IRN 2002/002: Evaluation of UNICEF Iran Country Office Performance from the Viewpoints of its Partners
Author: Dorbeiki, B.; Atieh Bahar Consulting
Purpose / Objective
The main objective of the evaluation is to examine the viewpoints of the UNICEF partners about the performance of the Organization. The report intends to sum up the views in a way that could be helpful for UNICEF in the advancement of its plans and its communication strategies.
The research methodology is cross-sectional and based on face-to-face interviews. The total number of samples planned was 80. The majority of the samples were senior governmental or non-governmental officials with tight schedules. In sum, a universe of 120 individuals was contacted from the total statistical population. Over 100 appointments were made for interviews and despite extension of the project, some interviews were cancelled repeatedly and, finally, the samples were limited to 76.
Key Findings and Conclusions
The majority of the respondents were satisfied with the performance of UNICEF in Iran. There were instances of dissatisfaction that said UNICEF was capable of more than its current performance. They say that UNICEF does not use all its capacities and potentials in line with its objectives. Some complaints were made on the lack of continued relations (especially in the provinces). Instances of dissatisfaction on each entry have been argued separately in each section.
The bulk of the complaints and shortfalls made on communication related to the way information is disseminated by UNICEF. The majority of respondents did not become aware of UNICEF activities directly and regularly. Although UNICEF annual reports meet part of the demand on information, the majority of the respondents believe they are not sufficient. Regular information about UNICEF's activities, even if these plans and projects are not in line with the activities of the organization they are sent to, was recommended by those interviewed.
The majority of the respondents were aware of the goals of the projects. They were also aware of the details of the projects. Therefore, the weak information dissemination by UNICEF might be found in generalities not in the issues related to joint plans and time of implementation.
It is interesting to note that interviewees from organizations, in cooperation with UNICEF, said they had no relations with UNICEF. This shows that, in some instances of cooperation, the individuals did not know they were cooperating with UNICEF.
Another aspect of the complaints made on UNICEF in communications concerned non-continuous relations of UNICEF with individuals (and sometimes organizations) who had previously had relations with the agency. Some of the respondents complained about severing relations after commissioning the joint project or program. In some cases, continuing relations with individuals outside their organizational link can motivate voluntary participation in projects.
Some respondents believe that UNICEF does not fulfill its obligations in terms of NGOs but interacts well with governmental organizations. They consider this a sign of conservative policy of UNICEF.
Some of the respondents believe that UNICEF is not in touch with the other United Nations agencies or organizations and this causes the implementation of similar projects by two different UN agencies. This interaction wastes resources. Coordination in the joint implementation of these projects would result in better outcomes.
According to some, UNICEF did not pay attention to the real needs of Iran in some cases. Some others believed that UNICEF implemented only projects with palpable outcomes in the short run. Lack of due attention to cultural differences in some projects that include a vast geographical domain, tribes and faiths was another complaint made regarding UNICEF performance.
Expenditure funding is the most important way UNICEF cooperates with some organizations. Although the majority of the respondents were satisfied with way that expenditures are handled, they complained about the insufficiency of allocation. At the same time, the consensus of the respondents revealed that they understood UNICEF's financial limitations with respect to the scope of activities, and limitations of the agency. This shows that the individuals were completely briefed on the projects and speaks well of UNICEF's communication with the projects.
One of the recurrent complaints made by the respondents was the lack of conformity of UNICEF's financial system with the financial system of the government. The administrative and financial bureaucracy of UNICEF was also seen as a serious obstacle to the implementation of the projects.
Generally speaking, we can say that the respondents were satisfied with their UNICEF colleagues and those introduced by UNICEF. Respondents were asked to cite strong points in cooperation with UNICEF and the responses with the highest frequency related to the truthfulness, trustworthiness, pursuance, and expert-level knowledge of UNICEF personnel. One dares to say that the majority of the respondents believe that the most important advantage behind the cooperation of UNICEF with organizations was the availability of skilled manpower in UNICEF office.
Complaints made on the weakness of the personnel did not relate to personnel dispositions, rather they have to do mostly with the structure of UNICEF. One of the complaints was made on the heavy volume of work and the responsibility of UNICEF personnel. This heavy volume of work, from the viewpoint of the critics, had prevented UNICEF personnel from contributing more effectively to the projects.
The structure of the administrative system is a serious obstacle to the advancement of work, according to UNICEF partners, for which a solution might be sought. Aspects of this problem can be eliminated by further attempts of UNICEF personnel, given the fact that respondents had trust in UNICEF personnel.
The difference between the financial systems of UNICEF and governmental organizations, and the problems arising from this difference, can be investigated and addressed.
Attention should be given to the lack of permanent, sufficient and effective relations between UNICEF and its partners outside the organizational framework. The majority of the respondents in NGOs and governmental organizations placed special emphasis on this.
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