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Evaluation report

2012 Ethiopia: Evaluation of Women's Economic Empowerment Programme



Author: Girma Tegenu, Adane Yenealem, Fasil Demeke, Mesfin Ayele, & Dr. Ayele Abebe, National Consultants, DICT; and Dr. An Bhandari, International Consultant

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, Best Practice", "Highly Satisfactory", "Mostly Satisfactory" or "Unsatisfactory" before using it. You will find the link to the quality rating below, labeled as 'Part 2' of the report."

Background:

This evaluation is a partial requirement of the overall “Diagnostic study on access to financial services for poor women and entrepreneur in Ethiopia” conducted by a team of international and national consultants from January to March 2012 funded jointly by ILO and UNICEF. The diagnostic study reviewed existing microfinance markets of the formal, semi-formal and informal nature with reference to the demand and supply of microfinance services across the eight studied regions, and simultaneously evaluated the UN supported programmes, especially the social cash transfer (SCT) scheme funded by UNICEF and local economic development (LED) programme of funded by UNDP. 

This evaluation adopted a participatory and triangulated approach in tracking the progresses, assessing the achievements and thereby drew conclusions and documented key lessons learned that would serve as input in the design and implementation of similar other programmes like the UN Joint programme on Gender (JPG) Gender Equality and Women Empowerment (GEWE) component intervention i.e. access to finance to low-income women households and potential entrepreneurs in Ethiopia.

Purpose/Objective:

As part of the diagnostic study, this evaluation draws lessons regarding creating financial access to low income women from existing UN interventions in the country. This evaluation is made, therefore, to draw pragmatic models of managing micro credits for low income women and underemployed youth. Hence, the purpose is to learn from existing interventions about what worked well, why it worked, what did not work and how these limitations can be improved in future programme designs and implementation. The specific objectives of the evaluation is to assess the relevance, efficiency, effectiveness, impact orientation and sustainability of the program in the bid to generate lessons that would be communicated into the United Nations/Government of Ethiopia Joint Programme on Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment (UN-JP GEWE).

Methodology:

Quantitative and qualitative evaluation instruments have been employed to objectively assess and examine the relevance, efficiency, effectiveness, impact, and sustainability of the scheme. The detail evaluation methodologies employed by the evaluation team include a household survey covering a total of 584 randomly selected SCT beneficiaries; focus group discussions with 8 groups comprising of different segments of the community; and a total of 274 key informants’ interviews with relevant key stakeholders such as UNICEF, government implementing partners, and relevant community stakeholders. A thorough review of secondary information/data was conducted to compliment the findings of both quantitative and qualitative surveys.

Findings and Conclusions:

The evaluation team concludes that despite design defects, the social cash transfer scheme supported by UNICEF was a successful pilot experiment of social protection in Ethiopia. This scheme has substantially created demand on the part of the rights holders “The children, women and poor people” and created a sense of accountability on the part of the service providers “Government and development partners”. As a result, the country has come up with a National Social Protection Policy of Ethiopia towards the end of the SCT scheme. Despite the implementation SCT especially for loan funds did not fully comply with the microfinance policy of the country, its implementation has generated some positive outcomes amongst beneficiary households and in the localities such as social inclusion. The rights of the children to have access to food, nutrition, health care, and education were protected to some extent. Similarly, some momentum was gained in line with the gender equality and women empowerment (GEWE) besides providing relief to the bed-ridden people and PLHIVs. 

Recommendations:

Option one: 
• The funding agency should (UNICEF) sign a Memorandum of Agreement with the government (IP) and the lead agency (ILO) for the joint programme on gender equality and women empowerment to transfer the revolving loan fund (RLF) amount to JPG GEWE that has remained with the regional government as of 31st of May 2012. 
• For the outstanding loan (RLF) amount beyond 31st of May 2012 that has remained with the borrowers, the implementing partners, BOLSA, BOFEF, BOWCYA, Women’s Association and Youth Associations should put additional efforts to collect repayments and transfer that money to JPG GEWE account for the above-mentioned purpose.
• For the overdue RLF that could not be recovered, the implementing partners should prepare a list of such borrowers who could not repay by any means. Then, upon the approval of the funding agency, the regional governments will decide either to write-off the amount of overdue loan against them or convert that into non-refundable transfers (Direct Grants). 

Option Two: 
• The IPs return the revolving loan fund (RLF) amount that has remained with them as of 31st of May 2012 to UNICEF to contribute to the government’s incoming national social protection policy to benefit broader population in the country. 
• For the outstanding loan (RLF) amount beyond 31st of May 2012 that has remained with the borrowers, the IPs make an assessment and collect what could be repaid by the borrowers and transfer. 
• For the unrecoverable RLF, the IPs should follow the same process as suggested in bullet three of the option one above. 

Option Three: 
• Sign a memorandum of understanding between UNICEF and the regional governments to create a “Regional Trust Fund for Children” to be formally registered under the “Trust Registration Act” or any such legal option under which the “Trust” could be created. 
• For the unrecoverable RLF, the IPs should follow the same process as suggested in bullet three of the option one above.



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