Data for Change: Improving Information Systems for Most Vulnerable Children Programming
Roughly half of Tanzania’s population are children under the age of 18. At last count, 11 percent of these children had lost one or both parents and 16 percent lived with neither parent; HIV accounts for nearly one-third of all orphaning. Depending on the definitions used, between one and two million children—or between five and ten percent—are considered “most vulnerable,” due to orphaning, poverty, abandonment, and other forms of deprivation and child abuse. Most vulnerable children (MVC) face many obstacles throughout their lives, and they are often cared for by surviving family members, including older siblings or elderly grandparents.
Tanzania’s government committed to supporting children in need when it created a National Costed Plan of Action for Most Vulnerable Children (NCPA II 2013–2017) in mainland and Zanzibar Costed Plan of Action for Most Vulnerable Children (ZCPA 2010–2015). The plans call for government-led and community-driven responses to the needs of MVC as a way to facilitate children’s access to adequate care, support, protection, and basic social services. MVC are defined as “those children under the age of 18 falling under extreme conditions characterized by severe deprivation and who are unable to meet their needs in terms of adequate education, health care, food/nutrition/shelter, HIV services, early childhood development (ECD) services, and emotional and physical protection.”
The NCPA II has four strategic objectives: strengthening household and community capacity to protect, care for, and support MVC; increasing access to effective gender-responsive child protection services within a well-resourced child protection system; improving access to and utilization of health care, education, and early childhood development services; and strengthening the coordination and leadership, policy, and service delivery environment for children and their caretakers.
MEASURE Evaluation Tanzania provided technical assistance to the Department of Social Welfare (DSW) within the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare Mainland (MoHSW) in mainland and the Ministry of Empowerment, Social Welfare, Youth, Women and Children (MESWYWC) in Zanzibar to develop monitoring and evaluation (M&E) plans for MVC. These plans were launched in 2015 for both Mainland and Zanzibar. The project is continuing its support as the plans are being rolled out, offering customized training and training materials at the national, regional, and selected district levels.
Because children need services from multiple sectors, measuring the success of NCPA II and ZCPA requires standardized M&E activities across the various MVC program interventions. Currently there are separate data sources describing MVC and social services, making it difficult to assess how the services are working on behalf of MVC, and to identify the service gaps and make adjustments to improve the quality of those services.
MEASURE Evaluation Tanzania is supporting the harmonization of MVC information systems to track data for the M&E plan by integrating national MVC M&E data capture and data management into the DHIS 2 system. This is a big step towards improving the tracking of coverage and quality of services to MVC as previous data management systems have faced challenges of data quality and integrity, inflexibility of adding new information or generating analyses, and concerns about sustainability. By building upon the strong infrastructure and technical expertise already developed for the DHIS 2, MVC program monitoring will be better integrated with HIV and other health data that are being reported through the DHIS 2, thereby improving programming as well as coordination and policy development.
MEASURE Evaluation Tanzania also supports research on MVC by collaborating with local organizations in a study focused on the impact of savings groups on the well-being of households caring for MVC.