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Evaluation database

Evaluation report

2015 Tajikistan: Evaluation of UNICEF Tajikistan’s work in priority districts

Author: Camelia Gheorghe

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 UNICEF country programme for 2010-2015 is aligned with key Government of Tajikistan policies and strategies, in particular the National Development Strategy, the Living Standards Improvement Strategy and relevant sector strategies and policies. The programme results were also aligned with the Mid-Term Strategic Plan of UNICEF. The Country Programme Action Plan 2010-2015 (CPAP) signed by the Government of Tajikistan (GoT) and UNICEF, provides the legal and substantive basis of relationship between the GoT, the Local Governments and UNICEF. 

Furthermore, the UNICEF initiative to work in priority districts is in line with one of the key objectives of the National Development Strategy of Tajikistan (2010-2015) that aims at creation of an effective public administration. This includes activities that support formation of local self-governance capable to provide qualitative services to the population: 1) distribute functions and authorities for services provision following the subsidiarity principle; 2) define property of local self-governance according to the functions and impose/fix property rights; 3) develop financial autonomy of local self-governance according to its functions; 4) strengthen capacity of local self-governance to address issues of local importance.


The objectives of the evaluation were the following:

  1. assess the effectiveness of UNICEF approach in directing its resources to a selected number of districts to achieve more tangible results;
  2. assess to what extent UNICEF support enhanced local capacity, in particular within the local government, to effectively manage service provision for children and women;
  3. assess the extent to which the UNICEF-supported strengthening of local level service provision improved access of children and women to demanded basic services;
  4. assess the partnership established at the local level in mainstreaming child rights in local data collection/analysis, planning and budgeting;
  5. assess the extent to which the work of UNICEF with PDs fed national policy advocacy and dialogue with evidence and feedback from the local level.

The purpose of the evaluation was two-fold: a) to inform the programming and design of support through the new 2016-2020 CP and CPAP and related decentralised and targeting strategies and interventions in the context of joint work plans at district level; and b) to provide recommendations for enhancing the local effectiveness of programme implementation and partnerships. The evaluation had primarily a learning intent indicated by its main objective; nevertheless, it was aimed to also serve an accountability intent as well, given its specific objectives and the requirement to assess the relevance, efficiency, effectiveness, impact and sustainability indicated by the evaluation questions. The evaluation had thus both summative and formative aspects.


The evaluation applied a mixed-method approach, including: stakeholder mapping, in-depth documentary review and structured desk analysis of geographical targeting strategies; analysis and testing of Theory of Change (ToC); analysis of district-level results against the Results Matrix of CP and associated interventions; contribution analysis to determine progress against intended results and attribution analysis to the extent possible; systems analysis of management strategies and risks mitigation; financial analysis; in-depth and semi-structured interviews, focus groups and discussion groups; round tables; participant observation during site visits. The evaluation was carried out in three phases. In the Inception Phase, review of key documentation and development of data collection and evaluation tools were done. The Data Review and Collection Phase was devoted to the in-depth documentary review and collection of data from key stakeholders at central and district levels during an in-country visit. In the Synthesis Phase, the evaluation applied the standard evaluation criteria analysis (relevance, efficiency, effectiveness, impact and sustainability) in combination with Human Rights-Based Approach and Results-Based Management in order to assess the achievement of results, draw informed conclusions and provide recommendations.

Findings and Conclusions:

The geographical targeting approach of CP 2010-2015 in Tajikistan has been implemented under challenging operating conditions. UNICEF has done its best to address the very basic needs of children (immunisation, nutrition, sanitation) while also pursuing and advocating for the rights agenda at district level (child rights mainstreaming in policy and planning, gender equality). The feedback received from over 200 consulted stakeholders confirms that UNICEF is a respected partner and that its overall interventions were conducted professionally, in an inclusive and culturally-sensitive manner.

Despite significant results obtained at district level in various intervention areas, the geographical targeting approach was not used at its full potential to demonstrate how local focusing of resources, cross-fertilisation of various thematic interventions and local partnerships could bring about efficiency gains and, more importantly, contribute to sustainable positive change in the lives of vulnerable children. Although the approach to implement multi-sector interventions and focus of CP resources to certain districts seemed to be a relevant one, justified by evidence of multiple deprivations impacting the children in Tajikistan, the fragmented and insufficiently coherent way in which it was planned, funded and implemented has diminished its promising potential.


Strategic Recommendations (S):
S1: Continue to use targeted decentralised approaches for the implementation of CP 2016-2020, based on well informed district targeting criteria, district performance accountability and an efficient results-based monitoring system (Addressed to: UNICEF, relevant line ministries, regional administrations)
S2: Strengthen the local partnerships for evidence-based policy making, monitoring and accountability for child rights  (Addressed to: UNICEF in partnership with Statistics Agency, local governments, academia, research institutes, CSOs, international development partners)
S3: Develop a Strategic Equity and Quality Framework to guide the design, results-based monitoring and advocacy for the rights of the most marginalised children in the country  (Addressed to: UNICEF, Ombudsman)
S4: Design and support the implementation of a capacity building strategy for the sustainable strengthening of CRUs and promotion of a culture of lifelong learning supportive for the local public administration reforms (Addressed to: UNICEF in partnership with National Commission on Child Rights, UNDP, international development partners involved in public administration reform and local governments)
S5: Strengthen the capacity of local NGOs to become strong partners of local government and UNICEF in pursuing the child rights agenda at district level  (Addressed to: UNICEF in partnership with umbrella NGOs, international NGOs, UN and interested donors in civil society development and democracy)

Operational Recommendations (O):
O1: Carry out a quick inclusiveness and quality assessment of ECE centres supported by UNICEF  (Addressed to: UNICEF Country Office and MoES)
O2: Promote inter-sectoral approaches and accountability frameworks within UNICEF Country Office and government partners at central and district levels  (Addressed to: UNICEF Country Office, Government of Tajikistan)

Lessons Learned:

  1. The geographical targeting approach of the implementation of a CP could yield important results for children and advance the rights agenda, but it needs to be adequately prepared from the outset.
  2. Explicit prior agreement with the Government is needed on UNICEF‟s intended key roles at the local level.
  3. DCTs might increase ownership and local capacity, but require strong safeguards in countries where reforms of local public administrations are lagging behind and transparency in the use of public funds is weak.

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