Sunday, September 11, 2005

ACP Evaluation

Finally, the results of the ACP evaluation have been officially presented! Many of you may remember that in July 2004, while the joint UNAIDS/UNITAR AIDS Competence Programme was unfolding in a number of countries, the Exd UNAIDS requested an external evaluation in order to assess the value of the proposed approach.

This evaluation was commissioned by the UNAIDS Evaluation department and carried out by an external consultant during the first half of 2005. The main results were presented during a brown bag session on the 29th of August 2005 at the International Environmental House (IEH) in Geneva. Although the audience was small (mainly because of the location of IEH – from UNAIDS and WHO), there were representatives from Aga Khan Development Network, WHO (HIV/AIDS and M&E departments, Rollback Malaria), several departments in UNITAR (including its Exd), and UNAIDS (EVA, CRD and HRD).

The consultant highlighted the methodology followed during the evaluation, the first steps of the AIDS Competence Process (heavy focus on the Self-Assessment Tool), and findings with regards to process, outcomes, coverage and impact. Most of the findings were very positive, but the study mentioned the need for better planning at local level and for adaptation of the tool to local context. The lack of baseline indicator also limited the evaluation of outcome and impact. Among the Lessons Learned by the study, it was noted that ACP really increased ownership of interventions and optimized programme implementation. Another lesson was that ACP allows for an integration of health with other development issues, facilitating the capture of external factors which would otherwise be ignored. The lesson N°5 finally mentioned the possibility to influence policy at upper level through ACP implementation. The recommendations of the study are clear: (i) Some improvement in term of planning and monitoring outcomes to be brought to the approach, (ii) ACP to be continued and strengthened, (iii) UNAIDS – UNITAR partnership to be maintained and (iv) ACP to be endorsed and promoted by other institutions.

During the discussion, some brief comments were made about the methodology, the need for more appropriate outcome and impact indicators for the approach and the real extent of the full process (not just including Self-Assessment tool). Then a statement from the UNITAR Exd called for a renewed partnership between UNITAR and UNAIDS around the further development and utilization of ACP. He mentioned the recently signed Memorandum of Understanding between the two institutions for scaling-up the City-AIDS project. The Director of the WHO Rollback Malaria programme praised the two institutions for been leaders in the development of a very powerful and innovative methodology which can be utilized with other issues such as Malaria. She urged the two institutions to continue to work in that direction as it can benefit to many development programmes.

In general, the presentation of the results did not raise a lot of questions: is it because findings, lessons and recommendations were so straightforward? It looked like nobody wanted to address the question of the next steps. And what to do with the recommendations. At the end of the session, the Director of the UNAIDS Evaluation Department declared his intention to organize another presentation within the WHO/UNAIDS premises and to post the evaluation document on the UNAIDS website.

The Constellation for AIDS Competence was mentioned several times by the presenter as a new NGO which has fully taken the responsibility to promote and scale up ACP amongst partners. Flyers were also distributed. It is clear that, at that stage, UNAIDS hesitates to take action in relation with the recommendations of the evaluation. However, 3 weeks after the evaluation the EVA department confirmed its will to help organize a second presentation within UNAIDS building. This presentation would be led by CRD and focussed on the implementation of the recommendations. This is a task I can undertake, providing there is enough support from CRD in general.

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