2009 Uganda: Final Review of UNICEF-supported Programmes for Children Affected by Conflict in Kitgum, Northern Uganda
Author: Hunter Foundation; Rachel Carnegie
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This report summarises the findings from the 2008 review visit to UNICEF-supported programmes for children affected by conflict in Kitgum District, Northern Uganda. This review was the final stage in an evaluation process commissioned by the Hunter Foundation, with the aim of providing an objective assessment of the quality, impact and sustainability of the activities it has funded. The Hunter Foundation places particular emphasis on learning and so this evaluation process has also sought to promote reflective practice within the UNICEF team to support more evidencebased approaches. This funding relationship has provided UNICEF with a valuable opportunity to develop and test an integrated, multi-sectoral approach to humanitarian programming, distinct from the more usual vertical approaches with single sector funding.
Hunter funding has been used to support interventions across a beneficiary population of 250,000 in Kitgum District. This has included activities such as health promotion, training of teachers, health workers and volunteers, and developing child protection systems. Following the 2006 review visit, it was agreed that a portion of the funding would be targeted for multi-sectoral, integrated programming in four camps, with a population of 56,000, to enable a comprehensive response. A ceasefire established in August 2006 has led to a period of greater stability in Northern Uganda. Although the final peace agreement is yet to be signed and current violence perpetrated by the Lord’s Resistance Army in Eastern Congo raises concerns for the region, the largely stable situation in Northern Uganda has meant that communities have begun the process of returning home. Responding to this, Hunter funding for the four camps has since been programmed to track the communities as they move from the mother camp, through transit camps and, in some cases, return to their original rural homes. UNICEF has shown agility in adapting plans to respond to the population movement. With the evolving context, its programmes have also moved effectively and strategically along the continuum from humanitarian, through recovery to development approaches. While continuing to meet basic humanitarian standards, there is now strong emphasis on building the capacity of local government and community systems to deliver services and meet the needs of people, wherever they are on the transition process back to their homes. A key challenge is to replace a dependency syndrome, associated with emergency contexts, with greater self-reliance through community consultation and participation. A valuable feature of UNICEF’s approach, initiated in the emergency phase, has been to build community management and volunteer groups, in health, education, child protection, water management and sanitation, linked to the original parish populations. Over the three years it has been possible to assess how far these networks are retained, even as people return home.
The movement towards return is clearly significant and welcome progress for the people of North Uganda. In terms of this evaluation, it has made it easier to predict the sustainability of interventions, while in many sectors making it more complex to measure impact. During the funding period, UNICEF has worked to strengthen government information systems to track access and coverage of services, now assessed in line with national standards. This review process has aimed to provide a qualitative assessment of the interventions. It will be important to continue this qualitative monitoring to understand the realities behind the statistics, particularly in relation to the most vulnerable families. This report assesses in detail the quality, impact and sustainability across different sectors of health, nutrition and HIV, education and early childhood development, water, sanitation and hygiene, and child protection. While general indicators show significant results in terms of access to these services, the report raises the question of inclusion of the most vulnerable families, including those headed by children or the elderly. During the humanitarian phase, these families were sustained by the comprehensive support in the camps. While endorsing UNICEF’s shift toward a more holistic approach to all forms of vulnerability in children, it is recommended that particular attention be given to ensure that these most vulnerable families, lacking economically active adults, are supported through the transition and return process so they are protected from abuse and exploitation and can benefit from opportunities for development. With a growing, wider sense of confidence in recovery, it will be important that these most vulnerable families can also be supported to look to the future with confidence.
The objectives of this final review were agreed as follows:
• To review the general context and progress on UNICEF-supported interventions for internally displaced people (IDPs) in Kitgum district.
• To assess the quality, impact and sustainability of supported integrated and sectorspecific programming in the original mother camps, transit camps and return sites funded by the Hunter Foundation.
• To review interventions and make recommendations according to specific criteria: cross-cutting issues of inclusion, relevance to and participation of local communities, coverage, efficiency and cost-effectiveness, and linkage to broader policy and advocacy issues.
• To enhance the accountability and to strengthen the policy and practice of UNICEF and its implementing partners, by providing clear conclusions and practical recommendations, as relevant to this final evaluation phase.
The final review of the UNICEF-supported programmes funded by the Hunter Foundation involved desk research based in London and a field visit to Kitgum, concluding with a visit to UNICEF Kampala. The methodology used in the review included:
• Detailed analysis of UNICEF’s documentation, including reports on UNICEF’s programme in Northern Uganda, and project descriptions, progress reports for the Hunter-funded interventions and related documents from UNICEF and the Government of Uganda.
• Consultations with UNICEF staff in Kampala and Kitgum, in debriefing on the four days’ field visits to the camps and new settlements. Wrap up meetings were held in Kitgum and Kampala to verify the findings and discuss the recommendations.
• Semi-structured interviews with other agencies in Kitgum, with government staff at district level and with various professionals in education, health, HIV, social work, including child protection.
• Field visits to three camps, three transit settlements and a return site, and related health and education institutions, water and sanitation facilities, and community activities, including: observation of the camps’ social and physical environment; semistructured interviews and focus group discussions with camp leaders, community leaders, health volunteers, child protection groups, teachers, adults, adolescents and children; in-depth case studies of three vulnerable families.
The people of Kitgum District in Northern Uganda have experienced trauma and deprivation over the years of conflict and internal displacement. Without humanitarian interventions, such as those supported through the Hunter Foundation, the situation for this population would have been dire and levels of malnutrition, morbidity and mortality would have been devastating. Women and children, UNICEF’s particular population of concern, would have borne the brunt in these circumstances. While poverty, disease and social dislocation still exist in the communities, the outcomes would have been disastrously worse without any assistance. Funding from the Hunter Foundation has literally saved countless lives and given dignity and sought to meet the rights of its 250,000 beneficiary children and adults. The review process over the last three years has tracked the progress of UNICEF supported interventions and has contributed to the reflection and modification of implementation plans. The context in which UNICEF now operates could not have been anticipated three years ago, having moved so significantly along the continuum from emergency to development. As this report discusses, the initiatives supported by the Hunter Foundation have presented a rare and persuasive model of integrated, multi-sectoral programming. Across the sectors, measurable impact has been achieved and many interventions are proving to be sustainable as communities move out of the camps. The quality of interventions is under continual scrutiny, as efforts are made to achieve greater relevance to local needs, greater capacity in the government greater participation of local communities, as well as further inclusion of marginalised groups. Clearly, as the report illustrates, major challenges remain in bringing the indicators for health, education, water and sanitation and other sectors in line with national government standards. But the fact that Northern Uganda is moving towards a development scenario and can be included in national plans for poverty reduction and service delivery shows how significantly the situation has improved since the emergency period when Hunter funding began. This is obviously due to the improved security situation but also to timely and effective aid interventions. It is in part attributable to support from the Hunter Foundation that the communities in Kitgum District are able to look to the future with confidence in a return to self-reliance. Continuing support to the most vulnerable families will be vital to ensure that they too can participate in this wider sense of hope in recovery.
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