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Evaluation database

Evaluation report

2011 Argentina: Evaluation of the Child Protection Component of the UNICEF Argentina Country Program

Executive summary

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This evaluation is part of the Mid-Term Review (MTR) that UNICEF’s Argentina Country Programme has begun for the new cycle of cooperation for the 2010-2014 period. It was conducted by external consultants between May 13 and July 10, 2011, for internal use by UNICEF.

The evaluation aims to verify the specific contributions (processes, outputs and immediate outcomes), intentional and unintentional, made by the Child Protection Component from 2005 to 2010 to achieve the intermediate results set out in the Country Programme for 2012. It also examines the relevance, feasibility, efficiency, sustainability and effectiveness of UNICEF cooperation strategies in the context of the final recommendations made in 2009 by the UN Committee concerning the Rights of the Child. In addition to the findings and lessons learned, the evaluation presents a series of recommendations to adjust and refocus the priorities and strategies of the Component for the coming years.
The specific objectives of this evaluation are expressed in the following questions:

    a. What has been the role and major contributions of the Protection Component to the intermediate results set out in the UNICEF Programme of Cooperation for 2010-2014?
    b. How may the role and the cooperation strategies of the Component be more relevant, effective, efficient, sustainable and feasible?
    c. What recommendations of a strategic and operational nature should be taken to make UNICEF’s cooperation and contribution more effective in protecting the rights of children and adolescents?

In line with the guidelines of UNICEF for programming and evaluation, the conceptual framework of this evaluation is built on the basis of the principles, content and tools of the human rights-based approach and results-based management. It also makes use of outcome mapping, which complements the previous approaches, especially in linking UNICEF work strategies with the achievements at the level of the different actors involved and from those to broader changes.

Findings and Conclusions:
1. The paradigm shift in the protection of child and adolescents rights, from the protection of the child to the protection of his/her rights, which has its turning point with the approval of the LPI, marked the beginning of the change in policies, structures, programmes and services at national and provincial levels for the protection of child and adolescents rights.

2. The paradigm shift presented an opportunity to the cooperation of UNICEF Protection Area to change its approach from assisting civil society organizations to strengthening the capacity of the government to address child and adolescent rights. In this way, it reinforced its role as a strategic ally of the bodies responsible for policies on children.

3. Progress in harmonizing legislation was not in line with the adaptation of services to address the protection of child and adolescent rights. The cooperation’s focus was primarily based on strengthening the capacity of those responsible for the rights without strengthening the capacity to claim those rights on behalf of the right holders, that is, the children and adolescents.

4. The building of an integral protection system as the approach for guiding policy and programmes to protect child and adolescents rights was not identified in UNICEF Programme of Cooperation. It appears in the programme as an activity for the annual work plan.

5. Although no law on the subject has been approved, in the area of juvenile justice there have been significant advances in the adaptation of procedures and the functioning of institutions for criminal offenders to the CRC and the international standards. UNICEF’s cooperation has been significant, especially in compiling information and helping to establish provincial rules of procedure.

6. In the area of children without parental care, support was given to the collection of information, which allowed for the necessary awareness of provincial authorities to deinstitutionalization and the search for alternative measures. It is an opportunity to build a subsystem of protection for children in vulnerable situations with minimum standards of quality identified for services, as well as the necessary indicators required for the monitoring of protection models.

7. Violence against children and adolescents is included in the area of domestic or family violence, in which significant progress has been made. However, the approach towards addressing violence against children and adolescents does not focus on the victims, even though violence against children and adolescents by neglect, sexual abuse and sexual exploitation, requires specialized care with intersectoral interventions to repair the damage done and to restore their self-esteem and dignity.

8. With regard to child labour, UNICEF, ILO and UNDP have supported CONAETI at the national level and COPRETI at the provincial level for the prevention and eradication of child labour and the protection of adolescent labour. The visibility of child labour, especially in rural areas, is a challenge for public policy and international cooperation.

9. In the creation and dissemination of knowledge, the actors interviewed are unanimous in that UNICEF publications in the area of ​​protection have been very relevant and useful to their work. The situation analyses, particularly surveys, have been considered by several decision makers interviewed as being of extreme importance and relevance to support public policy development and the implementation of the Law of Integral Protection.

10. In the development of indicators and information systems, the implementation of MICS is a milestone in the definition and collection of protection (and equity) indicators that opens the door for its use in household surveys and other routine systems at national, provincial and local levels.

11. With respect to results-based management, the definition of intermediate results for the Protection Component was made at a very high level of the results chain, basically representing a sub-categorization of the longer-term strategic result rather than a causal link represented by factors that contribute to the change represented by the intermediate result. This makes it difficult to make the management and the protection area accountable for results in the component.

12. Greater integration and synergy of the Protection Component with the other components of the Country Programme is a challenge. The strongest integration has been built within the area of ​​Monitoring and Evaluation through joint activities of collection of information, situation analysis and definition of indicators in the issues of Protection. With the areas of Health and Education the integration is limited and casual in certain activities, themes and provinces. The same happens in the area of ​​Communications, where this relationship works more on the basis of the demands of the media imposed onto Communications than by the existence of a joint communication and mobilization strategy around the issues of protection.

13. In the Protection Component of the new Country Programme some other issues were added, such as indigenous children, migrant children and children and adolescents with disabilities. While these issues have some connection with the intermediate results set as priorities for 2012, they show a number of differences in terms of types of problem, the groups involved, the territorial scope and the institutions responsible (duty-bearers) that require specific settings in terms of partnerships, information-gathering efforts and advocacy, among others. This raises the question of whether the programming of the component is not too fragmented, therefore losing focus and scale in the use of resources and results.

14. The work at provincial and local levels shows that, in advocacy and direct technical assistance, some provinces have been given priority and are more advanced than others. Thus, the provinces of Misiones and Buenos Aires have been emblematic in the support provided by UNICEF, followed by a more partial support in Jujuy, Chaco and Formosa. The current way of working with specific and fragmented efforts, while it may serve as a pilot, neither allows the induction of actions nor mobilizes, in a more articulate way, the human, material and financial resources in the provinces and municipalities necessary to implement the intermediate results established in the Country Programme.


1. Strengthen the institutional framework for LPI, supporting the appointment of an Ombudsman of children and adolescent rights, which has been pending since the law was enacted.

2. Continue advocacy activities to ensure the passage of the new juvenile justice law to complete the regulations that reinforce the paradigm shift of the LPI.

3. Significantly extend the cooperation of UNICEF in widening and improving protection in the priority provinces, organizing, coordinating and strengthening local resources.

4. In the programming area of Protection, consider the building of an Integral Protection System as an intermediate result, as well as the development of subsystems for deinstitutionalization, the care for victims of violence against children and adolescents and the eradication of child labour.

5. In the area of assistance to children without parental care, promote the identification of minimum quality standards for services and indicators for monitoring protection models.

6. For adolescents in conflict with criminal law, promote social and educational measures alternative to imprisonment, linked to victims’ reparation and community work as mechanisms of training for juvenile offenders.

7. In the protection of child and adolescents victims of violence, abuse and exploitation, among others:

        a. Place prevention and care for child and adolescent victims of violence, abuse and exploitation outside the field of domestic violence.
        b. The prevention of child and adolescent victims of violence should be coordinated with educational services to include prevention in the education curriculum. Additionally, in order to implement reporting services, referral to specialized services of identified cases must be established, and a social mobilization programme must be promoted to modify parenting patterns and disciplinary practices based on the use of violence, gender discrimination and family violence.
        c. Prevention includes sexual exploitation in travel and tourism, which is coordinated with the Ministry of Tourism and tour and travel operators.
        d. Strengthen or implement reporting spaces in the provinces where they do not exist or do not function well. They should have protocols for the care and timely referral of complaints of violence against children and adolescents.
        e. Working with health services to establish protocols to identify, in outpatient or emergency visits for children and adolescents, those cases that have some form of violence as a cause.
        f. Providing technical assistance to law enforcement, and federal and provincial services to adapt their protocols of intervention with child and adolescent victims of violence, in order to protect the victims.

8. With regard to child labour, support UNICEF’s technical cooperation with COPRETI and CONAETI in the provinces where the incidence of child labour is higher and support the development of child labour observatories in those provinces.

9. To better manage the generation and dissemination of knowledge it is necessary to define indicators of production, quality, costs and dissemination in order to have baselines and trends, and thus enable evidence-based management. A further evaluation of this strategy is also needed with the aim of establishing institutional strategies that help to guide the efforts and effectiveness of the production and dissemination of knowledge.

10. To strengthen the accountability for results it is necessary to establish results at product level or immediate results with milestones or critical paths that allow to better focus on the contribution of the Protection area in achieving intermediate results for 2012. A more precise planning of the products or immediate results, where UNICEF can contribute with some level of control (and allocation), must be made, taking into account the situation of the provinces that have parameters or baselines that are quite different in terms of institutional capacities and quality of management, as well as different degrees of difficulty in relation to the political articulation of UNICEF with governors.

    11. UNICEF can play an important role in the identification, systematization and the assessment of a number of initiatives to define indicators, the development of data collection systems and routine recording in the area of protection, which are currently being implemented in a fragmented and redundant way. UNICEF must pay attention to the assessment of the Childhood and Adolescence Unified Statistical Record experience in the province of Buenos Aires for possible replication in other provinces.

12. The integration and synergy between Protection and other programmes can be improved through an annual planning process by putting together situation analysis and guidelines for strategies and goals on those issues that have strong intersectoral elements, such as education and health. The coordinators of Health and Education areas have extensive knowledge and a network of various institutions, both at national and provincial levels, which can be exploited to promote actions and advocate the work of the Protection Component. The same is true for the Fundraising sector, which has broad access and dialogue with the private sector (businesses, hotels, etc.). The work at the provincial level, through multisectoral consultants, represents a major opportunity for integration, synergy and a more efficient use of human resources.

13. The challenge towards strengthening work done with provinces and municipalities is that of having a more structured strategy for making progress on a large scale, using UNICEF’s financial and human resources in a more efficient and effective way. To achieve economies of scale in the results and in the more efficient use of resources, it is necessary that the provincial governments commit to the achievement of mobilizing results and goals in the context of the National Plan of Action and the MDGs, which would give them institutional legitimacy and political support. Observatories of child and adolescent rights may play an important role in the monitoring, visibility and dissemination of good practices.

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