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Evaluation report

2017 Nepal: Evaluation of the Nepal Emergency Cash Transfer Programme through Social Assistance, Final Report



Author: Merttens, Fred; Upadhyay, Jayakrishnan; Kkrety, Nupur; Karki, Dr. Shrochis; Majeed, Zara

Executive summary

With the aim to continuously improve transparency and use of evaluation, UNICEF Evaluation Office manages the "Global Evaluation Reports Oversight System (GEROS)". Within this system, an external independent company reviews and rates all evaluation reports. The quality rating scale for evaluation reports is as follows: “Highly Satisfactory”, “Satisfactory”, “Fair” or “Unsatisfactory”. You will find the link to the quality rating below, labelled as ‘Part 2’ of the report, and the executive feedback summary labelled as ‘Part 3’.

Background:

As a response to the devastating earthquakes in Nepal in April and May 2015, the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) developed and implemented a large-scale Emergency Cash Transfer Programme (ECTP), in collaboration with the Government of Nepal (GoN). UNICEF provided financial and technical support to the GoN to expand the existing social assistance cash transfer programme in earthquake-affected areas in two phases. UNICEF’s financial support to the GoN for both phases of the cash programme amounted to $26 million. The two phases of the ECTP are the first steps towards UNICEF’s longer-term objectives of helping the GoN establish a model of rapid social transfers to vulnerable groups during future emergencies, and ultimately to strengthen the social protection system for children in Nepal.

Oxford Policy Management (OPM) was contracted by UNICEF to undertake an independent evaluation of the ECTP. This evaluation consists of two parts: a process evaluation to understand how the ECTP was implemented and experienced, and a formative component, which consolidates the learning from using social protection systems in an emergency response context to inform the potential future use of such approaches in Nepal and globally. To ensure that the evaluation addresses evaluation objectives in a coherent and consistent way, our evaluation relies on the Development Assistance Committee (DAC) criteria for evaluations

Purpose/Objective:

The objectives of the evaluation are to assess the success of the programme in relation to the short-term relief and recovery needs of the target groups after the earthquakes, as well as in relation to the wider humanitarian response in general. In addition, the evaluation consolidates learning from the use of social protection systems in an emergency response context to inform the future use of such approaches in Nepal and globally. The evaluation findings will also inform UNICEF regarding how to further support its longer-term objectives in Nepal, including the expansion of the child grant and the strengthening of social protection systems.

Methodology:

The evaluation approach consists of primary qualitative data collected from a variety of stakeholders, including GoN staff, UNICEF, and implementing partners at the central, district, and village/ward levels. In addition, the research team engaged with beneficiaries and non-beneficiaries of both phases at the village/ward levels. Primary research was complemented with secondary data analysis to develop a holistic understanding of the programme. The evaluation team used a reflexive approach to address and mitigate the limitations in the research, which are discussed in greater detail in the report.

Findings and Conclusions:

UNICEF was able to support approximately 430,000 beneficiaries in Phase 1 and over 300,000 beneficiaries during Phase 2 in meeting their basic needs through the ECTP as they recovered from the devastating earthquakes. It was thus one of the largest post-earthquake responses in the country. By developing a registry of all children under five years old and increasing birth registration rates from 48% to 94% in 11 programme districts in Phase 2, UNICEF Social Policy and Economic Analysis (SPEA) have laid the foundation for the universalisation of the child grant in the country, an explicit priority of the GoN. In addition, through the M&E systems utilised throughout implementation this programme has developed a comprehensive knowledge base as regards the practicalities of adapting social protection systems to respond to shocks. The use of government systems has also helped UNICEF gain trust of key stakeholders and beneficiaries.

The experience of the ECTP has shown that regular social protection systems in Nepal can be used as an effective mechanism to respond to shocks, as part of a broader comprehensive immediate and recovery response package. It involves a trade-off with regard to some of the key criteria underpinning humanitarian response, such as timeliness, coverage of the affected population, and the adequacy of the support provided. Mitigating the extent to which this is the case requires a legislative framework and institutional architecture that is built for purpose: that is, fully in line with a vision for SRSP (Shock-responsive social protection). SRSP also requires a funding mechanism to which multiple donors can contribute. The system infrastructure needs to be similarly underpinned by a functioning civil registrations system and a programme MIS, which must be able to speak to each other. Additional resources will also be required, not only to fund scale-up but also to finance the implementation of SRSP. This must be costed and budgeted in advance.

Recommendations:

Given its successes, the ECTP could be used effectively in the future, but its effectiveness would be improved significantly by following some of the recommendations at the system and programme levels, which are introduced here and discussed in greater detail in the chapters below. UNICEF should:

  • Assess capacity for programme delivery at the systems and programme levels, and provide necessary support to ensure successful delivery.
  • Prepare a contingency plan for turnover in personnel.
  • Improve the census exercise by assessing and using existing data, communicating about the exercise, conducting a household based census, setting up a desk-based registration system, compiling an integrated list of children, and validating the data before programme roll-out.
  • Delay programme roll out to address discrepancies and maximise impact.
  • Implement an effective communication strategy that is multi-pronged, utilises effective local organisations, communicates all key information in a timely manner, repeats key messages, and tracks progress against communication plans.
  • Develop an embedded evaluation plan.
  • Develop a coherent M&E implementation plan and facilitate uptake of findings.
  • Support the finalisation of NFSP and the creation of a new institutional architecture as proposed in the final agreed framework.
  • Support the new NFSP institutional architecture with a medium- to long-term technical assistance package
  • Support the development of linkages between social protection and early warning systems and disaster risk management in the country.
  • Continue to support the Social Protection Task Team (SPTT), and should take a leading role in facilitating coordination regarding the social protection and SRSP research agenda and cross-sector advocacy.
  • Support the development of an appropriate financing mechanism for SRSP.


Full report in PDF

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Report information

Year:
2017

Country/Office:
Nepal

Region:
ROSA

Type:
Evaluation

Theme:
Social Policy (Cross-cutting)

Institution:
Oxford Policy Management Limited

Language:
English

Sequence #:
2017/001

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