UNICEF Ethiopia is implementing a mixed package of interventions, including a number of different activities aiming to:
- influence and improve knowledge, perceptions and outcomes in nutrition and menstrual health and hygiene (MHH); and
- improve access to and use of health and nutrition-related goods and services, through building the self-esteem and agency of adolescent girls.
This will better equip adolescent girls to make positive life choices, resulting in long-term improvements in their own health and nutrition, as well as that of their future infants and children.
Drawing on the principles of theory-based impact evaluation (White, 2009), we have combined a quantitative, quasi-experimental design with in-depth qualitative research. At midline and endline this will enable us to unpack the ‘black box’ between activities and impact and explain if and how change has occurred. The inclusion of a focused process evaluation component facilitates an understanding of whether change can be attributed to the effective implementation of the programme, or in the case of an absence of change, whether this is a result of failure to implement (not delivering activities as planned), or of programme logic (incorrect assumptions on the link between outputs and outcomes). In the context of the complex and multi-faceted UNICEF joint programme, this approach will provide a systematic and robust method to understand whether the intended outcomes have been achieved, the importance of the intervention’s contribution relative to that of other contributing alternative causes, as well as an elaboration of the ‘how’ and ‘why’ questions underlying the captured changes.
The key objectives of this first round of evaluation research were to:
- establish the purposive sample of communities and case study girls who will be followed through the period of the evaluation;
- build a rapport with girls and gain their informed consent to participate in the research over the next three years;
- understand as much as possible about their current situation, practices and viewpoints in relation to the key themes of the evaluation, before the beginning of UNICEF Ethiopia Joint Programme implementation; and
- inform the design of the midline process evaluation and qualitative tools, and the end line quantitative evaluation.
The purpose of this baseline report is to introduce the context for the evaluation, further describe the interventions and evaluation design, and summarise selected data from the quantitative baseline survey, and qualitative cohort studies. Following misalignment of expectations regarding the remit of the evaluation, a number of discussions took place and agreements were reached at inception (and are included in the inception report). Most pertinently, it is understood that Itad are responsible for the independent evaluation of the UNICEF joint programme, while project design is beyond this remit. Subsequently, the most important information to present in this baseline report is: (i) current status against key indicators – as well as other important indicators related to the results that UNICEF Ethiopia are trying to achieve – and (ii) a discussion of the explanatory factors for these baseline results, for UNICEF Ethiopia to design and implement the Joint Nutrition-WASH-Education Programme for maximum impact.