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Evaluation report

2011 CEECIS and Baltic States: Evaluation of UNICEF-DIPECHO Programme Supporting Disaster Risk Reduction Amongst Vulnerable Communities and Institutions in Central Asia and South Caucasus



Author: Philip Buckle

Executive summary

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Background:
In 2010, UNICEF received a grant from DG ECHO under its Disaster Preparedness (DIPECHO) programme to implement two disaster risk reduction projects—one in South Caucasus and the other in Central Asia. Collectively, the programme involved implementing disaster mitigation and preparedness activities within the education sector in seven countries of the two sub-regions: Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.

UNICEF country offices and their government counterparts, mainly from the national education and emergency sectors, established a range of disaster risk reduction interventions aimed at the policy, institutional and operational aspects. The programme aimed to strengthen national capacities and systems for disaster safety, especially by targeting selected schools and/or pre-schools in each country. At the national level, a number of interventions aimed to strengthen political commitment through a stronger national policy and strategic framework for disaster risk reduction.

The key stakeholders in this project were DG ECHO (as a donor), UNICEF and respective National Governments represented by Ministries/Committee of Emergency Situations and Ministries of Education as well as respective National Red Crescent and Red Cross Societies.

The main beneficiaries included school/pre-school children, teachers, principals and other education personnel; parents and communities through children; and central, regional and local government officials mainly from education and disaster management authorities.

The overall objective of the two projects was to increase resilience and reduce vulnerability of local communities and national (mainly state) institutions by supporting strategies and action that enabled them to better prepare for, mitigate and respond to disasters induced by natural hazards. In particular, the two projects identified the following result areas.
This evaluation report does not provide a background to natural hazards, natural disasters or disaster risk in each of the 7 countries. This was covered in the project proposal and is in any case a very complex subject beyond a simple listing of disaster occurrences. Disaster risk is generated by the conjunction of a hazard potential (such as an earthquake), a vulnerable community or nation (which may be described in various terms including poverty, inequitable access to resources and services, gender, disability, ethnicity and faith) and capacity (which is often taken to be the converse of vulnerability).

Purpose/Objective:
As stipulated in the DIPECHO project documents for both South Caucasus and Central Asia, UNICEF is to undertake an evaluation at the conclusion of two sub-regional projects, to be conducted by external consultant(s) or institution. The primary objective of the evaluation will be to assess the achievement of project results as well as the management of the project implementation at both country and regional level.

In particular, the Evaluation will aim to:
• Assess performance and impact in relation to the results and indicators identified in the two project proposals;
• Assess management and coordination of the two projects both at the regional and country level;
• Make recommendations, based on the good practices and lessons learnt, for strengthening programme strategies, management and implementation for future disaster risk reduction projects in the region;
• Review to what extent the recommendations of previous DIPECHO evaluations were incorporated in the current programme.

First and foremost, UNICEF is an evidence-driven organization that is constantly seeking to harvest knowledge to learn and improve its programmatic work. As such, UNICEF will benefit from the project evaluation by incorporating the recommendations into the next phase of the country disaster risk reduction programmes. Of particular merit is the fact that these recommendations and feedback will also be taken into consideration during the development of the next regional project document on disaster risk reduction and Education. In addition, the results of the evaluation will allow both the donor (ECHO) and UNICEF to assess the impact of the two projects against the identified objectives and results. Finally, the implementation of the external evaluation is an obligation on part of UNICEF, as stipulated in the project documents for both South Caucasus and Central Asia.

The results of the external evaluation will benefit the key government counterparts in each target country, namely, the Ministry of Emergency Situations and the Ministry of Education. National coordination mechanisms on DRR and Education established in most countries during the project implementation are meant to continue this activity even upon the project completion. Evaluation findings and recommendations can be certainly used by national governments to improve existing national education development policies and strategies and promote increased national investments into DRR and Education.

Methodology:
As stipulated in the DIPECHO project documents for both South Caucasus and Central Asia, UNICEF is to undertake an evaluation at the conclusion of two sub-regional projects, to be conducted by external consultant(s) or institution. The primary objective of the evaluation will be to assess the achievement of project results as well as the management of the project implementation at both country and regional level.
In particular, the Evaluation will aim to:
 Assess performance and impact in relation to the results and indicators identified in the two project proposals;
 Assess management and coordination of the two projects both at the regional and country level;
 Make recommendations, based on the good practices and lessons learnt, for strengthening programme strategies, management and implementation for future disaster risk reduction projects in the region;
 Review to what extent the recommendations of previous DIPECHO evaluations were incorporated in the current programme.

Rationale for Country Selection
The project involved 7 countries, 4 in Central Asia and 3 in South Caucasus. Given the limited time of 4 weeks for country visits, the need to spend several days in each country and the need to visit as many countries as feasible the rationale for selecting Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan and Tajikistan in Central Asia and Georgia and Armenia in South Caucasus included;
1. A balance between the two regions was needed and at least two countries per region were needed to ensure triangulation of results and effective coverage.
2. Georgia and Tajikistan host ECHO field coordinators who need to be interviewed in person.
3. The UNICEF project coordinator lives in Almaty and needs to be interviewed in detail and at length
4. The five countries provide a mix of school and pre-school and other forms of activity and project implementation.
A minor consideration also was the feasibility of travel arrangements given the limited time available for country visits.

These 7 countries were grouped together in the 2 (very similar) projects on the basis of:
1. Common risk profiles from natural hazards
2. Geographical proximity including shared (cross border and regional) hazards and risks.
3. Preceding ECHO DRR projects (for Central Asia), and
4. That as ex-Soviet subject states they shared common institutional arrangements, and common approaches to risk management.

 



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