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Evaluation database

Evaluation report

2004 EGY: The Capacity Building of Egyptian NGOs to Implement Beijing Platform of Action Project

Author: Appropriate Communication Techniques for Development

Executive summary

The project under evaluation was initiated in 1997 to implement a number of development interventions that ultimately aim to build the capacity of selected NGOs in seven Egyptian governorates and enhance their potential for implementing the Beijing Platform of Action. The original project design envisioned a three-year period for implementing the desired interventions. However, after completing the planned interventions, an evaluation concluded that the project succeeded at that time in achieving its objectives effectively and delivered outcomes that were worthy of continuation. In response to the positive evaluation, the Dutch embassy and UNICEF extended the project for another phase (Phase II), with the aim of maintaining the previous good outcomes of Phase I, and pushing their achievements and momentum further.

The implementation of Phase II was not completed because the umbrella NGO that was responsible for coordinating implementation activities withdrew from the project due to some disagreements. As a result, the project was stopped and its activities were halted for over a year. UNICEF and the Dutch embassy agreed to resume the project again with a third phase. Phase III was inaugurated to revive the project and continue the activities of Phase II. The third phase was envisioned to last until September 2003, but was later extended to December 2003.

The objective of this evaluation was to identify outcomes of the project; to examine the effectiveness of the interventions, management practice, and implementation in general; and, to investigate the potential for sustaining the activities that were implemented. The latter is an especially important aspect of the evaluation, given that both UNICEF and the donor are phasing out their support for the project.

The evaluation is focused more on appraising the results and outputs of Phase III of the project, which lasted from May 2002 to December 2003, than on the earlier phases. Previous evaluations were conducted for the two early phases at the end of each one of them.

The methodology of the evaluation contains several components: review of existing project documents, consultations with key UNICEF and the umbrella-NGO staff, documents review and interviews with key staff in local NGOs, field visits to pilot projects, and focus group discussions. To assess the first two phases, the evaluation relied mostly on information included in the previous appraisal reports, some documents, and discussions and interviews with participants of the project since its initiation; while for Phase III, a detailed documentation review was made, in addition to all other methodological techniques mentioned above.

Findings and Conclusions:
The project did indeed create a general environment of cooperation between the participating NGOs, whereby they were able to network some of their activities to support women issues. As a result, this project helped create synergy among about 150 NGOs, a matter made possible only because of the project. This achievement has been built up since the initiation of the project in 1997, and remains the most important achievement of the project throughout. The project has, as well, enhanced the capacities of the participating NGOs and some of their staff, to a point where they became able to handle women issues better. Furthermore, the project was able to deliver important services to poor women and girls, who directly benefited from the services offered by pilot projects in the areas of legal assistance, combating dropping out from school, and supporting the female child. Women and girls also benefited indirectly from the lobbying activities of the member NGOs, both at national and local level, which contributed to the change of some regulations and official approaches towards women issues in various governorates.

Provision of quality services to the ultimate beneficiaries was most noticeable in cases of legal support pilot projects, which delivered a service that was much appreciated by the recipients. As well, the sub-project, which targeted supporting the female child, was also found to have had important positive impacts on its target group, including: enhancing their awareness, improving their self esteem, and developing their communication and dialogue skills. On the other hand, indirect benefit through lobbying at national level was found to be less concrete. Unlike at the national level, several concrete cases of lobbying at a governorate level were noted that were clearly contributed by NGOs belonging to the project's network. Various network members were also able to establish good communications to spread awareness and disseminate information about their activities and about the women cause at large.

The knowledge and experience in different areas, in which the network NGOs acted, were documented through publishing of research findings, developing of manuals, guides, brochures, etc. The project also compiled a database containing detailed information for all NGOs, which can be used as a reference in future network activities.

Management of a project with such a big magnitude proved to be difficult and challenging, as it had to deal with a big number of issues and numerous stakeholders and implementing agencies. In addition, the project's management faced certain difficulties over its time-span, which were beyond the partners' control.

While the project keeps records about participation in activities of various types, there is not a very good documentation regarding the follow-up of such participation. Follow-up monitoring and documentation is particularly essential especially when it refers to training. With the exception of legal support to women, the evaluation team was not able to assess the effectiveness of capacity building through training due to insufficient information on how such capacity was practically implemented afterwards.

At the phasing out of such a big project, the issue of sustainability is of great importance. This is even more so because of the big investments made in capacity building and the need to use this capacity efficiently. The issue of sustainability has not been paid enough attention to during the first and second phases of the project life. However, during Phase III, a discussion on sustainability was open. Some network members already took measures aiming at sustaining of activities, where they have comparative advantages and good capacity built during the project's lifespan. AHED is currently discussing with the CRC Coalition possible ways to join efforts for sustaining some of the project components such as girls' rights support groups.

As the project has reached, among some other things, strong points in terms of capacity building of NGOs of the lawyers, health providers, and NGOs' members, the future implementing NGOs would develop a coalition among them so as to make use of their relative advantage.

As for the Girls' Rights Support Group that positively changes the attitudes of both girls and boys, the coordinating NGOs should foster this programme and find means and ways to extend this activity. Continuation of the discussions for merging the project with the Children's and Adolescents' Forum is essential in this regard.

To ensure sustainability of this project, the umbrella NGO should take the initiative to call for a forum for all the coordinating/ implementing NGOs and any interested groups, to formulate a sustainable mechanism strategy.

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