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Independently evaluating interventions is crucial for long lasting impact: an example from Tanzania

How do we know that our projects work?

No need to take our word for it, at the end of every ECLT-supported project there is an external, independent assessment to determine the successes and weaknesses from which we can draw lessons to bring about effective and long-lasting solutions in the fight against child labour.

In 2020, ECLT’s Umoja project in Tanzania came to a close, before embarking on new programmes we contacted an independent expert to carry out an assessment of the project and here are some of the findings.

Umoja project: a brief background

“Promoting Sustainable Practices to Eradicate Child Labour in Tobacco Umoja” (PROSPER Umoja) was implemented from 2018 to 2020 in partnership with Winrock International, Tanzania Association of Women Leaders in Agriculture and Environment (TAWLAE) and Tabora Development Foundation Trust (TDFT) covering three regions and five districts in Tanzania, including Tabora Region Mbeya Region and Songwe Region. Over the last three years, over 10,000 community member attended awareness raising events on child labour, 186 young people graduated from job skills training, and over 660 children and parents participated in literacy and numeracy boost classes. ECLT’s Umoja project was designed to support national efforts and align with the National Action plan for the elimination of child labour, the Foundation worked closely with both public and private sectors for multi-sectoral collaboration at local, national and international levels.

Evaluating effectiveness

The evaluation process included targeted twelve villages, in five districts, in three regions. Both quantitative and qualitative data collection and analysis methods were used to capture both intended and unintended outcomes. Participants in the assessment included 76 key informant interviews with local government officials (village, district, region), project partners, primary societies, private companies, Tanzania Tobacco Board, farmers, and selected representatives from beneficiaries groups, 21 beneficiary focus group discussions, 139 questionnaires with children beneficiaries, and 80 assessments with Village Savings and Loans Associations, Model Farm Schools, and skills groups members.

The evaluation found that PROSPER Umoja has gone beyond the targets with higher achievements than expected on all results/outputs by reaching a further 600 more beneficiaries than the original target.
Here are some more examples of indicators included in Tanzania’s National Action Plan to Eliminate child labour (2019 – 2022) where the Umoja project exceeded initial expectations.

• The number of stakeholders (public and/or private) conducted twice the amount of child labour inspections. 99 child labour inspections took place in communities identified at risk contributing to the National Action Plan which encourages special inspections on child labour in agriculture (objective 1).

• Tanzania’s NAP calls for increased stakeholder's commitments to finance activities related to child labour elimination under objective 7. Over 172 district officials mainstreamed child labour and its root causes into work plans and budgets in line with national frameworks. The initial target was 80.

• The target for number of children at risk of child labour to receive educational scholarships was 400 and the achievement was over 601. This contributes directly to the NAP objective 5 for enhanced safe, inclusive accessible learning environments.

• 100% of the communities involved in the project reported having improved economic opportunities versus the 80% initially targeted. This corresponds to objective 3 of the NAP, to strengthen household economic empowerment.

Unexpected impacts

As well as those noted above the PROSPER Umoja assessment also shed light on some unexpected outcomes. Firstly, the Village Savings and Loan Association concept spread far beyond areas where the project operated, participants took the model to other villages, and the private sector also trained local communities on the methodology. Women reported that as a result of the project they gained confidence and felt empowered both in the household and in the community. Last year, we heard the story of Anna, a VSLA participant who thrived speaking to an audience and became a local politician.. For the young people participated in skills training and Model Farm Schools, community members reported that alcohol and drug abuse had decreased. With more children attending school, and teachers accessing more training, cases of bullying decreased. These outcomes have played an important role in telling us what worked well, but how about what did not go so smoothly?

One unintended negative impact mentioned was that some beneficiaries grew accustomed to support, for example the equipment provided for Model Farm schools and job skills training. Many of these beneficiaries asked for additional equipment to continue carrying out their activities. ECLT takes this very seriously and is now working with the Model Farms schools to provide training on business management, savings, and investment skills so that they can cover these types of costs in the future.

For more information about measuring social impact in Tanzania, check out the video below.