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In: An agenda for people: the UNFPA through three decades, edited by Nafis Sadik. New York, New York, New York University Press, 2002. 24-46.The solemn commitment that was made in Cairo in 1994 to make reproductive health care universally available was a culmination of efforts made by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and all those concerned about a people-centred and human rights approach to population issues. The commitment posed important challenges to national governments and the international community, to policy makers, programme planners and service providers, and to the civil society at large. The role of UNFPA in building up the consensus for the reproductive health approach before Cairo had to continue after Cairo if the goals of the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) were to be achieved. UNFPA continues to be needed to strengthen the commitment, maintain the momentum, mobilize the required resources, and help national governments and the international community move from word to action, and from rhetoric to reality. Reproductive health, including family planning and sexual health, is now one of three major programme areas for UNFPA. During 1997, reproductive health accounted for over 60 per cent of total programme allocations by the Fund. (excerpt)
Development in Practice. 2004 Jun; 14(4):569-573.Monitoring and evaluation (M&E) are needed by all development interventions in order to document their output and outcomes. Once a set of goals has been established in response to a development ‘problem’, a corresponding set of indicators (i.e. variables or information) will also be identified in order to review progress towards those goals. In Africa, the so-called ‘expert’ evaluators—those who see M&E as their professional calling—have dominated the process of selecting social indicators. Unfortunately, this domination has given rise to sporadic and unreliable social data for M&E purposes facing every agency involved in development work in Africa. Zimbabwe is no exception. This Practical Note tells the story of UNICEF Zimbabwe’s search for relevant and reliable indicators based on solid data. The guiding philosophy in this effort is the belief that local communities themselves are among the many agencies involved in implementing development programmes—in the sense that they always seek ways of tackling whatever problems they face. These communities must therefore be active participants in the process of selecting indicators. The paper will first discuss the difficulty in establishing relevant data and indicators in the context of Zimbabwe, a task which is now an urgent priority given the dual problems of HIV/ AIDS and a declining economy. It is generally believed that these two problems have been responsible for the reversal of social gains made immediately after independence—hence the need to know exactly what is going on. The paper will then highlight recent attempts by UNICEF Zimbabwe—together with its partners—to establish good and reliable information sources so that not only can it monitor and evaluate the various impacts of its programmes but also the social environment of children. In part, the pressure for community-generated indicators has also been driven by the shift in UNICEF’s approach to its work—an approach underpinned by human rights principles. The final part of the paper discusses the challenges that UNICEF and its partners have faced and continue to struggle with. It draws some lessons learned and points to what more could be done to improve the qualities of social indicators. (excerpt)
Unkept promises: what the numbers say about poverty and gender. An international citizen's progress report on poverty eradication and gender equity. Advance Social Watch report 2005.
Montevideo, Uruguay, Social Watch, 2005. 114 p. (Social Watch Report)Almost five years have passed since the largest gathering ever of heads of State and government made this solemn promise to the peoples of the world: "we will spare no effort to free our fellow men, women and children from the abject and dehumanizing conditions of extreme poverty."1 Almost ten years have passed since the leaders of the world solemnly committed themselves in Copenhagen "to the goal of eradicating poverty in the world, through decisive national actions and international cooperation, as an ethical, social, political and economic imperative of humankind."2 This is an ambitious agenda. So much so that it was compared by many leaders to the historic task of slavery abolition in the 19th century. Inspired by the Copenhagen Declaration and the complementary Beijing Platform for Action towards gender equity, 3 citizen groups from all over the world came together to form the Social Watch network. Every year since then, Social Watch has published a comprehensive report monitoring the governments' compliance with their international commitments. The findings of the national Social Watch coalitions in over 60 countries and the analysis of the available indicators coincide: the promises have remained largely unmet. Unless substantial changes are put in place soon, the targets set for the year 2015 will not be achieved. (excerpt)