sustainability and continuity relates to voluntary work. This is an important component in the project structure. Local communities have expressed a strong willingness and high commitment in the project implementation. However, the majority of the persons that voluntarily contribute to implement this project live in extreme poverty. Very soon, no matter the high sacrifice spirit and enthusiasm, the project and its principles will be risked, unless another compensation scheme is in place.

To continuously monitor the project implementation and adjust it to local conditions, an efficient monitoring and information system should be in place.


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Report information

Date:
2004

Region:
CEE/CIS

Country:
Albania

Type:
Survey

Theme:
ECD - Area based programme

Partners:
Christian Children's Fund, World Bank

PIDB:

Follow Up:

Language:
English

Sequence Number:
2004/002

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