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Evaluation report

2018 Bangladesh: Evaluation of local capacity building and community empowerment programme in Bangladesh



Executive summary

Evaluation of local capacity building  and community empowerment programme in Bangladesh and programme design of new local governance project

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:

To address the challenges of development, the Government of Bangladesh has reformed its local government institutions at sub-national level and has decentralized powers and responsibilities. In recent decades, remarkable development in local governments of Bangladesh has come forth through a significant reform of institutional, functional and financial aspects of Local Government Institutions.

Although there have been significant reforms of the local government sector, still there are challenges. The technical capacity of local government institutions, especially at the Union level, to plan and implement is low. There is a shortage of qualified human resources and lack of administrative support. The effort to enable LGIs to mobilize their own resources, has seen limited success. LGIs remain under tremendous financial and administrative control of the government. However, direct financial transfer from government to Union, Upazila and Zila has increased recently. The grants transferred to the LGIs are untied and they can utilise the funds according to the projects of their own preference. Grassroots level planning systems at Union and Upazila have been formalized by the government. Two separate rules (Union and Upazila Parishad) have been issued; as a result, they are in convenient position to perform their mandated planning function.

The LCBCE programme was implemented under Government of Bangladesh (GoB) and UNICEF Country Programme Cooperation (2012 – 2016) with the intent to capitalize on the decentralization efforts made to build sub-national capacities for planning, implementation, monitoring and reporting on children and their development. The programme built the capacity of the duty-bearers to ensure rights for children and duty-holders to demand their rights. It also strengthened coordination at subnational level to develop synergy and mobilize resources to deliver programmes for children.

Purpose/Objective:

Following are the key objectives of the assignment:

  1. Assess the extent to which strategies and interventions implemented by UNICEF’s LCBCE programme have achieved expected and unexpected results, identify indicative causes and analyse key dynamics (enabling factors and bottlenecks/barriers) that contributed to result achievement.
  2. Assess the relevance, effectiveness, efficiency, and sustainability of the package of interventions deployed by the LCBCE programme.
  3. Assess potential for scale-up of the LCBCE programme or selected components.
  4. Provide recommendations for design, management, coordination, implementation and monitoring of programmatic interventions on local governance in the new LCBCE programme.

The evaluation was limited to the rural areas in the 20 intervention districts of LCBCE and did not include urban areas. This was suggested by UNICEF in the inception meeting and agreed subsequently. The evaluation started on 3rd May 2017 with an inception call,
which was done on skype and was completed on 18th December 2017 with a national dissemination seminar.

Methodology:

The methodology used for the evaluation is ex-post with programme group in the 20 intervention districts and a comparison group from the rest of the 44 non-intervention districts, out of a total of 64 districts in the country. The programme did not have a baseline. The comparison group was studied to understand, what would have possibly changed in the absence of the programme. Since the programme was implemented in the CHT region as well, one district from the CHT was also included in the sample.

The evaluation uses an ex-post qualitative design to conduct the evaluation. Looking at the nature of the programme, which focused on strengthening coordination and building capacity at the sub-national level, qualitative design and method was found to be more appropriate than a quantitative one. LCBCE did not have a detailed baseline of the programme. Hence, the evaluation adopted non-programme comparison areas to compare the findings in the programme areas. Being an ex-post design, the comparison area was not meant to find out attribution of the programme; it was meant to get an impression of what might have changed in the absence of the programme. The LCBCE annual reviews provided information on the baseline status and the progress of key indicators at the output and outcome level in line with the results frame of the programme. The same was then compared with the evaluation findings to answer the evaluation questions. We have used a qualitative descriptive tool on a three-point scale to present the findings on key evaluation questions. Following are the tools and methods, which were drafted and finalised based on consultation with UNICEF and after incorporating their feedback. Tools were developed for different categories of stakeholders and focused on output and outcome level achievements.

Findings and Conclusions:

The relevance of the programme was found to be high. Implementation on all key programme components, as per the output and outcome indicators, was high.

The community engagement was found to be higher in the programme areas (Plain land and CHT), in the planning process for children, than in the non-programme areas. Community engagement was high in the need assessment phase and low in the planning phase at the union level.

The strengthening of local level planning process was medium. The development of a children’s profile was an opportunity for the community and government service providers to participate in the process and provide inputs. However, the profiles were not uniform in terms of structure, content and presentation. Information on the vulnerable groups was sometimes missing.

While the capacity development component was delivered completely, the extent of actual capacity built was high on bottom-up planning, medium on disaster management and low on advocacy and resource mobilization.

Recommendations:

For the new programme, engage with  Local Government Institutions, Government Service Providers and community. The four key result areas could be coordination, capacity development, micro-plan development and knowledge management. Develop a result framework with outputs, outcomes, indicators and assumptions.

The Ministry of Local Government should be the Lead Ministry for the programme as it has the mandate, interest, resources and experiences to manage similar programmes, alongside substantive role for the Cabinet Division.

At the national level, a Programme Director should lead the programme and supported by a Programme Management Unit and include specialists with technical, financial and M&E background.

Work with and strengthen the existing coordination mechanism of the government and bring in focus in terms of child-focused planning, implementation and monitoring.

Develop a strong strategy for capacity development. Develop cadre of master trainers or resource persons at UP and Upazila level and include elected representatives female and male, office bearers, government line departments and prominent social workers.
Have a long-term plan for training and retraining the cadre. Develop manuals and guidelines for capacity development. Decentralise training. Collaborate and train with line departments.

Engage with the community and mobilise them for strengthening the demand for entitlement and services. Generate financial assistance and implement small child-focused programmes, at the union level, as model demonstration sites. Integrate the Children’s Equity Profile as an integral part of union level planning process.

Develop a robust MEL system focusing on outcomes and learning.

Partner with relevant ministries for strengthening synergy, other training institutions to decentralize training, community institutions and civil society organization for strengthening participation and similar programmes for knowledge sharing.

Lessons Learned:

A strong accountability at the national level is crucial to the success of a programme like LCBCE. A rolling work plan is not sufficient to fix accountability at national level. It needs a formal commitment towards results and outcomes.

The project did not establish any programme-wide monitoring, evaluation and learning system, which was critical for a programme of such nature.

New coordination mechanisms yielded results but did not strengthen the existing coordination mechanism.

One-off centralized training events were highly insufficient to address the capacity requirements of the local government and the community in the long-run.

Creating children’s profile benchmarks the status of children’s development. In the absence of skills to use the profile, the exercise becomes redundant.

Inputs tracking or tracking of impact level indicators was insufficient for tracking results of LCBCE. Tracking outcomes and learning were crucial.



Full report in PDF

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Report information

Year:
2018

Country/Office:
Bangladesh

Region:
ROSA

Type:
Evaluation

Theme:
Social Policy (Cross-cutting)

Institution:
Catalyst Management Services

Language:
English

Sequence #:
2018/001

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