Assessment of Development Results: Bhutan

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Evaluation Plan:
2004-2008, Independent Evaluation Office
Evaluation Type:
ICPE/ADR
Planned End Date:
06/2007
Completion Date:
07/2007
Status:
Completed
Management Response:
Yes
Evaluation Budget(US $):
150,000

The evaluation found that UNDP has remained relevant in the changing context of development in Bhutan. A number of factors have contributed to this, including UNDP's responsiveness, flexibility and use of flexible funding modalities. Its alignment with national priorities and trusted relationship with the government have further enabled UNDP to evolve with and respond to national needs. Ensuring government and national ownership is another way that UNDP strives to ensure sustainable results. Further, its cross-sectoral mandate, coordination role among UN partners, global access to high-level technical expertise, and ability to identify and help respond to emerging issues by keeping a finger on the international and national development pulse, have contributed to UNDP's positive image in Bhutan. On the whole, the assessment reveals that UNDP's contributions are in line with intended outcomes.

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Title Assessment of Development Results: Bhutan
Atlas Project Number:
Evaluation Plan: 2004-2008, Independent Evaluation Office
Evaluation Type: ICPE/ADR
Status: Completed
Completion Date: 07/2007
Planned End Date: 06/2007
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
Team Leader
GEF Evaluation: No
Key Stakeholders:
Location of Evaluation: Country Level
Countries: BHUTAN
Lessons
Findings
Recommendations
1 Improve responsiveness

UNDP Bhutan's reputation as a trusted partner is derived partly from the ability of the CO to be responsive to RGoB. There are many areas where UNDP support has been forthcoming and welcomed. At the same time, however, it is also true that many of the contemporary challenges facing Bhutan, such as poverty, inequalities, youth unemployment, rural-urban migration, limited capacities at the local levels, a weak private sector and the limited expansion of civil society organizations should have been anticipated. These are areas where UNDP, in partnership with RGoB, could initiate more timely action. Stepping back, this suggests that there is considerable room for UNDP Bhutan to improve its ability to be more helpful to RGoB by not merely identifying emerging challenges, but supporting the articulation of policy choices.
2 Rearticulate theory of change
A 'theory of change' is the product of 'a series of critical-thinking exercises that provides a comprehensive picture of the early- and intermediate-term changes in a given community that are needed to reach a long-term goal articulated by the community.' Re-examining four variables, namely actions, people, setting and outcomes is a useful way for any organization to further improve its development effectiveness. Strategic thinking and a common understanding of the development path will enable UNDP Bhutan to tap better into global knowledge and enable Bhutan to create an appropriate environment for policy reforms and programmatic interventions. Doing so will also enable UNDP Bhutan to strike a better balance between upstream and downstream interventions, scatter of projects, focus, policy and field linkages.

Revisiting the theory of change underlying UNDP Bhutan's interventions will enable the CO to evolve more effective programm
3 Develop into a knowledge centre

There is a real opportunity for UNDP Bhutan to position itself as a knowledge centre. Doing so will greatly strengthen the supporting role that it plays vis-à-vis RGoB and will also fulfill the expectations of other development partners. There is, however, a need to formalize and improve knowledge creation, management and dissemination. This will require paying more attention to concurrent project (and even programme) monitoring and evaluation, synthesis of action research and evaluation lessons. In addition, UNDP Bhutan could play a constructive role in encouraging knowledge networks within the country. Effective use of ICT can help make the generation and sharing of knowledge more inclusive and participatory. UNDP can also play a useful role in ensuring that knowledge dissemination results in further enriching the quality of public discourse. The CO will then be able to better exploit the potential to draw lessons from the ground
4 Consolidate interventions

There is still much ground to be covered in the current areas of UNDP programming. Eliminating human poverty and reducing inequalities will assume increasing significance in the coming years. Promoting both the concept of GNH and the human development approach will become crucial for ensuring effectiveness of policy and programmatic interventions. Increased engagement of young people and activists with the GNH through discussions will become important. In advancing good governance, UNDP should make available its in-house expertise to RGoB in many fields: formulating rules and procedures of parliament, public education in order to enable people to understand the principles of democracy, civic education in preparation of elections, school textbook revisions, and promotion of human rights knowledge. Interventions in the field of natural resources and the environment will require that attention is paid to natural resource management and use, n
5 Sharpen focus

UNDP has been particularly effective in evolving with the needs of RGoB. Although a majority of UNDP's resources are concentrated in only two large projects (REDP and Decentralization Support), its efforts appear scattered due to the ambitious design of the two projects and the slow progress towards results because of insufficient institutional and individual capacities. It is difficult to comment on the issue of focus and scatter in the absence of a well-articulated logic of change that underlies programming efforts. This makes it difficult to determine how significant results could be (or have been) in contributing towards a certain outcome. The results-based approach and MYFF have helped to sharpen UNDP's work towards outcomes, but it still needs to be better internalized to become more outcome and less process orientated. In other words the focus should be on the changes UNDP is bringing about, rather than what it is doing. Monitoring and evaluation
6 Strengthen downstream delivery

UNDP Bhutan has been successful in supporting RGoB in a number of upstream policy initiatives. Its support and impact downstream need to be made much more effective and obvious. Work at the field level requires more effort, resources and monitoring capacity. The potential contribution of NGOs and CBOs can be substantial, but this requires both nurturing and investments in capacity building. Assessing downstream contribution should also be improved by better monitoring at project level, specifying clear methodologies in project evaluation and resolving conflicting views on the effectiveness of partnerships. Capacity building: UNDP Bhutan should improve efficiency as well as government capacity at central and local levels to deal with the demands of implementation. It should focus on further developing public sector capacity, particularly in the areas of disaster management, gender analysis and mainstreaming, sustainable use and managem
7 Evaluation issue and recommendation: 5.2.2. Regional centres UNDP Bhutan has received periodic and specialized support from the regional centres in Colombo and Bangkok in its main areas of programming. In the coming years, the potential for UNDP regional centres to contribute to Bhutan's development is likely to increase substantially. It would nevertheless help to identify specific areas where UNDP can be more effective in mobilizing external aid and technical support. Creating a knowledge base and a comprehensive resource centre are likely to enhance the contribution of the regional centres.
8 5.2.3 UNDP Headquarters There are two areas that require the attention of UNDP's management. The first is simplification of bureaucratic procedures. Staff members in the CO as well as government counterparts commonly express the view that UNDP's corporate procedures are unnecessarily cumbersome and time consuming. Indeed, many staff members seem to be over burdened by routine reporting requirements, leaving little time for thinking creatively about their programmes. Use of staff time and staff deployment need to be examined and improved upon if more tangible results are to accrue. Second, it is necessary to assess the viability of multiple planning and results frameworks. The Evaluation Team reviewed several key documents such as the SRF, MYFF and ROAR in Bhutan. The usefulness of these documents is not apparent. In many cases, completing the forms seems to become a mere reporting exercise. It would be useful for UNDP to undertake a systematic assessment of the extent to which these
9
1. Recommendation: Improve responsiveness

UNDP Bhutan's reputation as a trusted partner is derived partly from the ability of the CO to be responsive to RGoB. There are many areas where UNDP support has been forthcoming and welcomed. At the same time, however, it is also true that many of the contemporary challenges facing Bhutan, such as poverty, inequalities, youth unemployment, rural-urban migration, limited capacities at the local levels, a weak private sector and the limited expansion of civil society organizations should have been anticipated. These are areas where UNDP, in partnership with RGoB, could initiate more timely action. Stepping back, this suggests that there is considerable room for UNDP Bhutan to improve its ability to be more helpful to RGoB by not merely identifying emerging challenges, but supporting the articulation of policy choices.
Management Response: [Added: 2007/08/07]

CO considers the recommendation relevant and useful. To ensure strategic focus of UNDP as a core member of UN System in Bhutan, UNDP was engaged, as a leading agency, in the Common Country Assessment (CCA) as well as in formulation of the UN Development Assistance Framework (UNDAF) covering the upcoming 10th Five Year Plan period (2008-2012). Through a highly consultative UNDAF formulation process, the priority areas for United Nations assistance were identified based on the commonalities that emerged among the MDGs, the CCA, the RGOB's Tenth Plan Guidelines, and other emerging priorities of the country.

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
Finalization of UNDAF 2008-2012 based on CCA
[Added: 2007/09/07]
2007/05 Completed UNDAF signed by Government and the partner UN agencies in June 2007.
Preparation of CDP in support of UNDAF Outcomes incorporating lessons learned from outcome evaluations and ADR recommendations
[Added: 2007/09/07] [Last Updated: 2009/03/03]
Bhutan 2007/08 Completed CPD approved.
Preparation of Country Programme Action Plan (CPAP) jointly with UNICEF, WFP and UNFPA in close consultation with the Government and other UN and development partners including CSOs
[Added: 2007/09/07] [Last Updated: 2008/01/09]
Bhutan 2007/12 Completed Bhutan UN ExCom common CPAP signed
2. Recommendation: Rearticulate theory of change
A 'theory of change' is the product of 'a series of critical-thinking exercises that provides a comprehensive picture of the early- and intermediate-term changes in a given community that are needed to reach a long-term goal articulated by the community.' Re-examining four variables, namely actions, people, setting and outcomes is a useful way for any organization to further improve its development effectiveness. Strategic thinking and a common understanding of the development path will enable UNDP Bhutan to tap better into global knowledge and enable Bhutan to create an appropriate environment for policy reforms and programmatic interventions. Doing so will also enable UNDP Bhutan to strike a better balance between upstream and downstream interventions, scatter of projects, focus, policy and field linkages.

Revisiting the theory of change underlying UNDP Bhutan's interventions will enable the CO to evolve more effective programm
Management Response: [Added: 2007/08/07]

Among five selected UNDAF focus areas - based on the analysis of the changing environment - UNDP has committed to contribute to the three key areas: governance, poverty reduction & MDGs and environment & disaster risk reduction. These are areas in which UNDP is identified as having a comparative advantage based on its trusted position with RGOB, its accumulated experience over past programmes particularly in multi-sectoral approaches, and its access to policy and technical support through its regional and global networks. UNDP position on these focus areas is further rearticulated in the CPD (2008-2012), which was presented to the UNDP Executive Board in June 2007. The CO's involvement in the poverty reduction efforts and good governance will further be enhanced with special attention on the emerging concerns highlighted in the ADR recommendation. These strategic exercises are integral part of 'revisiting the theory of change' as recommended by the ADR. Other critical thinking ex

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
Issuance of Development Newsletters and advocacy materials on governance, poverty reduction and MDGs, human rights, and environmental issues
[Added: 2007/09/07] [Last Updated: 2009/03/02]
Bhutan 2007/12 Completed Development News Letters for Environment and Poverty published. The office also conducted a learning session on Human Rights, which was attended by resident UN agencies. Two pamphlets (Gender and Human Right) produced.
3. Recommendation: Develop into a knowledge centre

There is a real opportunity for UNDP Bhutan to position itself as a knowledge centre. Doing so will greatly strengthen the supporting role that it plays vis-à-vis RGoB and will also fulfill the expectations of other development partners. There is, however, a need to formalize and improve knowledge creation, management and dissemination. This will require paying more attention to concurrent project (and even programme) monitoring and evaluation, synthesis of action research and evaluation lessons. In addition, UNDP Bhutan could play a constructive role in encouraging knowledge networks within the country. Effective use of ICT can help make the generation and sharing of knowledge more inclusive and participatory. UNDP can also play a useful role in ensuring that knowledge dissemination results in further enriching the quality of public discourse. The CO will then be able to better exploit the potential to draw lessons from the ground
Management Response: [Added: 2007/08/07]

Taking advantage of global knowledge networks and regional centers, particularly, promoting South-South Cooperation will be of increasing importance to UNDP in further re-positioning itself as the knowledge center. CO will further enhance its "soft" and knowledge sharing support to the government, development partners, academics and civil society organizations through the Solution Exchange network, which was launched in Bhutan in March 2007 as a multi-disciplinary platform to facilitate such dialogues and sharing of knowledge and best practices.

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
Launch and continued facilitation of knowledge sharing through "Solution Exchange" network
[Added: 2007/09/07] [Last Updated: 2009/03/05]
Bhutan 2008/12 Completed In addition to successful launch of Solution Exchange network, UNDP also established resource centre. Solution-Exchange is active with over 770 members.
4. Recommendation: Consolidate interventions

There is still much ground to be covered in the current areas of UNDP programming. Eliminating human poverty and reducing inequalities will assume increasing significance in the coming years. Promoting both the concept of GNH and the human development approach will become crucial for ensuring effectiveness of policy and programmatic interventions. Increased engagement of young people and activists with the GNH through discussions will become important. In advancing good governance, UNDP should make available its in-house expertise to RGoB in many fields: formulating rules and procedures of parliament, public education in order to enable people to understand the principles of democracy, civic education in preparation of elections, school textbook revisions, and promotion of human rights knowledge. Interventions in the field of natural resources and the environment will require that attention is paid to natural resource management and use, n
Management Response: [Added: 2007/08/07]

Recognizing the importance of the next Five Year Plan period in achieving MDGs, Bhutan decided to participate in the global MDG Initiative and is now considered as one of the leading countries in the implementation of the MDG needs assessment and costing. Planning Commission with the support of an inter-agency team coordinated by the UNDP CO and Regional Center in Colombo plans to submit the final report to the cabinet by July 2007. The MDG needs assessment and costing report is expected to provide a comprehensive and concrete framework for the government as well as UNDP CO, through RTM and other donor coordination mechanisms, to further mobilize additional international assistance and coordinate various development partners to help achieve MDGs in Bhutan. The CO has been engaged in a series of intensive consultation with the national counterparts, development partners, NGOs and UN agencies to develop the next Country Programme, which further consolidates UNDP's interventions wit

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
Development of a MDG consistent simplified Macro-economic Framework/Model
[Added: 2007/09/07] [Last Updated: 2009/03/02]
Bhutan 2008/06 Completed Model used for macro-economic projection for 10th FYP
Finalization of MDG needs assessment and costing report.
[Added: 2007/09/07] [Last Updated: 2009/03/02]
Bhutan 2007/12 Completed Report published
Development of MDG consistent Financing Strategy
[Added: 2007/11/07] [Last Updated: 2009/03/02]
Bhutan 2008/06 Completed Strategy developed and currently under implementation.
5. Recommendation: Sharpen focus

UNDP has been particularly effective in evolving with the needs of RGoB. Although a majority of UNDP's resources are concentrated in only two large projects (REDP and Decentralization Support), its efforts appear scattered due to the ambitious design of the two projects and the slow progress towards results because of insufficient institutional and individual capacities. It is difficult to comment on the issue of focus and scatter in the absence of a well-articulated logic of change that underlies programming efforts. This makes it difficult to determine how significant results could be (or have been) in contributing towards a certain outcome. The results-based approach and MYFF have helped to sharpen UNDP's work towards outcomes, but it still needs to be better internalized to become more outcome and less process orientated. In other words the focus should be on the changes UNDP is bringing about, rather than what it is doing. Monitoring and evaluation
Management Response: [Added: 2007/08/07]

UNDP is well aware of the need to support national capacity building in monitoring and evaluation, aid mobilization and coordination and implementation at the local level. To enhance results-based management, UNDP, together with other UN organisations, will support development of the national M&E system on poverty and MDGs with disaggregation by gender and by geographic area where possible. In this regard, a UN joint programme led by UNDP CO to support development of national poverty profile database disaggregated at the district and sub-district levels is currently in progress, which will greatly enhance national M&E system and their ability to plan and set the measurable outcomes/targets even at the local level. Furthermore, an alignment with outputs-based budgeting with a clear focus on achieving results while enabling more flexible approaches on the ground will be promoted throughout the programme contributing to greater harmonization and national ownership.

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
Continued support to decentralization under the new Country Programme
[Added: 2007/09/07] [Last Updated: 2009/03/02]
Bhutan 2008/12 Completed New Decentralisation and local Governance Programme launched with UNCDF and bilateral donors.
Preparation of 2007 Bhutan Living Standard Survey Report and Poverty Analysis Report disaggregated at district level
[Added: 2007/09/07] [Last Updated: 2008/01/29]
Bhutan 2007/12 Completed Completed
Preparation of sub-district socio-economic profiles
[Added: 2007/11/07] [Last Updated: 2011/02/17]
Bhutan No due date No deadline established Completed
6. Recommendation: Strengthen downstream delivery

UNDP Bhutan has been successful in supporting RGoB in a number of upstream policy initiatives. Its support and impact downstream need to be made much more effective and obvious. Work at the field level requires more effort, resources and monitoring capacity. The potential contribution of NGOs and CBOs can be substantial, but this requires both nurturing and investments in capacity building. Assessing downstream contribution should also be improved by better monitoring at project level, specifying clear methodologies in project evaluation and resolving conflicting views on the effectiveness of partnerships. Capacity building: UNDP Bhutan should improve efficiency as well as government capacity at central and local levels to deal with the demands of implementation. It should focus on further developing public sector capacity, particularly in the areas of disaster management, gender analysis and mainstreaming, sustainable use and managem
Management Response: [Added: 2007/08/07]

In line with UN reform and following the spirit of the Paris Declaration on Aid Effectiveness, UNDP will continue its full support through the UN Resident Coordinator System and UN Theme Groups to advance UN harmonization and simplification as well as effective aid coordination with other development partners in close alignment with national planning and budgeting processes. UNDP is committed to deepening its partnership with other UN agencies over the UNDAF period, in areas such as collaboration on CPAP and data analysis, joint monitoring and evaluation based on UNDAF outcomes, and joint programme activities where there is demonstrated value added. As recommended, the CO will increasingly be partnering with NGOs in undertaking grass-roots level initiatives with targeted interventions tailored to the specific needs of poor communities and disadvantaged people. Under the new Country Programme (2008-12), UNDP will continue supporting the decentralisation policies and processes under t

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
UN harmonization and simplification promoted through implementation of CPAP during the UNDAF period of 2008-12
[Added: 2007/09/07] [Last Updated: 2008/01/09]
Bhutan 2007/12 Completed Bhutan UN ExCom common CPAP signed.
Project identification, implementation and M&E with NGOs and CBOs
[Added: 2007/09/07] [Last Updated: 2009/03/02]
Bhutan 2008/04 Completed Human Security Fund Project approved and signed with NGOs acting as IPs. UNDP currently has an Implementing partner relationship with 5 NGOs.
Issuance of advocacy materials on Human Rights and Millennium Declaration/MDGs
[Added: 2007/09/07] [Last Updated: 2009/03/02]
Bhutan 2007/07 Completed Learning session on Human Rights conducted in July 2007. Human Rights pamphlet produced by UN system in Bhutan.
Support to aid mobilization and coordination (Round Table Meeting, donor coordination meetings, national capacity)
[Added: 2007/09/07] [Last Updated: 2009/03/03]
Bhutan 2007/10 Completed RTM conducted.
UN joint outcome evaluation on poverty/MDGs, democratic governance, and environment and disaster risk reduction
[Added: 2007/09/07] [Last Updated: 2009/03/02]
Bhutan No due date No deadline established Joint M&E plan prepared. First UN joint outcome evaluation planned for 2009.
7. Recommendation: Evaluation issue and recommendation: 5.2.2. Regional centres UNDP Bhutan has received periodic and specialized support from the regional centres in Colombo and Bangkok in its main areas of programming. In the coming years, the potential for UNDP regional centres to contribute to Bhutan's development is likely to increase substantially. It would nevertheless help to identify specific areas where UNDP can be more effective in mobilizing external aid and technical support. Creating a knowledge base and a comprehensive resource centre are likely to enhance the contribution of the regional centres.
Management Response: [Added: 2007/08/07]

The potential for the regional centres to contribute to Bhutan's development in the coming years is well noted. The role of the regional centres is to provide advisory services to the Country Offices on demand basis. While the regional centres can be helpful in identifying external funding opportunities, resource mobilization is the responsibility of the Country Office. Knowledge Management Teams have already been set up in Bangkok and Colombo Regional Centres. Along with the practice teams they are providing comprehensive knowledge support to Country Offices.

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
Advisory services and knowledge support provided to the CO on demand basis
[Added: 2007/09/07] [Last Updated: 2009/03/02]
Bhutan 2007/12 Completed CO continues to receive tailored advisory and knowledge services from RCB and RCC.
8. Recommendation: 5.2.3 UNDP Headquarters There are two areas that require the attention of UNDP's management. The first is simplification of bureaucratic procedures. Staff members in the CO as well as government counterparts commonly express the view that UNDP's corporate procedures are unnecessarily cumbersome and time consuming. Indeed, many staff members seem to be over burdened by routine reporting requirements, leaving little time for thinking creatively about their programmes. Use of staff time and staff deployment need to be examined and improved upon if more tangible results are to accrue. Second, it is necessary to assess the viability of multiple planning and results frameworks. The Evaluation Team reviewed several key documents such as the SRF, MYFF and ROAR in Bhutan. The usefulness of these documents is not apparent. In many cases, completing the forms seems to become a mere reporting exercise. It would be useful for UNDP to undertake a systematic assessment of the extent to which these
Management Response: [Added: 2007/08/07]

Operations Support Group (OSG) has launched a project with the Bureau of Management (BOM) to enhance UNDP's internal results management systems for 2008. A key aim of the project is to better streamline UNDP's planning, monitoring, and reporting processes and systems, and to better integrate the tools. A key objective of the project is to make the systems and tools more useful to users at both country and corporate levels. The aim is to strike a better balance between the requirements of corporate reporting and the basic utility for users. As part of this process, OSG and BOM will be working very closely with a range of users in country offices to better understand how they work, and the way the systems can be reconfigured to make this work more efficient and effective. This will address the concerns raised by the ADR in regards to viability of tools and planning frameworks and the focus on reporting. Also, the project is being guided by the findings of a corporate evaluation on UNDP's

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
OSG and BOM project conducted to enhance UNDP's internal results management systems.
[Added: 2007/09/07] [Last Updated: 2009/03/02]
OSG 2008/12 Completed ERBM platform launched
Revision and update of the UNDP User Guide
[Added: 2007/09/07] [Last Updated: 2009/03/02]
OSG 2008/12 Completed Latest revision completed.
Launch of the UNDP Strategic Plan
[Added: 2007/09/07] [Last Updated: 2009/03/02]
OSG 2008/01 Completed
RBAP's continued support to the Round Table Meeting mechanism by co-chairing the meetings and supporting the follow-up on the recommendations
[Added: 2007/09/07] [Last Updated: 2009/03/02]
Bhutan 2008/12 Completed RTM conducted with RBAP Deputy RD as a Co-chair and follow-up completed.
RBAP's support to CO for effective implementation of the Country Programme
[Added: 2007/09/07] [Last Updated: 2009/03/02]
RBAP No due date No deadline established CP ongoing for the duration from 2008-2012 with RBAP support
RBAP's participation in the Bhutan Solution Exchange
[Added: 2007/09/07] [Last Updated: 2011/02/17]
Bhutan No due date No deadline established Completed.
9. Recommendation:
Management Response: [Added: 2009/01/22]

Key Actions:

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