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Evaluation database

Evaluation report

2015 BH: Enhancing Social Protection and Inclusion of Children in Bosnia and Herzegovina



Author: Zehra Kacapor-Dzihic

Executive summary

With the aim to continuously improve transparency and use of evaluation, UNICEF Evaluation Office manages the "Global Evaluation Reports Oversight System". Within this system, an external independent company reviews and rates all evaluation reports. Please ensure that you check the quality of this evaluation report, whether it is “Outstanding, Best practice”, “Highly Satisfactory”, “Mostly Satisfactory” or “Unsatisfactory” before using it. You will find the link to the quality rating below, labelled as ‘Part 2’ of the report.

Background:

BiH is a transition country severely affected by the global economic crisis. The country is facing high and constantly rising unemployment and poverty. Children are disproportionally hit by poverty and deprivation: the absolute poverty rate is 30.5%  compared to 23.4% for the overall population. Educational system in Bosnia and Herzegovina is overburdened by administrative costs. Preschool education in BiH is a major weakness of the education system, having the lowest preschool participation rate in the region: 14.2% in 2012/2013 . The health system is also fragmented and does not allow for equal protection of health rights in all communities across Bosnia and Herzegovina. 
Spending on social protection is around 3.3% of GDP, however, allocations for those with very low incomes, for child benefits, and for people with non-war related disabilities are small or non-existent and vary considerably depending on where the person lives.  In both entities, over 27% of the budget allocations is “captured” by the richest 20% of the population and only 5% of the poorest quintile receive some kind of cash assistance provided by the Centers for Social Work (CSW).
Major identified bottlenecks include a highly fragmented configuration comprising of thirteen almost independent systems resulting in disparities in availability, accessibility and budgetary allocations; poor targeting of social assistance; status-based cash benefits allocation (war veterans benefits) and lack of competencies and resources of the centers for social work. UNICEF is working jointly with the governments on harmonization of laws, revision of the legislation, capacity building and local level initiatives aiming to address some of the bottlenecks.

Purpose/Objective:

The purpose of the evaluation is to assess the final (end) results and achievements of the project, and capture good practices and relevant lessons learned. The evaluation covers the implementation period of November 2013 to February 2015. The Project did not include a Theory of Change (ToC), which was developed within the scope of this Evaluation by the consultant. The evaluation was carried out by independent individual evaluation expert, selected by UNICEF.

Methodology:

The evaluation was carried out in three phases. Review of project documentation and relevant literature and reference documents was conducted in the Inception phase, resulting in the Inception report for the Evaluation. Within this phase, the evaluation framework, primary data collection methods and evaluation tools were developed. The Field Phase was organised within a very limited timeframe and limited scope, and was devoted to the collection of data from key stakeholders at state, entity, and municipality levels through semi-structured interviews, focused discussion groups and site visits to a limited number of municipalities. A beneficiary survey was conducted as well to capture the opinions of parents and children using ECD services in local communities. In the Synthesis Phase, the OECD-DAC criteria of relevance, efficiency, effectiveness, impact and sustainability were applied to assess the achievement of planned results of the Project, against which informed conclusions and recommendations were drawn.

Findings and Conclusion:

The Project is relevant and responds well to the recognised need for Bosnia and Herzegovina to improve the social protection systems for children at all levels of governance through strengthening the social protection and inclusion policy framework and service delivery for vulnerable families and children, in particular for children with disabilities. It addresses important gaps and challenges of the current social protection and inclusion system, and provides an opportunity to devise systems to address multidimensional needs of children, through connecting social protection, health, education, law enforcement, civil society and other sectors in strengthening response to the needs of children. The Project has been designed on the basis of extensive evidence base and lessons learned both from implementation of previous Project phases but also from assessments and studies conducted focusing on children in Bosnia and Herzegovina and corresponds to the strategic and legislative framework for social protection and inclusion in the country. The Project is highly relevant for the needs of professionals and municipalities to implement quality and inclusive social services for vulnerable children. The project is also highly relevant to the government counterparts at all levels of governance in Bosnia and Herzegovina as it provides technical assistance and advisory in development of policies and services in this sector.

Recommendations:

Operational Recommendations

  • O1 (for UNICEF and partners) - Conduct Impact assessment and draw lessons learnt for the SPIS Project in its entirety to inform future policy measures and projects that will focus on children with disabilities, children without parental care, and children at risk of separation from families;
  • O2 (for UNICEF and partners) - Organise a promotional campaign to promote best practices from the SPIS-municipalities and enable sharing them with underdeveloped municipalities (e.g. peer-to-peer)
    Strategic and Programming Recommendations
  • SP1 (UNICEF, government partners and EUD) - Further invest in country-wide expansion of international standards in the area of social protection and inclusion of children, particularly children without parental care, children with disabilities and children at risk of separation from their families.
  • SP2 (Government, with support of UNICEF and donors) - Ensure continuation of support to IECD and other new services established by the Project, to strengthen their mechanisms for sustainability.
  • SP3 (Government in partnership with municipalities, UNICEF and international donors) - Advocate for development of the framework for securing the financial sustainability on long-run of support and empowerment services developed by the Project, particularly those targeting children with disabilities, children without parental care, and children at risk of separation from families.
  • SP4 (UNICEF) - Improve monitoring and reporting practices in future projects and the evaluability of impact

Lessons learned:

The evaluation findings and feedback from stakeholders interviewed within the evaluation process, as well as analysis of the survey results point to a number of emerging good practices and lessons learned, as follows:

  • Investment in strengthening social protection and inclusion systems remains relevant for Bosnia and Herzegovina.
  • Partnership between UNICEF and Bosnian Government is a good vehicle for supporting reforms in the sector.
  • Long-term investment in partnerships, cooperation and coordination contributes to achievement of results.
  • Bottom up approach can bring about the desired legislative/policy changes at higher level through experiences, tested models and beneficiary satisfaction.
  • Structural reforms in the area of social protection and inclusion require time and continuous effort.
  • Investment in empowerment and protection of right holders remains relevant.
  • There is a need for stronger investment by projects in ensuring that the gender dimension of social exclusion is understood and tackled.


Full report in PDF

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Report information

Year:
2015

Country:
Bosnia & Herzegovina

Region:
CEE/CIS

Theme:
Social Policy (Cross-cutting)

Type:
Evaluation

Language:
English

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