By Sacha Westerbeek
ADDIS ABABA, ETHIOPIA, June 2014: As an integral part of enhancing staff capacity in programming and planning, UNICEF Ethiopia rolled out a Programme Planning Process (PPP) exercise, which successfully trained 189 staff members in little over a year.
“Kudos to the Addis Office for investing in its own staff with this office-wide training initiative,” Lou Mendez, facilitator, said during the closing ceremony. “It makes the dreams of Ethiopian children more attainable.”
The training – facilitated by a pool of selected experts from the UN and UNICEF, with an in-depth understanding of UNICEF and global development – aimed to equip staff with the knowledge and skills necessary to apply systematic tools of analysis in the programming process. These included understanding the UN’s coherent human rights based approach to programming, gender equality and mainstreaming.
In the context of Ethiopia, the focus on advocacy, gender, equity, environmental sustainability and resilience proved very useful, with staff members given practical tools to help apply these principles, approaches and “lenses” in everyday programming. In particular, the session on gender proved to be a real eye-opener to many.
“I’ll need to start from home – change myself first on the concept of gender,” one staff member exclaimed.
“I was looking at myself while taking this training,” said another participant. “It is not only about PPP, it is about my life.”
PPP training, which brought together national and international staff members from Addis Ababa and eight regional offices, covered key steps on how to plan, implement, manage, monitor and evaluate the country programme in the context of the UN delivering as one. Some key sessions underpinning this included – barrier and bottleneck analysis; role and capacity gap analysis of rights’ holders and duty bearers at all levels of society; causal analysis; strategic prioritisation and strategy formulation; results based management and constructing well designed country programmes.
The PPP training also gave implementation sessions focussed on Partnership Cooperation Agreements (PCAs), Harmonised Cash Transfer (HACT), Audits, and Annual and Midterm reviews. Practical sessions on moving from the Country Programme Document to the Country Programme Management Plan (CPMP) were also conducted, along with key elements of sound programme management.
To maintain programmatic relevance, the PPP content is progressively updated to reflect any changes made in the UN Programme Policy and Procedures Manual (PPPM). Importantly, a special session was held on the last day of each workshop to brainstorm and develop specific plans on how to apply the content of the PPP training after the completion of the course.
The facilitators of the training were astounded by the active participation of staff and their strong commitment to learning. An evaluation of the training exercise revealed that the PPP learning objectives were largely met, with more than 98.5 per cent of participants indicating that the objectives were met either totally or to a very high degree.
The facilitators also recommended that future PPP training needs to be initiated in a 2-3 hour session with section chiefs and resource persons, in order to discuss key topics and objectives. Additionally, PPP workshops should be followed by a one or half day orientation for senior managers, including section chiefs, operations managers and the heads of field offices. This will help to garner the support of senior managers in the application of PPP principles and processes.
“Over the last year, nearly half of UNICEF Ethiopia staff have acquired improved knowledge and skills for programme planning and implementation from the perspective of human rights, equity, gender, results-based management, environmental sustainability and humanitarian action.” said Raana Syed, who facilitated six PPP trainings in Ethiopia. “Together, they can make a great difference in the improved fulfilment and protection of the rights of girls, boys and women in Ethiopia – with a focus on the most vulnerable.”