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External Evaluation of the UNDP-UNFPA-UNICEF-WHO-World Bank Special Programme of Research, Development and Research Training in Human Reproduction (HRP) 2013-2017

Financer:
WHO
Country:
Global
Field of Expertise:
Health Service Delivery; PHC/MNCH/RH/Nutrition/W&S; Reproductive Health / Maternal health / newborn health; Social Values and Determinants of Health; Social determinants; Gender equality assessments / strategies; Health Research and Information; Health Research; Health Systems Research
Narrative description of project:
The UNDP/UNFPA/UNICEF/WHO/World Bank Special Programme of Research, Development and Research Training in Human Reproduction (HRP) is the oldest co-sponsored UN programme currently housed at WHO within the Department of Reproductive Health and Research. It is funded from a special Trust Fund and governed by the Policy and Coordination Committee (PCC) with representation of the co-sponsoring agencies, the donor governments, IPPF, and governments of programme countries selected by the WHO Regional Committees.
HRP is a widely recognised global leader in research on sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) with a very wide scope of activities in research, research coordination, evidence synthesis and consensus-building, development of guidelines, norms and standards, translation of evidence into policies and programmes, and strengthening the capacity for SRHR research in low- and lower-middle income countries. HRP staff is organised in three thematic teams: MCA covering research in maternal and perinatal health including abortion safety; HRX covering research in contraception, fertility, sexually transmitted infections and cancers of the reproductive system; and AGH covering adolescent SRHR, gender-based and sexual violence, female genital mutilation, SRHR in humanitarian settings and health emergencies, sexual health and rights and digital technologies. HRP is also mandated by the UN System as the lead for monitoring of and reporting on several indicators of the Agenda for Sustainable Development.
An external evaluation is commissioned by the PCC every five years. This was the fourth external evaluation covering the period from January 2013 to December 2017.
Description of services provided:
The scope of the evaluation included the assessment of the performance of HRP in terms of the relevance, effectiveness, efficiency, sustainability and impact of the Programme’s work in the five output areas of its Theory of Change, as well as the assessment of institutional performance in the areas of communication, governance, management and finance:
• Creating new knowledge
• Synthesising research evidence
• Strengthening research and technical capacity
• Strengthening the research/policy dialogue
• Developing evidence-based guidelines, implementation tools and policy statements
• Advocacy, communication and partnership
• Governance, management and financing
hera mobilised a core team of five evaluators, including contracted consultants from Kenya and Ecuador. Additional support was provided by hera partners and external research specialists.
The evaluation used a mixed-methods approach based on the matrix of nine evaluation questions and 26 sub-questions. Data collected from five data sources were triangulated in the analysis to generate the evidence for the evaluation findings:
1. An extensive review of documents related to governance and administration of HRP as research reports, normative guidelines, implementation tools, policy papers and advocacy material generated by HRP or with HRP support.
2. An on-line survey of external HRP stakeholders with 165 valid responses (a response rate of 29%)
3. Semi-structured key-informant interviews conducted in person or via telephone with 71 stakeholders sampled by purposeful sampling from a list of 732 stakeholders in seven stakeholder groups.
4. A formal research quality assessment of 13 research projects approved by HRP between 2012 and 2016, using a modified RQ+ tool developed by IDRC.
5. A scan of the social media platforms used by HRP for microblogging (Twitter) to assess the extent and the reach of HRP's use of social media to communicate its work.
In addition, the evaluation team conducted four in-depth case studies with the following themes:
• HRP's work in co-designing, monitoring and reporting on SRHR indicators, including in the context of the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and of the Global Strategy for Women's, Children's and Adolescents' Health
• HRP's work in comprehensive maternal and perinatal health, including postpartum contraceptive use
• HRP’s work in gender, equity and rights, including broader work from a 'leave no one behind' perspective
• HRP’s work in adolescent SRHR and SRHR in emergency and humanitarian settings with a focus on adolescents
The findings of the case studies were integrated in the main evaluation report. The draft evaluation report was reviewed and commented by the External Evaluation Sub-Committee of the PCC, and in a second round by HRP staff and by the HRP’s Scientific and Technical Advisory Group. The final report was presented to the 32nd Meeting of the HRP PCC in March 2019. The Committee welcomed the report and adopted several decisions in response to the report’s findings and recommendations.