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May 2017: Final Review Meeting and Partners Forum: ESAR Programme Monitoring and Response Initiative

Celebrating success, wrestling with the challenges of scaling and sustainability

KAMPALA, May 2017 – Staff from six UNICEF COs (Kenya, Malawi, Swaziland, Uganda, Zambia, Zimbabwe), ESARO, WCARO and NYHQ were joined by key partners for the Final Review Meeting and Partners Forum of UNICEF ESARO’s Institutional Support in Programme Monitoring and Response (PMR) Initiative.

The event took place in Uganda 16-18 May 2017, and was attended by key partners including co-funders the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the US Fund for UNICEF, Government officials from participating countries, WHO, ALMA, the Centre for Disease Control (CDC), and the University of Oslo.

The conference allowed participants to explore partnership building and share lessons on how subnational near real-time monitoring (NRTM) can be combined with community feedback, to strengthen evidence-based decision-making and planning in the health and nutrition sectors. Participants heard how UNICEF COs in Kenya, Swaziland, Uganda and Zimbabwe are adapting PMR principles to their different contexts to help inform sustainable and scalable approaches to decentralized data-collection and use, and citizen engagement at the village, ward and district levels where services are delivered.


A field visit to a level II health facility near Kampala gave insights from Ugandan health officials into using data to identify bottlenecks and drive decisions and actions in support of results for women and children, as well as sharing of examples where citizen feedback from facility-based community dialogues generated action for improved service delivery. These included relocating immunization points with other services such as market places to increase uptake; and resource mobilization to improve maternity wards as a result of feedback that mothers were avoiding facilities due to damaged roofs and water leaks.


The final day was devoted to the issues to scale and sustainability, with presentations and discussions highlighting the key foundations, such as government ownership and institutionalization. For example, in Uganda PMR principles are now part of district health planning guidelines.

Challenges and concerns were also discussed, such as a government’s ability to coordinate multiple partners and initiatives; and the need to explore models to ensure the sustainability of community dialogues while retaining a balance between the use of ICTs such as U-Report and face-to- face community meetings.

The participants recognized that the initiative had come a long way over the course of the two years with a number of key lessons learned, and a strong commitment from government and partners to take it forward as well as potential to expand into other countries, while recognizing the need to raise additional resources as well as to keep adapting and learning to overcome the challenges of scaling and sustainability.

At the conference close, five key issues were highlighted going forward: Sustainability and the need to harness the enthusiasm and networks of the conference; Scaling with the goal of reaching millions of children and the need to draw on evidence and learning, and identify champions to drive the scaling process; The important role of partnerships which should have government in the lead; The need for government ownership and leadership for all efforts in the health sector and beyond, in terms of systems strengthening, and building on existing platforms; and finally the strong commitment of all partners, national and international, with the goal of increasing harmonization.

The initiative was also designed as a learning project to help generate and capture knowledge on PMR as well as how to foster ongoing peer to peer knowledge exchange between and within countries. Four lessons learned documents (Kenya, Swaziland, Uganda, and Zimbabwe), and one regional-level case study have been published through this initiative. For more information about the project please visit the Programme Monitoring and Response online community.

For more information about this initiative please contact Nima Fallah, Knowledge Management Specialist, UNICEF ESARO





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