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Evaluation report

2007 Tajikistan: Evaluation MRE Pilot Project



Author: Suzana Srnic Vukovic

Executive summary

Background:

Tajikistan is contaminated with mines as a result of civil war in 1992–1997 and mine-laying along its borders by Russian and Uzbek forces. The additional problem to landmines are cluster munitions that were used by the armed forces of the former Soviet Union in Tajikistan.  Minefields from the civil war are concentrated in the central Tavildara district and Rasht valley region, and in the western part of Gorno Badakhshan province. Soviet forces laid minefields along the border with Afghanistan to deter cross-border infiltration by hostile armed groups and drug traffickers.  Uzbekistan’s security services also laid mines in 1999-2001 on the border with Tajikistan to deter infiltration of insurgents.  Action to clear the mines has been hampered by uncertainty over their location and a dispute with Uzbekistan over the border’s demarcation. Mines are also present on Tajikistan’s border with Kyrgyzstan.

Mine Risk Education pilot project is a new component that is being implemented by UNICEF Tajikistan for a school year of 2005-2006 and expanded for two more districts in education year 2006- 2007. The goal of the project is to contribute to minimize the number of unexploded ordnance/Mine victims in Rasht valley, Tavildara district and Badakhshan province, namely in Vanj and Darvaz.  Other two districts which covered by MRE are located in North of Tajikistan in Panjakent and Isfara. These districts are highly affected by unexploded ordnance (UXO) and affected by landmines.

Purpose/Objective:

The main purpose of the MRE Final Evaluation is to assess and conclude the project outcomes at central, regional and sub-regional level and to provide input and develop recommendation for further strategy development on MRE activities in Tajikistan. The MRE Final evaluation is built on the Rapid Evaluation results conducted in November 2006, but provides further assessment of the relevance and effectiveness and efficiency of the MRE Pilot Project as well as of the role, design and focus of UNICEF support to the realization of Mine Action activities in Tajikistan. The MRE Final Evaluation also addresses dimension of sustainability of the project. The MRE Final Evaluation also assesses the possibility for integration of MRE activities into other UNICEF Programming for purpose of securing sustainability of the programme and in accordance with UNICEF organizational priorities and strategies defined in the Medium Term Strategic Plan.

The objectives of the evaluation stated in the TOR were to assess the progress made on ongoing MRE activities in schools in 6 districts and provide the recommendations for strengthening the MRE strategy in Tajikistan with active involvement of key stakeholders.

Methodology:

Key methods for the conduct of the evaluation involved: (a) a comprehensive desk review of external and internal documents, including reports, strategy documents, set of MRE educational material, previous assessments and evaluations of the project; (b) interviews with key stakeholders; (c) field visits; (d) annotated outline of the final report containing major lines of analyses as interim product of the Final Evaluation; (e) discussion on the conclusions and recommendations of the evaluation, and (f) a MRE Evaluation Final Evaluation report. All information has to the extent possible been triangulated and validated.

Findings and Conclusions:

Finding 1. The MRE Pilot Project has made the positive impact and contribution to mine action activities and to the safety of children and Tajikistan population in targeted communities. As pilot project was implemented on a small scale the expansion to the national level should take place.

Finding 2. Action plan has been fully implemented.

Finding 3. The integration of MRE into UNICEF Child Protection Programme (CP), as objective # 1 of the pilot project, has been achieved structurally, but yet not implemented. Within the CP department, there is generally positive attitude toward the MRE and willingness to integrate it within their activities.

Finding 4. Ministry of Education (MoE) as initiator of the programme in the schools is satisfied with the cooperation with UNICEF and generally had high opinion on the project. Ministry shows a strong ownership over the programme what proves through the coordination and regular monitoring of the MRE activities in the targeted schools even though they are not integrated into school curriculum.  MoE expresses need and wish to expand the activities on other vulnerable areas. Departments of Education (DoE) on the local level have showed a positive attitude and actions toward future sustainability of the project. The strategy of cascade training of trainers has been successfully implemented and even crossed the borders of targeted schools.

Finding 5. Set of MRE Educational Material – flip chart, user guide, manual for MRE and leaflet ‘Memory Game’ - is well accepted by teachers, children and community. When program extends to the new districts/area, material should be revised within the MRE working group coordinated by TMAC and adopted according to the specific situation of the new district/area.

Finding 6. As per request from TMAC, UNICEF supported preparation of the MRE national strategy. The MRE stakeholders have met, commented and discussed the draft. However, the same has not yet been endorsed by the Government.

Finding 7. Although the capacity to plan and coordinate mine action was developed by UNDP who established the TMAC in 2003, mine risk education capacity was not sufficiently addressed. UNICEF contributed to that problem providing support through UNDP and as a result, in 2007, TMAC MRE officer was appointed. However, MRE activities are still not adequately coordinated and do not fully address the threat.

Finding 8. Data collection and survey of the suspected area represent a significant gap in mine action in Tajikistan. Total number of mine incidents and victims remain unknown due to slow process of data collection. Size of the suspected area is considered to be exaggerated and exact locations of mined areas remain unknown.

Finding 9. Community liaison as component of Mine Risk Education has been implemented sporadically by demining teams with more focus on local authorities. Demining teams are facing the problem of demining process being obstructed by local population due to removing  markings. The community liaison activities occurred like a solution for those problems. MRE training should be provided to demining teams to build their community liaison capacities.

Finding 10. Cooperation and relations with other international agencies, such as UNDP and OSCE, is very limited. The use of the joint capacities could strongly enhance the impact of the efforts.

Recommendations:

Even though, the mine problem in Tajikistan, from a humanitarian point of view is very small, it is envisioned that it will be the long term one, due to the lack of financial resources. That is one of the reasons why UNICEF is strongly recommended to continue its MRE school based programme with possibility for expansion to a community based programme. Recommendation extends to the field of capacity building and
support to Mine Action in general.  For the programme period 2008 to 2010, it is recommended that UNICEF engages at three levels. (please read the report for details)



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