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Evaluation database

Evaluation report

2015 South Africa: Evaluation of the DFID-funded Safer South Africa Programme

Author: Southern Hemisphere

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 DFID-funded Safer South Africa Programme was designed to strengthen primary prevention mechanisms to reduce VAWC and to improve access to existing response services by communities. It had a multi-sectoral approach with support from lead government departments and key civil society organisations. The programme goal was to increase security and justice for women and children in South Africa through a strengthened national response to VAWC. This was achieved through four outputs, namely: strengthened national institutions to prevent VAWC; strengthened prevention and protection measures in and out of schools; mobilised social change for the prevention of VAWC; and strengthened surveillance, monitoring and evaluation (M&E) systems for evidence-based prevention of VAWC. The programme timeframes were from 1st of April 2012 (although actual implementation only commenced in June 2013) to the 31sst of March 2015 with a no-cost extension being granted until the end of September 2015. The total funding amount received from DFID for the three year programme was US$5,629,186. The programme was implemented through a tripartite partnership between UNICEF (Child Protection as the Administrative Agent), UNFPA and Save the Children South Africa.


The key purpose of the evaluation was to learn lessons and make recommendations for future programmes in the country and region. The learning - about what has worked well, cost-effectiveness of different models, and the circumstances which have supported successful implementation and the challenges encountered - will also be valuable for other agencies designing and implementing GBV programmes, both in South Africa and in the region more widely. DFID is focused on lessons which can help design regional programmes, while other partners also have a great interest in evidence to improve future programmes in the area of GBV Prevention in South Africa.


The evaluation adopted a participatory, mixed-method quantitative and qualitative methodology combining document review, workshops, interviews and surveys. Following ethical clearance from the University of Cape Town, data was collected at national level and provincial and community level in the Free State and Eastern Cape, where programme activities are being undertaken. Within each province a set of semi-structured interviews, focus groups and surveys were conducted with a pre-defined set of government and non-government stakeholders. Semi-structured interviews, focus groups and surveys were conducted with target groups and beneficiaries of the programme in schools and communities targeted programme interventions. At national level, semi-structured interviews were conducted with key informants from lead government departments, implementing donors and implementing partners (IPs). A total of 106 semi-structured interviews and 28 focus groups were completed for the qualitative fieldwork. For the quantitative school survey, 1,469 interviews took place with learners at 19 schools in the Eastern Cape and 17 schools in the Free State. 164 target group members were interviewed in the target group survey from 10 target groups in the Eastern Cape and 11 target groups in the Free State.

Findings and Conclusions:

The Safer South Africa programme, through a multi-sectoral and multi-level approach, has contributed towards strengthening the national response to VAWC in South Africa.
An assessment of the predetermined outcome indicators reveals that outcome indicator 1 has been achieved. In general the programme design is well-conceptualised with the four programme outputs corresponding to the different levels of the system. The Programme design did not however take into account the importance of strengthening the capacity of Government at “meso” level.
Findings under Output 1 found that the activities at national level have contributed to the improvement in government’s institutional management and inter-governmental coordination. Overall, it has succeeded in creating a more enabling environment for tackling the prevention of VAWC despite the numerous challenges experienced within the broader political landscape of the country, including the reconfiguration of the DWCPD; the halt in activities of the NCGBV and subsequent limited central coordination of the programme from the side of government.
The activities undertaken under Output 2 are all contributing towards strengthening prevention and protection measures for children in and out of schools, despite delays in implementation and underspending of the budget.
The activities undertaken for Output 3 are contributing to mobilising social change in the Eastern Cape and Free State to address VAWC. The use of community dialogue methodologies and the approach of working through local CBOs are particular strengths. So too is the targeting of traditional leaders for capacity building around gender, culture and human rights, given their crucial role as community gatekeepers and mobilisers.
Several of the activities in Output 4 did not take place except for the various studies. They were limited by the sequence in which they were implemented and the fact that they were led by a newly reconfigured DOW.


Recommendations for Programme Design: 

  1. Ensure that future programmes adopt a more holistic approach to address VACW and include a specific focus on family strengthening;
  2. Ensure that future programmes undertake a baseline study to ensure that progress/barriers are adequately measured.

To ensure political buy-in and government-wide accountability, the VACW agenda needs to be hosted at the highest level of government, under the Presidency.

Ensure that members of the GEM/BEM clubs/structures have access to adequate capacity building on what to do in case of victimization; strong linkages with other child protection mechanisms for referral purposes and buy-in and support from educators, parents and community members; Ensure that a “whole school approach” is in place where school management, teachers, students and parents work together to create and implement policies and programmes for school safety;

Community dialogues are an innovative means for mobilizing social change and facilitating social cohesion and collective decision making. Systematic post-mobilization interventions need to be planned and implemented to ensure that effects are sustained; Capacity building for CBOs requires a sound exit-strategy to ensure that organizations can continue to implement community dialogues; Additional emphasis needs to be placed on improving access to response services, particularly in those areas where increased reporting is taking place.

  1. For future programmes of this nature, the evidence-based research should be sequenced at the an initial stage so it can inform the programme;
  2. Should the Safer SA Programme be replicated or scaled up, it would be recommendable to establish an on-line portal where information on key studies/reports/evaluations on VACW could be regularly shared

Lessons Learned:

  1. The programme was successful in engaging a number of Government departments (former Department of Women, Children and People with Disabilities; Department of Women; Department of Social Devleopment; Department of Justice and Constitutional Development; Department of Basic Education; Department of Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation; Stats SA; South Africa Police Service), academic institutions and think tanks (University of Cape Town; Children’s Institute; Medical Research Council; Human Sciences Research Council; etc..) and non-governmental organizations. Although this is an essential requirement to ensure government’s buy-in in all steps of the process, budget provisions should include the necessary resources for the recruitment of senior staff (both international and national).
  2. Evidence-generation reports should be ideally produced at the inception of the programme to ensure that findings will be utilized for the purpose of evidence-based advocacy, policy formulation and programme design.
  3. Buy-in: All progrommes should include an “inception phase” where the “architecture” of the Programme, including planned results, implementation strategies, ME, roles and accountability lines of all stakeholders are discussed and endorsed by key Government counterparts.
  4. Violence prevention programmes should adopt the Socio-Ecological Model with a very clear Theory of Change to inform the changes the programme is planning to make to achieve the planned results. It would be imperative that Violence Prevention Programmes include elements of institutional strengthening across the different levels of government.
  5. Violence Prevention Programmes are rarely included among top national priorities: it would be recommendable that future Programmes include a strong and clearly detailed Advocacy Strategy for mobilizing political within the highest levels of the Executive, Judiciary and Legislature.

Full report in PDF

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Report information


South Africa




UK Department for International Development (funder) UNFPA, Save the Children


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