2005 Global: UNICEF's Use of the United Nations Trust Fund for Human Security (2000-2004) - An internal Assessment
Author: Evaluation Office, New York
Background and context
Since 2000, UNICEF has made use of the United Nations Trust Fund for Human Security (UNTFHS) sponsored by the Government of Japan. During the period 2000-2004, UNICEF received almost USD 30.0 million from the UNTFHS, the larger part of which (USD 16.4 million, i.e. more than half the total amount) was disbursed at the very beginning to support two education projects in the framework of the reconstruction of Kosovo. As of 2001, the UNTFHS funding supported more typical projects in a variety of countries. UNICEF disbursed an additional USD 13.5 million to support 16 projects in 15 countries. These projects dealt with a variety of thematic areas, e.g. HIV/AIDS, malaria, girls’ education, child friendly schools, internally displaced persons (IDPs), community development, and alternative care.
Purpose and objectives of the UNICEF internal assessment
In early 2005, the Government of Japan and UNICEF agreed that it would be useful to assess a sample of projects implemented with UNICEF support. The purpose of this internal assessment is to serve as an immediate feedback on the strengths and weaknesses of UNICEF-supported projects and as a learning experience for immediate project implementation and the inter-agency evaluation at a later stage. The main objectives of the assessment were to evaluate compliance with policies and guidelines of the UNTFHS and of UNICEF and to report on the results achieved.
The assessment involved an extensive review of proposals and reports of UNTFHS funded projects. The information from the document review was completed with that gathered from telephone interviews with staff in virtually all UNICEF Country Offices that had been involved in the programme. The document review and interviews were followed by field visits to three countries (Mongolia, Somalia and Kenya) each of which had a duration of around 10 days. The country cases were selected taking into account a number of criteria, e.g. the maturity of the HSTF project or activity (minimum implementation for two years), the wealth of experiences and the chances of their generating interesting lessons, as well as a good balance between more or less stable development settings and unstable contexts as well as between geographical regions. The country cases are nevertheless illustrative rather than representative.
The collected information was eventually synthesized and analyzed in projects briefs, which are included as Annex 6 of the present report. Comments on earlier drafts received from the respective Country Offices were largely incorporated in the final version. The assessment also involved an extensive review of background literature, policy documents and guidelines related to the concept of Human Security in general and of the UNTFHS in particular as well as a series of person-to-person interviews with a number of resource persons in Tokyo and New York, who kindly provided background information and contributed their views. Interviewees included political leaders in Japan and senior staff in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Tokyo, academics in Japan and elsewhere as well as staff of UNICEF, OCHA and UNDP who administered the UNTFHS. The report adheres to the norms and standards recently approved by the United Nations Evaluation Group (UNEG).
Compliance with UNTFHS policies and guidelines
All projects supported by the UNTFHS contributed to various degrees to the empowerment of stakeholders at the grassroots level and to their protection. Overall, the basic principles of the concept of Human Security were adhered to and translated into concrete projects, thanks to compatibility between the concept and UNICEF’s Human Rights-Based Approach to Programming (HRBAP).
Compliance with UNICEF’s programming guidance (Human Rights-Based Approach to Programming)
UNTFHS supported projects were part of UNICEF’s overall programming that has been guided by the Human Rights-Based Approach to Programming (HRBAP) since 1998. The HRBAP is fully compatible with the Human Security approach and even complements it in certain ways. HRBAP also involves both bottom-up and top-down approaches (empowerment and protection), but also seeks to address the subjacent and under-lying causes of the non-realization of rights and to strengthen capacities of rights-holders to claim and realize their rights (empowerment) as well as capacities of duty-bearers to meet their obligations to protect and fulfill human rights (protection). There is evidence that the UNTFHS supported projects were broadly in line with the HRBAP approach, though a more or less systematic capacity analysis was missing. There is also some evidence that the projects adopted a specific approach aiming at the empowerment of women and girls.
Compliance with UNICEF’s programming guidance (Results-Based Management)
By and large, the design of UNTFHS projects did not comply with basic requirements of Results-Based Management. They did not have specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound (SMART) objectives and indicators (results statements) and they were not part of a logical programming approach. This was not a requirement of the UNTFHS guidelines, but it was part of overall UNICEF programming guidance. Implementation modalities articulated in an appropriate and pragmatic manner compensated the weaknesses in the logical design.
In spite of the weak design of the projects, there is some evidence that they achieved clearly identifiable outputs and in some cases produced behavioural and institutional changes resulting in an improvement of the situation of children. All of the projects had a component to improve the service delivery (or “protection”) through different outlets — in most cases, assisting the government to respond to the humanitarian or development needs, and in other cases working with the civil society and non-governmental partners to provide basic services. Empowerment of the families and communities was also a strong component of most projects through either one or combination of the following interventions — information, education, communication activities to bring about behavioral changes Nigeria, Peru), structured capacity building of the target groups (Viet Nam and the Philippines), or participatory planning of the project by the communities (Cambodia and Lao PDR). A majority of the projects involved communities and families in the planning and/or implementation of the project, and in some cases children and young people were the active participants of the project (Tajikistan and the Philippines).
It must, however, also be said that, in many cases, the project duration allowed for by the UNTFHS (one to two years) is not long enough to produce significant changes in people’s behaviour or institutional changes that could clearly be attributed to these specific interventions. It is important to note that the more successful projects were part of broader programming approaches of the UNICEF supported Country Programmes of Cooperation.
Sustainability and connectedness
UNTFHS supported projects produce more lasting benefits and results when they were integrated in a broader programming framework, both in emergency and development situations. UNICEF supported Country Programmes of Cooperation (CPC), which are usually coordinated with national policies and strategies as well as other external aid mechanisms enhances sustainability of project benefits and connectedness to broader frameworks.
Efficiency of UNTFHS procedures
The length of time and heavy paperwork required by the Government of Japan for project approval has been a major setback for the project under review. Most project managers felt that the UNTFHS was relatively inflexible in its modalities of approval and feedback. On the other hand, reporting requirements for the UNTFHS were not found to be overly cumbersome. The new application procedure as described in revised UNTFHS guidelines of 2005 is expected to facilitate better and faster responses to proposals.
LESSONS LEARNED AND RECOMMENDATIONS
The concept of Human Security, as it is now understood in the Government of Japan’s Official Development Assistance (ODA), has proven to be useful in the international debate on development as well as on the operational level. The UNTFHS has helped UNICEF to implement projects both in unstable and stable contexts that contribute to the empowerment of children, women, families, communities and local government as well as to the protection of children’s rights. It is recommended that UNICEF should continue to make use of this trust fund and increasingly through projects implemented jointly with other UN agencies.
The concept of Human Security with its key components of empowerment and protection shares a common interface with UNICEF’s Human Rights-Based Approach to Programming (HRBAP). The HRBAP aims at identifying subjacent and under-lying causes of the non-fulfilment of human rights and emphasizes the strengthening of capacities of both rights-holders and duty-bearers in view of a better realization of human rights. It is recommended that a dialogue be initiated between Japan and UNICEF to further explore the complementarity and potential of synergy of both approaches
Although UNICEF programming has been guided by basic principles of Results-Based Management, there is still room for improvement. It includes a better use of logical framework approaches; smarter objectives and indicators; good documentation of results at output, outcome and impact levels; and more systematic application of good practices of monitoring and evaluation. Such improvements should also become part of UNTFHS guidance and reporting requirements. UNTFHS projects should have clearer results at the outcome level, i.e. behavioural and institutional changes attributable to the projects. The use of the RBM approach may ease the UNTFHS process and would not constitute an additional burden. The RBM approach would contribute to more transparency and, possibly, to the quality of projects.
Results produced by UNTFHS-supported projects will only be sustainable and significant in a broader context, if they are part of a more comprehensive programming approach. UNICEF supported Country Programmes of Cooperation (CPC) that are part of UNDAF outcome frameworks and national policies and strategies provide the necessary context for a strategic use of resources of the trust fund. This should be made explicit in UNTFHS guidance and reporting requirements.
Especially in unstable situations, the time required for the approval of project proposals should be limited to a strict minimum. Recent revisions to the procedures may reduce approval time, but may still prove too long in the case of unstable situations.
The transaction cost for agencies during the application procedure could be reduced if guidelines were more articulate and if the need for lengthy correspondence on proposals could be avoided. More comprehensive and detailed guidelines would also improve the transparency and objectivity of the approval process.
1 In one country (Mongolia) two projects were implemented.
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