Strengthening the Role of Civil Society in Shaping Poverty Related Policies and Practices (EAR4)

Report Cover Image
Evaluation Plan:
2005-2010, Serbia
Evaluation Type:
Project
Planned End Date:
11/2009
Completion Date:
10/2009
Status:
Completed
Management Response:
Yes
Evaluation Budget(US $):
13,000
The project does not see itself as the beginning and the end of civil society strengthening activities in Serbia, and has not functioned in this way. Indeed, there is a clear understanding in the project team that the processes of strengthening the role of civil society in Serbia is a process that has been on-going for many years and will continue for many years to come. The project focus has not been on its activities in isolation but on the contribution the project could make to initiatives already underway in Serbia. What was important was not 'the project', but strengthening processes of dialogue, strengthening civil society and strengthening the role civil society plays. This is exactly the correct approach. While evaluation of an action is less simple where the action is one of many being undertaken by a given NGO, supporting the development of skills, capacities and experience within civil society organisations is, in this case, more important than a project being seen as successful - success is far beyond the confines of a project initiative.

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Title Strengthening the Role of Civil Society in Shaping Poverty Related Policies and Practices (EAR4)
Atlas Project Number:
Evaluation Plan: 2005-2010, Serbia
Evaluation Type: Project
Status: Completed
Completion Date: 10/2009
Planned End Date: 11/2009
Management Response: Yes
Focus Area:
  • 1. Poverty and MDG
Corporate Outcome and Output (UNDP Strategic Plan 2018-2021)
Evaluation Budget(US $): 13,000
Source of Funding:
Joint Programme: No
Joint Evaluation: No
Evaluation Team members:
Name Title Nationality
James A Newkirk Team Leader
GEF Evaluation: No
Key Stakeholders:
Countries: SERBIA
Lessons
Findings
Recommendations
1 It is recommended that SIF staff analyse Municipal participants with a view to designating the 4-8 most successful partnerships. Subsequently, the project would assist these Municipalities in reviewing and re-developing their Social Program Strategic Plans, strengthening local understanding of and capacity in strategic planning processes as a group/ participative/ partnership activity. This activity needs to be seen as a process of consolidation, of partnership as a concept, of strategic plans and of local social policy, intended to create a structure for success that others can look at. It is worth discussing whether or not it is possible to focus on Municipal grants, coupled with the Municipal grant-giving processes, using this as a tool for building the plans, policies and partnerships. Support to the process of development of the NGO legal framework. The project undertook to 'provide support for systemic analysis of norms and regulations in social services provision in order to enable sustainable role of CSO as service providers'. It is recommended that this support be provided by engaging an appropriately qualified institution to work with the whole of civil society in analysing the new law, and all related regulations (existing or needed) to provide an appropriate normative framework. The analysis should include fiscal requirements for NGOs as required to differentiate them from commercial entities, and the procedures/ requirements for an NGO registration process (national and/ or local) through which civil society organisations can have a legal framework for provision of services, whether to public or private bodies. Provide support to the establishment and operation of the Office of Cooperation with NGOs, including assistance to the Office and civil society in developing an appropriate partnership arrangement and functioning. It would be useful to consider assistance in development of the Office's strategic and action plans, as well as seed funding if required. It is recommended that this action not be undertaken by the project alone, but as a joint initiative of civil society more widely - facilitated and/ or funded by the project. It is understood the decision has been made to establish the Office - the project should do everything in its power to assist it to begin functioning. It is recommended that the project provide support to CSO advocacy campaigns. The emphasis should be at the Municipal level, and it is recommended that the initiative use organisations who participated in implementation of the SIF pillar activities. A range of possibilities exist for what such actions would entail, and seek to achieve, and the actions should address, directly or indirectly, the issues raised by the evaluation: ocapacity within civil society organisations, oestablishment of real public-civil society partnerships, the regulatory framework - nationally and locally, o and monitoring and watchdog activities to contribute to improved implementation of poverty related government policies. Potentially, actions could address each of these issues. While the focus should be on Municipal level organisations, national actions should not be discounted, particularly in relation to monitoring and watchdog activities. Wisely, the project document called for these actions to be funded by Municipalities. While not recommending 50 actions, the point of Municipal funding is strong in that it supports the idea of 'an enabling environment', particularly if the actions are not solely a civil society activity but indeed involve local self-government in planning and implementation, as well as funding. It is recommended that the project team assess the outcomes of each of the research/ policy/ advocacy activities undertaken by the project, focusing on potential for follow-up activities with the relevant CSO, in the same or a related field. Emphasis should be on work that can impact on the structure of dialogue between civil society and Government. The analysis should question where there has been significant outcomes (particularly in relation to Government-civil society relations or dialogue) or significant research gathered and where the analysis demonstrates something significant. It is strongly recommended that the project team should reflect on this analysis of significant impact, and plan the follow-up activities to strengthen the impact of the activity. It is recommended that the project work closely with civil society organisations who are receiving project support in finalising their work, with a particular emphasis on approaches that emphasise strengthening of the dialogue between civil society and Government. As an example, where supported NGOs are completing their research with public events the project could assist in ensuring the highest level of relevant Government participation.  The future of decentralised service provision of social protection services, using local civil society organisations, is potentially dependent on SIF being taken over by MoLESP and becoming a fully funded part of the republic government. It is understood that UNDP, and the project specifically, has no direct control over this process. It is also understood that the future of SIF, in its current form or re-structured, based on the lessons learned from the project, has been a matter of discussion between the project and the Ministry, with as yet no positive resolution. It is the view of the evaluator that a formal approach should be made to the Ministry, to discuss the future of SIF, prior to project completion. The approach should include: oPotential for a detailed impact assessment of SIF, with a view to answering relevant questions of current and future directions in decentralisation of social protection; oPotential for a project-assisted design process for development of SIF into an agency of the Ministry. The focus should be on lessons learned through the project, an effective structure and mission for SIF, and effectively addressing the needs of the Ministry as well as Municipal stakeholders (including civil society). It is recommended that support be provided to the GED to more effectively provide the services which are their responsibility. The GED is under-resourced and under-staffed. While the project has undertaken activities to address capacity within the GED, now and beyond project completion the GED would benefit from a structured analysis of the skills and experience of its personnel in relation to its mandate, and the preparation of a medium term program of capacity building. It is recommended that the project discuss with GED the possibility of a detailed capacity and needs assessment, and then a detailed plan to address capacity requirements (internally through training and other capacity-building initiatives and externally through preparation of appropriate approaches to the Ministry where other responses are required.)
2 Support to CSO advocacy campaigns and work closely with civil society organizations who are receiving project support in finalizing their work, with a particular emphasis on approaches that emphasize strengthening of the dialogue between civil society and Government
3 Provide support to the GED to more effectively provide the services which are their responsibility
1. Recommendation: It is recommended that SIF staff analyse Municipal participants with a view to designating the 4-8 most successful partnerships. Subsequently, the project would assist these Municipalities in reviewing and re-developing their Social Program Strategic Plans, strengthening local understanding of and capacity in strategic planning processes as a group/ participative/ partnership activity. This activity needs to be seen as a process of consolidation, of partnership as a concept, of strategic plans and of local social policy, intended to create a structure for success that others can look at. It is worth discussing whether or not it is possible to focus on Municipal grants, coupled with the Municipal grant-giving processes, using this as a tool for building the plans, policies and partnerships. Support to the process of development of the NGO legal framework. The project undertook to 'provide support for systemic analysis of norms and regulations in social services provision in order to enable sustainable role of CSO as service providers'. It is recommended that this support be provided by engaging an appropriately qualified institution to work with the whole of civil society in analysing the new law, and all related regulations (existing or needed) to provide an appropriate normative framework. The analysis should include fiscal requirements for NGOs as required to differentiate them from commercial entities, and the procedures/ requirements for an NGO registration process (national and/ or local) through which civil society organisations can have a legal framework for provision of services, whether to public or private bodies. Provide support to the establishment and operation of the Office of Cooperation with NGOs, including assistance to the Office and civil society in developing an appropriate partnership arrangement and functioning. It would be useful to consider assistance in development of the Office's strategic and action plans, as well as seed funding if required. It is recommended that this action not be undertaken by the project alone, but as a joint initiative of civil society more widely - facilitated and/ or funded by the project. It is understood the decision has been made to establish the Office - the project should do everything in its power to assist it to begin functioning. It is recommended that the project provide support to CSO advocacy campaigns. The emphasis should be at the Municipal level, and it is recommended that the initiative use organisations who participated in implementation of the SIF pillar activities. A range of possibilities exist for what such actions would entail, and seek to achieve, and the actions should address, directly or indirectly, the issues raised by the evaluation: ocapacity within civil society organisations, oestablishment of real public-civil society partnerships, the regulatory framework - nationally and locally, o and monitoring and watchdog activities to contribute to improved implementation of poverty related government policies. Potentially, actions could address each of these issues. While the focus should be on Municipal level organisations, national actions should not be discounted, particularly in relation to monitoring and watchdog activities. Wisely, the project document called for these actions to be funded by Municipalities. While not recommending 50 actions, the point of Municipal funding is strong in that it supports the idea of 'an enabling environment', particularly if the actions are not solely a civil society activity but indeed involve local self-government in planning and implementation, as well as funding. It is recommended that the project team assess the outcomes of each of the research/ policy/ advocacy activities undertaken by the project, focusing on potential for follow-up activities with the relevant CSO, in the same or a related field. Emphasis should be on work that can impact on the structure of dialogue between civil society and Government. The analysis should question where there has been significant outcomes (particularly in relation to Government-civil society relations or dialogue) or significant research gathered and where the analysis demonstrates something significant. It is strongly recommended that the project team should reflect on this analysis of significant impact, and plan the follow-up activities to strengthen the impact of the activity. It is recommended that the project work closely with civil society organisations who are receiving project support in finalising their work, with a particular emphasis on approaches that emphasise strengthening of the dialogue between civil society and Government. As an example, where supported NGOs are completing their research with public events the project could assist in ensuring the highest level of relevant Government participation.  The future of decentralised service provision of social protection services, using local civil society organisations, is potentially dependent on SIF being taken over by MoLESP and becoming a fully funded part of the republic government. It is understood that UNDP, and the project specifically, has no direct control over this process. It is also understood that the future of SIF, in its current form or re-structured, based on the lessons learned from the project, has been a matter of discussion between the project and the Ministry, with as yet no positive resolution. It is the view of the evaluator that a formal approach should be made to the Ministry, to discuss the future of SIF, prior to project completion. The approach should include: oPotential for a detailed impact assessment of SIF, with a view to answering relevant questions of current and future directions in decentralisation of social protection; oPotential for a project-assisted design process for development of SIF into an agency of the Ministry. The focus should be on lessons learned through the project, an effective structure and mission for SIF, and effectively addressing the needs of the Ministry as well as Municipal stakeholders (including civil society). It is recommended that support be provided to the GED to more effectively provide the services which are their responsibility. The GED is under-resourced and under-staffed. While the project has undertaken activities to address capacity within the GED, now and beyond project completion the GED would benefit from a structured analysis of the skills and experience of its personnel in relation to its mandate, and the preparation of a medium term program of capacity building. It is recommended that the project discuss with GED the possibility of a detailed capacity and needs assessment, and then a detailed plan to address capacity requirements (internally through training and other capacity-building initiatives and externally through preparation of appropriate approaches to the Ministry where other responses are required.)
Management Response: [Added: 2009/10/21]

Conduct impact assessment of SIF in order to answer relevant questions of current and future directions in decentralization of social protection

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
a.Prepare TOR for impact assessment b.Conduct impact assessment c.Present report to the relevant stakeholders
[Added: 2009/11/18] [Last Updated: 2011/04/06]
Serbia CO 2010/12 Completed SIF net impact assessment performed and results shared with national and international stakeholders in SIF closing conference
2. Recommendation: Support to CSO advocacy campaigns and work closely with civil society organizations who are receiving project support in finalizing their work, with a particular emphasis on approaches that emphasize strengthening of the dialogue between civil society and Government
Management Response: [Added: 2009/11/18]

Carry out advocacy activities for inclusion of budget lines for CSOs in 50 targeted municipalities in Serbia

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
a.Develop TOR for CSO Advocacy b. Conduct advocacy for improved environment for CSO activity at the local level through inclusion of civil society organizations in local budgets in targeted 50 municipalities
[Added: 2009/11/18] [Last Updated: 2011/04/06]
Serbia CO 2010/12 Completed Taking into account the SIF closure, advocacy towards CSO's involvement in local sustanable development continued through other project's activities (e.g. YEM, PBILD)
Further support organization of Forum for Dialogue with Civil Society
[Added: 2009/11/18] [Last Updated: 2011/04/07]
Serbia CO 2010/05 Completed A high number of stakeholders provided a forum for dialogue and a place for learning about new experiences. By and large, the stakeholders played in majority of cases a positive role, especially in the area of partnership development with civil society (UNDP/EU) and the content development of community based social services (DfID and NMFA).
3. Recommendation: Provide support to the GED to more effectively provide the services which are their responsibility
Management Response: [Added: 2009/11/18]

Consult with GED and agree on the actions leading towards increased capacity of GED

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
a. Develop TOR for GED Capacity Assessment b. Conduct assessment c. Present results to GED
[Added: 2009/11/18] [Last Updated: 2011/04/06]
Serbia CO 2010/12 Completed Main recommendations of the capacity assessment are related to the institutional repositioning of the GED, and suggest its transformation into an Agency or an Office under the Prime Minister?s supervision, allowing better inter-sectoral collaboration as a key issue in the implementation of the National Strategy and National Action Plans. Capacity assessment showed that the GED is understaffed (there are only 7 staff members), that it operates with limited finances from government resources and that almost all programmatic activities are financed by donors. Recommendations also focus on another important aspect related to GED role in shaping polices in line with the EU standards and with regard to social inclusion. Critical partners in this area are institutions in charge of EU integrations (such as the Serbian EU Integration Office or the Social Inclusion and Poverty Reduction Unit). The assessment concludes that GED should develop closer collaboration with gender equality mechanisms at the local level.

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