by dr kate mcalpine
More than half of East Africa’s population is under the age of 18. From this population 64% report experiencing physical abuse, 22% report experiencing sexual violence and 26% report experiencing emotional violence. It is widely acknowledged that violence and maltreatment of children costs East Africa over $20 billion annually and inhibits the region’s aspirations to develop inclusively.
Organisations and individuals take actions to protect children, but the ability to demonstrate their impact in tangible and measurable terms, which could accelerate meaningful change, remains a challenge.
Action to Address The Problem
Dr Kate McAlpine, the Founder of Citizens 4 Change (C4C); a social lab that seeks to understand and resolve the issue of violence against children in East Africa; undertook a piece of research forecasting the social value of interventions made by citizen child protectors in Tanzania and Uganda for the year of 2021.
This forecast applied Social Return on Investment (SROI) principles. This measure uses financial proxies to estimate the social value of non-traded goods to different stakeholders (those who are affected by the interventions).
In short, it enables a ratio of benefits to costs to be calculated.
The research was undertaken with the expectation that monitoring social value in this way would better inform choices about where Citizens 4 Change should invest effort, would influence advocacy and help in attracting funders.
The Social Return on Investment Process
To make SROI calculations in this forecast the stakeholders and their inputs (what they invest in terms of time and money) were first evaluated.
The stakeholders include
children at risk of harm in Tanzania and Uganda
perpetrators of harm
citizen protectors (including community volunteers, caring professionals, school professionals, and those working with the law)
representatives of East Africa’s Development Community (including representatives from the Tanzanian Government)
members of Citizens 4 Change; and
representatives of the global community working to end violence against women and children.
Their inputs vary but include things like ‘time and interpersonal skills to calm situations and investigate what happened’; or ‘commitment to learn new information’.
From the inputs outlined, the corresponding outputs were summarised. Examples of these included:
developing more in-depth professional skills for those working for Citizens 4 Change
creating tools for young people to keep themselves safe and make sense of their experiences of violence
development agencies collaborating to design and resource projects to advance regional plans to end violence against women & children.
To understand and value the potential change created by the inputs and outputs, outcomes had to be considered in relation to the stakeholders.
For example, the children at risk of harm in Tanzania & Uganda (stakeholders) -> would learn new information, practice new skills and be part of an initiative to educate and protect their peers (input) -> an output whereby 500 access tools to keep themselves safe and learn how to make sense of their experiences of violence, via engagement in the Junior Councils & Safe Schools Projects -> the outcome being that ‘children are protected from harm’.
To effectively value the change, the research analyses the quantity (number of people targeted), depth (amount of change per stakeholder) and duration (how long the changes lasts for) — as well as attributing a weighting of how important those outcomes would be to the stakeholders. For example, the outcome of children being protected from harm was attributed a 4 out of 5 on the scale of importance.
Once each outcome had been analysed, the financial proxy is attributed to each forecasted outcome. In the example used above, this was calculated based on time spent by a district welfare or community development officer to respond to the report of a child safeguarding concern at an estimated hourly rate of pay. Another example of a financial proxy for the outcome of ‘demonstrating progress in achieving the national plans of action to end violence’, was a competitor’s price to provide data analysis and a dashboard service that would demonstrate the impact of actions taken.
Next, the calculation of impact was made by taking the financial proxy figure and multiplying by the quantity (number of people targeted) of the outcome, giving a total impact value. From this the percentages of deadweight, attribution and drop-off are deducted (prudently) leaving us with the overall impact of the outcomes.
The Estimated Value Created by Investing in Community Based Child Protection
In summary — and in line with C4C’s strategic intent — the research illuminated the following outcomes and corresponding social value:
19,500 children protected from harm; valued at £809,494
Protective norms spread amongst 26,000 citizen protectors, valued at £2,299,050
Progress demonstrated in achieving National Plans of Action to End Violence, valued at £60,750
The wisdom of East African child protectors influences the thinking of 11 global EVAWC actors, valued at £445.5k
With the social impact calculations made, an overall social return on investment calculation is made. The value of forecasted inputs came to £1,548,000, with the resulting outcome value calculated at £5,102,768 — giving a ROI of 1:3.
This means that for every £1 spent (in time, money and resource), the return would be £3 in social value.
Limitations and learnings
This piece of research helps to validate the potential actions taken by child protectors, by giving numerical value to the outcomes. It is however a projection and does not draw on data derived from actual stakeholders, which will be the vase when a SROI study based on actual data will be conducted in 2022.
The study also highlights the need to regularly track key performance data from stakeholders, including numbers of children protected and outcomes for children. Deciding on those key performance indicators, in consultation with stakeholder groups, will be key to the validity of the 2022 study. This, along with additional planned surveys within schools and districts across Uganda and Tanzania in 2022, should strengthen claims, including those around social norm change. The wider research on social norm change being undertaken by Citizens 4 Change will also complement and support this study.
The involvement of stakeholders in this forecasted SROI study has proved a challenge, with only 24 stakeholders consulted and all of those within the self-identifying ‘child protectors’ group. Plans are in place to improve this for the SROI in 2022.
There is no doubt, however, that being able to demonstrate the impact of citizen child protectors in tangible, measurable and financial terms provide a basis for greater support and momentum — whether that be from the communities directly, funders and even local and national officials.
Click here for the full study.