Reflections from our engagement with a cross country evaluation of the WORTH Initiative with the Asian-Pacific Resource and Research Centre for Women (ARROW)

12 Oct 2023

Reflections from our engagement with a cross country evaluation of the WORTH Initiativewith the Asian-Pacific Resource and Research Centre for Women (ARROW)

The worsening climate crisis across the world and especially in the Global South has resulted in disruption in access to essential sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) services on abortion, access to quality contraceptives, proper and safe sanitation services, menstrual hygiene issues, hormonal medications, etc. Combined with that is the unprecedented speed of ever-changing and complex global and political challenges that demand new solutions to existing problems that cut across sectors. When it comes to climate change adaptation and sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR), there is an urgent need for action to prevent SRHR issues and violations of rights and to make families resilient to changes in their everyday lives as a result of climate change. Climate change exacerbates the challenges that many poor and marginalized women and girls are already facing due to lack of gender equality – including lack of respect, protection and fulfilment of their SRHR.

Despite this reality, SRHR is rarely taken into account in the context of climate change adaptation problem analyses and solutions. The discourse on this nexus is almost non-existent and action is missing. Even when women and girls are disproportionately affected by climate change and weather-related disasters discussions of SRHR do not necessarily inspire those planning and implementing climate change reduction and risks mitigation mechanisms.

The ‘Post-2015 Global Agenda on Climate and Disaster Risk Governance’ is made up of three main instruments adopted that year - the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as the heart of UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the Paris Agreement and the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction (2015-2030), all of which underline the need to favour greater cross-sectoral integration at national level. But five years on, many countries have yet to implement these commitments in a coherent way, or get better at integrating their national and subnational laws, policies and systems to it. This is partly because these global frameworks were all set up parallelly and with different structures which made it difficult for comprehensive and integrated adoption at the national level.

The WORTH Initiative of Asian-Pacific Resource and Research Centre for Women (ARROW) is an innovation programme and fund to address the nexus of climate change and SRHR. The initiative is a platform, where civil society can unleash creativity and develop new integrated solutions to gender equality, sexual and reproductive health and rights, environmental sustainability, and climate change adaptation challenges.

The programme is focused on creating ambassadors working on the nexus of climate change/environmental through civil society organisations from three countries experiencing devastating consequences from climate change: Bangladesh, Pakistan and the Philippines.

The purpose of the evaluation exercise was, 

  • to assess the relevance, efficiency, effectiveness and impact of the program (record achievements at outcome level) and analyse the potential successes, real and precedented challenges of the program model. 
  • Capture key learnings of the CSO Grantee projects where ever possible and identify potential good practices and lessons learnt by the WORTH Fellows and deliberate on the pathways of change if possible, and
  • to provide recommendations for the planning of a potential future program.

The evaluation was thereby an opportunity to take a rapid end of program evaluation in real times, to capture the momentum of the program vis a vis the proposed design and plan, and to record the key takeaways, learnings and seek effective recommendations. The evaluation approach was developed through diverse stages of planning and review. The evaluation team were very conscious of the limitation of a real time assessment during an ongoing pandemic and constantly reviewed the data collection and analysis stage, so that potential and intended outcomes can be captured and document learnings from the experience that could be appropriate for immediate adaptation and use. The evaluation was attempted to document the learnings from the programme and reflect on the proposed Intervention Logic and how effective it has been while in implementation, especially with COVID-19 restrictions.

Principles of Feminist Evaluation, Process and Outcome Evaluation approaches were incorporated into the design. The design is guided by the Change Matrix Framework, a gender transformative framework used to assess impact and outcomes of programs and policies, as well as institutions from a gender and equity lens.

An overall gender transformative lens was applied to framing of the inquiry since ARROW and DFPA’s work is on advocating for SRHR and they were engaging with SRHR issues of women and girls, in the four South Asian and the Pacific countries to ensure a more gender-sensitive sustainable approach to climate change and ecological sustainability, where women’s and girls’ concerns are prioritised and their leadership is recognised.

The evaluation reflected on the intended program outcome indicators for this exercise and presents an assessment based on the Logic intervention model and Theory of Change. The intended outcomes were gathered from the overall WORTH Program and that of the WORTH CSO Grantee Projects. The evaluation analysis will also do a deep dive into integrating Process and Outcome Evaluation exercise using the OECD DAC criteria for Evaluating Development Programs: Relevance and Appropriateness, Effectiveness, Efficiency, Impact, Sustainability. The analysis will substantiate the Change Matrix Framework.

The study has used a mixed method approach where quantitative data was collected from reports and documents on the WORTH and other relevant documents like reports, articles, scoping studies, etc., were referred. Qualitative data methods were used to gather evidence on progress of the outcomes, map the program input and output, and understand the relevance, impact, sustainability efforts and effectiveness of the initiative. The tools will also be cross referenced at the farthest possibility to capture these findings. Desk review on the secondary data available provided a broader scope and context to the entire exercise. Qualitative tools of Key Informant Interviews, Focus Group Discussion and Online Semi Structured Questionnaire were used for qualitative data collection.

Some of the key findings 

In relevance, it is clear that WORTH is working on an integrated approach and as there is no global commitment on working to address issues that arise in the interlinkages of SRHR and climate change. It also brings the possibility of showcasing innovations as pilots and good practices at the local level. Through the WORTH Fellows and grantees, the program is also building a larger dialogue on the interlinkage and the nexus of climate change. The program is working to fill the need for engaging more Southern voices, especially from the four South and South east Asian countries of Bangladesh, Myanmar, Pakistan and the Philippines to address the challenges related to SRHR and climate change/ environmental sustainability.

For impact, the data analysis captures changes that the program has or, may have contributed to at the individual level for the women, girls, young men, and others who have been directly benefited from the project interventions. WORTH has made significant contributions towards designing an intervention model that attempts to enhance the knowledge of CSO grantees and individual actors/stakeholders on the interlinkages between SRHR and CC/ES. The CSO grantees and the WORTH Fellows also got an opportunity to:

  • Host an innovative model working on the intersection of SRHR and climate change. 
  • Fundraise for the organisation and gain national and international visibility.
  • Integrate the issue into their programming and also bring in the gendered lens of looking at the issue. It also gave organisations the ability to look at other programs and see how they can use integrated approaches for greater impact. 
  • Build a second line leadership through the program as it enabled them to not only incubate the project but also build leadership and program management skills, which might have been a much slower process for many CSOs willing to do that.

Another critical impact of the program has been creating platforms to facilitate southern voices in spaces that are critical for policy level advocacy and lobbying for changes in the policies, plans and budgets for SRHR at the international level.

To ensure sustainability, the program design was built to transfer this knowledge back to the organisations by the WORTH Fellows, thus moving beyond the simple implementation to actual integration of ideas and approaches. Another mechanism that was inbuilt to ensure sustainability of the issue (SRHR and CC nexus) and planning of innovative projects was through the Innovation Learning Labs. Networking and collaboration with local stakeholders, influencers, donors, as an integral component for awareness raising and advocacy, at local, national, regional and international level was encouraged. This may lead to long term partnerships, access to committed resources, opportunities for scaling up the project and thus facilitate strong Global South voices onto international platforms of global level policy change and advocacy to demand for a more inclusive and integrated environmentally sustainable plan of action.