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Evaluation database

Evaluation report

2002 Azerbaijan: Assessment of Young People's Health and Development Programme with Focus on Capacity and Effectiveness of Youth Resource Centers



Author: Homans, H.

Executive summary

Background

In accordance with Article IV of the Government of Azerbaijan-UNICEF Programme of Cooperation, Master Plan of Operations for 2000-2004, UNICEF has provided support to the Government of Azerbaijan to implement the Young People's Health and Development (YPHD) programme. The objective of this programme is to inform adolescents and young people about high-risk behaviour and its consequences, and to focus on young people most at risk, including IDPs, refugees, and impoverished and marginalised populations. Strategies to achieve this objectives were identified as: empowerment and participation of young people; collaboration with young people's organisations; development of a national policy on adolescent health and development issues by an inter-ministerial task force, which also acts as a Youth Coordination Council; and the establishment of youth friendly services, including District-level counselling services for young people.

Purpose / Objective

The Medium Term Review (MTR) provides UNICEF and programme counterparts and partners with the opportunity to build on the excellent work to-date in terms of establishing YRCs and YFHCS, and to shift support from a project approach to more cross-cutting, rights-based programmatic support.

Methodology

The assignment included a desk review of available materials on young people's health and development. Meetings were held with young people attending seven YRCs, youth volunteer groups and organizations, representatives of Ministries of Education (MOE), Health (MOH), and Youth, Sports and Tourism (MOYST), non-governmental organizations, and other UN agencies.
Field trips to selected districts were organised by UNICEF. These included visits to YRCs in Baku (Sabayil, Nerimanov and Yasamal), Celilabad, Lenkeran, Masalli, and Sumgayit and YFHCs in Baku, Lenkeran, and Masalli. Participatory methods were used with the young people to determine their knowledge of health issues and children's rights, their information needs and involvement in peer education within schools and the community. In Celilabad and Lenkeran, a member of the staff of the YFHC participated in the visit to the YRC.

Key Findings and Conclusions

An intersectoral National YPHD Task Force was established in January 2000 and has met 35 times, with a current average monthly attendance of 27 people. It has proved to be successful in terms of taking decisions and mobilising support for young people's health and development issues. Representatives of government, academia, international and local NGOs, youth groups, the media, local artists and UN agencies have participated in Task Force meetings and almost 90 different agencies have attended meetings at least once. The Ministry of Health (MOH) chairs the Task Force meeting, with UNICEF support in convening participants and taking minutes. It provides a forum for sharing information and decision-making between different agencies concerned with youth health and development and has wide youth participation. The newly established YRC youth volunteer groups are able to present their proposed activities and NGO youth health and children's rights social mobilisation activities are also discussed.

Youth Friendly Health Clinics (YFHC) have been established as part of the primary health care system in six pilot districts: Baku, Lenkeran, Masalli, Mingecevir, Neftcala, and Sumgayit (two YFHCs were visited as part of the evaluation). 240 doctors working in YFHCs have been trained in HIV/AIDS/STIs, adolescent pregnancy, drug abuse prevention, and skills to conduct counselling for young people. Over 100 doctors will have been trained in these topics during 2002 in a further ten Districts, but YFHCs are not yet fully functional in these Districts.

Youth Resource Centres (YRC) have been established in Creativity Centres/Chess clubs in 18 pilot districts out of a total of 85 Districts (21%): Agcabedi, Berde, Celilabad, Imisli, Gence, Kuba, Lenkeran, Masalli, Mingecevir, Neftcala, Saatli, Seki, Sumgayit, Ter-Ter, Xizi and Nerimanov, Sabayil, and Yasamal districts of Baku. As part of the external assessment, seven YRCs were visited (three in Baku).

As part of the establishment of the YRCs, 340 young people have been trained in healthy lifestyles, risky health behaviours, life skills and peer education. 2000 copies of training materials on Healthy lifestyles and life skills, STI/HIV/AIDS, and drug abuse and counselling were produced in Azeri and English, and distributed to the 16 pilot Districts, and the Ministries of Health and Education. There was clear evidence that these are well used in the YRCs and members of the YVG said they found the manuals very useful.

As part of the external assessment, youth were asked questions to determine their level of knowledge and understanding of health and healthy lifestyles, and also what was the most important subject that they had learnt at the YRC. This was not a systematic assessment of knowledge, but it does give a good indication of the success of the YPHD programme and its relevance to young people. The responses to these questions reveal a very high level of knowledge of health and healthy lifestyles, and the acquisition of life skills.

Involvement in the YRCs has greatly increased young people's opportunities for participation in young people's health and development. It was also reported that young people trained at the YRCs have had increased job opportunities due to the skills acquired at the YRC.

Social mobilisation activities appear to be very successful, with no shortage of youthful energy and commitment to participating in mass media and educational campaigns.

Given the dramatic recent increase in HIV infection rates and the importance of HIV/AIDS as an UNICEF Medium Term Strategic priority, further thought needs to be given to targeted interventions for groups at risk of HIV infection (street children, sex workers and IDUs). These groups do not currently use the YRCs and were seen to be particularly ill informed about HIV/AIDS and STIs (MOH and UNICEF, 1999). A continuing challenge is how to attract especially vulnerable young people (EVYP) to youth-friendly services. This has been raised on monitoring visits and during the YHD Forum and at the national conference on YRCs/Creativity Centres.

Participation at the functioning YRCs was very good and in those centres with an active Director, good relationships were observed between the YVG and staff. The life skills acquired, together with the experience of conducting peer education and social mobilisation activities, has given young people the self confidence to actively participate in a range of settings, such as the YPHD Task Force and YHD Forum. The YVGs are all invited to attend YPHD Task Force meetings -- to-date, five out of 17 volunteer groups have participated in these meetings, the main constraint being distance from District to Baku and availability of transport. Members of YVG were observed to be treated as equal members of the Task Force, and their contributions respected and listened to.

The YHD Forum has provided young people representing YVGs with the opportunity to share experiences and network with young people from other YRCs. Young people really appreciate these opportunities and have learnt much about the work of other YRCs from them.

Finally, while the linkages between YRCs and YFHCs are good in many places, there are still instances where this could be strengthened. The clearer selection and training of Directors of Creativity Centres as proposed by the MOE would go some way in meeting these needs. The national YPHD Fora also provide an opportunity for sharing examples of best practice.

UNICEF has established a sound mechanism for monitoring progress of YRCs and YFHCs. In June 2001, two staff from the MOH accompanied UNICEF on one of these monitoring visits, thus providing direct feedback to their colleagues. In Celilabad and Lenkeran, good relations were noted between the Chief Doctor of the Outpatients Clinic (MOH) and staff at the Creativity Centre (MOE). However in Masalli, children at the YRC were not aware of the existence of the YFHC or the telephone hotline service provided. The second YPHD Forum in Lenkeran and the National Conference on YRCs and Youth Creativity Centres in Baku have also provided UNICEF with a mechanism for recording and monitoring progress achieved and constraints encountered.

Major constraints to implementing the YPHD programme in 2001 were identified as part of the Annual Review of Programme Activities: a lack of state funding for YRC; activities performed on a volunteer basis; directors of Creativity Centres lack managerial experience; and a lack of involvement of young people in planning activities. This assessment of YRCs and YFHCs fully concurs with the constraints already noted by UNICEF and the recommendations emanating from the two national meetings on YRCs and YFHCs. It also notes some opportunities that exist for the further development of youth friendly services.

Recommendations

Guidelines need to be developed on out-of-school (non-formal) education. The national programme on out-of-school education does not include health education, youth participation and empowerment.

A national annual Plan of Action of youth events needs to be established.

The economic components (or livelihood skills) of the YRCs need to be developed and strengthened.

YRC activities need to be intensified in communities with more outreach work.

YRCs should target especially vulnerable young people (EVYP) and should be accessible to all children free-of-charge.

Consideration needs to be given to the problems of rural youth as all the YRCs are urban-based.

YRC should have national standards for premises and functions, and Creativity Centre/YRC management capacity needs to be strengthened.

Establish Youth Councils in all Districts.



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Report information

Date:
2002

Region:
CEE/CIS

Country:
Azerbaijan

Type:
Evaluation

Theme:
Young People

Partners:
Government of Azerbaijan

PIDB:

Follow Up:

Language:
English

Sequence Number:
2002/007

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