External Evaluation Report of Improving Protection of Children and Consolidating Transition in Northern Uganda (IMPACT) Project
Background The devastation of the Lord’s Resistance Army rebellion in Northern Uganda, left behind broken social support safety nets; persistent violence experienced by children; rising numbers of children in conflict with the law; increased conflict over resources such as land; economic desperation; increased numbers of women and child-headed households; and emergence and / or adoption of negative practices and behaviours not supportive of child care and protection. The “Improving Protection of Children and Consolidating Transition in Northern Uganda - IMPACT project (2009 -2012) implemented in the districts of Amuru (later Nwoya), Pader (later Agago), Lira (later Otuke and Alebtong) by SCiUG and partners with funding support from SIDA (worth SEK 7,000,480), was aimed at improving the care and protection of children and to bridge the gap in service provision during the recovery period.Purpose/objective (including evaluation questions) The main focus of the evaluation was to assess the outcomes and lessons learnt from the project and examine the effects on the primary beneficiaries (children) in the target areas. The scope of the evaluation covered the period 2009 – 2012 during which the IMPACT project was implemented in 8 districts in Lango and Acholi Sub Regions in Northern Uganda. The assessment was focussed on the key elements as provided under the ToRs: Relevance; Efficiency; Effectiveness; Sustainability and impact / changes resulting from the IMPACT project. The evaluation paid special attention to the lessons learnt as a result of the delivery of the expected project outputs.Methodology These included Document reviews, Field visits to the District headquarters and sampled schools across the target districts, observations, interviews in project districts (Gulu, Nwoya, Amuru, Pader, Agago, Alebtong, Otuke and Lira) at which Key Informant interviews and Focus Group discussions were held.Key findings • The evaluation found out that the project strengthened local government structures through providing technical and logistical support to the respective District Community Services Departments of 5 districts in the formally conflict affected northern Uganda (Lira, Amuru, Nwoya, Pader and Gulu). IMPACT project was able to sensitize local government actors on child protection and train lower level (sub county) child protection players such as Community Development Officers, Child Protection Committees and School Management Committees, selected school teachers and Child and Family Protection Units at police.• Access to community based child care was achieved to a large extent resulting from institutional support to the community services department that cascaded to the community based structures composing of Local Councils (LCs), Child protection Committees (CPCs), School Management Committees (SMCs) and teachers through trainings and sensitizations on child protection policies and positive parenting. These were aimed at enhancing their capacity to protect children and reinforcing the efforts of the community based services departments in responding to child protection issues• In education, the project enhanced the teachers’ skills in interactive teaching with the aim of improving teachers’ classroom delivery in the teaching-learning process as well as in identifying and supporting psychologically distressed children. Other interventions included equipping members of the School management Committees (SMCs) and Parents & Teachers Associations (PTAs) with knowledge and skills on school governance, management, children’s rights and participation aimed at enhancing safety for children. 38 schools altogether benefited from learning and instructional materials that included wall maps, alphabetical charts, black boards, sets, text books, manila papers etcA marked reduction in pupils’ (both male and female) Primary Leaving Examinations (PLE) failure rates e.g from 209 pupils in 2008 to 77 in 2012 a reduction of over 60% is notable. Likewise there was also a marked reduction in the number of pupils failing to sit for for PLE (after being registered) from 100 in 2008 to 20 in 2012 – a reduction of 80%. There’s also improvement in performance with more children passing in Grades 2 and 3 and few in 4. For example 183 pupils passed in grade 4 in 2008 compared with 137 in 2012, a reduction of 25%. The number of girls getting better Grades 1 and 2, improved from 2008 with a total of 34 girls, to 124 girls in 2012.Overall, the evaluation estimates that the project benefited directly and indirectly a total of about 100,000 children, of whom 89,202 are in school.On a challenging side however, there was a sharp increase in the dropout rates noted for 2011 and 2012 for IMPACT project supported schools, with more girls dropping out than their male counterparts e.g 516 children dropped out of school in 2008 compared with 775 in 2012 and increase of 50%, girls accounting for about 55%. Interviews with school authorities attributed the drop outs to early marriages, mainly affecting girls. The Evaluation also noted that SC and the district based partners, including the local governments needed to consider addressing the bigger issues of child rights and social protection policy arena. More work should have done in advocacy to influence policy. Some child protection issues may require supporting post conflict communities to diversify livelihoods as a strategy to enable them to effectively address the effects of abject poverty that seems to be a major contributory factor to child neglect in the region Recommendations • SCUiG and the district based partners including the local governments should consider addressing the bigger issues of child rights and social protection. Some protection issues may require supporting post conflict communities to diversify livelihoods as a strategy to enable them to effectively address the effects of abject poverty that seems to be a major contributory factor to child neglect in the region. At national level• SCiUG and the fraternity in child rights programming should augment their participation in policy influencing with strong lobbying for resource allocation to support social protection of children in the post conflict areas of Northern Uganda for the continuity of the benefits of IMPACT.• Combatting child trafficking, a fast growing phenomenon in the region, requires urgent action, both at policy level and engagement with communities to ensure that this vice is dealt with sooner lest it obscures the hard strides that have been taken in this challenging arena of child protection in the region.• Although the work with parners todate seems successful, it is evident that the relationships should no longer be ad-hoc, but focused, with a clearer understanding of what SCiUG aims to achieve with its support to partners.Follow up (with reference to Action Plan) • SC Uganda programme intends to adapt a more integrated approach to programmimg where issues of response and prevention to child abuse are addressed from the angle of not only protection but education, livelihoods, DRR, health• SC will also put more emphasis to advocacy for especially increased funding to child rights sectors at national and district levels• SC will in 2014 put resources to capacity building of partners and with the structure now in place, will provide more eyes on monitoring of partner supported interventions.