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Evaluation database

Evaluation report

2015 Ghana: VAC Evaluation: Ghana Case Study

Author: The Ghana case study report was prepared by independent consultants Mei Zegers, David Cownie, Edem Torrnyie and Fred Afarie recruited by Development Researchers’ Network (DRN)

Executive summary

Protecting Children from Violence: A Comprehensive Evaluation of UNICEF’s Strategies and Programme Performance, Ghana Country Case Study

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.


Over 90% of children in Ghana have been subjected to physical violence.  Violence is common at home and at school, and in public spaces more generally.  Much of this violence is socially sanctioned and tends to be viewed as necessary discipline, even by children themselves.  Perceptions of actual ‘violence’, when considered as culturally inappropriate, severe and/or life threatening in nature, is felt to be relatively uncommon.  Community-level interviews about Violence Against Children (VAC) often elicited examples of serious violence, with other forms, both physical but in particular emotional, considered as not violent.  It is not clear how many children affected by violence are not reached by any protective services, but it is likely that the number is extremely high. 

An operational definition of the 2002 World Health Organisation (WHO)  definition of violence has been agreed for the four country case studies. WHO defines VAC as “the intentional use of physical force or power, threatened or actual, against oneself, another person, or against a group or community, that either results in or has a high likelihood of resulting in injury, death, psychological harm, maldevelopment or deprivation.”


The overall objectives of the Country Case Study in Ghana are to:

  • Assess the design, implementation and results of UNICEF supported approaches to reduce VAC in Ghana.
  • Assess UNICEF’s leadership, leveraging, and convening role at Ghana country level.
  • Assess the adequacy and relevance of UNICEF’s global strategies on VAC in Ghana. 
  • Assess application of strategies at national and sub-national level, considering both prevention and response.
  • Providing forward-looking conclusions, lessons and actionable recommendations.


Following an extended review of country and international documentation, two weeks of intensive fieldwork was conducted in Ghana, comprised of interviews with key informants and focus group discussions with a wide range of individuals.  Interviews and discussions were held with senior and sub-national government officers, UNICEF/Ghana officers at national and sub-national levels, civil society organisations, community-based committees, groups and children themselves. 

Findings and Conclusions:

Conclusions are drawn for VAC programming in Ghana across each of the four evaluation criteria: 1) relevance; 2) effectiveness; 3) efficiency; and 4) sustainability. 

This is followed by conclusions across the three key evaluation themes:  1) systems strengthening; 2) social norms; and 3) monitoring, research, evaluation and use of data.


All recommendations are directed to UNICEF, but any actions would need to be implemented in collaboration with Government and other stakeholders.  More information of relevance to these recommendations, as well as more specific recommendations – following from each overall recommendation - are included in the final section of this report. 

  1. Overall Recommendation: UNICEF/Ghana has invested human and financial resources towards building a strong child protection system, improving reach and coherence in the system.  There is consensus around this approach at national level and within UNICEF.  As UNICEF/Ghana is on the right track, it should continue its current efforts, working with Government and other partners in this regard.
  2. Overall Recommendation:  The emphasis on the central role of less formal actors in VAC prevention, including in terms of social norms, is warranted, and likely represents the best way forward for VAC programming in this regard.  Specific actions should be further elaborated and monitoring tools elaborated and employed that can accurately measure progress towards strengthening these less formal aspects of the child protection system over time, as well as measuring VAC itself. 
  3. Overall Recommendation:  UNICEF/Ghana has rightly focused on ensuring that there is sufficient evidence to inform decision making around how to approach child protection programming.  In doing so it is building a Theory of Change that should be tested and adapted as implementation proceeds.  
  4. Overall Recommendation:  Interviews with UNICEF/Ghana, Government and non-state actors suggest that there is widespread recognition that some children are more vulnerable to VAC and more vulnerable to negative outcomes associated with violence, and less likely to secure needed services.  Nuancing of VAC programming should therefore continue, using available evidence from the 2012 and 2014 studies and gap filling with qualitative approaches.
  5. Overall Recommendation:  Given its competitive edge, UNICEF/Ghana should consider whether and, if so, how to expand the involvement of children in VAC programming.

Lessons Learned:

Good Practices and Lessons Learned

  1. Traditional institutions and community-based structures are well respected throughout Ghana (albeit it to different degrees) and UNICEF is aware that building on this trust and respect is central to effective VAC. 
  2. Since 2012 UNICEF/Ghana has invested resources in improving an understanding of the child protection system.  This has built on previous investigations that have informed varied aspects of child protection.  There remain important gaps in terms of understanding how less formal actors deal with child protection, and the extent to which they enable and disable protective systems and processes, and it is expected that these will be increasingly considered once the child protection M&E Officer is appointed and activities resourced. Overall, the emergent Theory of Change is increasingly informed by evidence, and it is expected that as implementation proceeds over the next two years a number of hypotheses will be identified and/or tested. 

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Report information




Child Protection - Violence and Abuse



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