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2013 Global: Evaluation of UNICEF Programmes to Protect Children in Emergencies (CPiE) - Synthesis Report

Executive summary

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Trends in the nature of armed conflicts and disasters are increasing both the scale and scope of protection issues affecting children and women in humanitarian contexts. At the same time UNICEF’s mandate and responsibilities in child protection have grown in the last decade in terms of coordination, Monitoring and Reporting on grave protection violations (as per the UN Security Council Resolutions) and through the pillars of the Child Protection Strategy (2008) that sets out approaches to systems strengthening, promoting positive social change, emergency preparedness and response, as well as evidence-building, knowledge management and convening and catalysing agents of change. The current evaluation will be the first that provides a comprehensive global review of child protection issues, programme response and advocacy in emergencies and will examine the entire cycle of emergency child protection programming, ranging from disaster risk reduction (DRR) and preparedness planning to early recovery and recovery phases.


The purpose of the evaluation is to strengthen child protection programming in the context of emergencies by assessing UNICEF’s performance in recent years and drawing lessons and recommendations that will influence ongoing and future programmes. The evaluation examines the performance of child protection strategies and interventions along a continuum of pre-crisis, crisis and post-crisis (recovery) phases. It addresses measures to prevent protection violations and risks from arising as well as to respond with child protection interventions, in line with UNICEF’s Core Commitments for Children in Humanitarian Action (CCCs).

The evaluation’s evidence and recommendations are intended to provide a basis for reinforcing UNICEF’s organizational accountability to children and women, partners, donors and the UNICEF Executive Board in protecting children in emergencies. They also are aimed at strengthening policy and management decisions and providing technical guidance.


The evaluation design includes country case studies analysing outcomes for children against the medium term strategic plan (MTSP, 2006-2013), the CCCs and selected evaluation questions.  Twelve countries provided data for the analysis, four as case studies with country visits and standalone reports (Colombia, Democratic Republic of the Congo [DRC}, Pakistan and South Sudan) and a further eight countries as desk studies (Afghanistan, Haiti, Myanmar, Philippines, Somalia, Sri Lanka, State of Palestine and Sudan).  Please see below for links to the country case studies.  Four of the countries (Haiti, Myanmar, Pakistan and the Philippines) are disaster-affected and sudden-onset contexts while the remainder are primarily contexts of protracted conflict that include sudden-onset upsurges in violence. 

A total of 290 semi-structured interviews informed the evaluation across the case study countries and headquarters and regional offices of UNICEF as well as through representatives of the in-country child protection working groups.  Responses to questionnaires were received from seven of eight UNICEF country offices included in the desk studies and from a further 35 NGO partners. A total of 477 adolescents participated in focus groups in the case study countries (259 girls and 218 boys). In addition, multiple UNICEF and partner reports were analysed for supplementary data.

Findings and Conclusions:

The summary identifies major programme successes, followed by gaps and issues, and then recommendations. Detailed conclusions relative to the evaluation objectives and questions are provided in chapter 10.

The evaluation found that the strategic approach to child protection – system strengthening in the continuum of pre-crisis, crisis and post-crisis in combination with social change interventions – is comprehensive and relevant to the many different types of protection violations and issues faced by girls, boys and women in disasters and armed conflicts. However, more guidance is needed on applying the Child Protection Strategy in fragile and conflict-affected states. In addition, the CCCs are not yet in harmony with the integrated approach of the strategy. There has been much less focus in programme design on social change interventions, focused on the longer term and sustained during crises, that could help to prevent some types of violence – such as inter-communal violence, the prevalence of guns and other light weapons, and the acceptance of their use, and sexual violence – by addressing the root causes.

In programme implementation, UNICEF has led the child protection sub-cluster or working groups in information sharing, preparedness measures and increasing rapid assessments. This has contributed to good results achieved against MTSP areas and CCC benchmarks. Strong results were found in reunifying separated children, providing psychosocial first aid, preventing the recruitment of children, supporting release and reintegration, and in mine/ERW risk education. The weaker areas identified were in monitoring, reporting and advocating on grave violations beyond recruitment (killing and maiming, abduction, sexual violence, attacks on schools and hospitals, and humanitarian access) and in working to prevent violence against girls, boys and women. Data and case management remain weak and are an impediment to clearly demonstrating outcomes of programming. This in turn is a factor in the inadequate funding base to child protection in emergencies.


Recommendations are structured around five strategic areas and programme planning and equity issues.   They are addressed to UNICEF HQ, regional office and country office levels. Chapter 10 provides details on how each recommendation should be implemented. The upcoming Strategic Plan for 2014-2017 provides an opportunity to integrate some of the proposed strategic directions proposed by the evaluation.

  1. Further develop inter-agency human rights-based advocacy in all contexts but especially where the state is a perpetrator of violence and where armed groups are in control. In addition, engage further with the rule-of law-and security sector agenda and address impunity with reference to violence against children in armed conflict and disasters.
  2. Strengthen the prevention of violence, including sexual violence and other forms of GBV against girls, boys and women in emergencies using social change interventions (longer term) and community alert/response systems during crises.
  3. Strengthen data management, case management, evidence building and use of data for advocacy and programme management, and accountability to affected populations and to demonstrate outcomes to donors. 
  4. Invest in increasing funding for CPiE. Demonstrate to donors a greater emphasis on providing evidence of outcomes and on prevention. 
  5. Analyse the application of the Child Protection Strategy in fragile and conflict affected States and harmonize the CCCs to the CP Strategy.
  6. Strengthen the inclusion of children with disabilities, reported as the group for which UNICEF had placed the least emphasis on identifying and addressing barriers to inclusion.
  7. Together with international NGO partners, invest in medium term, systematic capacity-building of government and national NGO partners in CPiE, with an emphasis on data management and quality CPiE programming.

Lessons Learned:

Preventing violence against children and women
Low-cost methods  have not yet been used extensively but have shown promise (a) providing whistles to children and women so they can sound an alarm, together with a response system based on community-based child protection networks and civilian police; (b) providing women with dignity kits that include torches and culturally appropriate clothing as early as possible after a crisis event; (c) training women as unarmed civilian peacekeepers and GBV monitors; (d) using SMS messaging to encourage reporting of GBV where quality services are available.

Preventing recruitment and re-recruitment
The most effective approaches have been (a) technical support inside child protection units, which has encouraged commanders to take ownership of the issues (b) ensuring that children have birth registration documents and formal release papers, which allows them to prove their age; (c) livelihoods interventions to released children, to help them combat poverty; (d) including other vulnerable children in reintegration programming to reduce stigma and combat community perceptions that released children are rewarded for having been in an armed force/armed group.

Psychosocial interventions
Mobile outreach services allowed Pakistan’s PLaCES programme to take services to communities. Mobile services included those provided by fixed PLaCES, such as recreation, health/hygiene awareness, vaccination, awareness of GBV, birth registration, positive parenting and nutritional practices.

Preventing mine/ERW risk
(a) establishing mechanisms to report sightings of mines/ERW as part of the education process, together with systems for the safe removal of explosive hazards; (b) addressing mine/ERW risk education in community meetings led by local leaders; (c) in highly sensitive border areas, using mine/ERW risk education as an entry point to discuss peacebuilding with a focus on children’s rights to safety, security and peace.

You will find the four CPiE country case studies in these links below:
2013 Country Case Study - Columbia
2013 Country Case Study - Democratic Republic of the Congo
2013 Country Case Study - Pakistan
2013 Country Case Study - South Sudan

You will find the CPiE report and related documents below labeled as follows:
Consultants' final evaluation report (as delivered) - "Report"
Executive Summary [English] - "Part 2"
Executive Summary [French] - "Part 3"
Executive Summary [Spanish] - "Part 4"
GEROS quality review - "Part 5"
Evaluation brief - "Part 6"

Full report in PDF

PDF files require Acrobat Reader.



Report information



Emergency; Child Protection



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