The Mid-Term Evaluation (MTE) was carried out for the Oxfam Empower Youth for Work (EYW) program during its third year of implementation. The main aim of the MTE was to systematically analyze EYW’s progress and achievements up to November 2018.
The purpose of the MTE was to:
- Collect evidence about whether the program has been implemented as planned, and on the expected as well as unexpected outcomes so far.
- Assess the effectiveness, relevance, efficiency, sustainability and partnerships of our current strategies in each country from the perspectives of different stakeholders, in particular those of young women and men.
- Critically review emerging evidence related to EYW’s overall impact (e.g. project documents, midline survey results) and collect further qualitative evidence to substantiate these findings.
The MTE shows that the project is progressing well. It is very exciting that it gives evidence of increased confidence and decision-making power among the youth. The MTE stresses the unique holistic character of the EYW Theory of Change (ToC) and validates the program’s overall direction.
The program approach – combining soft skills and technical skills trainings with the youth group work and influencing strategies – is thus to be continued. The MTE finds that many of the planned activities have already been completed, and most are underway. Businesses have been set up or upgraded, and that the technical skills training has enhanced young people’s position in the labor market. The MTE reports a sense of solidarity among youth when faced with restrictive gender norms, with the program creating space for young women to attend meetings to discuss matters not usually discussed at home. These first hints of social change are very encouraging.
A variety of external factors have influenced the program’s implementation timeline and activities; these could not have been foreseen and were put down to bad luck or timing, e.g. the challenging security situation in Ethiopia. The inception period took longer than planned; this delayed implementation, which meant that by the mid-term the program had not progressed as far as originally planned. However, the preliminary midline research outcomes (which are available for Bangladesh and Ethiopia) show promise for reaching the program’s goals.
The EYW program is unique, and the MTE finds that many stakeholders value its approach. The holistic ToC is commended and appreciated, and the MTE does not make any recommendations for a fundamental change of direction of the ToC. The MTE recognizes that EYW’s target group (young people aged 15–29) is not the easiest age category to work with, and that young women are particularly difficult to reach and face very different challenges to young men. In addition, the program works in rural areas that are affected by climate change and where the foundation for economic empowerment, including in terms of linkages with the private sector, is weak.
The MTE concludes that such a courageous approach is worthy of praise. The evaluation team urges EYW staff to keep the program’s ambition, its space for innovation its spirit of overcoming challenges as it seeks to improve young people’s rights, wellbeing and development and to develop climate change resilience. Ambition and motivation are important ingredients of the EYW program, and learning from the MTE will inform planning for the remaining two years of the program. Learning has been already incorporated in activities and planning for year 4.
In the management response you can find out more about the MTE findings, including key program achievements, challenges, and areas for improvement.