The Office of Research – Innocenti has just released the third edition of its annual publication Best of UNICEF Research 2015. With each edition we learn more about a key element in a global development organization’s effort to gather evidence. Over the course of its existence Best of UNICEF Research has grown in terms of the quality of research represented, the range and complexity of research questions addressed and in the programmatic and geographic scope of the submissions.
Research is an essential part of UNICEF’s effort to improve the situation of the world’s children. Quality data gathering, appraisal and analysis can fuel informed decision making and planning, assess intervention impact, question practices and improve policy discourse. High quality research is carried out across the full breadth of UNICEF offices and locations. But often, especially in country offices, it is undertaken with a sharp focus on how it can support programmes for children in particular contexts. Best of UNICEF Research is now a vital tool for increasing organization-wide learning and sharing about quality research.
Best of UNICEF Research is also an important exercise in recognizing excellence. Through it we are also identifying many useful lessons about how a decentralized global development organization generates and uses evidence. Everyone engaged in delivering results for children can gain valuable lessons on methods, models and good practices for research. And the timing couldn’t be better.
With development cooperation moving upstream we are increasingly asked to assist in the generation of evidence to improve policies and programmes funded and administered by local authorities.
We highly recommend a full read of the Best of UNICEF Research 2015. It provides short synopses of the 12 research projects that emerged from this year’s rigorous selection process. These projects cover traditional and emerging programme areas. They range in geographic focus from global to regional to country level and cover a wide array of research questions, topics and approaches.
In order to whet your appetite here is a quick overview of the Best of UNICEF research 2015:
- Reducing Newborn Deaths is a systematic assessment of bottlenecks to scaling up essential maternal and newborn healthcare in eight of the countries with the highest number of neonatal deaths.
- Sanitation in Mali documents the use of a randomized control trial to assess the impact of the well-known “Community Led Total Sanitation” approach to reducing open defecation.
- Early Childhood Development in East Asia and the Pacific is a multi-year evaluation effort across six countries to test the validity of a region-wide early childhood development scale which measures progress in seven development domains.
- Emergency Preparedness conducts a rigorous return on investment analysis of emergency preparedness measures in Chad, Madagascar and Pakistan.
- Child Poverty in South Africa analyzes a wide range of data sources to determine the extent to which children have been caught in poverty traps and recommends interventions to escape the cycle.
- Food and Nutrition Policy presents a theory-based rapid assessment model for assessing a national government’s commitment to food and nutrition security.
- Teacher Incentives in Namibia evaluates a scheme to attract qualified teachers to work in rural communities through the provision of financial incentives.
- Violence in Serbian Schools is one of the largest school surveys ever conducted in that country and gathered data on context-relevant indicators of school violence.
- Child Grants Lesotho evaluates unconditional cash transfers presenting evidence on a range of positive impacts and making specific policy recommendations.
- Water and Health Worldwide is a global review to assess the validity of one of the most important indicators for safe drinking water evaluating data from 319 studies representing almost 100,000 water sources.
- Education in Romania provides an in-depth analysis of the level of public expenditure in education and provides a useful example of how research can support policies on quality and equity in schooling.
- Violence Against Children in ASEAN Countries assesses the level of compliance of national legislation on violence against children in ten member countries in this sub-region.
We hope you find these examples of new UNICEF research inspiring – whether for the relevance of the findings to your work, or as illuminating examples of how good research, carefully designed to address relevant and timely questions, can accelerate efforts to shape a better future for children everywhere.
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