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Evaluation database

Evaluation report

2018 Belarus: Thematic evaluation of Government interventions and UNICEF contribution to reducing vulnerabilities, strengthening resilience and promoting the rights of adolescents in Belarus



Author: Arkadi Toritsyn (team leader), Lusine Aydinyan, Ludmila Romanovskaya

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:


Adolescence is increasingly seen in Belarus as a ‘second window of opportunity’ to build on early investments, promote positive behaviours, and offer a second chance for those who have not fared well in early childhood. The GoB is implementing a number of national programmes supporting adolescents such as the State Programme “Health of the People and Demographic Security of the Republic of Belarus for 2016-2020”, the State Programme of National Actions to Prevent and Overcome Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism for 2011–2015, and the State Programme “Education and Youth Policy” 2016 – 2020.

Adolescence programming of UNICEF CO focuses on a range of objectives typical for an upper middle-income country. Its interventions support the adolescents, with particular focus on selected vulnerable groups and reflect the national context and government priorities. Some specific areas of focus include health, healthy lifestyles, injuries and HIV prevention, peer-to-peer education, participation and empowerment, justice, violence prevention and protection coming to the fore. Since 2011, UNICEF CO has invested approximately 1.4 million USD over seven years into adolescence programming. The donor funding was limited and UNICEF CO was focusing on strategic areas where it could achieve the most significant impact on advancing adolescents’ rights. Some specific focus areas included engagement of adolescents and youth in decision making for the effective local governance, strengthening capacity of non-state actors on HIV testing & counseling of most-at-risk adolescents (MARA) and young people, child injuries prevention, and strengthening access to justice.

The evaluation findings will help UNICEF CO to solidify its leading national position in adolescent policy and programming. Expected users of this evaluation are UNICEF, Government of Belarus, civil society, donors and other international and national partners.

Purpose/Objective:


The purpose of the evaluation was to generate substantial knowledge and evidence on achievements and lessons learnt from the UNICEF and targeted government programmes and interventions for adolescents and adolescents’ well-being in Belarus for the period 2011-2017 to be used to inform preparing of the “National Strategy for Sustainable Development 2035” and strengthening state programmes and UNICEF interventions supporting adolescents, with particular focus on the vulnerable groups.
The specific objectives of the evaluation were:
• Review core state policies/programmes benefitting adolescents in the areas of health, education, youth policy and justice through available data and documentation.
• Assess relevance, effectiveness, efficiency, sustainability, and, to the extent possible, impact of selected UNICEF CO adolescent-focused interventions.
• Identify lessons learned and good practices both supported by UNICEF, other partners and the state overall and make recommendations for interventions’ adjustments, as well as recommendations to:
- Legislation, policy and strategies  related to adolescents with a particular focus on the improving of adolescent-friendly services, as part of the wider sector reform;
- Development of adequate programme responses to address adolescent vulnerabilities and improve data collection to measure benefits/outcomes and practice evidence-based planning;
- Enhance strategies and programmes for meaningful adolescent and youth participation on issues affecting their life and in their communities.
The evaluation findings will help UNICEF CO to solidify its leading national position in adolescent policy and programming. Expected users of this evaluation are UNICEF, Government of Belarus, civil society, donors and other international and national partners.


Methodology:


Methodology of evaluation included both qualitative and quantitative data collection methods such as a desk review, interviews, collection of information from line ministries on national strategies and programmes supporting adolescents, Focus Group Discussions, and analysis of the Ministry of Health certification databases. Secondary administrative data such as the data on vulnerabilities and health providers administrative data and Household Budget survey data was used.
The main challenge of the evaluation was that it combined evaluation of UNICEF CO adolescent-focused interventions with review of key government policies/strategies directly or indirectly benefitting adolescents. In reviewing the national policies and interventions, the ET covered sectors where UNICEF involvement was limited that added an additional layer of complexity to the report. The ET produced a separate comprehensive report reviewing relevant national sectoral policies/programmes and discussed its findings and recommendations with the Government partners and UNICEF. The ET undertook a prioritization exercise and produced numerous drafts of the evaluation report to ensure that it is methodologically sound and accessible in terms of length, level of sophistication and relevance to national and UNICEF decisionmakers. Also some small-scale UNICEF CO interventions have very limited documentation/evidence base to support their evaluation that limited the ET’s ability to provide a comprehensive assessment of all relevant UNICEF CO interventions. The assessment of state interventions that benefit adolescents was to some degree limited due to the lack of disaggregated data that did not allow for trends analysis per age groups, gender, and geographic location. The ET could not conduct in-depth analysis of gender aspects of UNICEF interventions as the data collected was not disaggregated by gender.


Findings and conclusions:


UNICEF Belarus made adolescent development a discrete sector for its programming, policy advice and advocacy work. UNICEF implemented 17 projects and interventions in three areas: (1) adolescent participation and empowerment; (2) health, healthy lifestyles, injuries and HIV prevention; and (3) access to justice, violence prevention, child protection.
Relevance. The evaluation team (ET) found the evaluated UNICEF CO interventions to be highly relevant to national priorities and adolescents’ needs as identified through this evaluation. UNICEF CO has a clear comparative advantage of being a main player capable to champion rights of adolescents and it fully utilized it in its adolescent-specific areas where the involvement of other UN partners and donors was limited.
Effectiveness. UNICEF CO achieved the majority of planned outputs and outcomes for interventions under the evaluation. UNICEF has a well-established system of child/adolescents rights monitoring that captures the situation of adolescents, disaggregated by vulnerable groups.
Efficiency. UNICEF was relatively efficient in implementing the adolescent-focused interventions and implemented some measures to optimize efficiency of its operations. Overall, the ET concludes that UNICEF was able to achieve results in an economic manner and with manageable transaction costs.
Sustainability. Overall, UNICEF interventions were based on solid evidence and analysis that well justified priorities for interventions, but sometimes they did not address sustainability aspects. Some UNICEF initiatives were well institutionalized and reflected in policy and legislative frameworks. In some instances, such as YFHCs and CAFC UNICEF continued providing some support after the project completion that enhanced sustainability prospects and strengthened national partners’ ownership.
Impact. Despite difficulties to measure the collective results that can be attributed to UNICEF programming, the ET has identified a number of impacts.

Recommendations:

 

UNICEF needs to do a few things very well. More specific recommendations for UNICEF include:
Substantive level
• Engage strategically into policy development and monitoring processes (high priority). UNICEF is advised to enhance its approach to management of knowledge and producing policy advice required by governmental decision makers and practitioners. UNICEF may develop a CO-wide approach to developing policy papers and briefs.
• Facilitate engagement of NGOs supporting vulnerable adolescents into policy dialogue with respective line ministries (high priority). In addition to building NGOs capacity to engage in policy dialogue with the Government, UNICEF may facilitate the dialogue by developing a set of documents for consultations that are clear, concise and include all the necessary information.
• Ensure representation of vulnerable groups of adolescents on the national coordination council of youth parliaments (medium priority).
• Use piloting/modelling strategically to improve interventions’ sustainability (medium priority).
• Support the Government with the optimization of YFHCs to make them more effective and adolescents-relevant (medium priority).

Operational level
• Enhance RBM practices in planning, achieving and demonstrating results (high priority). It is necessary to strengthen a culture of results of UNICEF CO staff. In 2018 when this evaluation was underway, UNICEF undertook some steps to enhance monitoring processes and set up a clear format for donor reporting. It is recommended to develop UNICEF CO-wide mandatory templates for project logic frameworks, monitoring plans, and consistent protocols for collecting data/evidence for performance monitoring. All new project proposals should be required to contain these elements.
Pursue joint projects with UN sister agencies where possible (medium priority).    

Lessons Learned:

The following lessons learned can be taken into consideration in adolescent programming:
• In a middle-income country, with vertical and highly directive approaches to governance and decision making, the room for UNICEF CO to influence the policy discourse is limited. Success of any UNICEF CO interventions depends on effectiveness of advocacy targeting key decision-makers and ministries’ staff.
• A combination of the following elements and strategies maximize the probability of long-term sustainable outcomes of UNICEF CO interventions in countries with vertical approaches to decision-making: long-term commitment on the part of UNICEF, close alignment of interventions with the international conventions and government priorities, involvement of government partners into pilots/models design, implementation and evaluation, and involvement of the national “policy implementers” and local authorities.
• The introduction of national policies and regulations do not guarantee their consistent implementation, if not supported with proper monitoring, identification and dissemination of effective practices.
• Adolescents, especially the most vulnerable groups, face diverse challenges that can be addressed only through improved cross-sectoral results-focused collaboration. The partners should include national and local authorities, service providers including NGOs, schools, parents and adolescents themselves.
• NGOs possess significant expertise in supporting vulnerable adolescents. NGOs’ involvement into adolescent-focused policy making is very limited and is unlikely to be expanded without active UNICEF CO involvement.



Full report in PDF

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Report information

Year: 2018

Office/Country: Belarus

Region: ECAR

Type: Evaluation

Theme: Youth and Adolescents

Language: English

Sequence #: 2018/011
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