2013 Romania: The Evaluation of the National Anti-Drug Strategy
Author: CĂTĂLIN ANDRUȘ, PHD; SILVIA ASANDI, MD; FIDELIE KALAMBAYI, PHD; NICOLETA MĂNESCU
"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."
Developed in the period August – October 2012, the evaluation process was initiated by the UNICEF Romania office, in collaboration with the National Anti-Drug Agency (NAA) and was carried out by the team of consultants (evaluators) from Romanian Angel Appeal (RAA) Foundation. The demarche aimed to identify and measure the effects following the implementation of the National Anti-Drug Strategy at the end of the planning period 2005-2012. Based on the analysis of collected data, the consultants formulated recommendations further communicated to the NAA to serve in the elaboration of the National Anti-Drug Strategy and of subsequent action plans for the programming period 2013–2020. The recommendations - formulated either for short or long term – propose solutions to increase the effectiveness of the anti-drug measures implemented in the period 2005-2012, but also make reference to completely innovative actions to be taken by the NAA and other national actors.
As the Strategy is expiring in 2012, National Antidrug Agency commissioned an evaluation of the Romanian Antidrug Strategy (2005-2012) and it’s Action Plans (2005-08 and 2009-12). This evaluation focuses on the added value of these documents for drugs policy in Romania and its impact on the drug use phenomenon in the country. The results will be of use of the development of the national antidrug strategy for 2013-2020 and national action plan. The evaluation comes at a key-moment in the European and national response to drug use and drug supply reduction. Currently, at European level, the process of evaluation of the European Strategy on Drugs is organized, in parallel with development of the European framework on drugs which will shape the both European approach and national policies on drugs for the following period of time.
The evaluation was designed around criteria provided by OECD/DAC (relevance, effectiveness, efficiency, impact, sustainability, and human rights based approach and results based management) and aims to:
1. Measure the relevance, effectiveness, efficiency, sustainability and impact of the measures proposed and applied by the national antidrug strategy 2005-2012 with regards to all its pillars (reduce drug demand; reduce drug supply; international cooperation; informing, research and evaluation; inter-institutional cooperation);
2. Assess the extent to which the effect of the National Drug Strategy 2005-2012 and its plans of action acted on the drug issue in Romania;
3. Identify and extract necessary and relevant elements (achievements, lessons and recommendations) for the development of the following programmatic document (National Antidrug Strategy 2013-2018), according to the tendencies of the drug use phenomenon in Romania, while also supporting human rights perspective (e.g. children’s rights included, rights of most at risk population).
The evaluation was based on two approaches on data collection:
An analysis (Desk Research) of documents available in official statistics, research and activity reports (provided by the NAA and other Romanian organizations), in legal documents, official releases, web pages, etc. The data collected were used to describe the social and legislative contexts of the implementation of the 2005-2012 NADS, as well as in completing/confirming the data collected from the various actors (institutions and physical persons) who participated in the evaluation process.
The collection and analysis of qualitative data through individual interviews (face-to face or e-mail conducted interviews), group interviews, based on the interview/focus group guides presented in Annex 2 of the present report. Therefore, focus groups were conducted with: drug demand reduction service providers (public, non-profit private and for-profit private), adolescents from the general population, parents, injection drug users (men in detention, women and adolescents from the community). In addition, individual interviews were carried out with teachers (head teachers), with representatives of local and central public institutions responsible with the implementation of the NADS (according to the National Action Plans), with representatives of local nongovernmental organizations and of international institutions involved in or supporters of Romanian anti-drug measures.
Findings and Conclusions:
The restructuring of the National Agency in 2009 had affected the conduct of all demand reduction activities; during this time interval, part of the serviced were suspended, others were not started as planned, which translated into the impossibility to implement already approved projects to be funded from European structural funds – i.e. opening social inclusion centres, opening of 15 vocational centres and one social economy project. Also, funding likely to have ensured harm reduction services was lost as well, such as harm reduction in arrests. Another effect of the restructuring was the high turnover of staff so that, despite the constantly organized training programmes, about 30% of the existing staff operates without having passed through any professional training programme101. As the NAA representatives say, all this have led in a diminished capacity of the Agency to provide services and in a decreased quantity and quality of the provided services.
The harm reduction programmes provided by the non-governmental organizations have been affected by the reduced funding, making it impossible to be continued after the projects financed by GFATM (Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria) and UNDOC ended.
The prevention programmes were more focused on the drug use rather than on the prevention of alcohol and tobacco use. Prevention campaigns for alcohol and tobacco uses have been implemented only at local level by the Anti-drug prevention, evaluation and counselling centres. Part of the media campaigns developed by the Ministry of Health and Ministry of Education to prevent tobacco use has been implemented within the programmes of these ministries rather than within programmes of the National Anti-drug Strategy102. Such campaigns targeted the general population and had national coverage.
To consolidate the cooperation between the public institutions with attributions in the implementation of the NADS, both at central and at local level, as well as the cooperation between public institutions and civil society organizations (including population groups affected by the drug phenomenon), academic organizations and (for-profit) providers of drug demand reduction services.
To initiate by the NAA of an owned system of allocating grants to nongovernmental organizations that provide assistance and harm reduction services.
To ensure on-service/on-going training of the NAA staff and of the personnel from organizations and institutions that provide services in the field of drug use prevention and drug demand and supply reduction.
To enforce the NAA and other relevant Romanian institutions role as technical assistance providers for third countries interested to develop policies and drug demand and supply reduction interventions.
To increase the access of parents, children, community members to alcohol, tobacco and drug use prevention services by diversifying the methods and means to provide information and by training teachers to provide prevention services to pupils and parents.
To ensure the active involvement of adolescents, parents and community members in the alcohol, tobacco and drug use prevention activities.
To adapt prevention services to the characteristics of the beneficiaries: age, gender, level of education, ethnic group, type of use, etc.
To inform and sensitize the general population and mass media with regard to respecting Human Rights, non-discriminating the drug users, raising awareness and responsibility among the general population on the measures which can be taken to support the drug users, existing services, etc.
To conduct quantitative and qualitative studies/surveys in partnership with nongovernmental organizations, aiming to identify the groups at risk, the injection drug users’ behaviours and their needs.
The main lesson learnt during the implementation of the NADS 2005-2012 was the lesson on the importance of interinstitutional collaboration. The partnerships concluded among the National Anti-drug Agency, the civil society and other public institutions ensured continuity of the drug use prevention
services and of the assistance for the drug users. Also, the cooperation with the relevant authorities in the drug supply reduction contributed in an increased efficiency of the interventions in this area.
Another lesson learnt refers to the importance of having in place certain minimum quality standards in the drug use prevention area. The standards, currently under elaboration process, shall contribute in an increased effectiveness of the interventions and shall allow proper measurement of the intervention results.
Developing and strengthening the institutional framework should aim to provide the legislative guarantees on the stability of the institutions, both in terms of their structure, funding and personnel. A second conclusion concerns the necessity to allocate of a budget for the activities in the action plan in order to ensure their sustainability. In order to guarantee sustainability of the activities involving longer than a year periods of time, multi-annual budgeting should be considered. One success in combating the drug trafficking is the use of the money from confiscation and sale of the assets used for or resulted from illicit drug crimes / offenses and precursors to finance the activities to combat drug trafficking. The prevention programmes were more focused on the drug use rather than on the prevention of alcohol and tobacco use. Prevention campaigns for alcohol and tobacco uses have been implemented only at local level by the Anti-drug prevention, evaluation and counselling centres.
Full report in PDF
PDF files require Acrobat Reader.