Utilisation-focused evaluation (UFE) is an approachthat emphasises the importance of engaging with stakeholders throughout the evaluation process to ensure that findings are relevant, useful, and actionable. It focuses on providing feedback and insights that lead to more effective decision-making and ultimately improving the success of the project, programme, or policy being evaluated. This approach is aligned with our mission to analyse the performance of institutions to help them amplify, improve, and sustain societal benefits.
With that approach in mind, Plan Eval, in partnership with Action Against Hunger, conducted the evaluation of UNICEF Brazil’s Country Programme 2017 – 2021. The evaluation had as its objectives to provide accountability for the work performed in the period under analysis and to be a learning tool to inform the upcoming programme cycle. To achieve such objectives, the evaluators applied a utilisation-focused and participatory approach. It consisted of engaging with stakeholders from the inception to the reporting stages, going over each evaluation question to make sure that it served a practical purpose.
The team held weekly check-in meetings during the research phase to report on the progress of information collected and likewise during the analytic phase, to discuss preliminary findings. Come the reporting stage, the conclusions were presented in a series of online discussions involving UNICEF Brazil’s programme officers, whose criticism was essential for the evaluation team to hone in on the relevance of the findings. The latter round of validations consisted of participatory SWOT seminars, where everyone involved in the management response to the evaluation had the opportunity to rank recommendations in terms of their priority for implementation and likely impact.
The Country Programme Evaluation (CPE) is a mandatory assessment conducted by UNICEF Country Offices every two programme cycles (i.e., every ten years) and is among the most complex, as it looks at all programmatic areas and operations. Evaluating a broad range of activities and outcomes across different sectors can be challenging to manage as it involves multiple stakeholders like government partners, civil society organisations, and other UN agencies. Managing the input and feedback from these different groups required integrating data into a dynamic evidence matrix organised by evaluation question and intended purpose.
Boris Diechtiareff, Monitoring and Evaluation Specialist at the Brazil Country Office (BCO) highlighted the usability and influence of the evaluation findings and recommendations. According to him, “the findings not only focused on the mandatory aspects but also saw the necessity and the benefits of doing the exercise to help design the new country program”. The evaluation was “shared and used widely by different teams and stakeholders, including the Country Management Team, the UNICEF Latin America and Caribbean Regional Office, the Brazilian Cooperation Agency and the Brazilian Government”.
The evaluation report‘s findings and recommendations, in addition to informing the Country Programme Document (CPD), also served as a learning tool to improve the response to the Venezuelan migrant emergency in Brazil.