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Evaluation report

2005 Senegal: Evaluation of the Mine Risk Education (MRE) Program in Casamance



Executive summary

Background
UNICEF has supported MRE activities in collaboration with a number of partners in several areas in the conflict-affected Region of Casamance. These partners include the local/national NGOs, International NGOs (INGO), the Regional Department of Education, and regional authorities. These activities aim to:
a) Promote mine-safe behaviours through the application of a variety of educational techniques; and
b) Prevent landmine and ERW casualties.

As the initial stage of the MRE project commenced in an emergency context, no baseline study or evaluation of the needs and functioning of the mine risk education project has been conducted. The MRE activities gradually developed and expanded to encompass additional activities and partnerships in line with the availability of funding and technical expertise.

Since the effectiveness of the strategy as well as the instruments used have not been assessed, it was considered timely to undertake a formative evaluation of the MRE activities supported so far in order to adapt, re-direct and strengthen them, where needed, for improved effectiveness and impact prior to further involvement and development of UNICEF MRE response to the at-risk community needs.

Purpose/Objective
The main objective of the evaluation is to review and improve, with a specific focus on UNICEF’s supported Mine Risk Education activities, the prevention strategies and campaigns that have been implemented so far in Casamance in order to reduce the number of landmine and Explosive Remnants of War (ERW) accidents.

Specific objectives:
· Assess UNICEF’s mine risk education strategy and supported activities in Casamance;
· Identify adequacy and effectiveness of the activities in response to existing prevention needs (with a main focus on MRE tools developed during the four-year programme implementation by UNICEF and other partners);
· Assess the technical capacity of local partners involved in mine risk education;
· Identify the strengths and weaknesses of the planning, monitoring and evaluation of ongoing mine risk education activities;
· Formulate recommendations to further improve the overall efficacy and effectiveness of MRE; and
· Formulate recommendations to contribute to programme development in the context of the comprehensive Mine Action Programme being
launched by the Government.

Methodology
Information was collected from a variety of sources, using three main methodologies:
· Review of project documents and available secondary data provided by all relevant stakeholders.
· Selected educational material used in mine risk education for content analysis.
· Field visits.
· Key informant interviews with officials from the Government, the UN, partner organisations (including government officials, representatives of local implementing agencies) and the staff of relevant mine action programmes. When selecting interview participants from the UN and its partner agencies, the primary criterion used was their role/function in relation to MRE and Mine Action programmes.

The following criteria were considered in selecting the key interviewees:
a) Staff positions representing relatively high as well as moderate and low ranking members in MRE-related programmes;
b) Partner agency staff representing the programmatic level.

Findings and Conclusions
· UNICEF has been conducting MRE through community networks, education system and victim associations supported by a Project Officer and
Assistant who have a wide range of additional non-MRE responsibilities.

· The actual budgets used for MRE, in comparison to other Protection and Education projects, have been very modest.

· The coverage and visibility have been considerable in the affected areas and it appears that MRE has contributed to the current reduction in
accidents among civilians. This is, however, not to say that coverage is sufficient to fully meet needs.

· In overall assessments of MRE tools by the community, it was found that communities and school children had a tendency to prefer drama and animation activity-based tools. Lectures accompanied by flip charts with images as well as murals were found to be useful as well.

· Local communities and institutions showed much appreciation for the efforts made by mine victims. This, in turn, may be at least partly attributed
to MRE, including deployment of such victims as agents of MRE. Supporting and training the mine victim association so that victims could work as
trainers and field officers were highly appreciated by the communities.

· UNICEF/MRE has created important alliances and relationships with implementing partners that could secure on-going MRE and the range of
activities engaged is wide and appropriate for public information dissemination.

· The programme was also developed over the last 6 years during a violent civil conflict, in difficult conditions where compromises have had to be
made.

· UNICEF Casamance and the relevant partners in MRE had minimal guidance on the developed current activities starting 1999. This is one of the
reasons for this current evaluation/review.

Recommendations
Institutional and management:
· UNICEF to be enabled to take on a greater role in Mine Action programme through increased funding and human resources (in particular, in
Casamance, a mine action officer should be recruited)
· UNICEF should play a role in supporting MRE - assisting community-based MRE for affected communities through local NGOs, being instrumental in
adding MRE to the regular school curriculum
· A UN joint strategy to support Mine Action programmes should be spelled out
· Mine Action component to be implemented under existing programmes such as Child Protection, Education or Programme Communication.

Programmatic and technical capacity building:
· UNICEF to be aware and prepare for the changing role of MRE after transition to a post-conflict situation with IDPs
· Increase and develop monitoring and evaluation mechanisms within the projects of MRE as part of all mine action information management
· MRE content to be reviewed and develop standard messages adjusted to the reconstruction process
· Develop a communication strategy based on reviewed MRE content
· School-based MRE should develop strategies both for formal and non-formal activities
· Prioritisation for MRE activities should broaden its selection criteria
· Community-based need assessment prior to MRE must be strengthened
· Expanding MRE activities across the border
· Local partners' staff skill development
· Achieving the desired impact of at-risk populations in practicing safe behaviour
· MRE integration with de-mining
· Sustainable community networks



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Report information

Date:
2005

Region:
WCARO

Country:
Senegal

Type:
Evaluation

Theme:
Child Protection

PIDB:

Follow Up:

Language:
English

Sequence Number:
2005/015

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