By Kieran Magnes
Governments and multilateral organizations such as UNICEF rely on evaluations to ensure that their global initiatives are achieving results. The question is, how, if at all, do stakeholders ultimately use these evaluations for project planning and adaptive management? I4DI’s recent work on UNICEF Serbia’s Country Programme evaluation helps to answer this question.
The evaluation assessed each of UNICEF’s programmatic priorities in Serbia: protection of children’s rights, access to education (especially for minority groups), and the strengthening of the country’s social welfare system. It found that UNICEF made progress in all areas, but overall it needed greater strategic focus and effectiveness of “communication for development” (C4D) in order for the results to be sustainable over time.
Zehra K. Dzihic, I4DI’s team leader on this evaluation, highlighted that “C4D programs are key in supporting system-level reforms to ensure system changes are taking up root across society. Traditional communication approaches are insufficient to tackle deeply ingrained social norms and entrenched practices within society.” Ms. Dzihic also added that UNICEF Serbia “really welcomed evaluation findings and insights,” mentioning that “by the time we did the final presentation, UNICEF had already implemented at least half of the recommendations that we made.”
In this evaluation, I4DI gathered recommendations derived from consultations, interviews, and group discussions with key stakeholders in order to generate ideas for improvement of UNICEF’s future strategic directions and to ensure optimization of available resources within the government. The findings, conclusions, and recommendations of this evaluation will further be disseminated by UNICEF CO to relevant line ministries to agree on the lines of action for CPD 2021–2025. As said by Azra Kacapor Nurkic, CEO and Co-Founder of I4DI, “It feels good when you know that your work is making a difference.”