Afghanistan Sub-national Governance Project (ASGP) Independent Project Evaluation

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Evaluation Plan:
2010-2014, Afghanistan
Evaluation Type:
Project
Planned End Date:
04/2014
Completion Date:
06/2014
Status:
Completed
Management Response:
Yes
Evaluation Budget(US $):
60,000

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Title Afghanistan Sub-national Governance Project (ASGP) Independent Project Evaluation
Atlas Project Number: 00058922
Evaluation Plan: 2010-2014, Afghanistan
Evaluation Type: Project
Status: Completed
Completion Date: 06/2014
Planned End Date: 04/2014
Management Response: Yes
Focus Area:
  • 1. Others
Corporate Outcome and Output (UNDP Strategic Plan 2014-2017)
  • 1. Output 2.1. Parliaments, constitution making bodies and electoral institutions enabled to perform core functions for improved accountability, participation and representation, including for peaceful transitions
Evaluation Budget(US $): 60,000
Source of Funding: Project's own funding
Joint Programme: No
Mandatory Evaluation: No
Joint Evaluation: No
Evaluation Team members:
Name Title Email Nationality
Richard M Chiwara Evaluation Team Leader
Hamid Raza Afridi International Consultant
Abdul Moien Jawhary National Consultant
GEF Evaluation: No
Key Stakeholders: Regional and Local governance
Countries: AFGHANISTAN
Comments: ASGP works with regional and local government institutions.
Lessons
Findings
Recommendations
1 Essential legislation for effective implementation of local governance systems have remained in limbo for a long period, raising doubts about the government?s commitment to implement subnational governance. UNDP should develop appropriate strategies to engage the key drivers of change in the legislative arena as well as providing support to civil society to strengthen their capacity to lobby for comprehensive subnational governance reform. The critical gap between provincial planning and national budgeting processes should be addressed not only at policy level, but also at legislative level. This includes advocacy for legislative reforms giving sufficient levels of financial and administrative authority at appropriate levels and strengthening the accountability mechanism of elected bodies at subnational level. Particularly important in the context of equitable development and national peace building, focus and support should also be given to developing a transparent and inclusive system of financial awards to the provinces.
2 Effective local governance is much bigger than merely the vertical shifting of political, financial and administrative authority from the center to local levels. It also encompasses the local economic development paradigm, where local actors join forces in order to promote sustainable local development processes. Local governments can play an important role as ?catalysts? by establishing appropriate legal regulatory framework for local economic development, including business investment climate, investment in infrastructure, and generally promoting employment-based export growth. UNDP should leverage on its comparative advantage in pro-poor economic development to develop local government capacities in local economic development linked to subnational governance. This will also provide a tangible dividend for civic engagement and participation in local governance as well as improve the provision and access to basic services. UNDP should consider piloting this approach in a specifically targeted province in order to provide demonstrable evidence of the benefits, and also to customize its global experience to the context in Afghanistan.
3 The context of Afghanistan makes it difficult to achieve a national coverage. Some of the regions face extreme insurgence situations that make access virtually impossible. Also structurally, the diversity of roles and functions of the different local governance levels (provincial, district, municipality) make it difficult to develop and implement uniform project activities across the board. This may be further compounded if (or maybe even when) donor funding is eventually reduced. UNDP should consider developing a targeted approach in which it either (a) targets a specific region or province, or (b) targets specific local government level, e.g. provincial government level, or municipal level. This approach enables UNDP to be more strategically focused and enhances the visibility of its results.
4 One of the major comparative advantages that UNDP enjoys is its global reputation as a trusted partner by national counterparts and the development community. This gives UNDP a unique capability to develop strategic partnership around specific project outcomes. Such partnerships should include collaboration with other UN agencies with appropriate mandates and technical skills in different areas of local governance; such as UN Habitat in urban development, UNCDF and UNICEF in local government development and basic service delivery respectively, and UN Women in gender responsive budgeting. Similarly, UNDP should strengthen collaboration between its projects across programme units, including through joint activities in such areas as gender equality and capacity building.
5 Project processes that are established outside the national implementation framework face a greater risk of sustainability. Activities that are routinely undertaken by different line ministries at central or provincial level should, as much as possible be supported in that same framework. This is particularly so for activities such as public sector planning and budgeting, which have profound legal and policy implications. UNDP should therefore identify the relevant national counterparts for its activities and support their capacity. This will enhance the implementation effectiveness, while also generating commitment and national ownership. In addition, while acknowledging the capacity challenges in Afghanistan, UNDP should adopt a strategic approach that acknowledges the inevitability of national implementation in the long term and deliberately nurtures conditions that lead towards national implementation. This approach may include support to establishment of a school of public administration to develop a pool of expertise in public administration. UNDP may also consider developing and agree with IDLG, specific criteria and plan with timeline and risk mitigation strategy for moving towards national implementation.
6 In the context of the NTA strategy, UNDP should undertake a gradual downsizing and eventual abolition of the LoA positions through a carefully designed handover to tashkeel staff recruited under the merit-based system. This handover should be effectively coordinated with the Capacity Development Directorate of IDLG and the Civil Service Commission to ensure that the recruited tashkeel have appropriate functional skills.
7 The project structure should reflect the capacity building nature of the project. This entails reduction of the project management footprint based at the UNDP country office in favour of technical experts collocated with national counterparts to provide hands-own advisory services and mentoring.
1. Recommendation: Essential legislation for effective implementation of local governance systems have remained in limbo for a long period, raising doubts about the government?s commitment to implement subnational governance. UNDP should develop appropriate strategies to engage the key drivers of change in the legislative arena as well as providing support to civil society to strengthen their capacity to lobby for comprehensive subnational governance reform. The critical gap between provincial planning and national budgeting processes should be addressed not only at policy level, but also at legislative level. This includes advocacy for legislative reforms giving sufficient levels of financial and administrative authority at appropriate levels and strengthening the accountability mechanism of elected bodies at subnational level. Particularly important in the context of equitable development and national peace building, focus and support should also be given to developing a transparent and inclusive system of financial awards to the provinces.
Management Response: [Added: 2014/10/18]

As per the project document and progress reports, the project has provided technical and financial support to the drafting of the laws. However, ASGP has no impact on the approval of the laws, which is the responsibility of the Government of Afghanistan. UNDP has to be realistic about the influence that the project can have over these processes. The new SNG project will focus on national-level policies, laws, systems and mechanisms for subnational institutions. The capacity of IDLG will be built to implement certain areas of the subnational governance policy.

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
Within the framework of (New SNG ProDoc.) UNDP will continue to advocate for and support the establishment and the strengthening the of National-level policies, laws, systems and mechanisms for good governance in sub-national institutions
[Added: 2014/10/18] [Last Updated: 2018/10/24]
Sub National Governance Unit 2014/10 Completed The recommendation was implemented under LoGo project.
2. Recommendation: Effective local governance is much bigger than merely the vertical shifting of political, financial and administrative authority from the center to local levels. It also encompasses the local economic development paradigm, where local actors join forces in order to promote sustainable local development processes. Local governments can play an important role as ?catalysts? by establishing appropriate legal regulatory framework for local economic development, including business investment climate, investment in infrastructure, and generally promoting employment-based export growth. UNDP should leverage on its comparative advantage in pro-poor economic development to develop local government capacities in local economic development linked to subnational governance. This will also provide a tangible dividend for civic engagement and participation in local governance as well as improve the provision and access to basic services. UNDP should consider piloting this approach in a specifically targeted province in order to provide demonstrable evidence of the benefits, and also to customize its global experience to the context in Afghanistan.
Management Response: [Added: 2014/10/18]

The recommendation is considered in the new subnational governance and local development programme which takes an integrated approach to local economic development and service delivery. The new SNG project is part of the new subnational governance and local development programme, while local livelihood project is the other part.

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
Develop SNG and livelihood project under overall umbrella of subnational governance and development project.
[Added: 2014/10/18] [Last Updated: 2015/06/03]
Subnational Governance Unit 2015/12 Completed Local Governance Project - Afghanistan (LOGO) and Local Economic Development Project (LEDA) pro-docs are in advanced draft stages. As the programme designing developed, UNDP management found out that because of feasibility matters the two projects should be separate but well-coordinated. Therefore, there is a slight change in the key action for this recommendation which should be noted.
3. Recommendation: The context of Afghanistan makes it difficult to achieve a national coverage. Some of the regions face extreme insurgence situations that make access virtually impossible. Also structurally, the diversity of roles and functions of the different local governance levels (provincial, district, municipality) make it difficult to develop and implement uniform project activities across the board. This may be further compounded if (or maybe even when) donor funding is eventually reduced. UNDP should consider developing a targeted approach in which it either (a) targets a specific region or province, or (b) targets specific local government level, e.g. provincial government level, or municipal level. This approach enables UNDP to be more strategically focused and enhances the visibility of its results.
Management Response: [Added: 2014/10/18]

The recommendation is considered in the new SNG project which will be focused at provincial level and only be implemented in the selected provinces, districts and municipalities. Selection will be done in consultation with the government, and other donor projects will be taken into consideration for the sake of complementarity.

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
Develop the SNG project with focus in consultation with government agencies, donors and other stakeholders in order to focus on specific regions and at specific local level.
[Added: 2014/10/18] [Last Updated: 2015/06/03]
2015/12 Completed All the recommended points are adopted in the Local Governance Project - Afghanistan (LOGO) which is widely consulted with the relevant government agency, donors and stakeholders and is now at advanced draft stage.
4. Recommendation: One of the major comparative advantages that UNDP enjoys is its global reputation as a trusted partner by national counterparts and the development community. This gives UNDP a unique capability to develop strategic partnership around specific project outcomes. Such partnerships should include collaboration with other UN agencies with appropriate mandates and technical skills in different areas of local governance; such as UN Habitat in urban development, UNCDF and UNICEF in local government development and basic service delivery respectively, and UN Women in gender responsive budgeting. Similarly, UNDP should strengthen collaboration between its projects across programme units, including through joint activities in such areas as gender equality and capacity building.
Management Response: [Added: 2014/10/18]

ASGP has been working with other UNDP projects, UN agencies as well as with other international development partners. ASGP partners include GEP, JHRA and stakeholders present at provincial level including UN agencies, UNAMA, and donors. ASGP also works with other non-UN partners, such as the National Democratic Institute (NDI), the DFID-supported Adam Smith, and the USAID RAMP-UP municipal and PBGF programmes. The new SNG project will be working with other UN agencies, especially UN-HABITAT and UN-WOMEN and UNAMA and will development a systematic and effective partnership with other UNDP projects. UNDP also chairs a UN Working Group on SNGD which provides good platform to promote collaboration.

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
Develop joined projects with UN-Habitat, UN women and in coordination with UNAMA.
[Added: 2014/10/18] [Last Updated: 2015/06/03]
Subnational Governance Unit 2015/12 Completed The projects will be guided by the Subnational Coordination Forum to avoid overlap and an MOU will be signed with UNAMA to ensure coherent UN support to IDLG. UNDP, under LOGO, will have a joined-up project with UN-Habitat instead of joint. Therefore, there is a slight change in the key action for this recommendation which should be noted.
Develop the SNG project with focus in consultation with government agencies, donors and other stakeholders in order to focus on specific regions and at specific local level.
[Added: 2014/10/18] [Last Updated: 2015/06/03]
Subnational Governance Unit 2015/12 Completed The Local Governance Project - Afghanistan (LOGO) which is widely consulted with the relevant government agency, donors and stakeholders and is now at advanced draft stage.
5. Recommendation: Project processes that are established outside the national implementation framework face a greater risk of sustainability. Activities that are routinely undertaken by different line ministries at central or provincial level should, as much as possible be supported in that same framework. This is particularly so for activities such as public sector planning and budgeting, which have profound legal and policy implications. UNDP should therefore identify the relevant national counterparts for its activities and support their capacity. This will enhance the implementation effectiveness, while also generating commitment and national ownership. In addition, while acknowledging the capacity challenges in Afghanistan, UNDP should adopt a strategic approach that acknowledges the inevitability of national implementation in the long term and deliberately nurtures conditions that lead towards national implementation. This approach may include support to establishment of a school of public administration to develop a pool of expertise in public administration. UNDP may also consider developing and agree with IDLG, specific criteria and plan with timeline and risk mitigation strategy for moving towards national implementation.
Management Response: [Added: 2014/10/18]

The comment is adopted in the new SNG project which will be working through different government agencies including Independent Directorate of Local Governance, Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Economy, and the Civil Service commission. The new project will support the said institutions in their already-established roles and responsibilities towards subnational governance. The principles of national ownership and leadership of UNDP programmes will be reflected in the new SNG project.

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
Ensure the new SNG project reflects the national ownership and leadership principles of UNDP.
[Added: 2014/10/18] [Last Updated: 2018/10/24]
Subnational Governance Unit 2014/10 Completed The National ownership and leadership programmes were considered in the design of the new SNG project LoGo.
6. Recommendation: In the context of the NTA strategy, UNDP should undertake a gradual downsizing and eventual abolition of the LoA positions through a carefully designed handover to tashkeel staff recruited under the merit-based system. This handover should be effectively coordinated with the Capacity Development Directorate of IDLG and the Civil Service Commission to ensure that the recruited tashkeel have appropriate functional skills.
Management Response: [Added: 2014/10/18]

ASGP is in the process of developing an exit strategy for the project. The new SNG project will work to decrease the number of UNDP-financed personal gradually, as well as, focus on development of Tashkil staff capacity.

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
Develop exit plan for the ASGP project
[Added: 2014/10/18] [Last Updated: 2015/06/03]
Subnational Governance Unit and the Project (ASGP) 2015/04 Completed The closure plan - exit strategy for ASGP II is drafted and will be finalized by the end of May 2015.
Ensure the capacity development efforts under the new SNG project is focused on Tashkil staff and downsize the LOA staff gradually.
[Added: 2014/10/18] [Last Updated: 2016/10/19]
Subnational Governance Unit 2016/12 Completed The capacity development aspect considered under the new project.
7. Recommendation: The project structure should reflect the capacity building nature of the project. This entails reduction of the project management footprint based at the UNDP country office in favour of technical experts collocated with national counterparts to provide hands-own advisory services and mentoring.
Management Response: [Added: 2014/10/18]

The recommendation will be adopted in the new SNG project.

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
Design Project structure for the new SNG project that have the right balance between managerial roles and technical roles
[Added: 2014/10/18] [Last Updated: 2015/06/03]
Subnational Governance Unit 2015/06 Completed The recommendation is adapted in the Local Governance Project - Afghanistan (LOGO) draft pro-doc.

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