The evaluation was commissioned to assess to what extent the USDA McGovern-Dole funded activities contributed to the anticipated outcomes of improved attendance and attentiveness, and improved equity in primary education access, in the Afar and Somali regions. The evaluation was intended for both accountability and learning purposes. It focused on assessing the relevance, effectiveness, impact, efficiency, sustainability, and coherence of the school interventions. The evaluation also included two mini-case studies, one of the separate Emergency School Feeding Programme (ESFP) introduced by the Government of Ethiopia (GoE) and one of the Take-Home Rations (THR) – Girls Initiative Programme within the McGovern-Dole operation. Overarching evaluation questions focussed on evaluating the appropriateness of the programme to the needs of beneficiaries and the context of the regions, the achievement of its planned outcomes and outputs, the gender and equity dimensions results, and the overall impact of the programme – including the factors influencing the results.
The evaluation covered the following activities: 1) daily school meals provided to primary school children, and 2) capacity building aimed at supporting increased dietary and health practices, including activities to support the capacity of the Government to develop a National School Feeding Programme (NSFP).
Key evaluation findings included:
- The appropriateness, relevance, and importance of the school feeding programmes to children’s needs were confirmed and appreciated by beneficiaries and other stakeholders. The program is well aligned with national policies and strategies, except with the Government’s priority of home-grown school feeding, as the food is currently imported.
- The evidence demonstrates that school feeding, supplemented by specific interventions targeted at girl students, improves inclusiveness, participation, and achievements in education.
- While WFP generally has very clear guidelines and an efficient procurement system in place, issues with the timeliness of delivery were found.
- The GoE ownership of and commitment to SF, at both federal and regional levels, have increased, and various high-level persons in government became champions for SF.
- The evidence reviewed suggests that with the end of the programme, the positive effects on households cannot be sustained as it would require households to fill the financial gap that is being left. The GoE is not ready to finance and run a national school feeding programme.
Key recommendations from the evaluation included:
- Prioritize fundraising for the continuation of school feeding and a THR for girls to the schools that were covered under the McGovern-Dole programme.
- Prioritize finalization of the national strategy and use it as the basis to develop an implementation guideline with different types of school feeding scenario.
- Develop and implement an adequately funded advocacy strategy that builds on the key findings of this evaluation and previous work to scale up political and financial commitment to SF in Ethiopia.
- Ensure that future SF in Ethiopia by WFP includes attention to strategies, targets, and indicators for increasing the participation of women and girls in SF design and implementation stages.
- Ensure that the selection of beneficiary schools under the next phase of McGovern-Dole support to SF in Ethiopia is based on a clustered approach so that the distances between schools do not make monitoring overly onerous or complicated.