Assessment of Development Results: Lao PDR

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Evaluation Plan:
2004-2008, Independent Evaluation Office
Evaluation Type:
ICPE/ADR
Planned End Date:
12/2006
Completion Date:
01/2006
Status:
Completed
Management Response:
Yes
Evaluation Budget(US $):
150,000

The evaluation found that UNDP has contributed significantly to policy development and dialogue, including incorporation of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and pro-poor concerns into national planning. Through the National Human Development Reports and other initiatives, UNDP has contributed to capacity development in the government to carry out high-level policy and strategic research on key issues, such as regional integration and human development. In the important field of governance, UNDP has gained the status of a trusted partner of the government. However, there are still areas where UNDP can assist the government, such as in the field of democratic governance and participation. In the areas of environment and sustainable development, UNDP has supported the country's efforts to fulfil its obligations to the international environmental agreements it has ratified. Given the importance of natural resources to the Lao economy, more could be done to incorporate related issues into policy dialogue in order to optimize the sustainable use of natural resources for the benefit of the country. UNDP has also succeed in establishing more efficient planning for operations related to UXO, thus ensuring continued international support to the effort.

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Title Assessment of Development Results: Lao PDR
Atlas Project Number:
Evaluation Plan: 2004-2008, Independent Evaluation Office
Evaluation Type: ICPE/ADR
Status: Completed
Completion Date: 01/2006
Planned End Date: 12/2006
Management Response: Yes
Focus Area:
  • 1. Poverty and MDG
  • 2. Democratic Governance
  • 3. Crisis Prevention & Recovery
  • 4. Environment & Sustainable Development
Corporate Outcome and Output (UNDP Strategic Plan 2014-2017)
Evaluation Budget(US $): 150,000
Source of Funding:
Joint Programme: No
Joint Evaluation: No
Evaluation Team members:
Name Title Email Nationality
Gabriela W. Byron Team Leader
GEF Evaluation: No
Key Stakeholders:
Location of Evaluation: Country Level
Countries: LAO PEOPLE'S DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC
Lessons
Findings
Recommendations
1 UNDP should continue its role in aid coordination and the RTM process. Assisting the government in organizing the RTMs has become a primary function of the UNDP country offi ce in Lao PDR. To carry out this function, UNDP supports the Ministry of Foreign Aff airs through a project in support of the RTM process that is solely funded by UNDP. Th rough this project, UNDP facilitates dialogue on key development agendas between the government and its development partners.
2 UNDP should maintain its current programme profile, but pay greater attention to moving beyond policies and frameworks towards implementation. Much emphasis has been placed to date in developing the policy, legal and management frameworks for reforms that form a solid and necessary base for implementation. However, implementation is an essential next step to demonstrate that reforms do not remain only on paper and contribute effectively to poverty reduction
3 UNDP should play a stronger role in incorporating natural resource management into its programme through the governance window. Given that the National Strategy on Environment and the FS2020 provide a framework for sustainable development and that the poorest in Lao PDR are highly dependent on sustainable resources, this strategy would fit well with the UNDP poverty reduction and governance priorities.
4 UNDP should implement the proposed study of the use of lands cleared of UXO and ensure that the terms of reference are broad enough to assess the development impact of land clearance. This would help to assess planning capacity (as UXO clearing is tied to local planning) and to confi rm the assumption that UXO clearance will promote pro-poor development.
5 UNDP should fully implement the recommendations made in the Gender Assessment Report & Gender Mainstreaming Strategy. Th is study was well done, and if its recommendations are implemented, UNDP will be able to address the weaknesses and inconsistencies in gender mainstreaming identifi ed in field visits. Th is could also put the UNDP in a leadership position of not only supporting gender equality work, but also showing how it could be done.
6 UNDP should promote south-south cooperation through ensuring the participation of neighbouring countries in donor coordination processes, particularly China, Vietnam and Thailand, which have significant aid and economic ties with Lao PDR.
7 UNDP should continue efforts to develop national capacities to enhance development effectiveness. In line with the Paris Declaration on Aid Effectiveness and the UN Reform process, UNDP should continue to strengthen Lao PDR capacities and to increase alignment with the national systems and procedures in order to reduce parallel systems and to improve eff ectiveness of aid delivery. To be effective, this will need to proceed hand in hand with governance reforms.
8 UNDP should revise its use of external advisors to ensure that the qualifi cations and modalities used best contribute to Lao capacity development. This includes flexible designs for expert input, depending on each context, greater reliance on regional experts who are likely to have a better socio-cultural understanding of the country, and the development of local expertise through more initiatives such as the UNV programme in Luang Prabang. UNDP and its partners should develop a strategy of capacity development for advisors that would include specific objectives and indicators in capacity development to be monitored along with other project indicators.
9 UNDP should undertake a research project to assess the various models and experiences in participatory planning taking place throughout the country by the government, the UNV, and other organizations such as the GTZ and UNICEF. Th e study should develop a series of lessons learned and good practices that would be available to the government to inform and enhance its decentralization process.
1. Recommendation: UNDP should continue its role in aid coordination and the RTM process. Assisting the government in organizing the RTMs has become a primary function of the UNDP country offi ce in Lao PDR. To carry out this function, UNDP supports the Ministry of Foreign Aff airs through a project in support of the RTM process that is solely funded by UNDP. Th rough this project, UNDP facilitates dialogue on key development agendas between the government and its development partners.
Management Response: [Added: 2007/10/08]

The Country Office fully agrees with this recommendation. Supporting the Government in managing the Round Table Process for effective aid coordination is and should remain a priority for UNDP.

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
1.1. Formulate a new programme in support of the Round Table Process with increased emphasis on implementation
[Added: 2009/03/11] [Last Updated: 2009/03/12]
RC/RR, DRR, CO Poverty Reduction Unit 2007/07 Completed The project document has indeed put strong emphasize on facilitating the implementation of government strategies, reforms and development programmes, with particular focus on supporting and facilitating the achievement of the MDGs.
1.2 Implement the new programme of support and organize annual Round Table meetings
[Added: 2009/03/11] [Last Updated: 2009/03/12]
RC/RR, DRR, CO Poverty Reduction Unit No due date No deadline established High-level Round Table Meetings (RTM) are being organized every 3 years mainly to achieve common understanding on development strategies and mobilize resources to support these strategies. The previous RTM (Nov. 2006) main reference for review and resource mobilization was the government 6th five-year Plan, its policy dimension and financing requirements.
2. Recommendation: UNDP should maintain its current programme profile, but pay greater attention to moving beyond policies and frameworks towards implementation. Much emphasis has been placed to date in developing the policy, legal and management frameworks for reforms that form a solid and necessary base for implementation. However, implementation is an essential next step to demonstrate that reforms do not remain only on paper and contribute effectively to poverty reduction
Management Response: [Added: 2007/10/08]

The Country Office agrees with this recommendation. While it will remain important to work with the Government on developing further an enabling environment for poverty reduction, greater emphasis needs to be placed on implementation.

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
2.2. Support should be provided to the formulation and implementation of an action plan for aid effectiveness
[Added: 2009/03/11] [Last Updated: 2009/03/12]
RC/RR, DRR, CO Poverty Reduction Unit, Chief Resident Economist 2011/12 Overdue-Initiated The Vientiane Declaration has been formulated and signed by 25 Development Partners. A corresponding action plan has also been developed and is being implemented.
2.1. The Round Table project should promote a more dynamic process which does not rely only on annual RT meeting and place more emphasis on implementation issues
[Added: 2009/03/11] [Last Updated: 2009/03/12]
RC/RR, DRR, CO Poverty Reduction Unit, Chief Resident Economist No due date No deadline established Greater emphasis is being placed on implementation and delivery, through two inter-linked mechanisms: The Round Table Implementation Meetings/RTIM (annual forums) and 8 Sector Working Groups (sectoral coordination). Each RTIM is preceded by pre-consultations.
2.3. UNDP's programme in support of local governance reforms and service delivery should be scaled up.
[Added: 2009/03/11] [Last Updated: 2009/03/12]
RC/RR, DRR, CO Governance Unit No due date No deadline established The GPAR programme has been significantly scaled up with the formulation of a $10 million joint programme which focuses on service delivery at the central and provincial levels as well as policy reform and comprehensive civil service capacity development.
3. Recommendation: UNDP should play a stronger role in incorporating natural resource management into its programme through the governance window. Given that the National Strategy on Environment and the FS2020 provide a framework for sustainable development and that the poorest in Lao PDR are highly dependent on sustainable resources, this strategy would fit well with the UNDP poverty reduction and governance priorities.
Management Response: [Added: 2007/10/08]

The Country Office agrees with the need to scale up its response to natural resource management challenges in the Lao PDR. Whether the response should be provided through the governance window or other windows is a question that will requires further investigation and discussions.

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
3.3 Explore the possibility of using GPAR as an additional entry point for work on natural resource management and the environment
[Added: 2009/03/11] [Last Updated: 2009/03/12]
DRR, CO Governance Unit 2009/12 Overdue-Initiated This issue will be included in the TOR of the GPAR evaluation that will take place in mid 2009.
3.1 Place the issue of natural resource management higher on the Government / Donor agenda using the round table platform
[Added: 2009/03/11] [Last Updated: 2009/03/12]
RC/RR, DRR, CO Poverty Reduction Unit, Chief Resident Economist 2008/12 Completed Dr. Stiglitz was invited for a series of high-level consultations in the lead-up to the 2007 RTiM; follow-up seminars were organized in 2008 which resulted in the 2008 RTiM deciding that more emphasis should be placed on discussing natural resource management and environment-related issues.
3.2 Roll-out the Poverty-Environment Initiative (PEI) in Lao PDR, jointly with UNEP, not as a stand alone initiative but using existing programmes and projects as entry points
[Added: 2009/03/11] [Last Updated: 2009/03/12]
UNDP RCB, UNDP CO No due date No deadline established The Preparatory Phase of PEI has been completed. PEI Phase I will start in mid-2009 using as two entry points the joint programme of support to the National Assembly and UNDP's work with MPI on the NSEDP.
4. Recommendation: UNDP should implement the proposed study of the use of lands cleared of UXO and ensure that the terms of reference are broad enough to assess the development impact of land clearance. This would help to assess planning capacity (as UXO clearing is tied to local planning) and to confi rm the assumption that UXO clearance will promote pro-poor development.
Management Response: [Added: 2007/10/08]

The Country Office agrees with this recommendation although the responsibility to implement the study rests with the National Regulatory Authority for the UXO sector.

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
4.1 Support the NRA in the development and implementation of a system to assess land that has been cleared - the methodology, scope, input, output and overall outcome will be developed through a series of participatory Technical Working Groups and a chapter in National Standards will cover the detail and responsibilities. Once agreed and approved by the Government the system will use common report formats to enable consistent measurement of Post Clearance Impact.
[Added: 2009/03/11] [Last Updated: 2009/03/12]
UNDP UXO/CPR Unit, NRA No due date No deadline established A project to develop Lao UXO and Mine Action National Standards is ongoing. Technical Working Groups have been initiated and will meet regularly to discuss matters such as Post Clearance Impact Surveys.
5. Recommendation: UNDP should fully implement the recommendations made in the Gender Assessment Report & Gender Mainstreaming Strategy. Th is study was well done, and if its recommendations are implemented, UNDP will be able to address the weaknesses and inconsistencies in gender mainstreaming identifi ed in field visits. Th is could also put the UNDP in a leadership position of not only supporting gender equality work, but also showing how it could be done.
Management Response: [Added: 2007/10/08]

The UNDP Country Office agrees with the recommendation. However, despite the commitment of both management and staff to gender mainstreaming, a key challenge remains the lack of expertise within the Country Office to deal with the issue and the dependence, therefore of gratis personnel provided in the form of fully funded UNVs.

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
5.1 Re-establishment of the Gender Focal Point Team, chaired by the Deputy Resident Representative (P), and review of its TOR.
[Added: 2009/03/11] [Last Updated: 2009/03/12]
All CO Units 2008/08 Completed Composition: Unit Chiefs of all programs, HR, PMSU, Public Information, and DRR (O)
5.2 All annual reports include a section on gender mainstreaming
[Added: 2009/03/11] [Last Updated: 2009/03/12]
All Programme Units No due date No deadline established
5.3 Gender is integrated into all Annual Work Plans (AWP)
[Added: 2009/03/11] [Last Updated: 2009/03/12]
All Programme Units No due date No deadline established 2009 AWPs must contain as least 1 gender sensitive target and indicator
5.4 Short-term gender mainstreaming advisor hired
[Added: 2009/03/11] [Last Updated: 2009/03/12]
UNDP Poverty Reduction Unit No due date No deadline established
5.5 In- house learning on gender initiated
[Added: 2009/03/11] [Last Updated: 2009/03/12]
Gender Focal Point Team and Gender Mainstreaming Advisor No due date No deadline established A combination of gender cultural sensitization, and technical gender skills.
6. Recommendation: UNDP should promote south-south cooperation through ensuring the participation of neighbouring countries in donor coordination processes, particularly China, Vietnam and Thailand, which have significant aid and economic ties with Lao PDR.
Management Response: [Added: 2007/10/08]

The Country Office agrees with this recommendation and will place particular emphasis on engaging countries from the region in the aid coordination and effectiveness process

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
6.1 Advocacy to involve countries from the region in the aid effectiveness agenda, through their participation in the Vientiane Declaration process.
[Added: 2009/03/11] [Last Updated: 2009/03/12]
RC/RR, DRR, CO Poverty Reduction Unit, Chief Resident Economist No due date No deadline established 5 countries from the region have already joined the VD: China, Singapore, Indonesia, Thailand and the Philippines.
6.2 Revise and update the VDCAP to incorporate new commitments from the Accra Agenda for Action; more emphasis will be placed on south-south cooperation including non-DAC/emerging donors to fully engage in donor coordination and apply the PD commitments
[Added: 2009/03/11] [Last Updated: 2009/03/12]
RC/RR, DRR, CO Poverty Reduction Unit, Chief Resident Economist No due date No deadline established
6.3 Increased involvement of countries from the region in donor coordination through the quarterly informal donor meetings
[Added: 2009/03/11] [Last Updated: 2009/03/12]
RC/RR, ORC No due date No deadline established Several breakthroughs have already been achieved with both China and Vietnam presenting to the IQDM and China co-chairing one of the meetings
6.4 Greater emphasis on south-south cooperation throughout the UNDP programme
[Added: 2009/03/11] [Last Updated: 2009/03/12]
Country Office No due date No deadline established Refer to South-South section of the ROAR
7. Recommendation: UNDP should continue efforts to develop national capacities to enhance development effectiveness. In line with the Paris Declaration on Aid Effectiveness and the UN Reform process, UNDP should continue to strengthen Lao PDR capacities and to increase alignment with the national systems and procedures in order to reduce parallel systems and to improve eff ectiveness of aid delivery. To be effective, this will need to proceed hand in hand with governance reforms.
Management Response: [Added: 2007/10/08]

The Country office agrees with this recommendation and intends to implement it during the 2007/2011 programme cycle.

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
7.1 Facilitate the design and implementation of capacity development frameworks (CDFs) for key sectors as per the VDCAP
[Added: 2009/03/11] [Last Updated: 2009/03/12]
Poverty Reduction Unit, Governance Unit, RTP/DIC, PACSA No due date No deadline established These issues of harmonizing capacity development activities across sectors and the alignment of donors' operations with national systems and procedures are dealt with within the VDCAP. Other DPs are involved in helping the government design and implement CDFs (in Education, Health, Transport and Agriculture).
7.2 Design and implement well targeted CDF for Ministry of Planning and Investment (MPI) which is the main government agency in charge of the overall aid coordination and effectiveness and corresponding Focal Points (FP) in line ministries and provinces
[Added: 2009/03/11] [Last Updated: 2009/03/12]
Poverty Reduction Unit, RTP/DIC No due date No deadline established A CDF aiming at strengthening aid coordination and management capacity of the relevant core agency and corresponding FP in ministries (respective departments of planning and cooperation) and selected provinces is being finalized with direct support from UNDP. UNDP is also facilitating links with requirements applying at the level of the public administration through the civil service agency (PACSA). In addition UNDP is facilitating coordination of CD interventions with other donors such as ADB and WB.
7.3 Improve and streamline UNDP procedures for better alignment to the government systems and enhancing delivery
[Added: 2009/03/11] [Last Updated: 2009/03/12]
PMSU, Other Country Office units No due date No deadline established A new programme specifically aimed at developing the management capacities of key implementation partners and facilitating an increasing use of the Government's own systems is currently being developed.
8. Recommendation: UNDP should revise its use of external advisors to ensure that the qualifi cations and modalities used best contribute to Lao capacity development. This includes flexible designs for expert input, depending on each context, greater reliance on regional experts who are likely to have a better socio-cultural understanding of the country, and the development of local expertise through more initiatives such as the UNV programme in Luang Prabang. UNDP and its partners should develop a strategy of capacity development for advisors that would include specific objectives and indicators in capacity development to be monitored along with other project indicators.
Management Response: [Added: 2007/10/08]

UNDP agrees that the use of national advisors should be carefully reviewed against the capacity development requirements of national counterparts. However, experience in the Lao PDR indicates that the use of technical advisors remains a critical requirement in many instances. What is important is not to develop a strategy of capacity development for advisors, but a strategy for national and local capacity development at the central and local levels.

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
8.1 Ensure that capacity development is a central component of the Vientiane Declaration on Aid Effectiveness and of its action plan
[Added: 2009/03/11] [Last Updated: 2009/03/12]
RC/RR, DRR, Poverty Reduction Unit, Chief Resident Economist 2007/12 Completed Capacity development is at the core of the VDCAP with several actions identified to address the issue
8.2 UNDP to play a lead role in capacity development and in the implementation of the capacity development component of the Vientiane Declaration Action Plan
[Added: 2009/03/11] [Last Updated: 2009/03/12]
Country Office Governance Unit No due date No deadline established Efforts are underway through the GPAR programme and Governance Sector Working Group co-chaired by UNDP to develop a comprehensive civil service capacity development framework (draft pending government endorsement). In addition, UNDP has supported and commissioned a comprehensive study on capacity development initiative for civil servants covering 1997-2007. See also ROAR reports.
8.3 Capacity assessments to be systematically undertaken for UNDP's Implementing Partners to identify gaps and capacity development requirements
[Added: 2009/03/11] [Last Updated: 2009/03/12]
Country Office No due date No deadline established 6 Micro-assessments have already been undertaken in the HACT context to assess management capacities. Additional micro-assessments will be undertaken in 2009. In addition, UNDP's capacity assessment tool is now used during the design phase of new projects and programmes. TA requirements are identified on their basis.
8.4 Full application of competency-based selection and interview process for the selection of international advisors to ensure that qualifications closely match the post requirements
[Added: 2009/03/11] [Last Updated: 2009/03/12]
Country Office, HR in particular No due date No deadline established The government is actively taking part in all recruitments of international advisors. Final approval also rests with government. During the past 2 years close attention has been placed on the recruitment of experts from the region. In addition regional advisory support from the RCB/RCC is increasingly drawn upon.
9. Recommendation: UNDP should undertake a research project to assess the various models and experiences in participatory planning taking place throughout the country by the government, the UNV, and other organizations such as the GTZ and UNICEF. Th e study should develop a series of lessons learned and good practices that would be available to the government to inform and enhance its decentralization process.
Management Response: [Added: 2007/10/08]

The UNDP country office has two main programmes which support participatory planning at the local level: the GPAR programme in conjunction with UNCDF through the District Development Fund (DDF); and the support to the implementation of the National Socio-Economic Development Plan project with Ministry of Planning and Investment which supports the preparation of socio-economic development plans at the Kum Ban level in the poorest parts of the country. As correctly noted in the ADR, there are other international agencies also supporting participatory planning projects. The CO agrees that a study examining lessons learned, best practices and recommendations for alignment between processes and tools, would be very beneficial to the Government at central and local levels, as well as to the local communities in which we are serving.

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
9.1 Review the existing MPI Participatory Planning Manual that guides the preparation of participatory poverty reduction Kumban Plans (2005) , as well as other participatory planning programs (and manuals / tools) currently in use.
[Added: 2009/03/11] [Last Updated: 2009/03/12]
RC/RR, Poverty Reduction Unit, Governance Unit 2008/01 Completed The Review provided a number of recommendations that MPI adopted
9.2 Revise the MPI Participatory Planning Manual, in close coordination with the National Leading Committee on Poverty Reduction, PACSA (for GPAR), Lao Women's Union (for the GEPR project), GTZ, UNICEF and other relevant stakeholders.
[Added: 2009/03/11] [Last Updated: 2009/03/12]
RC/RR, Poverty Reduction Unit No due date No deadline established As of March 2009, the NSEDP project is in process of recruiting Participatory Planning Advisor to support MPI in finalizing the revision of the Manual.
9.3 Revise the training program to train Government Official in participatory planning techniques. Train a multi-sectoral team of experts from central level who can provide training to provincial and district authorities on participatory planning techniques
[Added: 2009/03/11] [Last Updated: 2009/03/12]
RC/RR, Poverty Reduction Unit No due date No deadline established Dependent on action 9.2
9.4 Release DDF for FY 2010 / 2011 to those districts that adhere to revised Government participatory planning guidelines
[Added: 2009/03/11] [Last Updated: 2009/03/12]
RC/RR, Poverty Reduction Unit No due date No deadline established Identification of DDF project for FY 2010/11 takes place from Jan-March 2010.

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