EVALUATING CURRENT SITUTATION AND IDENTIFYING CAPACITY BUILDING NEEDS FOR STAKEHOLDERS IN IMPLEMENTING COMMUNICATION ACTIVITIES ON CHILD SURVIVAL AND DEVELOPMENT
Within the cooperation framework with UNICEF to implement the program on Child Survival and Development (CDS), the Ministry of Health (MOH), Ministry of Labor, War Invalids and Social Affairs (MOLISA), Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD) – stakeholders related to areas of malnutrition prevention, safe water and sanitation, child accident and injury prevention – have carried out information – education – communication (IEC) activities, behavioral change communication (BCC) and policy advocacy for child survival and development. Improving the program quality and integrating activity results into each area as well as among CDS areas require full competence by stakeholders, especially in planning, organization for implementation, and monitoring communication programs. Therefore, stakeholder capacity assessment is needed to recommend improvement solutions.
II. Study objectives
1. To evaluate current capacities (planning, organizing for implementation, and activity monitoring and evaluation) by agencies/organizations and individuals participating in communication for child survival at Central level and in some localities
2. To identify capacity building needs of agencies/organizations and individuals to improve effectiveness of communication for child survival
3. To recommend solutions to improve capacities for agencies/organizations and individuals.
III. Study location and methods
The study conducts survey in 3 relevant ministries (MOH, MOLISA and MARD) at central level and in 3 beneficiary provinces of the Child Friendly Project initiated by UNICEF, namely Dien Bien, Ninh Thuan and Dong Thap. In each province, survey is carried out in one city with one ward and one district with one commune. The study is conducted from August 2009 to January 2010.
Study method: cross-sectional survey, combination of quantitative and qualitative data collection methods.
IV. Key findings
• CSD communication in the last period has been conducted in a synchronized way from central to grassroots level with participation of nearly 10 stakeholders being central agencies and 6 local partners in three sectors (MOH, MOLISA and MARD). Of which, most are communication governance agencies in related areas. There is only one technical communication partner – the network of health education and communication at central and provincial levels.
• Human resources participating in CSD communication remain in few number, unstable quantity at both central and local level. Most of them work on part-time basis but have certain advantages of age (average 37.5), education (53.5% university level; 24.8 post graduate); professional knowledge (33.3% physician, 14.4% public health bachelor; 6.3% journalism major) and working experiences (48.9% more than 5 years).
• There are limited number of staff taking part in communication capacity training courses but they have mastered basic knowledge of communication planning and made great efforts with notable results in management, coordination and technical performance.
• In reality, stakeholders’ capacities to carry out CSD communication still face some obstacles and difficulties such as: imperfect organizational model of stakeholders in CSD communication network, lack of close cooperation among partners in activity implementation, lack of focal point in general coordination, knowledge and skills of duty performance limited, both in planning and organizing for implementation, especially monitoring and evaluation
• Improving capacities of CSD communication for stakeholders is an urgent need at present. This must be carry out in a synchronized way, not only tailored to directly involved personnel but also to the whole organizational structure and network of partners, and strengthening resources investment.
• Strengthen dissemination on CSD program to reach as many as possible different community groups, especially staff working in related areas. Contents to disseminate include objectives, implementation methods, related areas, role and responsibilities of each partner in the network. Communication may be realized via training courses or publications like flipchart, leaflet, manuals, etc.
• Consolidate organizations, collaboration mechanism to promote synergy effect of CSD communication network from central to local level, specifically:
Establish focal point of CSD communication in each institution
Establish the Steering Committee for the National Program on Child Survival and Development to coordinate all 3 sectors (MOH, MOLISA and MARD). The National Steering Committee will have a standing section located at MOLISA, headed by MOLISA Minister and members from MOH, MARD.
Assign Health Education and Communication Centers (HECs) at central and provincial levels to act as focal point to coordinate all technical CSD communication activities
Develop regulations on task assignment and responsibility distribution for partners taking part in CSD communication to be suitable with functions and duties of each partner, and develop collaboration mechanism among institutions to be effective and avoid overlaps
Develop and provide implementing guidance on self-monitoring within each institutions as well as cross check among partners according to monitoring requirements
• Pay more attention to training for capacity building for staff participating in CSD communication among partners and levels, specifically:
It is needed to group subjects according to functions, duties and working levels to compile training materials as well as arrange suitable training time and duration
Renovate the compilation of training materials to be diversified and relevant to groups’ working unique features but ensure accuracy and consistency among materials in terms of contents in each professional area
Adjust ways to organize training courses to be more appropriate to each group, in terms of time, location and implementation methods
Organize study visits to institutions that have good performance of managerial and technical skills in communication.
• Reform communication material development methods towards decentralization for provinces, with participation of target group right from the compilation stage
• Enhance investment and more effectively utilize essential equipment for CSD communication, especially in provinces, districts and communes that have not received benefits from UNICEF project
• Make more investment in CSD communication; reform budget allocation method. Budget allocation should not be equally distributed for participating unit. Instead, budget should be provided in association with activities according to functions and duties of each focal point to avoid waste due to overlaps and fragmentation.