Midterm Evaluation of Plan International Malawi’s Projects under the Norad Framework Agreement 2016-2019
About the publication
- Published: October 2018
- Series: --
- Type: NGO reviews
- Carried out by: William Kasapila, Henry Sapuwa, Clement Bisai and Docile Kalunga
- Commissioned by: Plan
- Country: Malawi
- Theme: Children
- Pages: 92
- Serial number: --
- ISBN: --
- ISSN: --
- Organization: Plan International Norge
- Local partner: Plan International Malawi
- Project number: GLO 0742 QZA-15/0442
The State of the World’s Children report of 2016 by UNICEF lists Malawi as one of the 10 countries in the world with highest rates of child marriages. Approximately 1 in 2 girls marry by the age of 18 and close to one third of adolescents (29%) aged 15-19 begin bearing children and drop out of school.
Another study by UNFPA in 2010 exposed that 80 percent of girls get married by the age of 18 in Mulanje alone and 90 percent are already sexually active before this age. Most Malawian children lead very difficult lives often beset by chronic poverty and a dearth of opportunities.
In February 2017, the Malawi Parliament amended the Constitution and raised the age of marriage from 15 to 18 years to end Child, Early and Forced Marriages (CEFM). School dropouts in the country are exacerbated by recurrent Cyclone Banski, El Niño and other weather-related floods and droughts that destroy school infrastructure and make them unconducive for learning. Children with disabilities and from minority groups are the worst affected.
Environmental degradation and climate change are the main drivers for poor weather conditions. With funding from Norad and in partnership with five local Civil Society Organisations (CSOs), Plan International Malawi (PIM) is implementing the 4-year 18+ Ending Child Marriage project in Mulanje and the Promoting Safe Schools and Inclusive Project in Mulanje, Chikwawa and Karonga to complement government’s efforts.
The Mid-Term Review (MTR) assessed the degree to which planned outcomes around the four projects are on course to achieve the targeted results. The key objectives of the MTR was to assess the projects for the following: relevance, effectiveness, efficiency, project management and sustainability. The MTR also assessed the project’s performance on cross cutting issues; gender equality, disability inclusion, unexpected results, added value and participation. The two projects aim to end CEFM and keep children in schools that are inclusive, safe from natural disasters and violent free.
The evaluation was conducted in July 2018. It used participatory and mixed methods to collect, analyse and triangulate quantitative and qualitative data from the desk study, 59 interviews with key persons involved in the projects, 25 focus group discussions with pupils (boys and girls) in and out of school, the DRR and 18+ clubs and school governance structures, such as PTAs (Parents-Teachers Associations), SMCs (School Management Committees) and Mother Groups, and a survey of 36 schools e.g. all the 30 and 6 schools under the Safe Schools and 18+ projects respectively.
Analysis of qualitative data collected show that the two Norad funded projects under review are guided by the banner, “Say No to Child Marriage and Yes to Education”, and rely on the Champion of Change tool, the 18+ Global Theory of Change, Gender Transformative Approach and the Safe Schools Framework to tackle CEFM and keep children in school. By July 2018, the Safe Schools project reached out to a total of 10,400 people from the general public, 1076 parents and 272 duty bearers (teachers, the police, judges and senior government staff) on child protection and rights.
The project has increased transparency and accountability of school management processes by enhancing community and children’s participation in decision making and monitoring quality of education. In the past two years, the Safe Schools project has also supported all the targeted 30 schools to develop Codes of Conduct for learners and teachers to foster discipline and make schools violent free. More so, the project has made various improvements in infrastructure (e.g. construction of 294 ramps and inclusive model toilets in 5 schools, and renovation of floors for 46 classrooms).
Conversely, the 18+ project ensures that girls and boys have access to safe spaces and are empowered with SRHR (Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights) information they need to claim their rights and protect themselves from any forms of violence. In addition, the 18+ project is harmonising bylaws enforced by chiefs to end CEFM and has revamped the Community Based Child Protection (CBCP) mechanism. Implementation of activities is underpinned by a number of sound principles and management procedures to avoid corruption.
As a result, with very few exceptions the projects have met or exceeded their midterm outcomes, attaining 81.7 percent achievement on average, and show a high likelihood that they will achieve all the targets by the end of the implementation period in December 2019. A total of 40,372 children are in school up from 37,642 recorded at baseline in 2016, which represents a 7.3 percent increase. Out of these children, 20,169 are girls, 20,203 boys, 981 children with disabilities (554 boys and 427 girls), 2,521 orphans and 597 returnees who initially dropped out of school. Most of the 99 cases of child abuse encountered in the past two years have been reported by girls and boys themselves.
There are no gender and sex differences in the way the projects are impacting and benefiting girls, boys and their communities. Perpetrators of child marriages, abuse such as incest and rape, and gender inequalities tend to be men. However, after being involved in the projects many of them have transformed and become patrons and champions of change.
Sustainability of project activities is guaranteed by
- value addition to PIM and its implementing partners after strengthening their capacity and creating new linkages through which they share lessons and experiences with others, and
- institutionalization of activities in the daily routine work of the targeted communities, schools and duty bearers. Many challenges still remain though that need to be addressed. A major issue is that of delays in the disbursement of funds due to internal financial procedures. Other key challenges identified include continued existence of harmful cultural and traditional practices that frustrates efforts to end CEFM forever, inadequate learning facilities, lack of assistive devices for specific conditions of CWDs, lack of teachers and project staff with expertise in inclusive education and psychosocial support, and the dilapidated and lack of strong physical infrastructure in schools to withstand disasters.
PIM and its implementing partners should adopt a more efficient system of disbursing funds by decentralizing payments of small grants of less than 15 million to field offices and initiating the processing after implementing partners have liquidated 70 percent of the expenditures. There is also need to engage chiefs more actively in the fight against CEFM, and establish linkages with other funders, such as UNICEF, UN Women, UNFPA and GIZ, to leverage efforts. On-going monitoring and support for CWDs and older girls and boys readmitted into school can also help to accelerate impact.
Comments from the organisation
Plan will be follow up the recommendations of the evaluation as far as possible in the remaining period and in the future programming.