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        Economic and Social Council
11 November 1997


Executive Board
First regular session 1998
26-28 and 30 January 1998
Item 9 of the provisional agenda*



Middle East and North Africa region


The present report was prepared in response to Executive Board decision 1995/8 (E/ICEF/1995/9/Rev.1), which requested the secretariat to submit to the Board a summary of the outcome of mid-term reviews and major country programme evaluations, specifying, inter alia, the results achieved, lessons learned and the need for any adjustment in the country programme. The Board is to comment on the reports and provide guidance to the secretariat, if necessary. The evaluations described in the present report were conducted during 1997.


1. Of the 55 evaluations and studies planned by country offices in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region in 1997, 40 per cent were in the health sector and about 20 per cent in the education sector. Only one evaluation, of children’s media consumption patterns, dealt with communications. For the first time, there was a significant number of evaluations and assessments of community-based projects. This distribution reflects the relative priorities given to programme sectors, as well as the availability and clarity of methodologies and indicators for measurement of progress.

2. There is increased awareness in the region of the need to set clear and measurable country-level goals, and to define indicators for measuring progress towards these goals. The framework for an integrated monitoring and evaluation plan is proving to be an important part of the preparation for new country programmes and mid-term reviews. This integrated plan provides a much needed linkage between the planning process and agreement on goals, and the selection of readily measurable indicators by which progress towards these country-level goals can be monitored, with plans adjusted accordingly.

3. There were no mid-term reviews in the MENA region in 1997.



The Child-Friendly Community Initiative, West Bank and Gaza

9. The Child-Friendly Community Initiative (CFCI) was launched in 1996, in collaboration with grass-roots groups and the Palestinian Ministry of Youth and Sports. The overall aim of the project is to: help children and youth to learn better life skills and to participate actively in 15 villages in West Bank and Gaza in the development of their local communities; provide children in remote, rural and underprivileged communities with equal opportunities to participate in community activities, with special focus on young girls and disabled children; upgrade existing youth centres for children and youth and make their communities “child-friendly”; and address the concerns of children and youth affected by the occupation.

10. The objective of this rapid appraisal was to identify the weaknesses and strengths of this project, and to formulate recommendations to the Ministry and to UNICEF for its possible expansion. The appraisal included a desk review of documentation on the project. A questionnaire was developed to evaluate the efficacy and contributions of the youth centres. Focus group interviews were conducted with the coordinators, community leaders and Ministry and UNICEF staff. The team inspected the records and observed locations, activities and patterns of interaction between children, supervisors and community leaders. The findings were discussed by UNICEF and its counterparts and included in the report.

11. The project’s major accomplishment is that it offers community-based and community-run alternatives to national-level interventions seeking to meet children’s needs. Among the strongest components of community participation were the selection and training of volunteers from the community and support to summer camps for children and youth. The project’s activities also integrated educational and recreational goals.

12. The assessment concluded that the centres would be strengthened if the facilitators and community leaders were trained more systematically in issues related to children and child development, and in community work and mobilization. Their previous training had focused on community social problems, including early marriage. Future training should cover techniques for collective needs assessment, planning, problem-solving, advocacy and resource mobilization at the community level. Additional training could focus on learning and child development and other developmental activities could be added. Information-sharing on the rights of children, women and disabled people could be better incorporated in the activities of community and youth centres.

13. Other recommendations focused on ways in which the project’s management could be enhanced. Better cooperation is needed between the United Nations agencies working with the ministries and the departments concerned with health, education and other sectors affecting child development. UNICEF support needs to be integrated fully across programme sectors, so that the project better incorporates health and education activities. A baseline study should be done, and systematic needs assessments with community participation will sharpen further the focus of the activities. A system of community-based monitoring may also be useful for obtaining feedback. More specifically, a full-time facilitator is needed in each CFCI site to enable continuity and to facilitate and support greater accountability of the community volunteers. Finally, additional work in the community could be taken on, beyond what is carried out at the CFCI centre. Such activities could focus on all the aspects of a child’s life (school, neighbourhood and community).



* E/ICEF/1998/2.

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