The three-year programme was evaluated in August 2007. The main conclusion was that the objectives as mentioned above were largely achieved, particularly in case of children and parents participating in I DEAL groups and parent groups, the psychosocial support for children and youth in Gulu, Amuru, Lira and Kitgum and the catch-up education in Gulu. The following recommendations were made:
- Improve the Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation system;
- Focus more on capacity building of partners, youth groups, teachers (rather than on creativity tools) and community structures;
- The expansion of the programme both in size and content has put pressure on human resources, skills and quality control. With further expansion quality control and skills development should be prioritized.
For 2007, War Child had planned to follow the people as they returned home. This turned out to be complicated. The return home is not a mass departure but rather a gradual and long process. This meant that War Child worked in IDP camps as well as in communities and villages to which people were returning. The latter was done at schools and at the district level because that was how children could be reached. Moreover, staff selected participants for training courses based on their region of origin. This enabled them to establish new youth groups in their communities after they returned home.
The I DEAL, SHE DEALS, BIG DEAL and parent groups were a success. Both children and parents indicated that they learnt a great deal and were more positive toward each other. Parents noted that their children were more attentive and sociable, fought less and paid more attention at school. Children said that their parents hit them less, listened more attentively and that alcoholism and sexual abuse decreased. Parents requested an extension of the group and indicated that many more parents in the district wanted to join. War Child was also evaluated positively by UNICEF. I DEAL, the child-friendly areas and the method of working with youth groups in the 'Inter-parish League' in Lira (see below) were praised in particular.
The child-friendly areas functioned better than in the previous year. By establishing management committees, we increased community involvement in child-friendly areas. Meetings are held regularly. Most areas now have playground equipment that is used intensively. Games, sports contests, dance and music events, and informal information meetings are organised regularly.
War Child organised UNICEF-sponsored activities to raise awareness among communities and stake holders about problems related to the recruitment of child soldiers and violation of the rights of children. These activities included:
- Community meetings: the recruitment of child soldiers, as well as child abuse, was discussed in six separate meetings. These discussions were attended by 332 children, youth, parents, village leaders, women's movement representatives and religious leaders.
- 258 children, including many former child soldiers, participated in a discussion about child abuse and the violation of children's rights.
- Radio talk shows on these topics were broadcasted, to which an estimated 2500 people listened.
- Staff members engaged in direct conversations with officers of the Ugandan government forces (UPDF) about the recruitment of minors. During a workshop, 31 high officers were made aware of the vulnerable position of child soldiers.
- Training sessions about child protection were organised for 240 teachers, health workers and village leaders, enabling them to react more effectively to the recruitment of child soldiers and other forms of child abuse.
The project was carried out according to plan and ended after one year. A follow-up child protection programme was started. It is a general programme sponsored by UNICEF and the recruitment of child soldiers is one of its major topics.
Internal reports must be improved. The Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation (PM&E) system will be one of the main tools to accomplish this. Moreover, the capacity of our own staff needs to be enhanced by means of training sessions, particularly because the team has grown considerably (from 23 staff members in 2006 to 38 this year).
Another improvement was made by making youth responsible for the organisation of activities on behalf of children. This improved their motivation. In Lira, an 'Inter-parish League' pilot project was launched: groups of young people played games of football and netball in a competition. They could also score points for this competition by doing activities for their own community. Because they wanted to win they worked hard and received a lot of support from their communities.