Independent Country Programme Evaluation: Belarus

Report Cover Image
Evaluation Plan:
2018-2021, Independent Evaluation Office
Evaluation Type:
ICPE/ADR
Planned End Date:
12/2019
Completion Date:
12/2019
Status:
Completed
Management Response:
No
Evaluation Budget(US $):
35,000

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Title Independent Country Programme Evaluation: Belarus
Atlas Project Number:
Evaluation Plan: 2018-2021, Independent Evaluation Office
Evaluation Type: ICPE/ADR
Status: Completed
Completion Date: 12/2019
Planned End Date: 12/2019
Management Response: Yes
UNDP Signature Solution:
  • 1. Poverty
  • 2. Governance
  • 3. Sustainable
  • 4. Energy
Corporate Outcome and Output (UNDP Strategic Plan 2018-2021)
  • 1. Output 1.1.1 Capacities developed across the whole of government to integrate the 2030 Agenda, the Paris Agreement and other international agreements in development plans and budgets, and to analyse progress towards the SDGs, using innovative and data-driven solutions
  • 2. Output 1.2.1 Capacities at national and sub-national levels strengthened to promote inclusive local economic development and deliver basic services including HIV and related services
  • 3. Output 1.4.1 Solutions scaled up for sustainable management of natural resources, including sustainable commodities and green and inclusive value chains
  • 4. Output 1.5.1 Solutions adopted to achieve universal access to clean, affordable and sustainable energy
  • 5. Output 2.2.3 Capacities, functions and financing of rule of law and national human rights institutions and systems strengthened to expand access to justice and combat discrimination, with a focus on women and other marginalised groups
Evaluation Budget(US $): 35,000
Source of Funding:
Evaluation Expenditure(US $): 35,000
Joint Programme: No
Joint Evaluation: No
Evaluation Team members:
Name Title Email Nationality
Tianhan Gui Research Consultant
Elinor Bajraktari Evaluation Consultant
Boris Houenou Research Consultant
GEF Evaluation: No
Key Stakeholders:
Countries: BELARUS, REPUBLIC OF
Lessons
Findings
1.

Finding 1: UNDP’s work to promote the progressive realization of human rights and the implementation of UPR recommendations has not achieved the expected results. The majority of UNDP’s planned interventions in this area have been rejected by the Government (see also Finding 16). UNDP positioned itself as a convening platform to discuss human rights and project funding was partially redirected towards activities aimed at enhancing awareness of civil servants, but in a fragmented way with limited effectiveness.


Tag: Challenges Effectiveness Human rights Justice system Strategic Positioning Country Government Capacity Building Advocacy Coordination

2.

Finding 2: In partnership with the International Organization for Migration (IOM), the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), UNDP enhanced the capacity of State institutions to address irregular migration and human trafficking. By working through national institutions, the CO promoted institutionalization and sustainability. UNDP’s role in this area diminished significantly after 2017.


Tag: Sustainability Gender-Based Violence Partnership Civil Societies and NGOs UN Agencies Displacement Migration Security Capacity Building Youth South-South Cooperation Technical Support

3.

Finding 3: UNDP did not achieve the expected results to strengthen efficient, transparent, and accountable public service delivery at the local level. Some progress was attained on the promotion of citizens’ feedback for State-delivered services.


Tag: Effectiveness Sustainability Anti-corruption Civic Engagement e-Governance Justice system Local Governance Public administration reform Donor relations Innovation Service delivery Capacity Building

4.

Finding 4: Through sustained engagement, UNDP has enhanced national capacities for the safe management of SALW, enabling Belarus to reach a higher level of compliance with both national requirements and international best practices.


Tag: Resource mobilization Human rights Rule of law Donor relations Innovation Integration Crisis prevention Security Technology

5.

Finding 5: UNDP worked to enhance Belarus’ economic competitiveness by supporting its accession to the WTO and encouraging the development of the private sector’s productive capacities through the support to small and medium enterprises (SMEs), PPPs, and tax advisory services. While Belarus is expected to enter the WTO in 2020, 26 the other interventions would require more sustained efforts to produce significant results.


Tag: Effectiveness Sustainability Private Sector Financing Local Governance Public administration reform Communication Innovation Private Sector Inclusive economic growth Jobs and Livelihoods Micro-credit Policy Advisory Technical Support

6.

Finding 6: UNDP supported a number of local development initiatives that promoted social contracts and, based on the limited evidence available, appeared to have improved the livelihoods of vulnerable populations, including the elderly and people with disabilities. The capacity of local authorities in the field of area-based-development (ABD) was strengthened, although ABD passports have not been systematically integrated into local planning.


Tag: Vulnerable Sustainability Women's Empowerment Local Governance Monitoring and Evaluation Disabilities Inclusive economic growth Social Protection

7.

Finding 7: Working through new and reinforced partnerships, UNDP has expanded its portfolio to cover tourism to boost Belarus economic development in a sector that is rapidly expanding.The CO also started a small but innovative project addressing the barriers to women’s full participation in the workforce.


Tag: Tourism Effectiveness Gender Equality Women's Empowerment Donor relations Innovation Partnership Bilateral partners Country Government International Financial Institutions Private Sector Jobs and Livelihoods

8.

Finding 8: UNDP was well positioned in the area of environment and energy with a focused programme. Where UNDP has engaged for a long time, its interventions have been transformative. However, there is potential to further strengthen synergies between projects and make the programme funding more sustainable.


Tag: Climate Change Adaptation Climate change governance Biodiversity Energy Green Economy Effectiveness Global Environment Facility fund Partnership

9.

Finding 9: UNDP has addressed important priorities in the area of management of natural resources and biodiversity, contributing to the prevention of soil degradation and the conservation of globally threatened species. UNDP helped to strengthen environmental legislation, building institutional capacity, and sharing international knowledge and practices with national counterparts.


Tag: Forestry Biodiversity Natural Resouce management Protected Areas Impact Sustainability Knowledge management Country Government Capacity Building

10.

Finding 10: UNDP has promoted renewable energy and energy efficiency, introducing new methods and standards for the design of residential buildings that reduce energy consumption and GHG emissions. The CO contributed to establishing the proper enabling environment and enhancing national expert capacity, along with awareness-raising and demonstrations of the economic and environmental viability of new technologies. Progress in this area, however, has been hampered by economical electricity prices and institutional arrangements for effective coordination.


Tag: Advocacy Coordination Energy Effectiveness Education

11.

Finding 11: UNDP has intensified its support for the country’s transition to a green economy and sustainable urban development in small and medium-sized cities, with an important focus on awareness-raising and demonstration projects. The sustainability of the interventions in this area will depend on the continuation of efforts and the institutionalization of practices by the Government and the private sector, both at the central and local level.


Tag: Green Economy Sustainability Local Governance Urbanization

12.

Finding 12. UNDP’s support has been crucial to allow Belarus to be on track to meeting its 2020 target of complete HCFC phase-out.


Tag: Climate Change Adaptation Climate change governance Sustainability Procurement Capacity Building Advocacy Policy Advisory

13.

Finding 13: UNDP successfully transferred the management of resources for the prevention, treatment, and care of HIV/AIDS to national institutions, therefore ensuring sustainability. The CO’s role in this area is now limited to the coordination of the country mechanism to oversee the provision of grants to NGOs. Together with the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), UNDP promoted important legal changes to decriminalize people living with HIV/AIDS and developed a tool to monitor the respect of their rights.


Tag: Sustainability Global Fund Gender-Based Violence Civic Engagement Health Sector HIV / AIDS Monitoring and Evaluation UN Agencies Social Protection Coordination

14.

Finding 14: Beyond its sustained engagement on HIV/AIDS, UNDP facilitated the promotion of local activities to prevent non-communicable diseases (NCDs) and enhanced awareness of issues faced by people with disabilities. UNDP’s work was relevant for it focused on social vulnerabilities but remained of limited scale.


Tag: Vulnerable Relevance Sustainability Gender-Based Violence Human rights Local Governance Health Sector HIV / AIDS Non-Communicable Diseases UN Agencies Capacity Building Disabilities Youth Advocacy

15.

2.5 Overall country programme implementation

Finding 15: Through relatively limited financial investment of core resources, UNDP played a catalytic role in supporting the development of the national architecture for the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and promoted dialogue around the goals, including civil society and private sector. The level of awareness and commitment among the population at the local level, as well as the definition of the SDGs’ financial implications, require further work.


Tag: Green Climate Green Economy Effectiveness Efficiency Women's Empowerment Local Governance Parliament Partnership Civil Societies and NGOs Private Sector UN Agencies Inclusive economic growth Advocacy Policy Advisory Agenda 2030 Mainstreaming, Acceleration and Policy Support (MAPS) SDG Integration Voluntary National Review

16.

Finding 16: UNDP’s work has been significantly affected by lengthy registration processes. While appreciating the recent stronger collaboration with the CO, some national stakeholders reported the perception of having been inadequately involved in the preparation of planning documents and commented on the need to improve the quality of proposals. A limited understanding of UNDP’s role and added value in some areas also permeated the relationship with the Government, requiring the CO to reconsider its value proposition.


Tag: Effectiveness Business Model Country Support Platform Partnership Country Government Poverty Reduction Technical Support Agenda 2030

17.

Finding 17: UNDP’s financial situation has been challenged by multiple factors, including reduced core resources, limited donor interest, and minimal cost-sharing. Budget and delivery have plummeted over the years, affecting the ability of the CO to achieve what had been planned. The CO was able to reduce its costs by consolidating and downsizing the office, but it remains at a critical juncture, with financial sustainability closely tied to a commitment by the Government to invest resources in UNDP, for its value added to the country’s development. 


Tag: Efficiency Government Cost-sharing Private Sector Financing Resource mobilization Business Model Change Management Donor relations Agenda 2030 SDG Integration

18.

Finding 18: UNDP does not have a clear and realistic gender strategy informing its work. Yet, the CO implemented a number of gender-responsive projects in the area of migration and human trafficking and targeted women through its work on inclusive growth. Planned outputs to advance women’s participation in decision-making were not achieved. The work to improve the position of women in the labour market and the preparatory analysis for the implementation of the SDGs represent an important avenue to be further pursued.


Tag: Effectiveness Sustainability Gender Equality Gender Mainstreaming Gender-Based Violence Women's Empowerment Human rights Migration Inclusive economic growth SDG Integration SDG monitoring and reporting

19.

Finding 19: UNDP’s monitoring and evaluation (M&E) system mostly focused on the completion of activities and achievement of outputs at the project level, with little attention paid to expected outcomes. The CO has very limited M&E capacity, and no evaluation was conducted outside the area of energy and environment. The introduction of monthly delivery meetings and mandatory lessons learned reviews incentivized adaptive management.


Tag: Energy Effectiveness Health Sector Human and Financial resources Knowledge management Monitoring and Evaluation Results-Based Management

Recommendations
1

Recommendation 1: Ahead of the formulation of the CPD 2021-2025, UNDP should discuss with all stakeholders how best to support the Government in implementing initiatives around the four accelerators identified in the Mainstreaming Acceleration and Policy Support report.

In partnership with other United Nations agencies, UNDP should focus its support on digitalization and innovation, preparing youth for the job market, green transition, and women’s economic empowerment. In addition, UNDP should strengthen its work at the local level on sustainable development of cities and urban villages, which has met significant interest by the central Government and local authorities. Tapping on the high-level technological capacity in the country, UNDP should consider creating a national Accelerator Lab that, through research and innovation, supports the Government towards the full realization of its targets. 

2

Recommendation 2: UNDP should reinforce its support to leaving no one behind, focusing on marginalized areas and vulnerable communities.

In cooperation with other United Nations partners, UNDP should strengthen its engagement in the area of gender and social protection, focusing particularly on socio-economic opportunities for women, victims of trafficking, and people with disabilities. In all these areas, UNDP could play an important role in coordinating the support to different line ministries to address the root causes of marginalization and the obstacles hampering a full enjoyment of human rights, including through policy and legislative reforms. UNDP should also engage with the Government on how to best support the sustainable development of Chernobyl-affected areas through an integrated approach that focuses both on socio-economic and environmental issues. 

3

Recommendation 3: UNDP should continue engaging with the Government in the area of inclusive and responsible governance to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the public administration system.

UNDP should continue supporting the modernization efforts by the Belarusian Administration, promoting e-governance and one-stop-shops for service delivery. Future efforts should build on the work started in the current CPD and take advantage of the lessons learned and positive experience of other countries in the region.

4

Recommendation 4: UNDP should assess the effectiveness of the proposed approaches in the area of small and medium enterprise development and use the evaluation findings to advise the Government on policy options.

As the CO is piloting different approaches aimed at enhancing the competitiveness of SMEs and private sector initiatives, project results and lessons learned should be used to inform policy discussions with the Ministry of Economy, the Council for SME Development, the Ministry of Labour, and others to promote more impactful change. In this area, UNDP should also take full advantage of the experience of non-resident agencies (such as the United Nations Industrial Development Organization and the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe) to advise the Government on the best course of action.

5

Recommendation 5: UNDP should develop a long-term resource mobilization strategy to ensure the financial sustainability of the country office, including through cost-sharing.

Based on a well-defined value proposition linked to the SDGs, UNDP should explore with the Government any opportunity for cost-sharing, which will be essential for the continuation of activities in the country. UNDP should also continue exploring financial opportunities, other than the GEF and the EU, to further diversify its portfolio, including from foreign private sector companies interested in SDGs’ impact investments.

6

Recommendation 6: UNDP should reinforce the monitoring and evaluation of its programmes and projects, focusing on an assessment of their contribution to outcomes and behavioural change.

Both at project and programme levels, UNDP should elevate its analysis of results achieved beyond the completion of activities and outputs. Based on issue-based theories of change, the CO should identify selected programme-level outcome indicators, to which different projects will contribute to, and monitor them. The project’s log-frame template should be revised to include higher-than-output level results and indicators. Project-level results and lessons learned should be included in a shared database and dashboard to inform decision-making and communication to stakeholders. In order to accomplish this, the CO should seek means to enhance its staff capacity in this area. 

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