Author: UNICEF Nepal
In mid-2003, at the request of the Government of Nepal, UNICEF and the World Food Programme (WFP) jointly initiated the Quick Impact Programme (QIP) with the aim of improving basic services for vulnerable populations in 71 conflict-affected Village Development Committees (VDCs) of nine severely conflict-affected districts (Bajhang, Bajura, Dolpa, Humla, Jajarkot, Jumla, Kalikot, Mugu and Rukum). Although WFP support for the QIP was suspended in November 2003, UNICEF continued with the programme. In January 2006, UNICEF and the WFP started a new joint programme entitled Protecting Livelihoods in Crisis (PLIC) as a continuation of the QIP. PLIC is implemented in the field through two national partner NGOs: Development Project Service Centre (DEPROSC) and Support Activities for Poor Producers of Nepal (SAPPROS).
In May 2006, UNICEF commissioned New ERA to carry out a formal assessment of PLIC for 2006 with the following objectives: (i) assess the extent to which partner NGOs have been able to implement activities as detailed in the annual work plans, and to identify factors that have hindered or facilitated implementation; (ii) assess the extent to which activities have resulted in improved access, quality and utilization of services; and (iii) identify lessons learnt, based on findings, and provide recommendations to improve programme delivery and partnership in conflict situations.
The assessment is based on both primary and secondary data/information. The primary data/information was collected at central, regional, district and community levels through key informant surveys, focus group discussions (FGDs), transect walks and observations using six different questionnaires/checklists in various communities in five sample districts (Mugu, Bajhang, Jumla, Dolpa and Rukum) during September 2006. Secondary data were gathered from project reports, annual plans and other project-related documents.
Findings and Conclusions:
The New ERA assessment team found that the implementing NGOs had been able to carry out most project activities, despite the conflict. However, targets were not always fully achieved due to various hindering factors. These included time constraints caused by unforeseen delays, absence of the WFP, conflict-related issues, and frequent staff transfer in partner NGOs. Factors that facilitated the programme included distribution of rice by the WFP through Food-for-Work programme as an entry point for infrastructure development; the transparency of the programme; the treatment of Maoists as stakeholders; and high commitment of the staff of partner NGOs.
Community members in PLIC VDCs generally expressed their satisfaction with the improved quality of education and health services. Overall net enrolment had increased since project implementation, and enrolment of girls and children from disadvantaged groups had increased significantly. This increase was achieved through various promotional activities including the rehabilitation of schools, drinking water supply, construction of toilets, support for playgrounds, formation of SMCs/PTAs, the Welcome-to-School campaign, parenting orientation for caregivers, scholarships, School Improvement Plans, the Teaching and Learning with Dignity package, support for a tin-trunk library, support for furniture, and training to teachers. The community felt that utilization of health services had increased. PLIC had supported the rehabilitation of sub health posts (SHPs), construction of drinking water and toilets in SHPs, training of health personnel, supply of medicines.
Based on the findings of this assessment, recommendations include: (i) improve coordination between UNICEF and WFP particularly in planning, reporting and monitoring; (ii) use uniform reporting formats; (iii) use participatory programme planning to a greater extent in future; (iv) provide an alternative to the WFP PLIC focal person in the DPSC; (v) provide support to the community to monitor the regularity of teachers and health personnel; (vi) avoid the use of short-term contracts for partner NGOs; (vii) build the capacity of the district-level staff of partner NGOs to handle multiple responsibilities; (v) minimize the transfer of field and district level staff; (vi) continue the programme into the post-conflict period.
Lessons Learned (Optional):
Some of the lessons learnt are: (i) it is possible to implement programmes in conflict-affected areas provided capable, professionally managed and neutral NGOs are used, and NGOs maintain complete neutrality in their behaviour and full transparency in their finances and activities; (ii) appropriate selection of an entry point, such as food assistance for rehabilitation of infrastructure of institutions providing basic services, can work successfully in the community even in conflict-affected areas; (iii) complementary inputs from more than one donor provided to the community through a single implementing partner facilitates implementation; and (iv) addressing the issue of social inclusion helps programme implementation.
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