Nndwakhulu!- The Big Fight is On: External Project Evaluation

September 24, 2019

 

The external evaluation of the EU funded project implemented jointly with PSN member organisation, the Thohoyandou Victim Empowerment Programme (TVEP), has revealed the “monumental gains” to the disadvantaged, marginalised communities suffering from human rights abuses.

The EU funded project entitled Nndwakhulu (The big fight is on) underwent an independent external evaluation by Wits School of Public Health, South Africa. Over the 2-year implementation period, the project aimed to improve the knowledge of community members in two marginalised South African communities, Madombidzha and Midoroni, in Limpopo Province, to know and exercise their sexual, reproductive and gender human rights.

The evaluation concluded that the project achieved its 2 objectives: Empowering 2 communities to know, understand, advocate for, and exercise their sexual, reproductive, gender and related human rights; and ensuring staff and representatives of selected government departments comply with their mandates and the Bill of Rights in providing the essential services enabling the communities to fully exercise those rights.

The evaluation included the analysis of both quantitative and qualitative data. Data was collected in a variety of ways at baseline and endline: surveys with community members, educators and students, focus group discussions with community members including men and women, key informant interviews with stakeholders and pre- and post-dialogue surveys.

The impact evaluation revealed statistically significant results for all project themes (family planning, HIV/AIDS, sexual assault, domestic violence, child abuse and minority rights) confirming that the project intervention was successful in changing community members’ attitudes and approaches to these issues. With regards to family planning, the survey results showed improved attitudes including a significant shift towards more respondents strongly agreeing with the statement “every woman has the right to choose whether and when to have children”. The evaluation also revealed a positive trend of more educators teaching about family planning methods in schools.

Regarding the other project themes, statistically significant impact was found with respect to HIV/AIDS; data collected from both communities revealed that 90% of people knew their HIV status at endline. This is very important in an area such as Limpopo province that has an HIV prevalence rate of about 9% (PEPFAR in Limpopo, Demographic and Health Stats, 2016). Attitudes such as blaming women for sexual assault significantly declined and significant improvements in attitudes towards forced sex from intimate partners were also observed. There was also improvement in respondents’ attitudes towards same sex relationships. Survey results showed statistically significant shifts in parents’ outlook on the punishment of children and the qualitative research revealed the concern about and condemnation of child abuse in the communities.

Surveys on community members’ views of state service providers revealed that they were now aware of what their rights were, what services should be delivered and where these were lacking. For example, they were able to describe challenges in clinics such as lack of medication, shortage of personnel, and low nurse-patient ratios. They also demonstrated willingness to follow up on the observed shortcomings in a constructive manner.

Overall, the evaluation revealed the positive changes in the community thanks to the project activities and the resulting improved social cohesion. It is also testament to TVEP’s effective approach to addressing human rights abuses which is making “monumental gains in the community that it serves”.