Evaluation Report: Young Voices Network, Southern Africa 2004
Background The Young Voices network is a network of youth groups and youth organisations in the three countries. The network has been supported by NPA since its beginning in 1997. NPA felt it was high time to evaluate it in order to see what the youth groups are actually doing, to see how the work can be improved and how the young activists can be assisted in a constructive way. The youth groups come from rural areas as well as urban areas, and the evaluator found that most of the young people live on or below the poverty line. Their activities range from information (using drama and creative methods) on HIV/AIDS, visits to juvenile delinquents in prisons, visits to children in hospitals (Malawi), information on HR, income generating projects, support from students to young people who want to study (Student Link, South Africa), cooperation between students at university and poor youth in townships (Zimbabwe). Purpose/objective The long term objective of the network is: Youth are taken seriously as resources in their community and playing an active role in the development of their society.Immediate objective: A network of committed and active young women and men with the ability and capacity to take initiatives to addressing common issues. The objective of the evaluation was to:1 Describe the Young Voices Network as it is today.2 Make a profile of the youth who are active in the network.3 Assess how the activities of the network has contributed to the major objectives of the programme.- An examination of decision-making processes- Leadership- Gender awareness and sensitivity- HIV/AIDS awareness and action- The extent to which the members are able to influence policy Methodology - Interviews with youth coordinators- Interviews with active youth groups- Interviews with individuals The evaluation process was largely qualitative in nature, using semi-structured interviews, the focus groups ethnographic observation, report reviews and process information for the data collection. Key findings - Membership of the Young Voices Network is poorly documented, monitored and described.- There were qualitative differences observed between rural, urban and semi-urban groups. Urban groups were most organised, resourced and active; rural groups were highly active and focussed; peri-urban groups were the least organised, although strong leaders have emerged from these settings.- The majority of the youth were on or below the poverty line.- There was a clear bias towards male membership and participation, but there are some strong women leaders.- Monitoring and evaluation skills are poor, the network is far more active and effective than the reports suggest.- The network is highly dynamic and complex. The groups are not static and change consistently Recommendations - Monitoring and evaluation skills training are urgently required.- The network requires a careful re-examination of its function. The "Board model" is recommended.- The ethos of "best practice " should be encouraged as a means to sharing ideas and information and structuring workshop activities.- A skills profile data base should be developed for cross-skilling to occur, and in order not to lose information of youth who have left the network.- The current Board model may be the best practice process.- Future evaluations of the network should be short term and rapid because it is such an evolving and dynamic entity.- A more detailed evaluation process in each country should occur. An evaluation tool should be developed for the network in order for the groups to be able to evaluate themselves. Comments from the organisation NPA is very pleased with this evaluation, the process as well as the findings and recommendations. The youth are now in the process of developing a tool for evaluation to enable them to evaluate their own process. A series of training workshops will be organised in November/December 2005.