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Effect on children: external evaluations

In 2012, 11 external evaluations and one internal evaluation were conducted. The evaluations reflected on the relevance, efficiency, effectiveness, impact and sustainability of our projects.

Sierra Leone

The evaluation at the closure of our Sierra Leone programme looked back at our community-based work in the period of 2006–2012. The evaluator was impressed by the way War Child was able to deal with cultural resistance to the concept of child rights, resulting in increased knowledge on child rights and children’s psychosocial needs, increased school enrolment and improved life skills for children and young people, and improved unity and resolution of conflicts in families and communities. The evaluation also highlighted the creation of a strong network of child rights organisations for advocacy and that War Child played a critical role in presenting the reality of the rural context as compared to Freetown.

The evaluator was critical about the sustainability of children and youth support structures initiated by War Child in each community to coordinate the project. The evaluation provided valuable lessons for other War Child community-based projects. See more in the fact sheet.

Safe Learning Spaces – Sudan and South Sudan

According to the evaluation of the 'Safe Learning Spaces' project in Sudan and South Sudan (December 2009 – June 2012), the project provided access to learning for 720 vulnerable children otherwise excluded from the education system, especially girls. They followed the lessons and passed the exams. This result was supported by the established Child Welfare Committees who successfully advocated child rights, especially the right to education, and monitored the safe learning spaces.

The project didn’t succeed in improving the possibilities for the children to integrate in formal mainstream education at the end of the temporary courses provided in the 'Safe Learning Spaces'. Also, it was acknowledged that the 'Safe Learning Spaces' were expensive interventions that improved access for a relatively small fraction of the out-of-school children present in the area.

Learning for Life project – Uganda

In Uganda, the 'Learning for Life' project was evaluated. War Child and our partner organisations Echo Bravo and Labe implemented this project in the period 2010 - 2012. Evidence was found that 'Learning for Life' improved the quality of education. According to the respondents, child-friendly teaching methods and positive disciplining and counselling with pupils were introduced, children developed confidence and better relations with the teachers, and school became more enjoyable. This was confirmed by increased enrolment rates, decreased dropout rates and improved school performance. The evaluator was also positive about parents’ increased commitment to the school and education of their children.

At the end of the project teachers had more knowledge and skills in child-friendly approaches, positive disciplining and counselling. To increase the sustainability of this teacher training, War Child should lobby the District Education Department to include components of the teacher training in the regular teacher training colleges.

Building a Future for the Children - Colombia

The project ‘Building a Future for the Children’ in Colombia (January 2010 – June 2012) was co-financed by the European Union and implemented by War Child and five partner organisations. The evaluation confirmed the relevance of the project, which focused on the protection of children and young people affected by the armed conflict in areas where this was most needed.

The effectiveness of the project was rated as excellent by the external evaluator. Based on data collected in questionnaires, she concluded that War Child used effective methods to support the reintegration of 190 children and young people who were previously linked to armed groups. Also, the project supported more than 1,800 children and young people by addressing risk factors to prevent recruitment. Children and young people developed self-esteem, social relations and alternative plans for their futures.

The evaluator indicated that implementing projects with local partner organisations (as War Child did in this project) requires substantial support to these organisations to strengthen their operations and programming. War Child provides support to them during visits and trainings. However this is too limited. The capacity building process should be more formalised, structural, and tailor-made based on organisational assessments.

Sri Lanka

In 2012 a mid-term evaluation was done with War Child’s partner organisations Be Friend and Saviya Women’s Organisation. The projects run from 2011 until the end of 2013. Both projects work on establishing children’s clubs and Child Protection Committees in the communities, together with government authorities.

In the project of Be Friend, 25% of the 20 clubs functioned well, 40% moderate and 35% low. In the project of Saviya, 53% of the 30 clubs functioned well, 27% moderate and 20% low. Where clubs functioned well or moderate, children and young people initiated youth activities, developed their emotional and social wellbeing and promoted child protection. The adults in the Child Protection Committees supported the youth clubs at village level and referred child protection issues to the authorities.

However, for both projects the evaluator concluded that the size of the input was not adequate to achieve the desired outcome of providing a protective environment for children and young people to grow up in. The number of people enrolled in the youth clubs and Child Protection Committees was relatively small.

Most positively evaluated were the meetings the Child Protection Committees organised with community members and government officials responsible for child rights. In these meetings child rights issues were addressed and available resources and procedures clarified. The meetings resulted in clear follow-up of child right cases.

Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories

In Israel, War Child supports partner organisation ASSAF. They ran a project for young refugees and asylum seekers from Africa. The evaluation of the project indicated that the youth club of ASSAF provided much-needed opportunities for youth club members to come together, meet friends, share concerns, participate in recreational activities and stay away from risky behaviour.

The effectiveness was qualified as ‘medium’ as the effect was limited to the direct group of club members. The evaluator found it difficult to evaluate the quality of the offered psychosocial activities.

ASSAF also provided Israeli civil society and relevant actors with information regarding the current situation of refugees and asylum seekers and the actions taken by the government. However, they didn’t collect data about impact of this awareness raising and advocacy work.

Syrian refugee children in Lebanon

War Child conducted an internal evaluation of its emergency project for young Syrian refugees in Lebanon. Seven Child Friendly Spaces were established, one more than originally planned. The Child Friendly Spaces were well attended and more than 2,800 children benefited of the available resources and activities. The evaluation concluded that the Child Friendly Spaces met UNICEF’s quality criteria as formulated in the Guidelines for Child Friendly Spaces in emergencies, although staff could be trained more in identifying and referring children with special psychosocial or protection needs.

Syrian children hanging around in refugee campAlso, 328 Syrian children participated in War Child’s IDEAL intervention. The evaluator found that this support was in line with five out of six principles for provision of psychosocial support in emergencies as agreed by the Inter-Agency Standing Committee. Nevertheless, support could be more multi-layered. War Child’s intervention focused on layer 2 (community and family support such as life skills courses and educational activities) and layer 3 (non-specialized support such as individual or group support provided by trained workers). The evaluator suggested that more work could be done at layer 1 (basic services and security, including food, shelter, water, health care) and layer 4 (specialised services including psychological or psychiatric support for people with severe mental disorders) in order to meet the needs of the children affected. In theory, War Child starts its intervention when basic needs are met, but in practice these needs are often insufficiently provided for. People who need specialised services are referred to specialists. But in emergencies specialised mental health services are not always available and sometimes War Child staff could be better trained in order to recognise specific needs.

Collected evidence showed that 74% of the targeted children demonstrated increased ability to recognise emotions, knowledge of how to deal with them, and ability to identify and undertake constructive ways to solve problems. They also improved relations with peers and adults, increased their self-confidence and decreased aggressive behaviours.

Finally, all 321 Syrian children who were out of school and attended the remedial classes during the summer programme were successfully integrated into the formal education system and enrolled in Lebanese state schools.

General lessons learned

The findings of two external evaluations (those of the projects of our partner organisations ESCO in Sri Lanka and Basma in Gaza) were positive but not based on clear evidence. War Child developed a new evaluation policy with clearer guidelines to further improve the quality of external evaluations. In 2013 War Child will start publishing all evaluation reports throughout the year as they appear. We will summarise the extent to which our objectives have been achieved for each project. War Child will also indicate how the lessons learnt from each evaluation have influenced project, strategy and policy revisions.

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