BRATISLAVA, December 15, 2011—Strengthened monitoring and evaluation (M&E) framework for Roma inclusion policies and a better measurement of the progress of the national strategy activities are the focus of discussions this week at the “Monitoring and Evaluation for Results on Inclusion Policies” conference in Bratislava, December 15-16.
In her opening address to the participants, State Secretary Lucia Nicholsonova highlighted the importance of developing a targeted approach for Roma inclusion in the Slovak Republic, and the need for the national strategy to focus on results. "Several monitoring and evaluation instruments - poverty map, Atlas of Roma Communities, results map - are being developed so as to impact future Roma inclusion policies: it is only up to us to make effective use of them," said Nicholsonova.
The conference, organized by the Slovak Ministry of Labor, Social Affairs and Family, and in collaboration with the World Bank, the Open Society Foundation (OSF), and the UNDP, comes at a critical time, just ahead of the December 31, 2011 deadline for submission by EU Member States (MS) their national strategies for Roma integration, mandated by the European Commission under the EU Framework for National Roma Integration Strategies. The Framework aims to help guide national Roma policies and mobilize funds available at EU level to support the Member States’ inclusion efforts.
For her part, World Bank Senior Adviser on Roma Inclusion Katarina Mathernova, emphasized the need for moving forward on the Roma inclusion agenda by producing actionable steps and concrete goals which will help determine the effectiveness of the new strategy. “For too long, the debate on inclusive policies for Roma in Europe has been driven by myth-based arguments. With more and more systematic survey data becoming available, the time has come for evidence based policy making,” said Mathernova.
“In the last two decades, Slovakia has gone through an enormous successful economic transition and democratization. A significantly richer society now has to address the poverty of those who have not been able to benefit from this process, among whose the Roma occupy a prominent place. The draft Roma strategy of the Slovak Republic is promising, but experience shows that implementing such a strategy requires continuous political commitment, leadership, as well as good governmental organization and serious financial resources. There is no reason why Slovakia in the next Decade could not add to its economic and social successes good results in social inclusion—to the benefit of the whole society,” said Kalman Mizsei, Chair, Making the Most of EU Funds for the Roma, Open Society Institute. “The Open Society Institute is ready to share its vast experiences in the areas of inclusive housing, education, and employment, as well as decentralized, municipality-level action in general.”
World Bank Human Development Senior Economist Joost de Laat shared with the participants the international best practices on poverty targeting and the use of rigorous counterfactual impact evaluations for inclusion. “Basic monitoring and evaluation tools help identify whom to target, what areas of intervention to target, and what specific interventions work best to improve outcomes. Without these, it is hard to imagine designing effective Roma inclusion policies,” said de Laat.
Addressing the issue of targeting the poor and most vulnerable communities, Balazs Horvath, Poverty Reduction Practice Leader of the UNDP Bratislava Regional Center, said: “If the governments of Central and Eastern Europe want to make a progress vis-à-vis Millennium Development Goals, they must deal with the issue of Roma exclusion. This issue, however, should be addressed through targeting the entire localities populated by vulnerable groups—both Roma and non-Roma. Statistical surveys among vulnerable groups and Atlas of Roma communities in Slovakia present the best source of information for evaluating public policies targeting Roma. They also provide a critical input to poverty maps to better target social inclusion policies.”
The conference also included presentations from the National Statistics Office, the Slovak Governance Institute, the European Commission DG Employment, and the Poverty Action Lab Europe. The discussion with government officials and civil society representatives focused on four key areas, considered to be essential components of the M&E framework of the strategy:
· Targeting the poorest and most vulnerable Roma communities through the development of sub-national, small area poverty maps to identify the poorest and most vulnerable communities which can be targeted by inclusion programs funded by the national management authorities.
· Monitoring poverty and human development outcomes through expanding the national level household surveys, such as the annual EU Survey on Income and Living Conditions (EU-SILC), and systematically monitoring the poorest communities for progress in reducing poverty and improving human development outcomes.
· Implementing results-based project monitoring tools through putting in place simple project monitoring tools that provide timely and consistent information on the inputs, activities, outputs, as well as intended impacts of inclusion programs and making this information publically available on an online (poverty) mapping platform, such as the World Bank Mapping for Results program.
· Carrying out impact evaluations to learn what works best through the implementation of pilot projects of innovative ideas, carrying out the rigorous counterfactual impact evaluations of these pilots, and scaling up those that work.
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