Evaluation database

Evaluation report

2011 Albania: Institutional mechanisms for the implementation of the rights of the child in Albania in 2005-2011



Author: Mirela Muça, Eda Lika, Jona Spahiu

Executive summary

“With the aim to continuously improve transparency and use of evaluation, UNICEF Evaluation Office manages the "Global Evaluation Reports Oversight System". Within this system, an external independent company reviews and rates all evaluation reports. Please ensure that you check the quality of this evaluation report, whether it is “Outstanding”, “Good”, “Almost Satisfactory” or “Unsatisfactory” before using it. You will find the link to the quality rating below, labelled as ‘Part 2’ of the report.”

Background:

Since 2005, UNICEF country programme of cooperation has been supporting the Government of Albania (GoA) to establish institutional mechanisms for ensure proper implementation and monitoring of the rights of the child in Albania. Under the title of “Institutionalization of the Rights of the Child in Albania”, the project was part of the GoA-UNICEF Country Programme Action Plan in 2006-2010 and included three main areas of collaboration:
(i) drafting appropriate government policy (including, legal frameworks) and establishing child right machinery at central and regional level;
(ii) building the capacity of state institutions to implement and monitor child-rights sensitive policies at both levels, and
(iii) supporting civil society in establishing an independent system of observatories to monitor the implementation of children’s rights in Albania.
The object of the evaluation initiated by UNICEF Country Office is represented by two networks of institutional mechanisms of Child Rights Units (CRUs) and Child Rights Observatories (CROs) run at the sub-national level of Albania’s 12 Regions by, respectively, the government and civil society. As an overall goal, the evaluation is expected to assist the Government of Albania and UNICEF in designing improved interventions for the promotion and implementation of children’s rights in Albania. More specifically, the objectives of the evaluation include:
(i) Assessing the functioning of the regional Child Rights Units (CRUs) and Child Rights Observatories (CROs) vis-à-vis the original intent, as reflected in national legislative frameworks and government/CSO planning documents;
(ii) Highlighting key issues of concern and challenges; making recommendations to the Government of Albania (State Agency for the Protection of Children’s Rights), UNICEF and other relevant actors to improve medium and long-term intervention strategies for the development of mechanisms related to the protection and promotion of the rights of children;
(iii) Suggesting general recommendations to improve the functioning of these structures, so they could better accomplish their mission.
The evaluation’s intended target audience includes a wide range of government and civil society actors and institutions. In the first place, the findings and recommendations of the evaluation report will assist the State Agency for the Protection of Children's Rights (SAPCR) to sharpen its mission and meet the obligations that the law sets for this institution. They will also help the local institutions, Regional Councils, city halls and municipalities better understand existing gaps and needs in relation to child welfare and what is expected from local policies in this regard, in accordance with the legislation in place.
The overall methodology approach was guided by the evaluation standards of UNICEF-UNEG. The team analyzed available planning documents and directly observed the performance of the CRUs and Observatories. The field work was an open process with participation of the main stakeholders involved in protecting and promoting children’s rights. The document review allowed comparing the results of the work done by the two structures with the respective original intent. The field work also allowed the validation of the hypothesis and questions raised by the evaluators’ team during the documentation review. The collection of opinion and assessments of actors engaged with the CRU and Observatory in every region was made possible through several research instruments prepared by the evaluation team, and included questionnaires, direct observations and focus groups.
The main findings of the evaluation confirm that the programme design is suitable to the context of the country and the organizational set-up of central and local government. It is adapted to national and regional policies and the priorities of the government. The programme was found to be an effective intervention overall. Specifically, the evaluators arrived to the conclusion:
• All contacted stakeholders considered the programme to be necessary and its continuity seen as essential;
• The programme objectives and activities are highly compatible with the priorities, mandate and responsibilities of the government in respect of child rights issues at central, regional and local level;
• The programme objectives are complementary to but do not duplicate or overlap with other programs related to the protection of children’s rights. The review clearly reflected the civil society actors’ readiness to become engaged as observers of the implementation of child rights in Albania;
• Regarding “capacity building of governmental and non-governmental institutions in order to design policies that guarantee children rights and the monitoring of their implementation”, the evaluators conclude that the objective has been fully met at the central level, especially with the establishment of the State Agency for the Protection of Child Rights. Objectives have been met to a considerable extent at the regional level with the establishment of CRUs in 9 Regions out of 12, and in 2 municipalities;
• The “monitoring of children’s rights” component was successfully carried out at central level with two progress reports already produced; monitoring capacity is being built at the local level;
• The evaluators appreciated that the programme made use of local experience and expertise when designing policies and capacity building interventions for the protection and promotion of children’s rights;
• The programme has been designed taking into consideration the actual situation and capacities of institutions to deliver child rights protection policies; the programme has been implemented according to professional standards;
• There is sufficient political will and the government is committed to support concrete actions to improve the situation of children; this commitment is clearly articulated through specific strategic objectives in all reviewed documents; still, when it comes to policy implementation level, the Law “On the Protection of the Rights of the Child” is not widely known among local authorities;
• UNICEF’s financial contributions have been used efficiently. Most of the resources were spent for drafting of policies and legislation. A considerable portion of the resources was used to increase capacities and provide materials for the SAPRC, CRUs and Observatories;
• The programme has secured the involvement and commitment of a significant number of actors, contributing to the sustainability of this work in the long run; however, the involvement of local stakeholders has to be closely flowed up, as there is a potential risk of political changes resulting in subsequent replacement of actors in key roles and functions.
The main recommendations of the evaluation could be summarized as follows:
• Partners should support specific actions to increase local awareness of the Law “On the Protection of the Rights of the Child”; this should be accompanied by actions to strengthen local capacity for the drafting and implementation of local policies benefitting children;
• Partners need to work more closely with the administration of the Regional Councils, so that the rights of the child move to the center of the agenda of regional development policies;
• Capacities of regional and local government bodies in proper budgeting for strategies and programs protecting children’s rights need to be strengthened;
• The good functioning of the system depends on local authorities, who must recognize and meet their responsibilities to protect the wellbeing of children. The authorities must cooperate and coordinate relevant action with other local actors involved in children’s issues;
• The Observatories should continue improving the completeness of data along the indicators they monitor and strengthen mechanisms to obtaining and exchange information with central and local institutions;
• UNICEF should draft medium or long term programmes that are consistent with the government strategies for the promotion and realization of children rights.


1. Programme background and context

1.1 The rights of the child in Albania
The Government of Albania has been and continues to be committed to the improvement of the standards related to the protection and respect for the rights of the child in the country. A clear expression of this commitment is the ratification of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child in 1992, as well as the two Optional Protocols to the Convention. The Optional Protocol on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography was approved by Law no. 9823 on 22.11.2007; and the Optional Protocol on the involvement of children in armed conflict was adopted through the Law no. 9833 on 21.12.2007.
Of importance, in the 2009-2013 National Strategy for Development and Integration (NSDI), the government has set itself the objective of deepening the legislative and institutional reforms, to create a protective and comprehensive environment for children. The reform process has so far culminated in the adoption of Law no. 10347 of 4.11.2010, “On the protection of the rights of the child” and the establishment of the State Agency for the Protection of Children’s Rights, through DCM no. 30 of 21.3.2011.
In an effort to establish and strengthen institutions for the promotion and protection of children rights at different levels of government, the following institutions have been set up:
• the Commissioner for Children at the People’s Advocate Office;
• Child Rights Units (CRUs) as mechanisms for surveillance, monitoring and realization of national and regional policies for children’s rights, which presently function in 9 out of 12 regions;
• Child Rights Observatories (CROs) run by civil society in 9 out of 12 regions, with others being set up in the remaining three regions;
• Child Protection Units (CPUs) set up in collaboration with local government to as the front line actors reaching pout to families in need of support and providing necessary referral service (currently operate in several major municipalities).
The introduction of the above elements of the child rights machinery have also been prepared by previous efforts framed by the National Strategy for Children and the Action Plan 2005-2010. The strategy was accompanied by two important elements: (i) the system of child wellbeing indicators aligned with the indicators of NSDI, and (ii) policies related to the budgeting to children’s rights, relying on the mid-term budget plan of action 2008-2010 of line ministries. The two components paved the way for the inclusion of the National Action Plan for Children in the NSDI, institutionalizing the involvement of children’s rights in long-term strategic plans of the Government and sanctioning the budgeting for their implementation.

1.2 Child Rights Units and Child Rights Observatories as object of evaluation
The “Institutionalization of the Rights of the Child in Albania” programme includes three main components:
(i) Development of appropriate government policy and legal frameworks establishing child right machinery at central and regional level, including the State Agency for the Protection of Children’s Rights (SAPCR) that replaced the Technical Secretariat for Children ;
(ii) building the capacity of state institutions to implement and monitor child-rights sensitive policies at both levels, including Child Rights Units (CRUs) to operate within the administrative structure of the Regional Councils;
(iii) supporting civil society in establishing an independent system of observatories to monitor the implementation of children’s rights in Albania.
The central element of the system is the State Agency for the Protection of Children’s Rights established according to the Law no. 10347 of 4.11.2010 “On the Protection of the Rights of the Child” and DCM no. 30 of 21.3.2011. It is a legal entity dependent on the minister who coordinates national child rights policies (in this case, the Ministry of Labour, Social Affairs and Equal Opportunities – MoLSAEO). Article 37 of the Law outlines the following functions of the SAPCR:
 Monitor the implementation of the Law no. 10347 and related legislation; and coordinate the work of state authorities responsible for monitoring the implementation of strategies and policies related to children’s rights;
 Propose policy or legislative interventions to the coordinating ministry (MoLSAEO) on issues related to child rights;
 Propose guidelines for the operation of the Child Rights Units and Child Protection Units in local government structures;
 Provide technical support to institutions in central and local government and civil society working for children’s rights;
 Coordinate all relevant institutions of central and local government to prepare statistics, information and reports on the implementation of children’s rights;
 Arrange for sanctions for entities that violate the provisions of the Law no. 10347.
At the sub-national level, government action for child rights is channeled through the Child Rights Units (CRUs) entrusted with the function to design regional policies for children and monitor their implementation. The CRUs are part of the administrative structure of the Regional Councils, and their specific tasks are to:
 Monitor and evaluate how laws and policies related to the protection of children’s rights at the regional level are implemented;
 Identify cases of child rights violation or abuse;
 Collect information on a standard set of statistical indicators of child rights and wellbeing at the regional level; participate in research projects aimed at measuring and evaluating the attainment of policy targets in relation to children;
 Cooperate with the Regional Statistics Office, the Regional Directorate of Primary Health, the Regional Directorate of Education, the Civil Registry Office, the Assistance and Social Services Offices in the Municipalities and Communes and any other institution of local government or civil society, with the aim of recognizing and identifying the legal and institutional issues related to children’s rights;
 Coordinate and participate in the drafting of proposals for legislative or institutional changes that affect the effectiveness of social policies and protection of the rights of the child;
 Coordinate and participate in drafting progress reports on the National Strategy for Children and the Regional Plans of Action for Children;
 Provide reports to the Prefect, Chairman of the Regional Council and the Director General of the State Social Service on the implementation of the above mentioned tasks.
Complementing the state institutions, a mechanism of civil society oversight is established, through the Observatory of the Rights of the Child , to help increase awareness of the society, families, communities and children themselves on the obligations of state authorities vis-à-vis the children of Albania. The day-to-day administration and national coordination of the Observatory’s work is effected by the Albanian Children Alliance (ACA). The Observatory is tasked to:
 Undertake collaborative initiatives and exchange of experience with organizations working for children’s rights and associations of children and youth;
 Participate in regional and national activities aimed to support the realization of children’s rights;
 Prepare and distribute annually a technical report on the situation of children in Albania;
 Periodically collect data from the departments of Health, Education, and Social Protection at regional and local level;
 Periodically collect information, study reports and research from international and national agencies, regional and local governmental institutions and non-governmental organizations;
 Prepare and distribute quarterly reports (based on the national report model) on child welfare indicators;
 Issue annual analytical reports on the implementation of children’s rights and improvements in child welfare in the regions;
 Maintain and update a database to assist in the preparation of reports;
 Create conditions for the open use of the data and information from all state institutions and civil society organizations, in order to encourage wide public debate within the regions on ways to improve the situation of children;
 Strengthen relationships with all state institutions, civil society and interest groups at the regional level, to increase citizens’ influence and participation in policy-making for children;
 Cooperate with associations of children and youth, to promote their participation in the monitoring of local and regional policies.
The institutional mechanisms of Child Rights Units (CRUs) and Child Rights Observatories (CROs) run at the sub-national level represent the object of the present evaluation, in their actual functional and geographic presence scope, as in place by the moment the evaluation was conducted.

Purpose/Objective:

1.3 Evaluation purpose, objectives, methodology and limitations

1.3.1 Purpose and objectives
The evaluation’s findings will be the basis for recommendations to the SAPCR and UNICEF on how to further increase technical capacities of the institutions established to promote the implementation and protection of children’s rights in Albania. The evaluation has the following specific objectives:
(i) Assessing the functioning of the regional Child Rights Units (CRUs) and Child Rights Observatories (CROs) vis-à-vis the original intent, as reflected in national legislative frameworks and government/CSO planning documents;
(ii) Highlighting key issues of concern and challenges; making recommendations to the SAPCR and UNICEF and other relevant actors to improve medium and long-term intervention strategies for the development of mechanisms related to the protection and promotion of the rights of children;
(iii) Suggesting general recommendations to improve the functioning of these structures, so they could better accomplish their mission.
Related to the operation of the Child Rights Units, the evaluation was to answer the following questions:
 What benefits did the CRUs create?
 Is the placement of the CRU, at the administration of the Regional Council, optimal for the realization of its mission?
 Does the administration of the Regional Council have capacities for the development and coordination of regional social welfare policies?
 What is the degree of engagement of local institutions to incorporate children’s rights in their policy agenda (and support this by appropriate financial allocations) and monitor the implementation of those plans?
 Do the CRUs have the capacity to monitor and report on the realization of children’s rights?
 What deficiencies and gaps exist, related to the CRUs capacity to implement their role?
Related to the operation of the Observatories, the evaluation was to answer specific questions:
 What benefits did the Observatories create?
 Is the placement of this institution within the civil society and, specifically, under the auspices of the Albanian Children Alliance an optimal choice?
 Do Observatories have sufficient capacities for collecting, analyzing and reporting data?
 Is the civil society familiar with the role and the work of the Observatory? How engaged has the civil society been in its role of lobbyist and “watch dog” for children’s rights?
 If a particular policy for protecting and promoting children’s rights is sought to be included in the policies and plans of the local government, what would be the means of civil society to lobby and has the Observatory been of help in this regard?
 How can sustainability of the operation of the Observatories be ensured?

Methodology:

1.3.2 Methodology
The evaluators started their work with the analysis of available documentation related to the purpose and design of the CRUs and Observatories. Data collection was based on primary and secondary sources. Legislative acts, interviews with key individual stakeholders and managers, discussions with focus groups (beneficiaries and partners), field visits to the CRUs offices and the Observatories were used as primary sources. Periodic reports, signed Cooperation Agreements between UNICEF and the National Observatory were used as secondary sources of information (the list of source documents is provided as an annex).
The evaluators directly observed the operation and performance of the CRUs and Observatories in the field. The field work was designed as an open process where different actors operating in each region, representatives of civil society or public institutions participated and provided their opinions. The collection of inputs and assessment of actors engaged in the performance of the CRUs and Observatories in each region was done using several instruments developed by the evaluation team to record information from group discussions, individual interviews and field observations (see annexes). Meetings with key stakeholders in the regions were arranged by the local staff of the CRUs and the Observatories, in consultation with the evaluators’ team. A representative of the Observatory accompanied the evaluation team during the meetings and interviews. The spectrum of people consulted includes (full list of interviewed persons is attached as an annex):
 Partners: Representatives of central institutions such as MoLSAEO, SAPCR, MoH, MoI, MoJ. Meetings took place at the beginning and at the end of the evaluation. Interviews and group discussions were held with civil society in nine regions where Observatories operate, as well as media representatives;
 Beneficiaries: Many individual and group meeting were held with representatives of local institutions, such as RDE, PHD, Regional Office of SSS, local law enforcement and order agencies, and regional administration and local government;
 Managers: Individual interviews were conducted with the national and local coordinator of the Observatory and the national coordinator of the Albanian Children Alliance.

The below table illustrates the content of interviews conducted with various stakeholders:

Topics for discussion Instruments used and the participants
Adequacy of the Observatory’s and CRU’s structures Individual interviews with SAPCR
Representatives of Region’s Administration (decision makers)
Representatives of local government (decision makers)
Structures managers (national and regional coordinators of observatories and ACA)
Recognition of the structures by the key stakeholders in the field Individual interviews and focus groups discussions conducted in the field with key stakeholders
Role of CRU and Observatories in the development of regional policies and strategies Discussions with the groups of experts involved in regional strategy drafting working groups
Partnership and cooperation with local structures and institutions Discussions with decision makers, heads of region and local administration
Individual interviews with regional coordinators and the CRU staff in the region
Focus groups discussions with representatives of local government and institutions
Project management and ensuring sustainability Conversations and interviews with the National Coordinator of ACA and Observatory
Interview with the programme director

1.3.3 Limitations
The evaluation of the CRUs and CROs at this relatively early stage of their existence cannot yet assess their ultimate impact on children, being focused instead on the institutional set up being put in place. The evaluation would have been fairer if the team had collected data not only for experimental regions (where CRUs and CROs have already been established) but also control data from other regions. This could suggest a hypothesis based on the changes that the experimental and control regions would present. The nature of the analysis is primarily qualitative; quantitative indicators have not been developed for this evaluation.

Findings and Conclusions:

2. Evaluation findings

The findings of the evaluation are grouped according to the following criteria:
 programme relevance;
 programme effectiveness and progress;
 programme efficiency and use of resources;
 programme impact;
 participation of stakeholders, and
 programme sustainability.

2.1 Relevance
This section reviews how well the programme is adapted to and integrated in the legal and institutional reform process related to human rights and freedoms in Albania. It answers the question whether the programme has been designed and implemented in accordance with the policies of the Albanian State, mandate of partner institutions, donors and civil society programmes. The findings of this section are primarily based on document review and the information obtained from focus groups.
The document review shows that the programme is suitable to the country context, the organization of central and local governance, national and regional policies and the government’s priorities. The evaluators specifically found that:
 The programme is considered necessary by all contacted stakeholders and its continuity is seen as indispensable;
 There is a high degree of compliance with priorities, mandate and responsibilities of the government at central and local level, regarding children’s rights issues;
 Programme objectives and activities are inherent and in accordance with the national, regional and local policies on the protection of children’s rights;
 Programme objectives and activities are complementary and do not duplicate or overlap with other programmes related to children’s rights. The documentation review gave us a clear picture of the development and preparation of civil society to engage in the monitoring role of the implementation of children’s rights.

 Relevance in respect of human rights and national development frameworks
Albania has demonstrated a serious commitment related to the protection and respect of human rights and freedoms. Expression of this commitment is the ratifications of almost all international conventions on human rights, including the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. In designing policies for national development and integration into Europe, the Government of Albania has been oriented by the internationally accepted principles and norms on the protection of children’s rights. The National Strategy for Development and Integration 2007-2013 (NSDI) is the fundamental strategic document which harmonizes the perspectives of sustainable economic and social development, integration into the European Union and NATO membership, as well as the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals. The NSDI crystallizes the medium and long term vision of national development based on an open and transparent process, which ensures the involvement of civil society, local authorities, business community, the academic and scientific world, and the Albanian political spectrum. Implementing the NSDI means building capacity for policy analysis so that the objectives of the strategy can be translated into specific actions and programs.
The NSDI deals with children’s rights in the section on “Social and Economic Development”. It sets targets for the alleviation of poverty, the fight against trafficking and the worst forms of child labour, compulsory education, and health care for children. The document is explicit about the necessity of “drafting of a code for children” and “implementation of legislation for the incitement of children’s rights and protection of the child from the risk to life, health, education and normal development.”
The National Strategy for Social Protection 2007-2013 has also set specific objectives for poverty reduction, social service system reform and support for groups in need or at risk of social exclusion. Poor families, individuals with disabilities, the elderly, orphan children, youth, and women and girls in need will be supported through the reform of the pension system, cash transfers and improved social services. The strategy prescribes specific measures for the social protection of children from trafficking, violence, abuse and exploitation.
The National Strategy and Action Plan for Children 2005-2010 aims to systematically address the implementation of children’s rights. The Action Plan includes measures to protect children, encourage children’s education, create equal opportunities for disabled children, prevent child trafficking and protect children from this phenomenon. Both the Strategy and Plan of Action provide recommendations for other policy documents, emphasizing community-based care, collaboration across sectors, improved data collection, monitoring, and evaluating. The National Strategy for Children highlights the necessity to establish institutional mechanisms for monitoring the effectiveness of national and regional policies in respect to the implementation of Children’s Rights. The strategic objective of the Action Plan is the establishment of institutions, and the provision of financial resources and human capacities to implement the Convention on the Rights of the Child. In support of this, the Plan provides for 12 measures aimed at building capacity at central and local level.
The National Strategy for Youth (2007-2013), approved by Government decision no. 782 of 16 November 2006, calls for a strategic platform for sustainable development of young people in accordance with the government’s priorities and socio-economic and cultural changes that have occurred in the recent years.
The 2009-2013 Government programme, emphasizes the commitment for the protection and promotion of children’s rights: “… during this mandate we pledge to improve fast the basic indicators of the child’s health by bringing them to the European level, will extend vaccination to all diseases dangerous for the children’s health, establish all around the country the preschool education system, as a condition for a decent preparation for out of school children”.

 Relevance in respect of the legal framework
Children’s rights are supported by the Albanian legislation and international obligations ratified by the Government. A number of legal and sublegal acts regulate issues related to children’s rights. Many of those reflect the requirements of international law and approximate the EU rules.
The Constitution of the Republic of Albania, amended in 2008, describes the relationship of the national legislation with ratified international law. Under article 116, ratified international agreements have legal effect throughout the territory of the Republic of Albania. A ratified international agreement takes precedence over national legislation that is inconsistent with the ratified agreement.
The Penal Code, amended in 2008, guarantees special protection to children regarding crimes committed against them and provides the measures to be taken for protecting life, health, freedom, sexual integrity and moral dignity. The Penal Code has undergone significant changes after 1990 which resulted from the new social, political and economic conditions of the country.
The Law no. 10347 of 4 November 2010, “On the protection of the rights of the child”, adopted by the Parliament on November 4th 2010, marks an important milestone in the protection of children’s rights through a comprehensive legal and institutional framework, in accordance with the Albanian Constitution and the Convention on the Rights of the Child. The law sets the foundation for the establishment of appropriate institutional mechanisms that guarantee and ensure respect for the rights of the child from individuals, family and the state. The law provides all the necessary measures to guarantee life, rearing and child development through a coordinated approach among various actors working for children’s rights and protection. It is expected that the law will significantly improve the child protection system by institutionalizing CRUs and CPUs as local structures which are responsible for the coordination and implementation of child protection services and case management, in collaboration with a number of actors from different fields.

 Relevance in respect of the mandate, responsibilities and priorities of central and local institutions
The Ministry of Labour, Social Affairs and Equal Opportunities (MoLSAEO) is the main authority responsible for social protection, poverty alleviation and social care for vulnerable groups and individuals, including children. Besides being responsible for developing appropriate policy, the MoLSAEO administers social protection programs, work inspection and vocational training. The main institution within the ministry for children’s rights is the State Agency for the Protection of Children’s Rights (SAPCR) created by DCM no. 30, of 21.3.2011. Article 11 of the internal regulation of this institution, states:
 Compiles and proposes policies in the field (…) of children’s right.
 Compiles and follows up on programs to promote (…) children’s rights.
 Proposes and participates in compiling and improving legislation related to (…) children’s rights.
 Organizes and conducts awareness campaigns for (…) the protection of children’s rights.
 Initiates research and analysis in the field of (…) children’s rights.
The SAPCR coordinates the work central and local institutions, civil society and other actors engaged in the protection of children’s rights. The State Agency monitors the implementation of the National Strategy for Children by institutions at central and local level, compiles progress reports, guides and supports national and international donors in relation to the strategy, and commissions research and analysis on the situation of children.
The National Council for the Rights of the Child, established under the Law no. 10347, is an advisory body to the Council of Ministers. In accordance with the government’s program, it coordinates and sets policies to be followed for children and minors and monitors the implementation of the national strategy for the rights of the child.
The Policy and Social Services Department (PSSD) in MoLSAEO is responsible for the protection of social groups at risk. The PSSD has a specialist who is responsible for the policies related to vulnerable persons, including trafficked persons, the Roma and Egyptian minorities and children. In addition, there is a post for a Specialist for children’s issues, who also serves as the focal point for child protection to be achieved through the reform of social services.
The Child Protection Unit in the General Directorate of State Police is part of the Directorate against Terrorists Acts and Serious Crimes. It has as a mandate to protect children from exploitation, abuse and involvement in criminal activities and prevent delinquency acts by young people. In support to this unit, specialists for the protection of the child operate in the 12 Regional Directories of Police.
The State Police Department at the central level and the Anti-Trafficking Unit at the regional level refer asylum seekers and victims of trafficking (including children) to shelters that protect victims of such crimes. This is done in cooperation with local governments (communes and municipalities). There is a small number of functioning shelters: The National Reception Center for Victims of Trafficking managed by the State Social Service and centers for reintegration in Tirana, Elbasan, Gjirokastër and Vlora managed by NGOs and financed by foreign donors. Criminal Police Units at the Police Stations are responsible for discovering, documenting and preventing criminal activities against children and orphans. The same task is covered by local police structures.
The State Social Service (SSS) is responsible for combatting child labour and child trafficking, acting as intermediaries between the policy-making authority (MoLSAEO) and the implementation authorities (local government). The SSS is also responsible for monitoring and inspecting the use of public funds and implementation of standards at all levels of public and private services. The SSS ensures that all the services meet the defined standards, to allow service providers to continue their work. The SSS is responsible for the implementation of relevant laws and provides training for the staff and social services providers.
The Ministry of Justice has a department that deals with the development of the legal system for minors, in accordance with national law.
As part of the Appeal Office at the Ombudsman Office, a child rights section was established there in 2004. The section is staffed with two Assistant Commissioners and is intended to serve as an advocacy and monitoring mechanism for children’s rights, in accordance with the Convention on the Rights of the Child.
The national statistical institute - INSTAT - collects, processes and analyzes information related to the work of each ministry, including MoLSAEO. At the regional level, INSTAT offices collect, process and analyze the information – mainly, using the tool of surveys.
The Law no. 8652 of 31.7.2000 “On the Organization and Functioning of the Local Government” defnes, in article 3, the mission of local governments and makes a reference to the “respect for the rights and freedoms of citizens enshrined in the Constitution or other laws”. Article 13 of the Law defines the functions of the regional administration as the development and implementation of regional policies and their harmonization with state policies.
A network of 385 State Social Service (SSS) offices exists within communes or municipalities and their main function is currently to manage the distribution of state welfare assistance (“ndihma ekonomike”) to impoverished families. The offices have at least one specialist appointed as Social Administrator. The number of staff serving in the SSS offices is dependent on the number of recipients in the “ndihma ekonomike” eligibility lists. In large urban areas there might be 3 or 4 offices. In rural areas only one office might be available for each commune. Large municipalities can have up to six people in a SSS office. According to the Social Services law (adopted in 2005), the Social Administrators are also mandated to provide and coordinate social care services at municipal and communal level, but their actual role in social care provision (other than material assistance) is very limited.
Child Protection Units (CPUs) have been established in some municipalities (started in a pilot mode and institutionalized by the Law 10347) with the support of UNICEF and non-governmental organizations, such as Terre des Hommes and Save the Children.

 Relevance is respect of civil society activities
A number of civil society organizations is working for the rights of children and youth. Many organizations are very active and have advanced standards for the protection of and provision of services for children. Respondents at local level consider the Albanian Children Alliance as the most suitable organization for running the Observatories for the following reasons: it is the most prominent and long-term movement for the protection of children’s rights in Albania. Among many local organizations working for children, the Alliance appears to be a sustainable organization which has consolidated its position and capacity in recent years. The ACA’s extensive network of local committees makes it a serious organization that works in partnership with local institutions and civil society, which is conditional for the mandate of the Observatories.

2.2 Effectiveness
The anchoring or attachment of the programme to central and local public institutions proved to be important. From interviews with key actors, the evaluators found that:
 At the central level, the programme is not only well known by the heads of institutions, but has also received their support. In particular, this was evidenced by the formalization of the government commitment resulting in the establishment of the SAPCR.
 Related to the establishment and capacity of the CRUs, cooperation with regional institutions has been more of a challenge. Progress was sometimes determined by subjective elements, personalities, and their relations with the authorities.
 At the same time, regional authorities are been increasingly involved in designing and monitoring regional strategies for children;
 In some regions, e.g. Kukës and Gjirokastra, visibility of the initiative was good, as demonstrated by media interest, press conferences and broad participation of the public. Important activities, such as the publication of regional strategies or the findings of monitoring efforts have been covered by the national and local media. Some activities were launched by high level authorities, including the Minister of MoLSAEO, or the Deputy Ministers of MoES, MoH, or MoJ.
The below section presents the main programme benchmarks and achievements, clustered by component.
Component 1: “Capacity building of governmental and non-governmental institutions in order to design policies that guarantee children’s rights and monitoring of their implementations.” The partner institutions are: (i) MoLSAEO, (ii) the District Administration in 9 regions, (iii) Albanian Children Alliance and CSOs.
Objectives of Component 1
Evaluation of component 1
Establish a Child Right Unit at the central level The State Agency for the Protection of Child’s Rights has been established in May 2011 (in replacement of the Technical Secretariat for Children that had operated at the central level since 2005). The mandate and main tasks of SAPCR are described in the Law no. 10347. The DCM no. 30 of 21.3.2011 defines the organization and specific tasks of the SAPCR and the relations with the Minister of MoLSAEO and other institutions. The SAPCR operates as a decision making and policy making institution, organized in 2 sections: 1) the statistics and information section and 2) the programs section. The Agency continues the functions of the earlier Secretariat which it replaced and whose role it expands. The six employees of the Agency are staff members with experience in children’s rights.
Establish Child Rights Units at regional level (at the Administration of the Regional Councils) CRUs are operating in 9 locations (regions of Shkodër, Lezha, Kukës, Dibër, Gjirokastra, Elbasan and Vlora, and municipalities of Tirana and Durrës). They are part of the approved structure in the internal organization and have separate and clearly defined tasks. In the majority of regions, the CRU are landed in the Development Directorate, whose mandate includes the drafting and coordination of the regional development policies. In Korça, Fier and Berat, where CRUs have not yet been established, the SAPCR and UNICEF are working with local administrations to establish these institutions. This was expected to take place by November 2011, after the constitution of respective councils, following the local elections in summer 2011.
Prepare the Strategies for Children and Action Plans at the national and regional levels
Children’s rights are part of strategic development platforms of the Albanian State since 2005. The government, with support from UNICEF, prepared the National Strategy and Action Plan for Children in 2005-2010, approved by the DCM no. 368 of 31.05.2005. In detalization of the National Strategy and Action Plan, regional strategies for children have been prepared in Shkodra, Korça, Elbasan and Kukës, and local strategies in Tirana and Durrës. In the regions of Gjirokasta, Vlora and Lezha this work had been ongoing during the evaluation. All regions with an operating CRU showed positive awareness shifts among the officials in charge of drafting policies, coordinating and monitoring of children’s rights. Focus groups discussions and document review pointed out that the strategic objectives set in the regional strategies for children have become an integral part of the local development strategies in Durrës, Shkodra, Kukës, Gjirokastra (in the draft document in the latter case). Where regional strategies were drafted, it was done through a participatory and inclusive process. While it also involves representatives of central institutions, the leading role remained with the Chairman of the Regional Council, through the CRU. Drafting of regional strategies has had the technical support of UNICEF and Child Rights Observatories.
Overall, the evaluation confirmed that the Law no. 10347 offered new opportunities to and empowered local actors to design policies with stronger impact in different aspects of family and community life, including child welfare, quality of life and necessary protection measures. The Law also stipulates that specific funds must be allocated from the local budget to set up quality services and facilities for children in every community, so that they receive appropriate support and developmental opportunities. The Law still needs to be supplemented with sublegal acts. Key stakeholders, who were interviewed, indicated that the Law will be difficult to implement as long as the coordination of central, regional and local structures is not clarified. First, without clear delegation of authority the SAPCR may find it difficult to realize its mandate. Second, the monitoring of the realization of children’s rights requires unified indicators. Third, measures, such as fines or administrative sanctions, should be applicable to institutions that do not meet their legal obligations for the realization of the rights. These are the enforcement mechanisms that the SAPCR currently lacks.
The representatives of the SAPCR consider the CRU situated at the Administration of the Regional Council to be an appropriate mechanism for monitoring the implementation of children’s rights at local and regional level. On the other hand, they concede that there might be a certain degree of detachment between the two levels of the national child rights machinery. Lack of coordination and cooperation has been observed. This may happen for several reasons. First, there is still an absence of a legal framework defining the relationship between the local and regional institutions; and for the referral of cases from local to regional and to the central level and vice versa. Second, political affiliation of members of the two institutions may vary, creating obstacles that should be solved through mutual willingness and cooperation that transcends political viewpoints. Third, the level of knowledge of the staff about children’s rights and their duties are often still deficient. Fourth, Law no. 10347 is not known by most institutions at central, regional and local level, and hence the duties and obligations stipulated by the law for these institutions are also not known.
The functioning of the system depends particularly on the local authorities, who must recognize and engage in their role and responsibilities to ensure the protection and welfare of children. However, the evaluators found that in some cases the CRU is not considered by regional authorities with the seriousness it deserves. The tasks of the specialist of the Unit are sometimes considered secondary or are being assigned to persons who do not have the necessary academic and technical qualification.
Overall, the establishment of the institutions at central and regional level is accompanied by appropriate capacity building measures. Training was provided for staff to understand children’s rights. UNICEF helped to equip the offices to ensure their normal operation.
At the lowest administrative level of communes and municipalities the child care coordination and referral service is effected by Child Protection Units. By the moment of evaluation only 24 CPUs have been established (out of more than 300 municipal and communal entities), although they cover some of the largest municipalities. These institutions are responsible for identifying children in need and those at risk of violence, abuse, neglect, exploitation or trafficking, by managing individual cases and coordinating appropriate assistance in close cooperation with relevant state and non-state actors.

Component 2: “Monitoring and reporting on the implementation of children’s rights”. Partner institutions at the central level are: MoLSAEO, MoH, MoES, MoJ, MoI and the Observatory. Partners at the local level are: Regional Councils and local Observatories (managed by the Albanian Children Alliance).
Objectives of Component 2
Evaluation of component 2
Draft the progress report of the National Strategy and the Plan of Action
In 2006 and 2007 the Technical Secretariat for Children produced progress reports on the National Strategy, with the support of UNICEF. The reports kept up to date the overview of the situation of children and assessed the degree to which the objectives and activities set forth in the Action Plan were achieved. In 2010, the National Strategy and the Action Plan was evaluated and progress report issued. The release of the National Strategy annual progress reports is usually linked to the International Children’s Day on June 1st.
Draft the progress reports of the Regional Strategies and Action Plans for children The implementation of Elbasan regional strategy has been assessed.
Monitoring capacity building at central and local level By the moment of the evaluation, Child Rights Observatories run by the civil society (under the overall management of the Albanian Children Alliance) have already accumulated some experience in data collection and management that was shared with the evaluators. The Observatories’ staff highlighted problems related to information flows (both for official and non-official statistics) between Observatories and institutions of the education and health sectors, municipalities and communes. Often, information is fragmented or contradictory, definitions are not clear, trust and cooperation between information providers and users are lacking. Local government units (especially communes in the rural areas) would often have no capacity to manage statistical data. In other cases the political and institutional will is lacking to facilitate the access to information for all those concerned. The system of indicators needs to be further streamlined and additional training is required. Training offered by UNICEF for district administration and other institutions at regional and local levels was highly appreciated but more capacity building is needed. Training topics covered a) understanding of indicators (definitions, format and data sources), and b) the preparation of thematic or general periodic reports.

2.3 Efficiency
The evaluation could not suggest any precise economic efficiency criteria to be applied to the “Institutionalization of the rights of the child in Albania” programme at this stage, due to the innovative type of the work, the qualitative nature of changes it implied and relatively short period of the CRUs/CROs acting in their full capacity.
UNICEF’s investment in the state and civil society mechanisms at the central and regional levels are reflected in the tables below. The average annual funding support amounted to about USD 126,000, which was considered fair for the ambition of a nation-wide action. The main expenditure categories include the cost of trainings and production of legislative, planning and monitoring documents and reports.
The contribution of the government could not be tracked with precise financial information. However, it is important to mention that the staff of the SAPCR and CRUs in the Regional Councils are government employees and funded by appropriate budgets. Whatever was made available by UNICEF was the necessary start-off funding to initiate the work that has never been done before. It is also noteworthy that the pay rates applied by UNICEF while mobilizing additional technical capacity expertise for policy drafting and report preparation were taking into account the standard civil service wage levels, to make sure that no distortion is created through the programme, with the view of gradually handing these functions over to the government, once the entire system reaches a sufficient degree of maturity.

Table 1. The budget spent on capacity building at central level.
Expenditure items Contribution of UNICEF in USD
2005-2011 In % to total expenses
A. Establishment of TSC and SAPCR 88,276.29 32.8%
1. Staff training 52,837.80
2. Office equipment and vehicles 35,438.49
3. Administrative expenses 0.00
B. Drafting of the strategy and legislation 114,514.43 42.5%
C. Awareness campaign 62,742.00 23.3%
D. Monitoring and evaluation of the strategy 3,661.25 1.4%
TOTAL 269,194.45 100.0%

Table 2. The budget spent on capacity building at regional level.
Expenditure items Contribution of UNICEF in USD
2005-2011 In % to total expenses
A. Establishment of CRUs 111,429.71 39.2%
1. Staff training 35,423.34
2. Office equipment and vehicles 65,578.26
3. Administrative expenses 10,419.11
B. Drafting of the Regional strategies 161,938.84 57.0%
C. Awareness campaign 10,117.14 3.6%
D. Monitoring and evaluation of the strategies 690.00 0.2%
TOTAL 284,175.69 100%

Table 3. The budget spent by UNICEF for the establishment and operation of the Observatories.
Expenditure items Contribution of UNICEF in USD
2008-2011 In % to total expenses
Staff training 31,052.58 9.4%
Operational costs (including wages) 35,229.77 10.6%
Services 240,833.16 73%
Awareness campaign 4,693.00 1.4%
Equipment and tools for the operation of the Observatories 18,428.66 5.6%
TOTAL 330,237.17 100%

Table 4. Distribution of UNICEF support for each level of intervention.
Total 2005-2011 Total of expenditures in USD In % to total
Mechanisms at central level/Ministry 269,194.45 30.5%
Mechanisms at regional level 284,175.69 32.2%
Mechanisms of the civil society 330,237.17 37.3%
TOTAL 883,607.31 100.0%

The use of non-financial resources was found efficient. The information obtained through interviewing the partners, showed that the time during which the programme was carried out was efficiently used. The calendars of events and working timelines have generally been respected by all partners. Likewise, the delivery of technical and financial reports was timely. Regarding the use of human resources, the evaluation showed that the experts who have worked for the realization of the programme in public and non-governmental organizations possess the highest level of competence and motivation. In addition, the programme was implemented almost entirely by national experts, which had contributed to the significant reduction of costs. In-kind contribution of the CSOs resources should also be mentioned as a very important element of the programme. The physical establishment of the Observatories, as well as their human and material capacity building has been supported by the CSOs with which they are affiliated on the ground. This has also reduced the administrative costs of the program. In some regions the Observatories are attached to public institutions, i.e. to the Office of the People’s Advocate (in Shkodra) or to the Municipality office (in Fier) bringing the establishment and the administrative running costs to the minimum.

2.4 Impact
The impact is related to the realization of programme’s long term objectives. Although it has been challenging for the evaluators to measure the programme impact on institutions and beneficiaries directly and indirectly, it can be said that there are some elements that are likely to ensure the longer term impact:
 The fact that the Law no. 10347 “On the Protection of the Rights of the Child” was adopted in November 2010 with 100% of the votes was by itself an exceptional case, since the Parliament had been blocked at that time by a deep political divide and boycott of any legislative process by the political opposition factions. However, on the issue of children all political forces in the country manage to come to a consensus that brings about hope that the child rights agenda will not be dissolved in the continuous political debate; meetings conducted with the focus groups also confirmed that issues related to children are placed high on the agenda of key institutions at central and local levels;
 The programme has managed to establish good working relationships between the partner institutions, such as the SAPCR, CRUs, Observatories, central and local government (MoLSAEO, Regional Councils) and the civil society (Albanian Children Alliance and other NGOs involved in the program). These relationships are formalized through MoUs;
 CRUs and Observatories increasingly become well-known mechanisms for both state and non-governmental organizations, media and public at large; at the same time the awareness of the new Law and how it translates into the local government’s daily duties and functions is still low that hampers the impact that the programme could have generated at the sub-national level;
 Although the programme did not directly target the establishment of structures for protecting children’s rights at the lowest administrative level of municipalities (in urban settings) and communes (in rural areas), some communes and municipalities have been pro-active in suggesting specific initiatives for children in especially difficult life circumstances. For example, in the commune of Melan in Dibra Region, on the initiative of the Chairman of the Commune, a dedicated Child Protection Section has been created within the Economic Assistance and Social Services Department. Still, the Chairman himself acknowledged that a lot needs to be done for section to function properly. The reasons are several and include the lack of the staff’s thorough understanding of child rights issues and barriers for their fuller implementation, insufficient capacity to assess social needs and properly link it to the duties and responsibilities of local government entities, lack of funds to implement communal plans for the protection of children, and absence of service providers where children and their families in need of assistance could be referred to;
 At the same time the evidence collected by the evaluation cannot suggest with enough certainty to what extent the CRUs will be able, in the long run, to become effective independent drivers of the regional policies for children, given their current limited capacity and high dependence on UNICEF’s support.

2.5 Partnerships
The programme has involved many partners from government and civil society organizations, at the central and local levels. At the central level, the MoLSAEO is UNICEF’s key government counterpart. The partnership between UNICEF and MoLSAEO was institutionalized through a Memorandum of Understanding. One of the factors that contributed to the successful outcomes of the programme has been the commitment of MoLSAEO and its staff to this initiative. Other line ministries, such as the MoES, MoH and MoI, are involved in the programme but indirectly and more on the periphery of activities. At the local level, the Regional Councils have been the main partners. During the implementation of the program, regional directorates of health, education and social protection sectors have also been actively involved. The civil society organizations that supported the creation of and invested their resources in Child Rights Observatories included the Albanian Children Alliance, AGRIDA, VMA-Kukës and the Association of Women with Social Problems.
Field interviews confirmed that, overall, there has been good cooperation of institutions within the framework of the programme. Still, not the same level of commitment has been observed across the organizations (including, more passive position of some Regional Councils on the issue of CRUs promotion and support). Some regional branches of line ministries were not responsive to the Observatories’ requests for statistical data.

2.6 Sustainability
Technical and financial support from UNICEF has been critical to have the CRUs and CROs network established. For this initial stage of CRUs’ and CROs’ existence, the instrument of Memorandums of Understanding signed directly between the Regional Councils and UNICEF have been used. The evaluation team found the MoU an appropriate tool, as the local administration is not always consolidated and subject to politically-motivated changes. In the complex context of local politics, the MoUs have served as a neutral platform for the engagement of multiple partners in designing, implementing and monitoring regional strategies for children. Although such direct engagement of UNICEF may contradict the conventional tactics of gradual donor withdrawal and handing over to the government, in the particular situation of politically divided Albania such solution could be a pragmatic response to the risk of either hijacking of the initiative by one political “color” or its indefinite stalling amidst unresolved political disputes.
Some aspects of the programme’s financial continuity have already been addressed in the “efficiency” section. A wide-spread concern expressed by the interviewed stakeholders is about the predictability of UNICEF’s funding, since the resources that could be mobilized at the local level by regional administrations are believed to be insufficient and, overall, a rather risky assumption. Respondents also suggested that UNICEF should support other components, such as building the capacity for legislative analysis and review, and for proper budgeting of programmes for children.
Only limited elements of future independent sustainability could be spotted by the evaluation of CRUs and CROs at their current stage of development. One of these elements is clearly the fact that the CRUs are imbedded in the Regional Council’s administrative structure. During the evaluation process, a number of high level representatives of local administrations explicitly acknowledged that child rights issue is an important item of their agenda. At the national level, establishment of the State Agency for the Protection of Children’s Rights by the Council of Ministers’ decree, as a full-fledged public authority institution, has sent a clear signal of the government’s commitment to institutionalize the system of public follow up on issues related to children and their concerns.
The evaluators remain skeptical about the prospects of mobilizing sufficient financial resources from the state budget for regional policies for children and other social categories in need of government support. The team has also registered the absence of clear idea among key stakeholders regarding the continuation of the Observatories’ work. Being placed within the civil society means that only donor funding could realistically be considered as the Observatories’ guarantee of continuity.

3. Conclusions
General conclusions
The programme is deemed very important for Albania. The Albanian government is committed to support concrete actions to improve the situation of children. In all the documents on national development strategies and EU integration prospects this commitment is clearly articulated through specific strategic objectives. In one of the assessments of the National Strategy for Children 2005-2010 it was stated that during the past five years there have been qualitative changes in the perception of children’s rights from the institutions and the society. The evaluators reached the same conclusion in the present evaluation, although these shifts are happening not at the same pace for everybody. This conclusion is not always true for the engagement of local government, compared to usually more active position of local health, education and social protection authorities.
Albanian state policies and in particular the National Strategy and Action Plan for Children created the conditions for a fundamental reform in terms of institutional strengthening of policy and decision-making organizations at central and local level. In this sense, the programme was initiated and is being implemented in a suitable medium.
The design of the programme is done in accordance with the current situation of the institutions and policies for the protection of children’s rights in Albania. The programme has been delivered in accordance with UNICEF’s standards, taking into account its complex interventions in policies, legislation, institutions and human capacity building. It was noted that due to fragmented provision of UNICEF funds (planned on an annual basis and disbursed in installments) this programme has not ensured longer-term interventions within the system, be it in policy drafting or in institutional support.,
The funds allocated by UNICEF for the programme have been efficiently spent. Most of the funding was used for policy development and drafting of new legislation. A considerable part was used for human capacity building in the CRUs and CROs. The evaluation appreciated the fact that the programme has been using internal (local) experience and expertise in drafting policies and for capacity building trainings.
The programme has secured the involvement and commitment of a significant number of actors who have created premises for the programme’s continuity and sustainability in the future. Nevertheless, the involvement of local stakeholders in the programme has to be followed up as it constitutes one of the risks for the sustainability of the programme due to frequent political changes and rearrangement of staff.
Specific conclusions
 Although created on the basis of an existing structure, such as the Technical Secretariat for Children, the SAPCR does not yet have a clear strategy of how it will operate and implement the tasks assigned by Law no. 10347. The SAPCR appears to be completely detached from local institutions which should be the law enforcement mechanisms;
 At local government level, deficiencies are noted in the local government commitment to child issues; most of those interviewed during the evaluation process recognized that the majority of candidates for the local elections in May 2011 did not articulate the situation of children as one of their priorities;
 The evaluation notes that the local government has been little or not at all involved in drafting local policies for the protection of children and also in planning allocation of local funds for the implementation of children rights. This is because of economic capacities, but also due to lack of knowledge and expertise;
 The Regional Councils’ budget is inadequate and does not enable the implementation of activities specified in the regional strategies. In some large municipalities, like Durrës and Tirana, the financial situation is more positive, the stakeholders’ awareness is greater; as a result, there are concrete policies and actions to improve the lives of children;
 The Observatories for children’s rights are established and consolidated in 9 out of 12 regions. Local actors consider the Observatories as efficient mechanisms for monitoring the realization of children’s rights and planning regional development policies. Establishment of Observatories within the civil society has not only ensured the latter’s involvement in monitoring implementation of children’s rights, but has also provided additional/alternative data, as well as contributed additional expertise in child welfare issues;
 The system of indicators to evaluate the implementation of children’s rights is established and is being consolidated. Although there are numerous problems with the collection and exchange of information, institutions at local and regional level are becoming increasingly aware of the importance of evidence-based policy-making and contribute to the provision of information according to the standards and requirements of the DevInfo data management platform;
 The establishment of CRUs at the Regional Councils is deemed appropriate and in accordance with the mandate and organization of this layer of governance from the administrative standpoint;
 Although the Law no. 10347 has set specific tasks for the CRUs at the Regional Councils, these tasks were in no case specified and explained further in the regulation of the Regional Council. Leaving these tasks as “second hand” duties, excluding CRUs from the organizational structure of the Regional Council makes the Units vulnerable and unstable, which is aggravated by the fact that local administrations are exposed to political changes occurring as a result of elections;
 The establishment of the Observatory within the civil society, specifically at the Albanian Children Alliance has been found appropriate and effective by the evaluators. The Alliance appears as one of the leaders for the protection of children’s rights in Albania. In the multitude of local organizations working with children, the Alliance is a serious organization showing continuity and consistency in its performance. The structure of the Alliance that includes the network of regional committees contributes to strong partnership with local institutions and other CSOs on the ground. The mission of the Observatory to monitor the realization of children’s rights complies substantially with the mission of the Alliance as a lobbying organization for children’s rights.

Recommendations:

4. Recommendations
 The Law no. 10347 “On the Protection of the Rights of the Child” is almost not known by local governments; the evaluation recommends actions for raising awareness of local authorities on the role they have in implementing children’s rights and capacity building for drafting and implementing local policies for children;
 There is the need to work with the Regional Council administrations so that child-focussed strategies are integrated within broader strategies of regional development, thus placing children firmly in local development frameworks and policies;
 The good functioning of child rights protection system depends particularly on local authorities, who must recognize their role and responsibilities to ensure children are cared for and protected; these authorities must also cooperate and coordinate their actions with other local actors engaged in child welfare issues;
 Capacity needs to be built within local government in budgeting for their strategies and programmes, including the ones focused on children;
 There is the need to work not only for the establishment of mechanisms at central and regional level but to work with the local government structures on the ground to establish such mechanisms in each municipality and commune;
 The Child Rights Observatory should continue refining the system of statistical indicators, improve collection of information from central and local institutions and enhance its analysis and reporting capacity;
 The support of UNICEF should continue for Albania’s child rights machinery strengthening; this support should focus on building effective law enforcement mechanisms and facilitate the connectivity between the structures at the central level with the ones at regional and local level;
 UNICEF is recommended to draft medium- to long term programmes that are consistent with the Government of Albania strategies for the promotion and implementation of children’s rights.


Lessons Learned (Optional):

5. Gender, human rights and equity considerations

The focus on human rights observation is fundamental to the entire design of the programme that represented the object of evaluation. The establishment of child rights machinery in Albania, at the central and regional level, is intended to convert the statements of the Convention on the Rights of the Child that Albania is a part of, into actual steps and measures at the sub-national level, starting from incorporating the concerns of children and families into local development policies and situational monitoring to establishing effective interfaces with families in particular need of state assistance.
The gender dimension transpires in this work in at least two aspects. First, the situation of children is usually inseparable from the situation of their families. By definition, focussing local policies on children would engage their mothers in the orbit of the government primary attention. Second, data collection and production of monitoring reports by the Observatories at the regional level has so far remained a unique attempt to produce regular situational updates with sub-national and gender disaggregation of statistical information. Given the overall weakness of administrative data collection, dissemination and use in the country, regional strategies of children and their monitoring reports provide valuable insights into the situation of Albanian women.
Similarly, such disaggregation of information allows policy-makers better capture and understand challenges related to existing inequities and start addressing them in a more systematic manner. It is important to highlight that the CRUs and CROs use the same data collection and management tools, such as standardised list of child welfare indicators and unified computerised data management platform of DevInfo. Sufficiently disaggregated, reliable and regularly collected factual information if key for evidence-based policy making, realistic result identification and, ultimately, successful advocacy and action for the benefit of children and their families.



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