Juho Mölsä via web
This project is a regional support project which aims to promote and strengthen the expansion and replication of effective Early Childhood Care and Development (ECCD) programme models, strategies and practices; to support the implementation of the regional ECCD Framework; to promote collaboration, learning and dialogue on ECCD within RESA (Region of Eastern and Southern Africa) and Pan-African context; as well as to strengthen ECCD Monitoring, Evaluation and Research within the region. Plan International Finland, together with Plan International Australia and Plan USA have been supporting this regional work since 2012.
During the reporting year a Regional ECCD resource mobilization conference was organised in Entebbe, Uganda. Participants (ECCD programme and resource mobilization staff) from 9 Plan countries analysed the current funding portfolio and pipeline and mapped out a strategic way forward with regards to the funding and sustainability of ECCD in respective countries. During the year, Poimapper infrastructure was successfully setup in both the Regional Office and the Mozambique country office in order to strengthen data collection and project monitoring. A writing workshop was also conducted in Kenya to elaborate a Fathers’ engagement strategy with the support of the Regional Gender Advisor. This work is feeding into and being undertaken in coordination with work to develop guidance for father’s engagement at the global level. ECCD guides and tools were reviewed in Uganda and Ethiopia to take into account data on inclusion, nutrition and gender according to the Regional ECCD Framework. In Ethiopia, the project supported Plan Country Office to promote inclusion through sports and play.
In addition to these specific activities, the regional project continued providing technical support to the Country Offices on a variety of issues. Support visits were conducted to the focus countries, especially to Kenya and Mozambique, and capacity building training was organised on budget monitoring. As a result of this technical support, there is enhanced capacity amongst ECCD staff in the region.
The key challenge in 2015 was the funding cuts imposed by the Ministry for Foreign Affairs (MFA) of Finland to the programme funding of Plan International Finland. After different kind of analysis and negotiations it was decided that the Early Childhood Care and Development (ECCD) project in Kenya will be ended. This caused challenges also for this regional project. The regional office supported Kenya Country Office to find new funding and to revise project targets to reflect the reduced funding. The cuts also resulted in staff turnover in Finland and in Kenya which impacted the project implementation.
There were also start-up delays in the beginning of this project period due to coordination and harmonization with the support coming from the USA and Australia. Coordination of the multiple different stakeholders continued to be a challenge for the Regional team throughout the reporting year.
The Regional Office has invested a lot in supporting the monitoring, evaluation and research in the Country Offices, especially for Kenya and Mozambique. Apart from the research work being done by Stellenbosch University within the Plan USA funded project, the Monitoring, Evaluation and Research (MER) team is working towards having evidence based for the projects, improved data monitoring and collection through the use of PoiMapper application. The use of PoiMapper has greatly improved reporting and data quality as field staff are able to collect and upload data that can then be centrally analysed from the office and reports generated by the Monitoring and Evaluation (M&E) team for programme improvement, monitoring and decision making. The project has become committed to continuing applying PoiMapper and other technological innovations to improve quality, innovation, learning, effectiveness and reporting in future programmes. There is more to be done still, however, in the areas of measuring child development outcomes, identifying what measures to use and how to ensure that they are locally and culturally relevant.
With regards to development of father’s engagement strategy, a lesson learnt is that the strategies need to be country based to enable the countries to incorporate the strategies in the respective country projects.