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Evaluation report

2004 CBD: Child Protection Network: Findings and Recommendations of the External Evaluation



Author: Bühler, M.; Barron, M.; Thy, A.; Sovanny, P.

Executive summary

Background:
This evaluation covers two components of the UNICEF-supported Child Protection Network: the Community-Based Child Protection (CBCP) network and the Provincial Child Protection Committees (PCPC). Both programmes are technically and financially supported by UNICEF Cambodia's Children in Need of Special Protection (CNSP) section.

The CBCP programme was initiated in 1999 as a pilot in Battambang province, in close relation with the Seth Koma section of UNICEF. To-date, the CBCP network covers 660 villages in 5 provinces. It operates in two convergence provinces alongside other UNICEF programmes, and in three provinces on a stand-alone basis. The CBCP aims at establishing community-based support systems for children-at-risk and children in need of special protection. This includes identification, diagnosis and action. The network ranges from the village to the provincial level.

The first Provincial Child Protection Committee (PCPC) was initiated in Banteay Meanchey in 1999. With the expansion of the CPN, committees were also established in Battambang (2001) and Svay Rieng (2002). In Prey Veng, the provincial committee that exists was assisted by ILO/IPEC. The committee in Prey Veng has a focus on child trafficking, sexual exploitation and child labour. The form of the committees differs from province to province. However, they have similar roles and responsibilities. These include: to strengthen the cooperation between institutions and non-governmental organizations (NGO)/international organizations (IO) focusing on women and children; to improve the coordination between institutions and NGO/IO; and to enhance the communication between institutions and NGO/IO.

Purpose/Objective:
The purpose of this evaluation was to assess the progress made by CPN in achieving its objectives. The evaluation took place during a mid-term review of UNICEF’s five-year Master Plan of Operation.

The specific aims of the evaluation were:
- To assess the relevance, effectiveness, efficiency of the CPN, both as a concept and in its current practical set-up;
- To identify lessons learned and recommend future development and adjustment from a strategic, structural and implementation point of view;
- To evaluate the sustainability of the CPN.

Methodology:
The evaluation team conducted visits to project sites in all 5 provinces covered by the programme - Phnom Penh, Battambang, Banteay Meanchey, Svay Rieng and Prey Veng. At the provincial level, the team met with stakeholders from the government departments involved in the CPN working groups and committees. In addition, the evaluation team met with specialised service providers, which are mainly NGOs.

In each province, a few districts were selected based on accessibility, availability of key stakeholders and ongoing activities. Within each district, one or two communes and selected villages were visited. These visits included the following activities:
- Meetings with children’s groups, which included drawings and discussions
- Focus group discussions with CSH, villagers (village chiefs, VDC)
- Focus group discussions with district and commune working groups
- Observation of case conferences
- Observation of one awareness-raising activity
- Observation of one training for teachers
- Interviews with district governors and district social workers of MOSALVY

Project reports were also analysed to gain a better understanding of the quantitative aspects of the CPN.

Findings and Conclusions:
Children are being identified through interviews by volunteer Community Social Helpers (CSH). The CSH have interviewed over 56,000 children and found that 46 per cent of the children were at risk and 8 per cent in need of special protection. Based on the assessment, services have been provided to some children. However, the support was limited and mostly on a one-off basis. The Village Social Fund, which has been established in all villages, has been able to provide some immediate and small assistance for children, mainly for school integration and, in some cases, the provision of cash and rice. The Government has contributed limited amounts of assistance to children, notably orphans and abandoned children. Children were referred to specialised services, where they were available.
There is no doubt that a community-based approach is the most appropriate for the majority of children in need of special protection. However, there is some concern that the CBCP was established and expanded without undertaking a substantial assessment of child needs and protection issues in the target areas. As a result, information on children's issues that is needed to ensure that interventions are focused and relevant is lacking. It is also problematic to make community-based services rely on volunteer contributions, in the form of CSH as well as the village social funds.

Generally, the programme is inadequately documented, which is a major shortcoming for a project of this size. As a result, learning appears to be limited and provincial approaches differ considerably. From a structural point of view, the CBCP lacks a policy framework that would provide it with the necessary legitimacy and pressure to mobilise stakeholders from the national to community level.

The CBCP has shortcomings in its management and reporting structures, which will need to be addressed if it is to become an effective mechanism for child protection. In order to achieve this, the CBCP should develop a framework that clearly outlines its objectives, outputs and indicators to be achieved. In addition, the programme should have an operational manual with detailed information on how the network works. This should be supported by a policy framework, which sanctions the CBCP as a government-sponsored initiative.

As a principle, the CBCP should start interventions in target areas only after conducting a thorough assessment to explore local needs, prepare for focused interventions for children in need, and gain support from local authorities.

Some forms of abuse that were reported less frequently, such as sexual abuse and exploitation, trafficking and hazardous labour, should be addressed by means other than the present one. The interviews have not been effective in identifying such cases. A system where children can turn to in times of stress appears to be more suitable.

Awareness-raising has been undertaken by the CBCP, but it has been insufficiently documented. The information available suggests that awareness-raising campaigns need to be better prepared. They should be based on existing knowledge, attitudes and practices, and the local situation should be taken into consideration.

The PCPC have taken different forms in all the provinces visited. Generally, they are considered too big to be effective. They also lack a clear link to national-level institutions or policies. But the secretariat attached to the PCPC has been successful in mobilising some assistance for difficult cases and in initiating referrals.

The PCPC have not contributed substantially to the development of child rights and child protection programmes in any of the provinces. Generally, the coordination provided by committees and the attached secretariat has been appreciated, but it is felt that this could have been achieved through less formal mechanisms. The PCPCs have not been able to include child rights' issues into the mainstream development bodies at the provincial level. The Provincial Rural Development Committee (PRDC) should be a more appropriate body to mainstream child rights issues. This implies that no further committees are needed, prior to having an agreement and commitment from the national and provincial levels to do so.

Recommendations:
It is recommended that the number of children to be assisted through the CBCP be reduced. The high number of poverty cases has burdened the programme with too many cases it is not able to assist effectively, so the categories of CAR and CNSP should be reviewed and the list shortened. The reports indicate that orphans, abandoned and neglected children, and children with disabilities form the largest group of CNSP. These groups could be assisted through village-based interventions in addition to a referral system. However, there are substantial differences in the perceptions of problems that children face, with many district- and provincial-level authorities quoting sexual abuse and trafficking as major issues.

The involvement of MOSALVY should be strengthened at all levels. The central level should take more responsibility in programme management, including planning, monitoring and evaluation. The provincial and district level of MOSALVY should take on the responsibility to give advice to the commune and village levels, as well as provide training, supervise activities and assist in the referral of children.


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Report information

Date:
2004

Region:
EAPRO

Country:
Cambodia

Type:
Evaluation

Theme:
Child Protection - Multithematic

Partners:
Ministry of Social Affairs, Labour, Vocational Training and Youth Rehabilitation (MOSALVY)

PIDB:

Follow Up:

Language:
English

Sequence Number:
2004/030

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