SAfAIDS, in partnership with Sonke Gender Justice, implemented a two-year gender- transformative programme aimed at transforming gender roles and promoting more gender-equitable relationships between young men and women to reduce HIV, gender- based violence (GBV) and promote positive sexual reproductive health and rights (SRHR). The programme was titled ‘Changing the River’s Flow – A Gender Transformative Programme for Young People (CTRF4YP)’. The 2-year programme was implemented across 24 communities in four districts of Zimbabwe. It was done in partnership with the following implementing partners, Seke Rural Home Based Care (SRHBC), Seke District; Diocese of Mutare Community Care Programme (DOMCCP), Nyanga district; Buwalo Matilikilo Trust (BMT), Hwange district; and FACT Chiredzi (FACT), Chiredzi District. Primary targets of the programme were adolescents and young people (10–24 year olds). The secondary targets were adults and community leaders (25+ years). The programme utilised many models such as the community dialogue model, Youth for Gender Transformation (Y4GT) Clubs and Fatherhood Clubs.
An independent consultancy firm (Primson Management Services) was commissioned to conduct an end of project evaluation for the programme. The evaluation focused on assessing the levels of programme effectiveness, efficiency, impact, relevance and sustainability. It also sought to document lessons learnt and generate recommendations for programme scale up.
The evaluation used a rigorous mixed method approach, using a set of interrelated methods. Literature was reviewed to form building blocks for situational and context analysis and to inform the process of stakeholder mapping and analysis. A gender balanced score card was administered in 17 schools, targeting 340 in-school participants of 34 groups (17 males and 17 females). The methodology also included administration of a one-on-one questionnaire, which reached a total of 665 respondents. The aforementioned respondents comprised (i) 423 in-school youths (182 males and 241 females) (ii) 97 out-of-school youths (56 males and 41 females); and (iii) 145 parents (82 males and 63 females). The evaluation team also conducted a total of 62 key informant interviews at national, district and school community levels. At community level, a total of 28 focus group discussions (FGDs), consisting of 248 participants were administered across all four districts.
Relevance: The evaluation rated relevance of the programme as most useful to the community’s development challenges and needs. Key national and community development needs included addressing culture and negative gender norms that are deep seated, particularly in rural farming and mining communities. Such norms lead to harmful practices that include: child marriages, teenage pregnancies; gender-based violence and child pledging. In turn, the practices lead to negative health outcomes like HIV and maternal mortality. There was generally low knowledge on inequitable gender norms, HIV and SRHR within the communities, which also leads to an increase in harmful practices that put young people under a lot of risk. The programme is aligned to key national development priorities enshrined in various policy and strategic documents. The programme contributed to the development and production of the National Adolescent Sexual Reproductive Health (ASRH) Strategy 2016-2020.
Effectiveness: The CTRF4YP was graded as satisfactory as most results were achieved in the stipulated time, but with a few challenges encountered in implementation. Objective 1 on the capacities of SAfAIDS and partners was highly satisfactory, as capacity building of master trainers and facilitators was achieved. The CTRF4YP programme also resurrected the Men Engage Network, which now has 25 members from a target of 10 members. Objective 2 on the young people’s programme was achieved satisfactorily, with most targets reached including those on HIV knowledge, identification of inequitable gender norms, HIV linkages with inequitable gender norms, and number of school-based clubs (Y4GT). The programme recorded success and had great impact in reducing dropouts, risky sexual behaviours, teenage pregnancies, drug abuse, violence, school absenteeism and negative disciplinary issues. There has also been transformation of policies in-schools, as boys and girls are now being treated equally in performing school chores (general cleanliness) and other issues in the school. However, challenges were noted with limited training and resource materials. There was limited time to do sessions due to competing regular timetables at the school, which resulted in CTRF4YP lessons being held at odd times including after school, at lunchtime, on weekends and during school holidays. This was the teachers’ and students’ initiative as they felt the need to sustain the benefits from this programme.
The parent and community leadership programme (under objective 3) was also satisfactorily effective. Main achievements included the formation of fatherhood clubs and community dialogue sessions. Targets on identification of inequitable gender norms, HIV linkages and comprehensive knowledge on HIV and SRHR were either achieved or narrowly missed. The target for reaching parent/ guardians with gender transformation through community dialogues was surpassed, reaching 591 from the target of 300. However, the CTRF4YP programme fell short of its target to reach 300 community leaders and managed to reach only 125 leaders. The programme, however, recorded impact especially around the fatherhood clubs. Fathers in the community now accompany their wives to antenatal, delivery and postnatal services at the clinic or hospital. Men have also started helping with household chores at home. The communities have also witnessed a sharp decline in domestic violence, child pledging to appease spirits and harmful practices linked with manhood and womanhood initiation ceremonies.
However, the programme faced resistance by communities and its leaders at inception. The resistance was due to the programme appearing to compromise their deep-seeded culture. Later on, the community leaders were leading most actions and people began to warm up to the programme. The CTRF4YP could have benefited more people with more facilitators, decentralised centres (to reduce travelling distances), consistency in providing refreshments during activities and prorgamme visibility items. Objective 4 on policy advocacy was rated as highly satisfactory. It included holding a national level sensitisation meeting, and contribution to the Adolescent and Sexual Reproductive Health policy report (2016-2020) which were all done. Objective 5 on evidence generation was also highly satisfactory; the programme held a symposium at Rainbow Towers that attracted 140 delegates.
The programme also led to the conducting of five surveys including; a Baseline Assessment of the CRTF4YP programme, an IMAGES Special Study, two Sentinel Site Surveys and an end line assessment. The target of 2,000 information products was overshot with 17,000 in the first year and 4,450 in the second year. Effectiveness of partnerships was highly satisfactory due to the diversity of skills sets and presence of local partners at district level. The partnthe erships also included good collaboration with key stakeholders and service providers, as the programme worked with Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education, Ministry of Health, Victim Friendly Units (VFUs), local clinics, hospitals and social welfare services. The programme also made inroads through working with community leaders and the communities, as they drove the programme at community level, the programme being related to cultural issues and community leaders being key custodians for culture. Effectiveness of monitoring and evaluation was also satisfactory due to the skills among partners, user friendly tools and systems that enabled adequate and regular reporting. However, there was divided attention among partners due to the demand of other competing programming work.
Efficiency: The programme was efficient as there was demonstrable optimum use of resources for achievement of results. The programme could not have been delivered with fewer resources. More resources could have been used to cover gaps at community level to include roll out of visibility items, consistency in providing refreshments and logistical support to mobilise community members. There was also a conscious effort to create strong systems to plan (budgets), acquit, disburse in time, offer checks and balances, reduce variances and financial leakages and for reporting and auditing.
Sustainability was moderately likely, with strong buy-in of relevant structures at national, sub-national and community levels. Community ownership and buy-in meetings were hosted with local government authorities and traditional and religious leadership during the CTR4YP design and this continued afterwards. There was also active participation of programme beneficiaries. The location of implementing partners suggests the possibility of them continuing to assist with CTRF4YP programme activities as they continue their other programmes/ activities. The programme alignment to the new curriculum also means that it could still have space and more time in future. However, the backdrop is that the number of facilitators trained in the programme is limited and this can affect the spread of the programme to cover the vast communities.