Strategic and administrative evaluation of Save the Children Norway in Russia
Background Save the Children Norway in Russia (SCNiR) has been operating in Russia since 2002. This report is the first strategic and administrative evaluation of the country programme. Purpose/objectiveThe main purpose of the evaluation is to provide input on how to maximise the impact of SCNiR’s work in North-West Russia.The evaluation identifies needs for adjustments and provides inputs to the next strategy for the SCNiR. MethodologyThe evaluation has been conceived as a learning process in which the Evaluation Team did not only consist of the external evaluator (the Consultant) but also the Country Director and the Senior Programme Co-ordinator. The SCNiR staff has been taking actively part. The study makes use of programme theory as a tool to help bring forth the assumed relations between the interventions (inputs) and their outputs and outcomes, and the relations between the outcomes and the solution of the problems that the intervention seeks to reduce or solve. One of the specific objectives of the evaluation has been to assess the country programme’s ability to operate in the context of contemporary Russia. Key findings In Russia there is an acknowledged need to modernise several policy sectors, among them the sector of child welfare. In the field of child welfare the authorities emphasise the need for new attitudes, perspectives and working methods, in other words the core competence of Save the Children. SCNiR is, therefore, needed in Russia because of the fact that the country is improving – not because it is miserable.SCNiR’s partners are mainly public authorities and service-deliverers, which gives SCNiR direct access to the “duty-bearers”. Projects have been established in all priority fields in a quite short time. Public institutions are being helped to offer the same services better, and partly to offer new services. SCNiR has good links to centres of competence in Moscow and St. Petersburg.The country programme is well adapted to current priorities in Murmansk and Russia, and is in mesh with realities. However, good adaptation must be balanced with the need to press for innovation. In sum the SCNiR is where it should be mid-term, but have to move and reorient itself somewhat in order to arrive where it wants by the end of the Four Year Plan in 2009. Recommendations Competence-raising is needed, not material support: The country programme should take measures to avoid ending up as a fund for child-friendly refurbishments and procurement. In stead it should spend the remaining period of the Four Year Plan to cultivate its identity as a competence centre. Material support to partners should only be provided on a small scale and on the condition that it is really needed to improve attitudes, perspectives and competence.Handling the Russian Sonderfall: The HO’s capacity to follow-up the Russian country programme should be strengthened personnel-wise (e.g. by a position as regional co-ordinator to the Europe and Middle East Section). The possibility to establish closer links to SCN’s Domestic Programme should be considered.Scaling up: On the condition that it is financially viable, SCNiR should scale up its activities and establish projects in other regions of Russia. Also, it is necessary to strengthen SCNiR’s presence in Moscow, preferably by some sort of representation.Reporting should be improved: There is a need to work on project descriptions to distinguish between objectives, activities and expected results. Objectives should be formulated briefly and concisely and not just be a mere listing of the activities planned. There should be fewer activities (objectives) under each project, and activities should be on issues where SCNiR can contribute with “value added”. The SCN should go through and streamline its definitions of direct and indirect effects.More precise identification of “value added”: The HO and the country programme should start a discussion on how to measure “value added”.Link Norwegian and Russian expertise: The co-operation with Russian experts in Moscow and St. Petersburg is very important for competence-building and programme implementation. This should be combined with similar contacts with Norwegian expertise.