The Power of Data to Action
Country experiences and lessons following Violence Against Children and Youth Surveys (VACS)
This report and its companion summary provide the first comprehensive review of country experiences in transforming VACS results into concrete sex- and age-specific improvements for children and young people. Referred to as post-VACS efforts, these include actions taken to understand, implement and integrate VACS results into policies and/or programs aimed at preventing or ending violence against children. The analysis synthesizes the views of 225 stakeholders across 20 countries.
The Violence Against Children Surveys (VACS) are nationally-representative household surveys of 13-24 year olds that generate data on the prevalence and incidence of physical, sexual and emotional violence among children, adolescents and young people, as well as on risk and protective factors, consequences of violence and access to services.
VACS are important because they:
- provide invaluable information on the prevalence of violence against children and, by doing so, contribute to stronger public health and related interventions (e.g., more targeted HIV/AIDS interventions, safer schools, etc);
- represent an unprecedented level of collaboration among the U.S. Government and other implementing partners, such as UN organizations and Together for Girls, providing a model that is relevant for other important areas, such as care reform and other child protection issues; and
- offer important lessons on what works best to facilitate the creation and implementation of national action plans, given their richness, complexity, multisectoral nature and broad range of partners.
CIRGH efforts represent the first systematic examination of successes and challenges across different countries.
CIRGH is working with a broad range of partners, including Together for Girls (TfG), the United States Government (USG), UNICEF, and host governments to:
- Provide funding and technical support in at least three countries to help overcome barriers to effective nation-wide responses to their VACS. Countries are being selected in response to a global call for proposals and in consultation with TfG and USG partners. The exact nature of CIRGH/HEARD support is being determined with in-country VACS stakeholders. So far, Colombia, Kenya and Namibia have been identified for this intensified support.
- Develop supportive resources for countries in several key areas of national VACS responses (e.g., technical capability, political will, coordination strategy, civil society engagement, funding and development partner engagement). These resources include documentation of best practices and a guide for selecting from among a range of post-survey response options, depending on country contexts and priorities and available resources (e.g., development of a basic road map versus a detailed national action plan for addressing and eliminating violence against children; models for response coordination that address a range of engagement levels from high-level political and ministerial actors).
- Support dissemination of information and project learning across key partners and new VACS countries on lessons learned from the current VACS processes and refinement of key steps that have been successful.
- A “landscape analysis” that takes stock of progress in all current VACS countries that have implemented or are implementing VACS. This includes an overview of the processes that have been/are being followed in each VACS country. The overview of processes documents:
- the extent of stakeholder engagement in key phases;
- whether data-to-action workshops have been held;
- how national plans of action have been developed;
- changes and improvements VACS have already generated; and
- types of coordination mechanisms that have been put in place.
It also includes a review of all the secondary analyses (including peer-reviewed articles) that have been done using VACS data (e.g., what countries, for what purposes, by what authors) and the status of funding for national action plans or other measures to respond to VACS results. The analysis is enriched by inputs from key in-country VACS stakeholders via a stakeholder survey and key informant interviews in each country.
2. Funding and technical support in up Colombia, Kenya and Namibia. In these countries, CIRGH/HEARD and partners are offering tailored technical and financial implementation assistance to overcome specific obstacles along the data-to-action continuum. In each country, the problem(s) or obstacle(s) – as well as the solutions – are being identified through the multisectoral coordination mechanisms driving VACS forward. Support will continue for 12-18 months to help country-level partners put in place the solutions they identify. Illustrative examples include:
- support to governments to facilitate coordination across multiple sectors;
- funding to address targeted programmatic gaps to implement national action plans;
- piloting of new, innovative programming called for in national action plans;
- building and communicating evidence to demonstrate effectiveness of new or current interventions; and
- convenings, workshops or learning events.
Packaging, translation, dissemination of information and learning. Set to begin in 2022, these activities will be done through existing partners and mechanisms, e.g., the Together for Girls partners website and Leadership Council, the INSPIRE Working Group and the Global Partnership to End Violence Against Children. They will also include efforts to raise the visibility of data and interventions related to reducing violence against children in other fora and sectors, e.g., regional inter-governmental health organizations, implementation science conferences, etc. The goals are to: disseminate results widely; generate increased interest in and funding for preventing violence against children; and, by doing so, secure better data, stronger action, and a closer connection between the two.