Performance Review of Beza Youth Health and Counselling centre against relevant national strategic frameworks (2004-2009)
BackgroundConsidering reproductive health/RH as one of the major health and social issues, particularly of that of the youth and adolescents, the Government of Ethiopia has issued two mutually reinforcing reproductive health/RH strategies [i.e. the National RH Strategy (2006-2015) and the Adolescent and Youth RH Strategy (2007-2015)], which aim at attaining the development goals set at international and national levels. In addition to these strategies, Ethiopia has the experience of developing periodic strategic frameworks in response to the epidemic of HIV/AIDS, in which the youth and adolescents are classified among the most vulnerable. The second SPM (2004-2008 and the interim for 2009-2010), ‘geared towards enhancing and strengthening the ongoing multi-sectoral prevention and control activities’, is also one of the national strategies that guide the efforts of youth focused organizations.According to the Ministry of Health the strategies are ‘built on the existing health policy, HSDP, and the HEP, while at the same time seeking to enhance the effectiveness of the health system in meeting the targets of PASDEP and the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs)’.Beza Youth Health and Counseling Center (BYHCC), is an active youth focused organization, operating at a community level has been endeavoring, at a local level, for the achievement of the goals and specific objectives set in the above mentioned national strategies. BYHCC is conceived in the womb of a football team of village children, in Yirgalem town, who were inspired by stars of the 1994 World Cup. The initiative led to the birth of a Football League named Addis Tesfa [to say New Hope], with a dream of becoming a big football league. By the time the potential danger of HIV/AIDS, particularly among the youth, was felt by both the government and other implementing actors, the already established youth group, organized around football, became a focus of attention to lay the grounds for the first anti-AIDS club in the town. By the year 2002, the anti-AIDS club emerged as a full-fledged development NGO. The Vision of Beza is “to see a good natured, civilized, investor youth generation” with objectives, among others, including reduction of the incidence and mitigate the socio-economic impact of HIV/AIDS among youths and in the general community as well as building responsible citizens through behavioral change programs, particularly with personal development and core life skill trainings. Beza has been NCA’s partner since 2001/2. Purpose / objectives:One of the purposes of this six years (2004-2009) performance review of BYHCC is, thus, to check whether its implementation in the review period has been guided by these national policies and strategies and, if it has been so, to determine the extent to which it adhered to national priorities and operated within the given frameworks. The other reasons include taking the lessons learnt for organizational improvement and to use the findings as potential inputs for developing future strategic plan document of the organization.MethodologyThe review encompassed desk review; focus group discussion with various groups a total of six FGDs conducted, composed of 18 females 34 males (8-12 participants at a time); Formal and informal discussion interviews were conducted predominantly on individual basis, and as found convenient, in pairs. There were a total of 25 interview sessions [with 8 females and 17 males] representing from OVC, in school and out of school youth, members and non-members of Beza, community and religious leaders, health-service providers, teachers, beneficiaries, representatives of six different government line offices, CBOs, village facilitators/volunteer community workersKey Findings Beza’s implementation found to be in complete harmony with the priorities, objectives/goals, major strategies and key community level actions proposed in the national documents, indicating the pro-activeness and high level understanding of the organization regarding the real problems and needs of its target community. Yet, the organization needs to have a good knowledge and a deliberately aligned plan with relevant national frameworks, along with familiarization of its staff and volunteers, at least, with important strategies and policies. It can be said that Beza knows where it wants to go and has a vision shared by its members. Yet, when it comes to the ‘how?’ part, it needs to design strategic direction. Though Beza is praised for its efficient utilization of resources and winning the support of different partners in the locality, serious budget constraint is found to be one of the limiting factors, hampering its fast move.The diverse, yet complementary, services of Beza were expressed as ‘matchless!’ by many, including government sector offices and school communities. Clubs and individual beneficiaries want the services to be expanded to the surrounding areas, considering the services as life saving for the youth and adolescents who are at risk and those who lack the opportunity to openly discuss about RH issues. Recommendation: Improve systematically documenting all the process – the activities, challenges faced, the actions taken to address, etc so that it can grow into a center of excellence in some special areas and share its experiences to others and design strategic plan.- Put in place a well designed and functioning M&E system in order to improve future performance and keep good track of lessons.- Keep on maintaining and improving the collaborative and interdependent spirit /networking/ created with different partners. It is also important to maximize the opportunity of having this good working relationship at different levels for advocating pressing issues and to get access to resources, including financial supports, which are one of the limiting factors for the organization.- As Beza is doing a remarkable community service, its funding agencies need to keep supporting them, so that they can easily reach the grass root community through Beza.