Mid-term Evaluation of the Spotlight Programme

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Evaluation Plan:
2020-2024, Liberia
Evaluation Type:
Mid Term Project
Planned End Date:
03/2021
Completion Date:
09/2021
Status:
Completed
Management Response:
Yes
Evaluation Budget(US $):
7,000

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Title Mid-term Evaluation of the Spotlight Programme
Atlas Project Number: 00125917
Evaluation Plan: 2020-2024, Liberia
Evaluation Type: Mid Term Project
Status: Completed
Completion Date: 09/2021
Planned End Date: 03/2021
Management Response: Yes
Focus Area:
  • 1. Others
Corporate Outcome and Output (UNDP Strategic Plan 2018-2021)
  • 1. Output 1.6.1 Country-led measures accelerated to advance gender equality and women’s empowerment
  • 2. Output 1.6.2 Measures in place and implemented across sectors to prevent and respond to Sexual and Gender Based Violence (SGBV)
SDG Goal
  • Goal 1. End poverty in all its forms everywhere
  • Goal 10. Reduce inequality within and among countries
  • Goal 16. Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels
  • Goal 3. Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages
  • Goal 5. Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls
SDG Target
  • 1.4 By 2030, ensure that all men and women, in particular the poor and the vulnerable, have equal rights to economic resources, as well as access to basic services, ownership and control over land and other forms of property, inheritance, natural resources, appropriate new technology and financial services, including microfinance
  • 10.2 By 2030, empower and promote the social, economic and political inclusion of all, irrespective of age, sex, disability, race, ethnicity, origin, religion or economic or other status
  • 16.5 Substantially reduce corruption and bribery in all their forms
  • 16.6 Develop effective, accountable and transparent institutions at all levels
  • 3.3 By 2030, end the epidemics of AIDS, tuberculosis, malaria and neglected tropical diseases and combat hepatitis, water-borne diseases and other communicable diseases
  • 5.5 Ensure women’s full and effective participation and equal opportunities for leadership at all levels of decision-making in political, economic and public life
Evaluation Budget(US $): 7,000
Source of Funding: EU Funds
Evaluation Expenditure(US $): 001
Joint Programme: Yes
Joint Evaluation: Yes
  • Joint with UN Agencies
  • Joint with UN Women, RCO
Evaluation Team members:
Name Title Nationality
HERA Firm
GEF Evaluation: No
Key Stakeholders: Civil Society Organizations, Ministry of Gender
Countries: LIBERIA
Lessons
Findings
1.

PROGRAMME DESIGN

1. The programme is well aligned to the Spotlight Initiative principles as listed in the Spotlight Initiative Fund ToRs.

2. The Spotlight Initiative implementation in Liberia builds on and consolidates the achievements of the joint UN programme on GBV and harmful traditional practices in Liberia. Its design used a consultative approach and involved all relevant segments of the government, CSOs, traditional leaders and RUNOs which have experience and are in a position to effect lasting changes in the country on issues related to EVAWG. It is well aligned to the government’s PAPD and relevant SDGs.

3. The Spotlight Initiative, by design, is deliberately reaching the most vulnerable women and girls in the five Counties. It is, however, challenging, to analyse to what extent specific marginalized groups benefit from the interventions.

4. An inclusive approach to strengthening the capacity, coordination and networking of CSOs working on VAWG in the intervention areas of the Spotlight Initiative is being implemented.

5. All key stakeholders were to some or to a large extent involved in the design, implementation, and monitoring of the programme.

6. The programme in Liberia has identified relevant contextual, programmatic and institutional risks. Some of the risks – notably the risk related to weak, fragmented and low institutional systems, knowledge and capacity and the risk of limited government capacity to develop and analyse data - require further mitigation measures that need to be integrated in the intervention logic.

7. In response to COVID-19, the work plan was revised and relevant mitigation measures were initiated.

8. The indicators are relevant and gender responsive. Their number is adequate for the scope of the programme. While the indicators are disaggregated to capture data by age, sex, sector, LNOB type, etc., the programme lacks specific indicators on reaching the furthest behind first. This could be measured through a qualitative indicator.


2.

GOVERNANCE

1. Overall, the management arrangements at national level are adequate and inclusive of all relevant stakeholders. The National Steering Committee, the Technical Working Group, the six Pillar Working Groups, the CSO reference group are perceived as functional by the majority of interviewees. The timeliness and quality of the reporting of the Technical Working Group seems to require improvements.

2. The government is represented in the different coordination mechanisms but so far they have encountered difficulties in implementing the actions under their responsibility in the workplan and have had difficulties to ensure coordination and communication across the involved ministries and between the central and County level representative. The limited coordination and agreement is particularly visible in their inability to reach a consensus for harmonizing their data collection approach on VAWG. Different causes such as insufficient technical and institutional capacity and equipment were described. Further analysis is required to explore these factors, to understand how they are connected and how they can be effectively addressed.

3. Government stakeholders are not satisfied with their role in the implementation which impacts negatively on their commitment and ownership. Their perception of being side-lined and 44 insufficiently involved could not be corroborated by other data sources but similar issues were reported in the evaluation report of the previous joint-UN programme on GBV and HTP.

4. The CSOs and RUNOs have shown strong commitment to fulfil their role as part of the Spotlight Initiative.

5. There are mechanisms to ensure CSO contributions to steering the programme both at County (through Secretariats) and at national level (through the CSO reference group). Most respondents perceived these mechanisms to be working well, but there were also voices who felt that CSO participation could be more effective.

6. The EUD and the PMC have conflicting viewpoints on the extent and on how the EUD should contribute to steering the Spotlight Initiative. The EUD manages the programme as a bilateral DEVCO programme and demands to be closely involved in the implementation and monitoring of the programme. The PMC experiences this way of working as time-intensive and inefficient and not aligned with the global programme approach.

7. The EUD remains committed to the Spotlight Initiative implementation in Liberia but finds it unacceptable that the agreement to share reports before sending them to the global Secretariat and the EU headquarters has not materialized. Dissatisfaction with an insufficient involvement in problem solving of the EU has also been a concern for them. The PMC, on the other hand, finds it challenging to accommodate the close involvement of the EUD in the monitoring and implementation.


3.

PROGRAMME MANAGEMENT

1. The Spotlight Initiative is aligned with the UN agencies’ mandates, experience and expertise. UNICEF, UNFPA, UN Women and UNICEF have already participated in the implementation of the Joint UN VAWG Programme prior to the Spotlight Initiative. This has ensured continuity. Good practices and lessons learnt have been incorporated in the design of the Spotlight Initiative.

2. An important foundation for ‘Delivering as one’ has been put in place through the accountability of the RC for the programme and the set-up of the PMC in the UN house. The leadership of the RC has been important to ensure coherence and facilitate problem solving across RUNOs. Joint procurement and implementation are not yet systematic. According to UN representatives, the measures implemented in line with the UN reform led to greater efficiency and effectiveness. This viewpoint was not corroborated by the EUD.

3. The governance structure and implementation processes involve key stakeholders and are transparent. Each RUNO works with its own procedures. According to IPs, modifications to the implementation processes are necessary to improve the disbursement frequency.

4. The Spotlight Initiative in Liberia did not meet the target of spending 70% by end of Phase 1 but had higher expenditure rates than other Spotlight Initiative programmes in Africa.

5. There are contradictive viewpoints on the adequacy of staffing for the programme at UN level. From the perspective of the PMC, staffing is satisfactory while RUNOs perceive it to be insufficient. Further analysis is needed to explore whether or not the staffing capacity for the Spotlight Initiative is adequate.

6. The allocation of 64% of the budget awarded to CSOs to one international non-governmental organisation is questionable. If the capacity of local CSOs is too weak to allow timely and quality implementation of interventions under the Spotlight Initiative, this should be reflected in the risk assessment.

7. The absorptive capacity of the government needs further strengthening. High rotation among human resources at national level and a lack of institutional resources at County level are key bottlenecks to be addressed.

8. The technical capacity and coordination work of the PMC is appreciated by the RUNOs. The accountabilities within the PMC team including reporting lines still need to be defined.

9. The government and EU member states have expressed reservations about the ways the programme is managed and complained about not being sufficiently involved by the UN, albeit their assigned roles and responsibilities in the Steering Committee, Technical Meetings and Pillar Meetings.


4.

PROGRAMME IMPLEMENTATION AND RESULTS

1. Delays in the programme have led to underachievement of the output performance targets in 2019, in particular under Outcomes 1, 5 and 6. Progress under outcome 3 and 4 was satisfactory. Output progress under Outcome 2 was excellent. In the absence of the 2020 data it is not possible to gauge the current performance status of the programme.

2. The progress towards outcome targets in the performance data from 2019 indicate that the programme outputs effectively contribute to reaching the planned outcomes. Lack of 47 disaggregated data on some indicators do not allow monitoring to what extent marginalized groups are included and benefit from the programme in 2019.

3. The participatory working approach, increased CSO capacity and the successful engagement of traditional leaders and communities are proxy indicators for the quality of the output delivery. The substantial investment in the reconversion of traditional FGM/C practitioners as well as the delays in the set-up of a call centre for the referral of VAWG cases as part of the COVID-19 response are of concern.

4. The timeliness and quality of the adjudication of SGBV cases have been a bottleneck, which were further exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. The availability of skilled health personnel and gender balanced WACPS for the assistance of SGBV survivors has also been an issue. While these issues where not within the remit of the current programme, there is need to address them during phase 2.

5. The project started with a six-months delay. Further delays were accumulated due to inefficiencies in the UN processes and procedures as well as the set-up of a new government in 2018 with little experience on the UN operating model. Corrective actions, such as briefings of new government staff and capacity building of partners, were implemented.

6. The COVID-19 pandemic led to further delays, but the Spotlight Initiative rolled out a joint response plan which was effective for adapting the programme to the pandemic. The current extent of the delays cannot be assessed as the 2020 annual report, the 2020 performance data and expenditure data were still being compiled at the time of the evaluation.

7. IPs voiced queries about the absorptive capacity of RUNOs, but these could not be corroborated with information provided by the RUNOs.

8. The absorptive capacities of IPs were estimated to be satisfactory. Most IPs received capacity strengthening support. Timely and quality narrative and financial reporting remained nevertheless a problem that led to delays. Due to lack of detail in the financial data provided, the analysis could not be pushed further.

9. The absorptive capacity of the government needs further strengthening. The lack and capacity of a human resources at County were identified as a key bottleneck

10. No sustainability plan or exit strategy has been developed at the end of the first phase; it will be developed as part of Phase 2.

11. While the Spotlight Initiative has contributed to strengthening the capacity of local actors to reduce VAWG, there are still substantial gaps that make it unlikely that the capacity of the national CSOs and the government will be sufficient to manage the process by the end the initiative.


Recommendations
1

It is recommended for Phase 2 to revise the interventions under Pillar 2 and 5 to expand capacity strengthening of government partners. Institutional strengthening at sub-national level to capacitate the MGCSP’s County Coordinators should be prioritised to improve the communication and data entry capacity on how to communicate this data to the central level government (Liberia Spotlight Initiative and government).

2

To further understand the limitations and gaps in efficiency and effectiveness of the involved ministries, it is recommended to hire an external facilitator to support the government to put in place an accountability framework, a harmonized data collection approach to VAWG and a communication flow that will allow a more effective steering of the programme during phase 2 of the programme (Liberia Spotlight Initiative in collaboration with government).

3

The concept for Phase 2 of the Spotlight Initiative should incorporate capacity strengthening of justice actors, including the Liberian National Police, Judges and Magistrates to ensure that SGBV cases are speedily adjudicated in a legal time frame in order to avoid prolonged pre-trial detention. It is also recommended to increase the support to the WACPS to develop and implement a strategy for the recruitment and retainment of female staff (Liberia Spotlight Initiative and government).

1. Recommendation:

It is recommended for Phase 2 to revise the interventions under Pillar 2 and 5 to expand capacity strengthening of government partners. Institutional strengthening at sub-national level to capacitate the MGCSP’s County Coordinators should be prioritised to improve the communication and data entry capacity on how to communicate this data to the central level government (Liberia Spotlight Initiative and government).

Management Response: [Added: 2021/11/09]

UNDP has revised phase 2 interventions under Pillar 2  to expand capacity strengthening of government partners especially WACPS and County Coordinators at Ministry of Gender to recruit, retain staff and prioritised improved communication and data entry capacity

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
Strengthen key government officials’ capacities of the WACPS to develop and implement a strategy for the recruitment and retainment of female staff as well as County Gender coordinators, to integrate efforts to combat VAWG into the development plans for enhanced programming.
[Added: 2021/11/09]
UNDP 2022/06 Overdue-Not Initiated
2. Recommendation:

To further understand the limitations and gaps in efficiency and effectiveness of the involved ministries, it is recommended to hire an external facilitator to support the government to put in place an accountability framework, a harmonized data collection approach to VAWG and a communication flow that will allow a more effective steering of the programme during phase 2 of the programme (Liberia Spotlight Initiative in collaboration with government).

Management Response: [Added: 2021/11/09]

In phase 1, UNDP hired a consultant who conducted a capacity need assessment of key justice and security institutions. Based on the report findings, LIPA was hired to train 10 institutions and conduct regular coaching and mentoring session. Recommendations from said session will be incoordinated into phase 2 revised work plan for implementation.

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
Establish/strengthen internal and external accountability mechanisms, a harmonized data collection approach to EVAWG and enhance a communication flow that will allow a more effective steering of the programme within relevant government institutions, at the National level to monitor Gender Equality, Women's Empower (GEWE) and Violence Against Women and Girls (VAWG)/Harmful Practices (HPs).
[Added: 2021/11/09]
UNDP 2022/06 Overdue-Not Initiated
3. Recommendation:

The concept for Phase 2 of the Spotlight Initiative should incorporate capacity strengthening of justice actors, including the Liberian National Police, Judges and Magistrates to ensure that SGBV cases are speedily adjudicated in a legal time frame in order to avoid prolonged pre-trial detention. It is also recommended to increase the support to the WACPS to develop and implement a strategy for the recruitment and retainment of female staff (Liberia Spotlight Initiative and government).

Management Response: [Added: 2021/11/09]

UNDP has re-designed phase 2 workplan to incorporate recommendation from this MTA under outcome 2.

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
Strengthen the capacity of key government officials of justice and security institutions , including Judges and Magistrates to ensure that SGBV cases are speedily adjudicated in a legal time frame in order to avoid prolonged pre-trial detention as recommended by participants trained in phase I.
[Added: 2021/11/09]
UNDP 2022/06 Overdue-Not Initiated

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