In 2019, the Government of the Philippines (GOP) entered into a cooperation agreement with the United Nations Children’s Fund for the period 2019-2023 through the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA). The goal of this agreement is for the most marginalized, vulnerable and at-risk people to benefit from inclusive and quality services, and to live in a supportive environment wherein nutrition, food security and health are ensured and protected. Part of the agreement is for UNICEF to provide various assistance programs to the GOP, one of which aims to develop and strengthen the capacity of the three branches of the Philippine government on evaluation. For the Legislative branch, the Senate Economic Planning Office (SEPO) and the Congressional Policy and Budget Research Department (CPBRD) of the House of Representatives have been chosen as partners to implement the program. This partnership eventually led to the formulation of a knowledge-sharing forum series on evaluation in the form of the National Evaluation Policy (NEP) Forum. The 1st NEP Forum held in February focused on the evaluation of the K to 12 Program, while the 2nd NEP Forum held online on 3 November focused on the formative evaluation of the Philippine Plan of Action for Nutrition (PPAN) 2017-2022.

The 2nd NEP Forum was graced by the presence of several legislators. Representative Alfred  Vargas gave the opening remarks, emphasizing that the forum will open the possibilities not only for better programs and policies on nutrition, but also for the improvement of living conditions of children who will eventually take on the mantle of leading our country to progress. Senator Risa Hontiveros was proud to say in her message that she authored the First 1000 Days law and emphasized its importance now more than ever because of the dire need of nutrition in a time of historic hunger given the pandemic. She further added that proper nutrition is crucial to the development of children, that it is the foundation of our health and can prevent many succeeding illnesses. She highlighted that health is an important decision to make in any economic plan we have and that it is consequential that we that we reevaluate our nutrition plan, how it is implemented, and how we can heal a historical painful moment in time.

Senator Imee Marcos, on the other hand, linked the evaluation study to the practice and value of monitoring and evaluation to government and society. Sen. Marcos recognized the importance of monitoring and evaluation, data gathering, information analysis, good results-based management and urged the people to embark on a serious and committed evaluation policy for the country.

The findings and recommendations of the formative evaluation were presented during the forum by Mr. Peter Srouji, Senior Research Manager of the Innovations for Poverty Action. The Executive Director of the National Nutrition Council, Dr. Azucena M. Dayanghirang along with Dr. Imelda Angeles-Agdeppa, Chief Science Research Specialist, Scientist II and OIC of FNRI, and Dr. Crystal Haijing Huang of IDinsight were invited to serve as reactors. Read more here to know more about the recommendations of the formative evaluation as well as the highlights of the discussion of Dr. Dayanghirang as a reactor.

(Kristine T. Vitasa, EA, OED)