2012 Liberia: Multi-Sector Emergency Response to Ivorian Refugees and Host Communities in Four Liberian Counties of Nimba, Grand Gedeh, Rivergee & Maryland
Author: Kennedy Tsosy Getange
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As part of a continued response to the influx of refugees from Ivory Coast into Liberia following the disputed 2010 elections, the European Commission Humanitarian Office (ECHO) provided 1.5 Million Euros to UNICEF in order to meet critical needs in Water, Hygiene and Sanitation (WASH), Health, Education and protection for both refugees and the host communities. With UNICEF making a contribution of 100,000 Euros, the programme was implemented in the four counties of Nimba, Grand Gedeh, River Gee and Maryland through Implementing Partners (IP) contracted by UNICEF through Partnership Cooperation Agreements (PCA)
There were four result areas namely: Reduction of diarrhoea diseases in 45 host communities through provision of clean water and sanitation facilities and WASH education targeting 50,000 people; increasing the capacity of health facilities to deliver quality health/HIV services through provision of supplies and training health workers, targeting 79,500 people; increasing access to quality and relevant formal and non formal education including Early Childhood Development (ECD), targeting 50,000 children and ensuring that all girls, boys and youth enjoy rights of protection from neglect, violence, abuse and exploitation, with a target of reaching10,000 people especially vulnerable children.
The programme funded by ECHO was implemented between July 2011 to June 2012 with UNICEF playing a key coordination and monitoring role while supporting county authorities to lead the processes.
In line with the Terms of Reference (TOR), the objectives of this evaluation include measuring the relevance, effectiveness, coverage, efficiency and highlight impacts made through the interventions in WASH, Health, Education and protection as spelled out in the ECHO operational framework. Findings from the evaluation and lessons learned are intended to be used by all the stakeholders including the beneficiaries, the Government, UNICEF and partners to identify what worked well, shortcomings and use lessons learned for better design and implementation of future interventions of a similar nature. The scope of the evaluation was limited to those activities funded by ECHO in the four counties of Nimba, Grand Gedeh, River Gee and Maryland.
The evaluation used a mix of methodology to collect data and required information that included desk review of relevant literature, conducting a household survey based on 14 sampled communities and refugee camps (10 communities and 4 refugee camps) spread across the four counties, interviews with partners and various stakeholders at community level, Focused Group Discussions (FGD) at community level including primary school children, women and the youth and through observations.
Findings and Conclusions:
The following conclusions have been arrived at based on the findings for each sector.
• Overall the WASH programme has greatly aided both the refugees and the host communities and it can be said that despite the challenges faced, it has largely met its objectives;
• Notwithstanding the challenges that still exist, overall the health programme worked well in making the lives of both the refugees and host communities much more bearable given that the capacity of health institutions to deliver basic health services is very limited. In this sense, the objective was largely achieved;
• Providing basic infrastructure, educational supplies and training teachers was a big success in ensuring that students were enrolled in both ECD centres and primary schools. Challenges notwithstanding, the programme achieved its objective in this respect otherwise many students would have not got the chance to continue with their schooling. The fact that an accreditation system was agreed permitting students to be accepted back in Ivory Coast without losing a school year is to be considered a great success.
• Notwithstanding the fact that the programme could have done better to reach more people in protection education, it helped create harmonious relationships and respect for one another and contributed to a reduction in rights abuses.
• CCCs were largely met and the programme costs are justified by the number of vulnerable children, youth and women and men who were reached in often difficult operating conditions.
• To agree and put up a framework for enforcing set standards especially with regard to the construction of institutional latrines, implement a rigorous monitoring system to ensure that all partners meet quality requirements
• Involve local administration such as chiefs much more closely in ensuring that there is continued mobilisation of households to contribute towards sustained maintenance of the water pumps and other sanitation facilities put up for the community.
• Ensure that joint rapid assessments are carried out to inform the action and involve beneficiaries as practically feasible
• Work with vendors to ensure that supplied tents used as temporary learning spaces are of durable quality. Collaborate with UNHCR and camp management stakeholders to ensure that facilities provided such as tents for learning are maintained and where necessary replaced
• More monitoring is required with regard to fluctuations in the number of refugees and children going to school in order to constantly review the number of teachers required
• Need for a clear strategy for reaching more people with regard to education related to violence, abuse, GBV and other kinds of abuse, to include sensitisation of local authorities to the need to follow the rule of law when it comes to reporting and dealing with cases of abuse.
• Work more closely with agencies responsible for tracing and reunification of unaccompanied and separated children to their families i.e. ICRC, UNHCR and find better ways of improving communications and system bottlenecks to fast track the process
• Due to the short duration of PCAs signed with partners and given the long period case management can take, it is recommended that community based approaches be utilised wherever possible whereby local organisations are trained to take over cases and/or work with social workers who can be absorbed by the MoGD , as social welfare staff as practised by some partners.
• Good coordination both at national and local levels makes a big difference in not only ensuring that existing gaps in various sectors are identified but also in ensuring that the needs are met by the different partners while ensuring that quality standards are adhered to at the same time. Though often demanding in terms of time, coordination is worthy investing in and should be part and parcel of all future interventions;
• Conducting emergency operations in infrastructure challenging environments such as Liberia can be greatly hampered as communities get cut off especially during the rainy season. As such, it may be necessary to include light infrastructure components especially wooden bridges that can be constructed with community help as part of the emergency response;
• As communities get involved in making decisions and actually participate in providing services that directly affect them, it may be a good practise to give them some basic information required so that they can make informed choices. A case in point is in the construction of household latrines where some designs by the community produced bad odour which later turned out to be a disincentive to use the latrines;
• Utilisation and maintenance of facilities put up for the community tend to be much more sustainable when communities make commitments before the facilities are put up. As an example, some partners required communities to set up the cash kitties and put in place management arrangements for the maintenance of water pumps before they were installed and this proved successful in ensuring that they are maintained when the partner leaves the scene.
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