UNICEF: Evaluation reports and management

Joint statement by Monica Svenskerud from Norway's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, on behalf of Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden to UNICEF Executive Board Annual Session, 15 June 2016.

| Executive Board

(Check against delivery)

Mr. President, I am delivering this statement on behalf of Denmark, Finland, Sweden and my own country Norway.

Let me start by thanking UNICEF for presenting the Annual Report on the evaluation function in UNICEF and the first independent evaluation on Violence against Children. We commend the Evaluation Office for the continuous increase in the quality of the evaluations, and we acknowledge that UNICEF puts greater emphasis on the outcome level than before. An independent Evaluation Function is crucial as it enables informed decision making for even better and more effective programing. We encourage UNICEF to continue to safeguard sufficient resources for this work.
However, there are some findings in the Annual Report that we would like to highlight:

Firstly, we see that the number of reports completed in 2015 is lower than planned. At the same time, the financial investment in evaluation and the human resources have both increased.

In particular, we note that UNICEF’s humanitarian work is evaluated less frequently than other areas. It would thus be useful to get a geographic and thematic overview of the coverage of evaluation, compared to the overall spending by region and programmes. We kindly request UNICEF to include such an overview in the next Annual Report.

Secondly, there is a need for improvements in the implementation of management responses. According to the report, this might be due to the fact that the roles and responsibilities are not clear and that there is a need for increased support for the management response implementation and registration. We urge UNICEF to follow up on this important matter.

Thirdly, we note that the spending used on evaluations has increased from 0.5% in 2014 to 0.65% in 2015. This is a positive move, but still far from the 1% target. We encourage UNICEF to maintain the positive trend of increasing the funds spent on evaluations to reach the 1% target.

Fourthly, we welcome the improvement in the incorporation of human rights, gender and equity concerns in evaluations and encourage UNICEF to continue this work systematically Finally, we are happy to see UNICEF’s continued engagement with UNEG and EvalPartners, and we look forward to further collaboration of agencies, especially in the area of joint evaluations. When it comes to strengthening of the national evaluation capacity, we encourage UNICEF to cooperate with other funds and programs, in order to ensure better coherence and coordination of those activities.

Mr. President, Let me now turn to UNICEF’s first independent evaluation on Violence against Children. We commend UNICEF’s work on protecting children from violence. Violence against children is never acceptable. Violence is detrimental to children’s physical, psychological and social development – often with lifelong negative effects. Scaling up our efforts to address this matter is urgent.

We note that that there is a lack of coordination and coherence in programme planning and implementation across different levels and sectors. We support the recommendation that violence against children should be made an organization-wide multi-sectoral priority. At the same time, the approach must be dynamic enough to respond to variations and changes in contexts and adjusted to new knowledge and experiences. Another important step towards strengthening programme planning and implementation, as pointed out in the report, would be to entail better data collection and use of data.

We notice that the evaluation summary does not clearly highlight the need of a human rights based approach. In order to reach and protect the most vulnerable children and leave no-one behind we would like to stress that it is necessary to integrate a child rights approach across all sectors. Such an approach should be based on key human rights principles like participation, non-discrimination and accountability.
We also find that the concepts of equity, human rights, equality and gender are used in an inconsistent manner. It is important that these basic concepts are clearly defined in future evaluations.

The evaluation also points to the changing of social norms as an area where results have not been adequately achieved. Changes in social norms that accept violence against children is key to prevention, and much more attention need to be paid on this issue.

The evaluation recommends an increased focus on addressing violence against children among boys and children with disabilities. We would appreciate an explanation on why the evaluation has taken such a narrow approach in its conclusions, while other vulnerable groups are also identified throughout the evaluation.

Mr. President, Let me conclude, by underlining that we support the evaluation team’s recommendation to scale up and renew the focus on preventing violence against children, and that we appreciate UNICEF’s management response.

It is, however, now of utmost importance that sufficient financial and administrative resources are set aside to allow for full implementation of these recommendations.

Thank you.