2013 DR Congo: Evaluation of UNICEF Programmes to Protect Children in Emergencies: Democratic Republic of Congo Country Case Study
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The case study of UNICEF programmes to protect children in emergencies (CPiE) in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) is part of a global review commissioned by UNICEF. The framework for the evaluation is based on the global Child Protection Strategy (2008) and the Core Commitments to Children in Humanitarian Action (2010). It considers the effectiveness of the protective environment strategy in pre-emergency, response and recovery phases. The evaluation aims to identify key programming successes and gaps in child protection in emergencies (CPiE) and draw out lessons learned in the context of armed conflict and natural disaster.
The DRC case study reviewed aspects of the programme over the period 2011-2012, with a focus on protection issues arising from armed conflict. The evaluation focused on gender-based violence (GBV) and the reintegration of children associated with armed forces and armed groups (CAAFAG), drawing information from a desk review and interviews carried out during a visit to Kinshasa as well as telephone interviews and a questionnaire sent to UNICEF partner organizations following the visit. Security concerns forced cancellation of the planned field trip to Goma, in the province of North Kivu, so it was not possible to meet beneficiaries, partners or representatives of decentralized government structures.
The objectives at global and country level were to:
- Analyse the programme in relation to the OECD-DAC criteria54 and against the CCCs, taking account of emergency preparedness, response and recovery phases
- Assess the integration of key organizational principles and approaches, including equity, gender, community participation and human rights
- Identify key successes and gaps (what works, what does not work and why) in armed conflict and natural disaster
- Provide recommendations for policy and management decisions.
In addition, and subject to the limitations experienced in the course of the field visit, the case study considered the following issues that will feed into the global evaluation:
- The extent to which preparedness enhanced response and whether there are examples of how response could enhance child protection systems in the longer term
- How formal and less formal components of the CP system linked to enhance protection outcomes
- The extent to which the cross-cutting principles of equity, gender and community participation were effectively integrated and addressed
- The level and manner in which technical guidance (international and/or national) was used to strengthen child protection
- The extent of systematic advocacy on child protection violations
- Progress with the strategy of evidence building and knowledge management.
Three methods were used for data collection: (a) Semi-structured interviews in Kinshasa, via Skype and email, and semi-structured meetings with UNICEF teams and coordination groups; (b) questionnaires sent to partners in North and South Kivu; and (c) collection of documentation on programming and programme management.
Findings and Conclusions:
Following is a summary of the case study findings.
Relevance and appropriateness of the programme: Programme design was found to be highly relevant to the priority protection issues in DRC. Based on available data and the ranking of UNICEF partner NGOs, family separation was the main protection violation, followed by recruitment of children, sexual violence and child labour. Sexual violence was ranked first regarding protection violations for women. The core priorities of the UNICEF CPiE programme in DRC – addressing the recruitment of children and sexual violence – are thus absolutely appropriate and relevant.
In terms of geographical priority areas, the child protection (CP) programme maintains an appropriate focus on the provinces of North and South Kivu (also referred to as ‘the Kivus’) because child recruitment and sexual violence are most prevalent compared to other parts of the country.
The programme was closely aligned to the global strategy. Though there is no explicit theory of change underpinning the programme, the programme logic is evident. It is based on the assumption that strengthening state systems (protective legislation, policies, institutional capacity building at central level), as well as supporting community-based systems and enhancing the capacities of children, will increase child protection in the context of armed conflict. Due to a generally weak State presence in the provinces, UNICEF’s work with the Government has been focused on central level.
UNICEF has addressed all the Core Commitments for Children in Humanitarian Action (CCCs) in protection with the exception of CCC 8 on landmines and explosive remnants of war. That is because the United Nations Mine Action Coordination Centre (UNMACC) is the organization primarily responsible for humanitarian mine action activities in the country.
No comprehensive assessment of child protection needs was carried out. Data used by UNICEF are provided through other partners – United Nations entities and international and national NGOs – that carry out local situation analyses and needs and capacity assessments. There was consensus among respondents that data, including baseline data collected through assessments, are not yet adequate for monitoring of outcomes. However, a 2011 evaluation of the CAAFAG programme resulted in some adjustments to programme design.
CONCLUSIONS: The UNICEF child protection programme has been working under extremely difficult circumstances due to the ongoing crisis and recurring conflict in the eastern DRC, especially in the provinces of North and South Kivu. Despite this situation, UNICEF has achieved impressive results in all areas addressed by the evaluation.
The most effective strategic approaches were combining upstream and downstream work. This involved collaborating with the Government in developing standards and protocols while also supporting implementing partners to provide services related to CAAFAG and GBV. It also involved preparedness planning based on the CCCs with the Government at national level and with partners in the CP and MSA Working Groups. Another important strategy was capacity building of all partners, with a special emphasis on national NGOs.
Overall, the CPiE programme has been coherent in its support to the Government and national NGOs. It has provided effective technical support to legal and policy development as well as to project implementation in all CPiE areas addressed in the course of this evaluation. The programme has also addressed key organizational principles, by considering gender equality and equity and by following the human rights-based approach to programming.
The following recommendations in the report are addressed to the UNICEF country office, but many would be undertaken together with government departments and/or child protection colleagues in the CP Working groups.
Recommendations on Programming Relative to GBV
Recommendation 1: Strengthen the evidence base on prevention and treatment of sexual violence in armed conflict, including on the longer term outcomes of different approaches
Recommendation 2: Strengthen efforts to prevent GBV
Recommendations on Programming Relative to CAAFAG
Recommendation 3: Strengthen the evidence base on children released from the armed forces and armed groups and on the results of different approaches to reintegration
Recommendation 4: Develop good practice guidance on prevention of recruitment and promotion of reintegration of CAAFAG, based on analysis of proven strategies
Recommendation 5: Analyse the extent to which current approaches to MRE are focused on the risks faced by younger and older children, both girls and boys
Recommendations on Programme Management
Recommendation 6: Provide more support to data systems and production of evidence
Recommendation 7: Provide more support to coordination
Recommendation 8: Promote greater engagement of State systems and services in CP and CPiE, including in social services, in coordination with partners and donors
Recommendation 9: Assess the sustainability of national NGOs and encourage them to diversify their funding streams
Full report in PDF
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