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Evaluation database

Evaluation report

2014 Malawi: Malawi Impact Evaluation of the National Plan of Action for Orphaned and Vulnerable Children

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.


The NPA which was developed in 2003 represents the overall framework for Malawi’s response to address the impact of HIV and AIDS on children and their families, building on the National Policy for Orphans and Vulnerable Children. At the close of 2012 we are living in a very different world to that of 2004 when the plan was first envisaged. Fast growing economies in Southern Africa, a global financial crisis, and an increase in access to lifesaving HIV treatment and prevention have significantly changed the landscape. This impact evaluation provides an opportunity to review the extent to which the NPA made a difference in the lives of Malawi’s children. It also offers an opportunity to examine how a multi-sectoral, coordinated response to child vulnerability over an extended period of time is able to adapt to children’s needs, respond to the changing context and to build on evidence of success.


To review the extent to which the NPA made a difference in the lives of Malawi’s children. It also offers an opportunity to examine how a multi-sectoral, coordinated response to child vulnerability over an extended period of time is able to adapt to children’s needs, respond to the changing context and to build on evidence of success.


The evaluation team developed a methodology for the impact evaluation, based on review of key documents. An inception report was presented to the National Technical Working Group on OVC for amendments and a final inception report endorsed.
Data collection: Data was collected over a one month, comprising 25 interviews with national stakeholders, a focus group discussion (FGD) with members of the National Technical Working Group on OVC, nine district visits comprising a FGD with the District Technical Working Group on OVC and key informant interviews with district officials, and visits to two to three Traditional Authorities per district (the number varied according to the size of the district) where data was selected from Traditional Authorities, community-based organisations (CBO), and Community Child Protection workers (CCPW). Simultaneously, a questionnaire was emailed to the District Social Welfare Officer in all 27 districts, of which 14 were returned.

Findings and Conclusions:

There has been improvement in all children’s access to most services between 2006 and 2012, with indications of improvements for OVC, specifically orphans.
Education, social safety nets and psycho-social support (included in the extended NPA) have noted greater progress in equitable access for OVC than health, nutrition, water & sanitation and birth registration. In the cases of health and nutrition, this may be because data does not disaggregate OVC from all children. In the case of birth registration, progress is limited because the programme started in 2011 and therefore cannot record results within the timeframe of this evaluation. There were no specific interventions for OVC in water and sanitation services, suggesting this has been a low priority for children’s services in general though some CSOs did include this service integrated into work building CBCCs or improving school facilities.
The NPA for OVCs 2006-10/2011-12 placed children at centre stage. It is a tangible commitment to tackling childhood vulnerability from government, civil society and development partners. The NPA did achieve its overall goal to build and strengthen the family, community and government capacities to scale-up response for the survival, growth, protection and development of orphans and vulnerable children. Outstanding weaknesses include: the fact that it is not possible to demonstrate ‘impact’ given the lack of data; the lack of child participation thus minimising the appropriateness and effectiveness of particular interventions or prioritisation of programmed activities; on-going tension between pre-defined ‘OVC’ and childhood vulnerability more broadly; a lack of focus on HIV as a key driver of childhood vulnerability; overlap and lack of clarity between child protection and OVC programming; and a possible risk of increased stigma faced by children due to labeling.


  1. A new National Plan of Action (NPA) for OVC is relevant. The new NPA needs to build on the lessons of the evaluation and have a stronger emphasis on how to build sustainable services for vulnerable children.
  2. There must be stronger emphasis on organisational and institutional capacity, supporting CBOs and government.
  3. Greater efforts need to be made to secure funding from the national budget. In particular, some activities could be mainstreamed into the budgets of line ministries such as education grants into the Ministry of Education Science and Technology.
  4. Malawi should develop a vulnerability framework that is able to clarify the risks faced by children and clarifies what these risks may result in and what coping mechanisms are needed to mitigate these risks and vulnerabilities. This framework needs to look at the fluidity of vulnerability by age and sex.
  5. The focus on strengthening community and family systems should continue. A capacity analysis should be undertaken to better understand the capacity gaps within community based organisations that looks at both their technical and operational constraints.  Special attention needs to be paid with regards their links with vulnerable children and their families so that CBOs are seen to be supporting the needs of the most vulnerable.
  6. The structure developed to implement the NPA for OVC needs to continue, though needs strengthening at every level.  Clear leadership needs to be established from the beginning with responsibility to ensure the NPA is fully put into action and clear accountability mechanisms from national to TA levels.  A capacity analysis would help clarify the areas of weakness, and the national capacity building plan of the OPC can help in this regard.

Lessons Learned:

  1. There was poor monitoring and evaluation of the implementations
  2. There was poor coordination of both the partners and implementation of the programmes
  3. There was limited leadership
  4. The NPA was only focusing on vulnerable children that were affected by HIV but now the focus will be on all vulnerable children since children vulnerability is caused by multiple factors

Full report in PDF

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Report information




Child Protection


The Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Welfare, USAID & UNICEF


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