This report evaluates the 2010-2013 NZAP funded Lafaek Community Media for Rural Economic Development project undertaken in selected sucos (villages) and aldeias (communities) in the districts of Bobonaro, Covalima, Ermera, and Likisa in Timor Leste. Implemented by CARE International Timor Leste, the project aimed to provide informational media to isolated rural communities on topics including health, agriculture, small business, early childhood care, children’s rights, literacy and numeracy. The activities conducted in the project included the production of a full-colour 24-page magazine for adults, with an 8-page insert for children aged 4-7 years. These two major activities were complemented by production and broadcast of radio programs, community meetings (community dialogues), and a writing and drawing competition, all of which were intended to complement and reinforce the information in the magazines.
The objective of this evaluation is to analyse the impact of the Lafaek Community Magazine and Radio Lafaek on the knowledge and practices of the selected communities in which the magazines were distributed and the radio programs transmitted. The evaluation focuses on effectiveness, relevance, efficiency and sustainability, and project management. It employed document analysis, a survey of 400 beneficiaries, semi-structured and informal interviews, meetings with key officials, and project site observations. Overall, the evaluation reveals that the project has had a major impact on the communities served. It has effectively brought new, useful, and relevant information to 20,000 households that have few if any other sources of information.
In terms of effectiveness, the project had a number of major achievements. The magazines were received and read by about 85-90 per cent of the adult and child population in the target areas. About 30 per cent of households listened to Radio Lafaek. Ninety per cent of households that received the magazine had members who could recall material they had learned from the magazine, while 71 per cent reported that they had implemented ideas in the magazine or used the magazine in some other way in their everyday life. There were notable increases over the course of the project in: Numbers of people engaged in small business and understanding basic business concepts; basic literacy and numeracy skills; knowledge of how to deal with drought and how to store seeds securely; knowledge of how to support children’s cognitive development; and belief in the importance of parental involvement in their children’s schooling and understanding of ways to be involved in schooling.
The effectiveness of the magazine is attributable to a sound and inclusive production process by an experienced and skillful project team, as well as a distribution system that overall achieves its objectives. Recommendations for improving effectiveness focus on allowing for population growth and standardizing the practices of field officers to maintain or improve coverage of the distribution of the magazine.
Most parts of the magazine are highly relevant to the majority of the target population. Young women and women who are heads of households appear to be using the magazines as much as or more than the rest of the target population. The magazine also addresses a wide range of issues that appear in Timor Leste’s national development goals. The magazine is relevant to some parts of the four districts that are not yet served. Recommendations therefore focus on extending distribution to the three sub-districts in Covalima that are very remote but which do not receive the magazines, and to the two unserved sucos in Atsabe sub district of Ermera.
Continued use of the current development team and process will ensure ongoing efficiency of the project, while it is recommended that financial sustainability be enhanced by putting more human resources into developing substantive financial partnerships with government, NGOs and INGOs, and by reprinting existing articles in collections relevant to specific areas such as health or agriculture. It is also recommended that sustainability of outcomes among the target population be enhanced by extending the use of the community dialogue process, by publicizing Radio Lafaek more widely, and by aligning the writing and drawing competition more closely with the project goal.
Project management has overall been good, and it is recommended that more attention be paid to developing SMART indicators and ensuring that monitoring, evaluation and reporting addresses these indicators. It is also recommended that variations in project activities be more fully justified that data be disaggregated by gender and district and that risk management be undertaken in a more systematic and detailed manner.