Evaluation of the Regional Programme for Arab States (2010-2013)

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Evaluation Plan:
2009-2013, Independent Evaluation Office
Evaluation Type:
Regional Programme
Planned End Date:
06/2013
Completion Date:
04/2013
Status:
Completed
Management Response:
Yes
Evaluation Budget(US $):
180,000

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Title Evaluation of the Regional Programme for Arab States (2010-2013)
Atlas Project Number:
Evaluation Plan: 2009-2013, Independent Evaluation Office
Evaluation Type: Regional Programme
Status:Completed
Completion Date:04/2013
Planned End Date: 06/2013
Management Response:Yes
Corporate Outcomes (UNDP Strategic Plan 2008-20013)
Evaluation Budget(US $): 180,000
Source of Funding:
Joint Programme:No
Mandatory Evaluation:No
Joint Evaluation: No
Evaluation Team members:
Name Title Email Nationality
GEF Evaluation:No
Key Stakeholders:
Lessons
Findings
Recommendations
1 Recommendation 1. In order to enhance its visibility in the region and increase its chances of success and sustainability, the regional programme for Arab states should be more firmly anchored in, and managed from, the Arab region, and should strengthen its partnerships with regional organizations.
2 Recommendation 2. Project managers located in the region should be empowered to manage their project?s personnel and financial resources; encouraged to cultivate a rapport with donors and to participate in resource mobilization efforts; and allowed to strengthen links with other UNDP units and external partners.
3 Recommendation 3. The regional programme should be better connected to the UNDP knowledge architecture. The most effective way to achieve this would be to place regional projects and project managers under the responsibility of the regional centre, as is standard practice in other regions, with RBAS at headquarters retaining only an oversight role.
4 Recommendation 4. The regional programme should strengthen its internal coherence; connect projects outputs and activities with expected outcomes more systematically in the regional programme document; strengthen collaborations between regional programme components; and document and communicate regularly about the funding, activities and results of the regional programme as a whole.
5 Recommendation 5. The regional programme should build upon the current positioning as a source of carefully contextualized regional knowledge and expertise in Arabic, English and French, and build on the comparative advantages of regional projects and programmes in advocacy on sensitive issues, socio-economic and political context analysis, knowledge sharing, regional debates and dialogue and use of South-South cooperation.
6 Recommendation 6. The regional programme should take into account the changes transforming the region, articulate a more explicit support to regional efforts to protect human rights, and attempt to translate information and knowledge into action so as to contribute to concrete outcomes that can improve people?s lives.
7 Recommendation 7. UNDP in the Arab states should expand its partnerships with civil society and engage with community organizations, religious leaders, the media and academia in debates, awareness raising activities, and assessment of public policy, in order to promote openness in the public sphere, enhance accountability and credible governance reforms, better reflect the range of opinions and views in a given context and apply more pressure for change on important social issues.
8 Recommendation 8. RBAS should conduct more frequent outcome evaluations and audits of its regional programme. This should include an audit of programme management costs geared to determining the cost-effectiveness of UNOPS implementation.
1. Recommendation: Recommendation 1. In order to enhance its visibility in the region and increase its chances of success and sustainability, the regional programme for Arab states should be more firmly anchored in, and managed from, the Arab region, and should strengthen its partnerships with regional organizations.
Management Response:

Noted and partially initiated. While the regional programme is firmly anchored in the region, with all regional projects based in and managed from the region, it is agreed that additional efforts need to be made to further engage with regional organizations. RBAS signed a memorandum of understanding with the League of Arab States in September 2012. Since 2011, the League of Arab States has been involved in regional projects development. The Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia was involved in the development of the Arab Climate Resilience Initiative. The League of Arab States is also a partner in the new regional project on trade entitled Aid for Trade in Arab States ? implementation starting in 2013.

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
Pursue ongoing consultations with the League of Arab States to better identify possible opportunities for cooperation and provision of support RBAS 2014/12 Completed There have been several high level consultations (led by the Regional Director in September and November 2013) with the League of Arab States in 2013 to detail out the cooperation agreement signed with them at the end of 2012. LAS and UNDP has agreed to appoint a joint coordinator to manage cooperation and is located at LAS.
Ensure greater involvement and coordination with regional organizations in the development and implementation of regional projects, particularly through the regional United Nations Development Group mechanism. RBAS 2014/12 Completed RBAS signed a cooperation agreement with the League of Arab States September 2012. The regional UNDG mechanism is being used to involve and coordinate with the regional institutions. The new regional programme also emphasizes the importance of working with regional institutions in project implementation. The new Aid for Trade Initiative for Arab States is a prime example where League of Arab States sits at the project board and is actively involved in the implementation of its activities. The new programme also envisages having dedicated support activities to the League of Arab States.
2. Recommendation: Recommendation 2. Project managers located in the region should be empowered to manage their project?s personnel and financial resources; encouraged to cultivate a rapport with donors and to participate in resource mobilization efforts; and allowed to strengthen links with other UNDP units and external partners.
Management Response:

Partially relevant. Project managers contribute to resource mobilization efforts. However, they cannot be in charge of resource mobilization on their own, as there would be an issue of segregation of duties. Furthermore, it is a corporate agreement that for regional projects, regional bureaux, in cooperation with the Bureau of External Relations and Advocacy, Bureau for Development Policy and Bureau for Crisis Prevention and Recovery, should take the lead in resource mobilization efforts in order to ensure better coherence and avoid duplication and donor fatigue. As per the UNDP Internal Control Framework, ?The broad responsibilities of project managers include: - Preparing annual budgets and work plans for approval by office management; - Achieving the outputs described in the work plan; - Reviewing budgets and work plans on a monthly basis and bringing to the attention of senior management any proposed changes; - Prepare procurement and recruitment plans for the project, and monitor activities based on the plans developed.? Project managers manage human and financial resources within this framework, while the ultimate accountability for the use of regional funds rests with the Regional Director. Partners and other UNDP units are always invited to participate and contribute to regional projects organized events

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
Ensure project managers continue to reach out and involve other UNDP units and external partners in project activities, subject to availability of funds RBAS 2014/12 Completed The project managers continue to reach out to other UNDP units with the regional programme management?s guidance to ensure the integrity of the overall programme and exercise oversight over the agreed activities. For example Anti-corruption project manager, Aid for Trade Initiative project manager, and Arab Knowledge report project manager all participate in establishing rapport with the external partners and with other UNDP units. However, RBAS continues to observe the internal control framework requirements in this respect. RBAS is of the belief that although they can contribute to it, the project managers cannot take the lead in the resource mobilization efforts.
3. Recommendation: Recommendation 3. The regional programme should be better connected to the UNDP knowledge architecture. The most effective way to achieve this would be to place regional projects and project managers under the responsibility of the regional centre, as is standard practice in other regions, with RBAS at headquarters retaining only an oversight role.
Management Response:

Noted. The Regional Bureau for Arab States is currently undergoing a change management exercise, looking at reviewing the bureau?s structure in order to optimize efficiency. Currently, projects are all based in and managed from the region, with headquarters only having an oversight role

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
Upon completion of the work of the UNDP Management Consulting Team (MCT), revise the current bureau architecture and implement changes as appropriate. RBAS 2014/12 Overdue-Initiated RBAS is pursuing a change management exercise as part of the broader UNDP restructuring. Regional programme structures will be treated under this broader change exercise. RBAS prepared a draft organogramme where regional programme will consolidate its presence in the region, together with the current policy advisory teams. In its new regional programme document (2014-2017) RBAS institutionalized the regional programme?s engagement with the in-house knowledge architecture and expertise through programme-wide and project/thematic-based advisory teams. A consolidated unit located in the region will spearhead project management to ensure efficiency and effectiveness in delivery. Through this unit, the regional programme will further invest in building resources and results monitoring, reporting, and communication capacity based on results-based management principles for programme delivery
4. Recommendation: Recommendation 4. The regional programme should strengthen its internal coherence; connect projects outputs and activities with expected outcomes more systematically in the regional programme document; strengthen collaborations between regional programme components; and document and communicate regularly about the funding, activities and results of the regional programme as a whole.
Management Response:

It is agreed that the regional programme should strengthen its internal coherence and enhance its documentation and communication of the programme?s achievements.

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
Align the new regional programme with the UNDP strategic plan, 2014-2017, and emphasize resilience as the cross-cutting theme to strengthen connections and linkages across different areas of focus on poverty reduction, governance, and energy and environment for improved internal coherence. Further underline the importance of inclusion, especially targeting youth and gender, in all focus areas, and reflect them in relevant knowledge products and communication materials. RBAS 2014/12 Completed The new regional programme (2014-2017) is fully aligned with the new UNDP Strategic Plan. The programme was formulated in close coordination with and the guidance from the Executive Office and OSG to ensure such an alignment. Inclusion and resilience is underlined as cross cutting themes in the new programme
Organize annual knowledge cross-sharing meetings in order to provide a platform of exchange between regional projects, and to use as a basis for consolidation of project outputs at the outcome level. RBAS 2017/12 Initiated The new regional programme has just been approved. Such annual meetings are planned, as much as the resources allow, throughout its implementation
Develop a quarterly newsletter that includes main achievements of the regional programme RBAS 2017/12 Initiated This will be taken up once the consolidated management unit is fully staffed and a dedicated knowledge management person is in place.
5. Recommendation: Recommendation 5. The regional programme should build upon the current positioning as a source of carefully contextualized regional knowledge and expertise in Arabic, English and French, and build on the comparative advantages of regional projects and programmes in advocacy on sensitive issues, socio-economic and political context analysis, knowledge sharing, regional debates and dialogue and use of South-South cooperation.
Management Response:

Partially agreed and initiated. The regional programme recognizes the importance of making knowledge products accessible to most, and for this reason has been developing knowledge and making it available in mainly Arabic and English for the past few years. Whenever possible, and subject to availability of funds, French versions of publications have also been produced. The regional programme will also continue building upon its current positioning to provide a platform for debate and knowledge production in the region. The ongoing change management exercise is looking at various implementation options for regional projects. Country-level activities are always planned, coordinated and implemented in full cooperation with country offices

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
Review implementation arrangements of regional projects based on MCT recommendations. RBAS 2014/12 Completed The review has been completed, as explained above in details in the overview and implementation progress sections above, RBAS is undertaking a through change management process and restructuring that also entails the regional programme.
Continue producing knowledge and making it available in Arabic, English, and where possible, in French, and maintain its role in addressing issues that may be sensitive when tackled at the national level. RBAS 2017/12 Completed RBAS is continuing to produce knowledge in English and Arabic, and where possible French. The implementation of this is a continuous effort throughout the new period for the programme.
6. Recommendation: Recommendation 6. The regional programme should take into account the changes transforming the region, articulate a more explicit support to regional efforts to protect human rights, and attempt to translate information and knowledge into action so as to contribute to concrete outcomes that can improve people?s lives.
Management Response:

Agreed. The new regional programme, 2014-2017, will consider the various development issues, including gender, affecting the region following the changes transforming it, and prioritize interventions subject to availability of funding. In doing so, RBAS will be guided as well by the outcomes of national and regional consultations on MDG post-2015 development priorities. Partners and other UNDP units are always invited to participate and contribute to regional projects organized events

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
Ensure the new regional programme, 2014-2017, focuses on development issues affecting the region, taking into account the changes transforming it, and within the framework of the Executive Board approved UNDP strategic plan, 2014-2017. RBAS 2017/12 Completed The new regional programme provides a comprehensive overview of the development issues affecting the region, taking into account all the recent changes. It proposes a programme to respond to these issues, in close alignment with the new UNDP Strategic Plan.
7. Recommendation: Recommendation 7. UNDP in the Arab states should expand its partnerships with civil society and engage with community organizations, religious leaders, the media and academia in debates, awareness raising activities, and assessment of public policy, in order to promote openness in the public sphere, enhance accountability and credible governance reforms, better reflect the range of opinions and views in a given context and apply more pressure for change on important social issues.
Management Response:

Noted and applied in several regional projects (for example, HIV/AIDS Regional Programme for the Arab States, Anti-Corruption and Integrity in the Arab Countries). The regional programme has been successful in building networks, bringing together governmental and non-governmental actors and stakeholders, particularly in the area of anti-corruption, through the Arab Anti-Corruption and Integrity Network. The regional programme has also adopted this participatory approach in regional project development, and will continue doing so during the next programming cycle, 2014-2017

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
Ensure the new regional programme, 2014-2017, continues to foster participation of all stakeholders, and clearly mention this approach in the regional programme document, 2014-2017 RBAS 2014/12 Completed The partnership section in the new regional programme document clearly adopts the approach. The implementation of the approach is an ongoing effort throughout the new period for the programme.
8. Recommendation: Recommendation 8. RBAS should conduct more frequent outcome evaluations and audits of its regional programme. This should include an audit of programme management costs geared to determining the cost-effectiveness of UNOPS implementation.
Management Response:

It is agreed that RBAS should commission more regular outcome evaluations.

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
Commission at least two outcome evaluations during the programming cycle, 2014-2017 RBAS 2014/12 Completed The outcome evaluation will be conducted as per the evaluation plan of the new regional programme document (2014-2017).

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