Assessment of Development Results: Malawi

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Title Assessment of Development Results: Malawi
Atlas Project Number:
Evaluation Plan: 2009-2013, Independent Evaluation Office
Evaluation Type: ADR
Status:Completed
Completion Date:07/2011
Planned End Date: 12/2010
Management Response:Yes
Corporate Outcomes (UNDP Strategic Plan 2008-20013)
Evaluation Budget(US $): --
Joint Programme:No
Mandatory Evaluation:No
Joint Evaluation: No
Evaluation Team members:
Name Title Email Nationality
Team Leader
GEF Evaluation:No
Key Stakeholders:
Countries: MALAWI
Lessons
Findings
Recommendations
1 UNDP needs to rationalize its programme portfolio in line with its comparative advantage and to respond to emerging issues that are critical to UNDP and to Malawi in each of the three programmes.Governance: UNDP needs to refocus its governance portfolio. Governance remains one of the most critical development challenges for the country and thus warrants significant emphasis. Going forward, UNDP should not necessarily scale down its involvement in the governance areas where it currently works but should consider extending its focus to economic governance, particularly on corporate governance. However, UNDP also needs to streamline the breadth of its focus. While reorganizing UNDP governance interventions into three focal areas improved the linkages and synergies between and among interventions, a strong case remains for UNDP to streamline its activities. This is especially true in areas that are being addressed by other development partners. UNDP should also concentrate on capacity building and coordination of multi-stakeholder governance activities, especially in elections. This would help UNDP to exploit its comparative advantage as the government?s trusted partner. Pro-poor Growth: The ADR has noted the slow pace towards achievement of the MDGs and other human development targets. As the MDG ?scorekeeper?, UNDP needs to scale up its advocacy in such areas as poverty reduction and human rights. Partnerships: UNDP partnerships with civil society, the private sector and local institutions are weak. These partnerships need strengthening.
2 UNDP should expand its capacities for policy analysis and engagement so it can fully exploit its comparative advantage in upstream work. The advantages UNDP brings to issues involving policy and establishment of an enabling framework include its ability to ensure that policies address human development, including vulnerable groups, human rights and equality. They also include capacity development to ensure the country has sustained abilities to develop and implement effective policies, formulate strategies and manage. When the ADR was undertaken, the UNDP country office was lacking a senior economic advisor to undertake most of the strategic and policy advisory work. UNDP should promote its own systematic approach to internal capacity building across all its programmes in policy analysis, negotiation and advocacy as a means to enhance their efficiency and effectiveness. As a first step in designing a capacity-building programme UNDP should undertake an assessment of its existing capacities. This will be critical to guide the technical work involved in policy advice and in programme development and management, including partnership development. This assessment should be preceded by a clear determination of UNDP priorities or a balanced approach to upstream and downstream activities. For while UNDP should continue some of its upstream work, particularly in capacity strengthening, it is recommended that such activities be extended to lower level institutions, such as district councils and NGOs, through existing structures. This would enhance the quality and efficiency of service delivery in line with the decentralization policy. UNDP capacity for this type of expansion needs full assessment followed by a well-defined programme of capacity building for both UNDP and implementing partners. The ADR noted with satisfaction current UNDP efforts to work with national universities and other institutions, such as the Malawi Institute of Management. This collaboration helps to develop the capacities of implementing agencies and their staff in such areas as results-based management, financial management, procurement management and policy management. These partnerships should be extended to private consulting companies and professional networks.
3 UNDP should use its privileged position with the Government to engage in dialogue to facilitate adoption of policies already developed and implementation of policies already adopted, along with other key initiatives. Advocacy for policy adoption is particularly necessary for policies that have been supported by UNDP but are yet to be approved by the Government. This requires a new orientation ? moving from a focus on outputs and aid effectiveness to one on development effectiveness and acceptance of responsibility for partnerships. UNDP should exploit its position as a trusted partner to encourage the Government to implement policies that support achievement of the MDGs and fulfilment of other human development values.
4 in its downstream activities, UNDP should shift its approach from direct interaction with beneficiaries to building the capacity of service providers such as the private sector, NGOs and other non-state actors. In FIMA, UNDP supports improvements to the environment in which service providers operate and capacity development through improvement in systems and best practices. This approach encourages private sector providers to reach out to marginalized groups and is an effective model. UNDP should move away from funding livelihood activities directly using programme funds, as in FLIRD and GSB. In programmes that promote entrepreneurship, the best option is to link livelihood or enterprise groups to private providers. This approach is likely to enhance local ownership of economic activities and ensure sustainability of results.
5 UNDP should consider adopting a political economy approach, which entails understanding the realities of power relations, incentives and change processes, to the analysis of development challenges in order to inform overall programme design. The political economy approach helps stakeholders to appreciate the political and economic rules of the game and the political factors that shape development challenges and outcomes. It further sheds light on the processes that create, sustain and transform relationships among key segments of society over time. The political economy approach to programming adds value by helping stakeholders to grasp the political, economic and social processes that promote or block pro-poor change. For example, most of the policy documents developed under UNDP support have not been implemented, partly due to lack of appreciation for the institutional and political economy issues that promote or hinder policy implementation.
6 UNDP should move away from a project approach and towards a programme approach. This will encourage integration of related activities into one programme and ensure coherence and strategic focus. The project approach has limited ability to harness synergies across projects, even within a thematic area. For example, UNDP projects in functional literacy, growing sustainable businesses and financial inclusion have synergies and would have been more effective if implemented as one programme. In this way the financial inclusion component would have addressed the problems accessing capital experienced by enterprise or livelihood groups created under the programmes addressing functional literacy and sustainable business development. This would help substantially in streamlining and focusing UNDP activities to ensure the greatest possible impact. A programme theory with a clearly conceptualized logic model is a useful instrument that would enhance not just coherence but also the articulation of a clear results framework and performance indicators.
7 UNDP should design programmes with realistic budgets to improve efficiency. UNDP reliance on midstream mobilization of resources to fill funding gaps introduces uncertainties and inefficiencies in supporting implementing partners. This greatly compromises attainment of desired results. It would be better to wait to implement a project or programme until full funding is guaranteed.
8 UNDP should endeavour to strengthen the capacity of its implementing partners in monitoring, evaluation, financial management and report writing. UNDP should ensure that implementing partners have the ability to monitor and evaluate development results rather than just report achievement of outputs. Most partner reports are deficient in articulating the extent to which programme outputs are translating into intended (or unintended) outcomes. UNDP is currently supporting the Government to implement a training programme on financial management. However, the training should also enhance capacities for good planning; effective monitoring and reporting of progress and finances; and understanding the UNDP budget structure, resource mobilization strategy, standards and compliance procedures. Similarities and differences between UNDP and government systems need to be understood, and when possible the two should be harmonized. Equally important is enhancing leadership in financial management and in improving staff performance. UNDP could also play a more dynamic role, including by dedicating a staff member to regularly check the financial records of implementing partners and provide them with needed support.
1. Recommendation: UNDP needs to rationalize its programme portfolio in line with its comparative advantage and to respond to emerging issues that are critical to UNDP and to Malawi in each of the three programmes.Governance: UNDP needs to refocus its governance portfolio. Governance remains one of the most critical development challenges for the country and thus warrants significant emphasis. Going forward, UNDP should not necessarily scale down its involvement in the governance areas where it currently works but should consider extending its focus to economic governance, particularly on corporate governance. However, UNDP also needs to streamline the breadth of its focus. While reorganizing UNDP governance interventions into three focal areas improved the linkages and synergies between and among interventions, a strong case remains for UNDP to streamline its activities. This is especially true in areas that are being addressed by other development partners. UNDP should also concentrate on capacity building and coordination of multi-stakeholder governance activities, especially in elections. This would help UNDP to exploit its comparative advantage as the government?s trusted partner. Pro-poor Growth: The ADR has noted the slow pace towards achievement of the MDGs and other human development targets. As the MDG ?scorekeeper?, UNDP needs to scale up its advocacy in such areas as poverty reduction and human rights. Partnerships: UNDP partnerships with civil society, the private sector and local institutions are weak. These partnerships need strengthening.
Management Response:

UNDP acknowledges the continuing need for further improvement in the country's governance sector and its unique position to coordinate multi-stakeholder democratic governance activities such as election processes. In this regard, UNDP will support democratic governance sector wide approach (SWAp) arrangements to enhance coordination, linkages and synergies of stakeholder interventions. Through leading such a sector-wide coordination mechanism, UNDP will support key democratic governance institutions to address their corporate and economic governance issues as well as improve their performance. With regard to capacity development efforts, UNDP will continue to assist the Public Sector Management Reform Unit to operationalise a SWAp arrangement to improve policy and programme implementation and service delivery. Similarly, building on past successes in supporting economic governance, UNDP intends to consolidate its efforts in aid effectiveness, national planning and M & E, and will seek to introduce a national RBM practice supported by national academic institutions.

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
1.1.1 Support governance SWAp process Governance Cluster 2016/12 Initiated Addressed in 2012-2016 CPD
1.1.2 Support Malawi Human Rights Commission (MHRC); Malawi Electoral Commission (MEC); Ombudsperson; Parliament and political parties. Governance Cluster 2016/12 Initiated Part of the 2012-2016 CPD
1.1.3 Support Public Sector Management Reform SWAp process. Capacity Development Cluster 2016/12 Initiated Part of 2012-2016 CPD
1.1.4 Introduce RBM practice in key ministries CD Cluster 2016/12 Initiated part of 2012-2016 CP
2. Recommendation: UNDP should expand its capacities for policy analysis and engagement so it can fully exploit its comparative advantage in upstream work. The advantages UNDP brings to issues involving policy and establishment of an enabling framework include its ability to ensure that policies address human development, including vulnerable groups, human rights and equality. They also include capacity development to ensure the country has sustained abilities to develop and implement effective policies, formulate strategies and manage. When the ADR was undertaken, the UNDP country office was lacking a senior economic advisor to undertake most of the strategic and policy advisory work. UNDP should promote its own systematic approach to internal capacity building across all its programmes in policy analysis, negotiation and advocacy as a means to enhance their efficiency and effectiveness. As a first step in designing a capacity-building programme UNDP should undertake an assessment of its existing capacities. This will be critical to guide the technical work involved in policy advice and in programme development and management, including partnership development. This assessment should be preceded by a clear determination of UNDP priorities or a balanced approach to upstream and downstream activities. For while UNDP should continue some of its upstream work, particularly in capacity strengthening, it is recommended that such activities be extended to lower level institutions, such as district councils and NGOs, through existing structures. This would enhance the quality and efficiency of service delivery in line with the decentralization policy. UNDP capacity for this type of expansion needs full assessment followed by a well-defined programme of capacity building for both UNDP and implementing partners. The ADR noted with satisfaction current UNDP efforts to work with national universities and other institutions, such as the Malawi Institute of Management. This collaboration helps to develop the capacities of implementing agencies and their staff in such areas as results-based management, financial management, procurement management and policy management. These partnerships should be extended to private consulting companies and professional networks.
Management Response:

Agreed, UNDP needs to capture the opportunities that the new MDGS offers to mainstream capacity development approaches in the new Sector wide programmes that are foreseen under the Development Assistance Strategy. This implies that it needs to sharpen its tools such as capacity assessment., capacity diagnostics on ongoing programmes and skills in designing capacity responses for its Implementation Partners. National learning and teaching institutions, private consulting companies and professional networks will form part of the strategies for delivering capacity development programmes for its staff and that of implementing partners. UNDP also shares the recommendations to synchronize policy advisory services and programme design with capacity assessments. UNDP will continuously take these key principles into consideration in strengthening its internal capacity and in its policy advisory and programming work. While it is important to have a well defined notion of priority areas and a balanced between upstream and downstream activities, it is should be understood that UNDP?s comparative advantage lies in supporting upstream interventions.

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
2.1 Engage academic institutions for staff skills development ALL programme cluster 2016/12 Initiated Part of 2012-2016 CPD
2.2 Conduct capacity assessment of IPs prior to engagement ALL clusters 2016/12 Initiated
2.3 Facilitate development and implementation of the Integrated Rural Development strategy Growth and MDGs Achievement and Governance Clusters 2016/12 Initiated Part of the 2012-2016 CP
2.4 Support the decentralization programme to strengthen district level capacities Governance Cluster 2016/12 Initiated Part of UNDP/UNCDF support under 2012-2016 CP
2.5. Capacity Assessment on Climate Change (CC) to develop CC capacity development plan Climate Change and Environment Cluster 2014/12 Completed Part of 2012-2016 CP
3. Recommendation: UNDP should use its privileged position with the Government to engage in dialogue to facilitate adoption of policies already developed and implementation of policies already adopted, along with other key initiatives. Advocacy for policy adoption is particularly necessary for policies that have been supported by UNDP but are yet to be approved by the Government. This requires a new orientation ? moving from a focus on outputs and aid effectiveness to one on development effectiveness and acceptance of responsibility for partnerships. UNDP should exploit its position as a trusted partner to encourage the Government to implement policies that support achievement of the MDGs and fulfilment of other human development values.
Management Response:

UNDP agrees that it should continually explore ways to advocate and facilitate government's implementation of policies through its policy advisory services. UNDP will explore opportunities for promoting the development effectiveness agenda. However, it should be noted that ultimately, implementation of policies depends on government commitment and availability of resources which might be beyond UNDP's influence.

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
3.1 Facilitate implementation of the Disaster Risk Management (DRM) Policy Environment/Climate Change 2016/12 Initiated part of 2012-2016 CP
3.2 Produce knowledge products on policy implementation Policy Advisory and Development Unit 2016/12 Initiated Ongoing and part of 2012-2016 CP
3.3 Convene Round Table discussions on specific policy issues including development effectiveness agenda All clusters 2016/12 Initiated part of 2012-2016 CP
3.4 Review status of implementation of UNDP-sponsored policies in past 5 years and engage government accordingly All Clusters 2014/12 No Longer Applicable
4. Recommendation: in its downstream activities, UNDP should shift its approach from direct interaction with beneficiaries to building the capacity of service providers such as the private sector, NGOs and other non-state actors. In FIMA, UNDP supports improvements to the environment in which service providers operate and capacity development through improvement in systems and best practices. This approach encourages private sector providers to reach out to marginalized groups and is an effective model. UNDP should move away from funding livelihood activities directly using programme funds, as in FLIRD and GSB. In programmes that promote entrepreneurship, the best option is to link livelihood or enterprise groups to private providers. This approach is likely to enhance local ownership of economic activities and ensure sustainability of results.
Management Response:

UNDP agrees with this recommendation. Current programmes which provided direct funding to target beneficiaries will be discontinued or reformulated to channel assistance through intermediaries or existing service providers.

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
Partner with MFIs and private sector to provide financial and entrepreneurship services to target beneficiaries. GMDGA 2016/12 Initiated Part of 2012-2016 CP
5. Recommendation: UNDP should consider adopting a political economy approach, which entails understanding the realities of power relations, incentives and change processes, to the analysis of development challenges in order to inform overall programme design. The political economy approach helps stakeholders to appreciate the political and economic rules of the game and the political factors that shape development challenges and outcomes. It further sheds light on the processes that create, sustain and transform relationships among key segments of society over time. The political economy approach to programming adds value by helping stakeholders to grasp the political, economic and social processes that promote or block pro-poor change. For example, most of the policy documents developed under UNDP support have not been implemented, partly due to lack of appreciation for the institutional and political economy issues that promote or hinder policy implementation.
Management Response:

Agreed, the political economy approach to the analysis of development challenges in the country can be helpful in informing decision makers and planners about the linkages between policies, development processes, people's livelihoods, resources and governance issues. UNDP will produce quality knowledge products in its key support areas to provide solid data and analyses to create enabling environment for policy formulation and realign institutional settings for policy implementation.

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
Produce knowledge products in key areas of support to provide solid data for policy analysis Policy Advisory Unit 2012/12 Completed Ongoing
6. Recommendation: UNDP should move away from a project approach and towards a programme approach. This will encourage integration of related activities into one programme and ensure coherence and strategic focus. The project approach has limited ability to harness synergies across projects, even within a thematic area. For example, UNDP projects in functional literacy, growing sustainable businesses and financial inclusion have synergies and would have been more effective if implemented as one programme. In this way the financial inclusion component would have addressed the problems accessing capital experienced by enterprise or livelihood groups created under the programmes addressing functional literacy and sustainable business development. This would help substantially in streamlining and focusing UNDP activities to ensure the greatest possible impact. A programme theory with a clearly conceptualized logic model is a useful instrument that would enhance not just coherence but also the articulation of a clear results framework and performance indicators.
Management Response:

Agreed, In the CPD 2012-2016, UNDP defines overarching strategies and focused areas for its assistance which will ensure synergies of different interventions and create holistic impacts. UNDP will take into account synergies and complementarity between projects during the planning stage. Over-lapping or disjointed projects will be discontinued or re-formulated into programmes.

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
6.1: Discontinue support to SDNP Environment Cluster 2011/12 Completed
6.2: Close FLIRD GMDGA 2011/12 Completed
6.3: Strategically merge Development Assistance Coordination, Joint M&E and MDG-based planning projects under an RBM programme umbrella CD and GMDGA Clusters 2011/12 Completed MDGs-Based Planning; M&E support and Development Assistance Support all part of one Joint Programme
6.4 Climate Change, Environment and Disaster Risk Management Programme managed under programme approach Environment and Climate Change 2012/01 Completed Climate Change, Environment & Natural Resources and Disaster Risk Management reflected as one output in the UNDAF Action Plan and CP 2012 - 2016
7. Recommendation: UNDP should design programmes with realistic budgets to improve efficiency. UNDP reliance on midstream mobilization of resources to fill funding gaps introduces uncertainties and inefficiencies in supporting implementing partners. This greatly compromises attainment of desired results. It would be better to wait to implement a project or programme until full funding is guaranteed.
Management Response:

Accepted, uncertainty of funding in some of its programmes affected implementation efficiency. In order to achieve greater effectiveness in its contribution to national development results, UNDP programming includes budgets which are larger than available resources in anticipation that the funding gap would be met through resource mobilization efforts. This approach has generally worked. UNDP has placed its internal mechanism to regularly monitor movements of programme resources and ensure alignments of budget and the available resources. Hence, instead of limiting the programme budgets to available resources, it is felt that the appropriate approach lies in ensuring that UNDP improves communication with implementing partners so that its partners appreciate the approach and manage their plans appropriately.

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
7.1 Institute regular briefings/communication on project/programme funding status with implementing partners (IPs) All Cluster and PRMU 2014/12 Overdue-Initiated Ongoing
7.2 Implement the Country Office Resource Mobilization Strategy PRMU 2013/12 Completed Implementation of the CO Resource Mobilization strategy is ongoing
8. Recommendation: UNDP should endeavour to strengthen the capacity of its implementing partners in monitoring, evaluation, financial management and report writing. UNDP should ensure that implementing partners have the ability to monitor and evaluate development results rather than just report achievement of outputs. Most partner reports are deficient in articulating the extent to which programme outputs are translating into intended (or unintended) outcomes. UNDP is currently supporting the Government to implement a training programme on financial management. However, the training should also enhance capacities for good planning; effective monitoring and reporting of progress and finances; and understanding the UNDP budget structure, resource mobilization strategy, standards and compliance procedures. Similarities and differences between UNDP and government systems need to be understood, and when possible the two should be harmonized. Equally important is enhancing leadership in financial management and in improving staff performance. UNDP could also play a more dynamic role, including by dedicating a staff member to regularly check the financial records of implementing partners and provide them with needed support.
Management Response:

UNDP will continue to implement regular training programmes to strengthen the capacities of implementing partners in monitoring, evaluation, financial and procurement management, result based management, project management and report writing. However, UNDP notes that sometimes performance in these functions is not a factor of capacity or competency but rather of compliance. Hence, UNDP will also promote programmes to enhance awareness among senior leaders of their responsibilities to hold their staff accountable for their performance or inaction. Furthermore, UNDP will utilize HACT framework to enhance capacity of IPs with other UN agencies to generate greater impetus for improvement in accountability and transparency of projects and programmes that it supports.

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
8.1 Facilitate public sector leadership training programmes CD Cluster 2016/12 Initiated Part of the 2012-2016 CP
8.2 Conduct HACT initiatives PRMU and CD Cluster 2016/12 Initiated Ongoing, until 2016
8.3 Conduct M&E/RBM trainings CD Cluster 2016/12 Initiated Part of 2012-2016 CP
8.4 Conduct Financial and Procurement management trainings for IPs staff PRMU 2016/12 Initiated Ongoing as part of HACT initiatives

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