UNDP AFGHANISTAN COUNTRY PROGRAMME 2015-2019 MID-TERM REVIEW

Report Cover Image
Evaluation Plan:
2015-2020, Afghanistan
Evaluation Type:
Country Programme Evaluation
Planned End Date:
02/2018
Completion Date:
12/2017
Status:
Completed
Management Response:
Yes
Evaluation Budget(US $):
40,000

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Download document UNDP Afghanistan CPD MTR 2015 - 2019.pdf report English 1430.62 KB Posted 969
Title UNDP AFGHANISTAN COUNTRY PROGRAMME 2015-2019 MID-TERM REVIEW
Atlas Project Number: 00094819
Evaluation Plan: 2015-2020, Afghanistan
Evaluation Type: Country Programme Evaluation
Status: Completed
Completion Date: 12/2017
Planned End Date: 02/2018
Management Response: Yes
Focus Area:
  • 1. Poverty and MDG
  • 2. Democratic Governance
  • 3. Crisis Prevention & Recovery
  • 4. Environment & Sustainable Development
  • 5. Cross-cutting Development Issue
  • 6. Others
Corporate Outcome and Output (UNDP Strategic Plan 2014-2017)
  • 1. Output 1.1. National and sub-national systems and institutions enabled to achieve structural transformation of productive capacities that are sustainable and employment - and livelihoods- intensive
  • 2. Output 1.3. Solutions developed at national and sub-national levels for sustainable management of natural resources, ecosystem services, chemicals and waste
  • 3. Output 1.4. Scaled up action on climate change adaptation and mitigation across sectors which is funded and implemented
  • 4. Output 1.5. Inclusive and sustainable solutions adopted to achieve increased energy efficiency and universal modern energy access (especially off-grid sources of renewable energy)
  • 5. Output 3.1. Core functions of government enabled (in post conflict situations) to ensure national ownership of recovery and development processes
  • 6. Output 4.1. Country led measures accelerated to advance women's economic empowerment
  • 7. Output 5.1. Mechanisms in place to assess natural and man-made risks at national and sub-national levels
  • 8. Output 1.2. Options enabled and facilitated for inclusive and sustainable social protection
Evaluation Budget(US $): 40,000
Source of Funding: XB
Evaluation Expenditure(US $): 40,000
Joint Programme: No
Joint Evaluation: No
Evaluation Team members:
Name Title Email Nationality
Wolfgang Haas Consultant haasws@gmail.com
GEF Evaluation: No
Key Stakeholders: Ministry of Finance
Countries: AFGHANISTAN
Comments:

The MTR is completed and draft report available Report will be finalized with management responses and uploaded by January-February 2018.

Lessons
Findings
1.

1.1. Key Findings

• The CPD 2015-2019 is premised on the perspective that Afghanistan will continue its journey towards self-reliance, in line with the goals of the Afghanistan Transformation Decade (2015- 2024) and the prevailing development outlook at the time of CPD formulation. While, since then, the security situation and Afghanistan´s economy have deteriorated sharply, and development-oriented programming has become more challenging, the current CPD Outcomes and Outputs remain largely valid for the medium-term. That said, some adjustments will have to be made in light of a strengthened UNDP livelihoods and resilience portfolio, the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the SDGs, the ANPDF 2017-2021, the new “One UNOne Programme” (successor to the current UNDAF), and the new UNDP Strategic Plan 2018- 2021.


Tag: Challenges Efficiency Relevance Sustainability Joint UN Programme Monitoring and Evaluation Results-Based Management Inclusive economic growth Jobs and Livelihoods Poverty Reduction Agenda 2030 Data and Statistics

2.

1.1. Key Findings 

• The comprehensive internal alignment and strategic review exercises during the CPD implementation period have led to significant streamlining of UNDP Programme governance and strengthened programme effectiveness and accountability. The centralization of procurement, HR and other operations functions in the Country Office has been cost-effective. However, it has also contributed to increasing the workload for programme staff and slowed down the speed and responsiveness of procurement and HR services which affects project delivery. 


Tag: Coherence Effectiveness Efficiency Gender Equality Gender Mainstreaming Women's Empowerment Human rights Human and Financial resources Integration Procurement Project and Programme management Results-Based Management Risk Management Theory of Change

3.

3. RELEVANCE

This section assesses the relevance of the UNDP Afghanistan Country Programme Document (CPD) 2015-2019, both, against the context at the time of CPD formulation in early 2014, and against the current country situation and development priorities.

3.1 CPD PRIORITIES AND RESULTS AGAINST ORIGINAL COUNTRY CONTEXT

At the time of formulating the UNDP Afghanistan Country Programme Document (CPD) in 2013-2014, Afghanistan was engaged in a three-fold transition: A political transition with the impending presidential and provincial electoral process; a military and security transition with the NATO-led international military force handing to the Afghan military and police force; and an economic transition defined by the Tokyo Mutual Accountability Framework, whereby USD16 billion has been committed for the coming four years in the political, military, and socio-economic spheres. The strategy for managing this transition was based on the Afghanistan National Development Strategy (ANDS) 2008 – 2013 and 22 National Priority Programmes (NPPs), and described in the July 2012 Tokyo Conference paper “Towards Self-Reliance.” It was expected that successful implementation of the ANDS and the NPPs would have a major bearing on prospects for bringing about a subsequent process of equitable and sustainable human development, referred to as the “Decade of Transformation” (2015- 2024). The UN system intended to be a reliable partner in these efforts, thereby supporting rapid progress toward the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals


Tag: Coherence Relevance Gender Equality Women's Empowerment Human rights Justice system Public administration reform Rule of law Integration Country Government UN Country Team Security Inclusive economic growth Poverty Reduction

4.

3.1 CPD PRIORITIES AND RESULTS AGAINST ORIGINAL COUNTRY CONTEXT (continuation)

The 11 UNDP CPD Outputs - for which the UNDP Afghanistan Country Office is fully accountable within the timeframe 2015-2019 – are directly derived from four of the five UNDAF outcomes as follows: CPD Outcome 1 (equals UNDAF Outcome 5): Improved legitimate, transparent and inclusive governance at all levels that enables progressive realization of human rights • CPD Output 1. Political processes are more inclusive and representative institutions are enabled to hold government more accountable at all levels • CPD Output 2. Capacity of state and non-state institutions strengthened to advance peacebuilding • CPD Output 3. Capacities of national and local institutions strengthened through improved assessment, planning and budgeting to respond to development priorities, especially of the most vulnerable and women.


Tag: Coherence Relevance Civic Engagement Justice system Public administration reform Project and Programme management Country Government Peace Building Institutional Strengthening National Institutions

5.

3.1 CPD PRIORITIES AND RESULTS AGAINST ORIGINAL COUNTRY CONTEXT (continuation)

The CPD 2015-2019 is premised on the perspective that Afghanistan will continue its journey towards self-reliance, in line with the goals of the Afghanistan Transformation Decade (2015-2024). The CPD also recognizes that the changes in the country context and Afghanistan´s full sovereignty and renewed leadership and ownership of its political, security and development processes require adjustments in UNDP´s programme strategy. Specifically, the CPD aims to expand UNDP’s “upstream” activities, gradually moving away from service delivery functions that may substitute for government capacity towards policy-level engagement. This realization closely reflects key findings of the UN´s Common Country Assessment (CCA) finalized in February 2014 which serves as the analytical foundation for all UN programming in Afghanistan. Specifically, the CCA emphasizes that “UN system programming will be required to shift under the next UNDAF by reducing its role in direct service delivery and humanitarian intervention and increasing its support to Afghan national capacity.” Generally, the CPD seeks to rebalance UNDP´s programme towards transformational change while maintaining sufficient flexibility to accommodate the uncertain outlook for Afghanistan with regards to security, political, economic and social challenges. 


Tag: Coherence Relevance Gender Mainstreaming Women's Empowerment Integration Project and Programme management Institutional Strengthening South-South Cooperation National Institutions Vulnerable Women and gilrs

6.

3.2 EVOLVING CONTEXT AND DEVELOPMENT PRIORITIES

3.2.1 Evolving Country Context

With the peaceful transition in 2014 to a new Government and the transfer of security responsibilities from ISAF to the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces, Afghanistan entered a new phase. The departure of large numbers of foreign troops in 2014 has had a major impact on Afghanistan’s security situation and its economic performance. In 2016, record numbers of casualties have been documented amongst civilians (over 11,000, including 3,498 deaths), Afghan Security Forces (21,000, including over 6000 deaths) and the Taliban (similar numbers as ASF). Around 650,000 people were internally displaced by the conflict in 2016, while more than 620,000 refugees and undocumented individuals returned from Pakistan and Iran. So far in 2017, fighting in many parts of the country has further intensified, with 13,000 conflict incidents reported in the first nine months, more than five times the figure of 2008.3 The continued deepening and geographic spread of the conflict and the dramatic rise in population movements in recent years has prompted a 13% increase in the number of people in need of humanitarian assistance in 2017, totaling 9.3 million. Unceasing displacement and exposure to repetitive shocks, including natural disasters, led to an increase in humanitarian response needs from USD405 million in 2015 to USD550 million in 2017. At the same time, years of growing insecurity in Afghanistan have led to an expansion of nongovernment controlled territory and all regions of the country are now affected by the conflict. As many aid agencies avoid the risks of working in insecure and contested districts, the reach and impact of development assistance and humanitarian response in areas where needs are highest has been reduced. 


Tag: Effectiveness Relevance Policies & Procedures Project and Programme management Country Government Conflict Humanitarian development nexus Peace Building Promotion of dialogue Resilience

7.

3.2.1 Evolving Country Context (continuation)

The current National Unity Government, established in September 2014 as a result of political compromise is experiencing internal tensions and disagreements which affect implementation of reforms. Despite progress in adopting new legislation, as well as sectorial strategies and policies to regulate and facilitate sustainable socio-economic and democratic development, major unresolved issues and gaps keep preventing their implementation. A fundamental constraint is that the President and other Government executives regularly interfere in the work of the judiciary and legislative branches, as well as in police work and anti-corruption investigations. The weak state and political institutions, which lack clear mandates and skilled staff, depend heavily on decisions driven by personal interests rather than accountability to citizens. In spite of political tensions and growing security and economic challenges, the National Unity Government continued to pursue an ambitious reform agenda. In October 2016, it presented the new Afghanistan National Peace and Development Framework (ANPDF) at the Brussels Conference on Afghanistan. At the conference donors pledged development aid of USD3.8 billion per year until 2020. Together with the Warsaw Conference, held in July 2016, in which the international community pledged USD3 billion over three years, the Brussels Conference reaffirmed the international community’s commitment to help achieve Afghanistan's self-reliance in the Transformation Decade (2015-2024) and to create a political, social and economic environment which allows Afghanistan to consolidate peace, security and sustainable development.


Tag: Challenges Effectiveness Efficiency Project and Programme management Country Government Conflict Peace Building Promotion of dialogue

8.

3.2.2 New Development Agendas and “One UN” Request

The ANPDF 2017 - 2021 and the national development planning system that underpins it provide a new vision, direction and structure for all development assistance to Afghanistan. The ANPDF which represents a comprehensive framework emphasizes that Afghanistan’s development is Afghan led and owned and that its implementation marks only the beginning of a long-term effort to achieving peace, security and prosperity. The ANPDF provides a new aid coordination structure through the establishment of Development Councils, each of which is responsible for one or more of the ANPDF’s ten NPPs. From a global perspective, the four years since the formulation of the CPD have seen the advent of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the SDGs. In September 2016, the UN Country Team conducted an SDG mapping of both, the current UNDAF, and the national development framework (ANPDF and draft NPPs) that provided an important baseline for initial discussions on the UN’s SDG support to Afghanistan. The Ministry of Economy, which has the lead function on the SDGs, is driving, together with the Ministry of Finance, the mainstreaming of the SDGs into the ANPDF and the NPPs. These developments at national and international levels already provide a compelling rationale to review the original CPD theory of change and its key assumptions, and to examine the continued relevance of the four CPD outcomes and 11 outputs. In addition, on January 30, 2017, President Ashraf Ghani met with the UN Country Team and requested the UN system to deliver as “One UN”, and to ensure value for money and sustainability of results of its programmes, under the leadership of the Government. 


Tag: Coherence Effectiveness Efficiency Aid Coordination Public administration reform Rule of law Joint UN Programme Strategic Positioning Country Government UN Country Team Security Poverty Reduction Coordination SDG Integration

9.

3.2.3 Global Fund projects

Since 2015, UNDP Afghanistan serves as the Principal Recipient of four Grants of the Global Fund to Fight HIV/AIDS, TB and Malaria: HIV, TB, malaria and health system strengthening. The Global Fund has partnered with UNDP since 2003 in countries facing complex challenges to ensure that grants are implemented and services delivered. This partnership focuses on implementation support, capacity development and policy engagement. The Global Fund portfolio 2015-2017 with a budget of USD47 million is fully aligned with the National Health Policy and Strategic Plan 2015-2020 of the Ministry of Health. It also corresponds directly to Outcome 3 of the UNDP Strategic Plan 2014-2017, “Countries have strengthened institutions to progressively deliver universal access to basic services”. Given that implementation of the Global Fund projects only started in April 2015, UNDP Afghanistan was not able to adopt the UNDAF Outcome that includes health sector programming as one of the CPD Outcomes. Instead, the Global Fund portfolio was subsumed under CPD Outcome 1 (equals UNDAF Outcome 5), “Improved legitimate, transparent and inclusive governance at all levels that enables progressive realization of human rights”. While the Global Fund projects have strong linkages to governance and public sector reform, the revised CDP should adopt the health-related outcome in the new One UN-One Programme framework as an additional CPD outcome and link it to the new UNDP SP 2018-2021. 


Tag: Effectiveness Efficiency Global Fund HIV / AIDS Partnership Policies & Procedures Project and Programme management Results-Based Management Country Government Agenda 2030 SDG Integration

10.

3.2.4 New UNDP Strategic Plan 2018 – 2021 (continuation)

The IRRF has a simplified structure over preceding SP cycles (see Figure 4 below). Concretely, the number of outcomes has been reduced from 7 to 3, and the number of outputs from 38 to 27. Overall, the IRRF has 56 output indicators compared to 93. The three key development challenges identified in the SP narrative are directly captured in the three IRRF outcomes. Contributions from the six SP signature solutions are broken down further into outputs which support the achievement of outcomes  in an inter-connected manner, thus reflecting the integrated, mulit-dimensional nature of the 2030 Agenda.


Tag: Effectiveness Efficiency Sustainability Knowledge management Monitoring and Evaluation Project and Programme management Results-Based Management

11.

3.2.5.2 Leaving No One Behind

Concretely, the revised UNDP CPD for Afghanistan and its results and M&E framework should use the paramount principle of “leaving no one behind” (LNOB) as its central reference point. As a foundation and yardstick for UNDP programming in Afghanistan, LNOB - together with the other related principles of the 2030 Agenda - can help strengthening the CPD’s rationale, relevance and programmatic choices.

To operationalize LNOB and achieve effective targeting of the most deprived populations demands strong investments in producing disaggregated quality data and statistics across all programme areas of the UN system in Afghanistan. In leading on the 2030 Agenda, UNDP could rally other relevant UN agencies around a flag-ship joint programme in support of building national capacities, especially with the Central Statistics Office, for the production of quality data. Gender mainstreaming and women empowerment constitutes an area of particular concern where strong investment in quality data is needed to support political empowerment of women and produce a regular comprehensive report on the “Status of Women in Afghanistan”. The increased focus on data and statistics, as well as targeting the most vulnerable people, should also help UNDP to apply more consistently the HRBA and conflict sensitive programming which both rely on contextual and conflict-specific evidence, including in relation to identifying the root causes of conflict and non-fulfillment of human rights. In view of the growing instability and conflict in recent years, and with UNDP’s increasing focus on local-level development and resilience-building, investing in projectlevel conflict analyses seems essential to avoid doing harm and contributing to the conflict. If standalone exercises are not possible, conflict analyses can be done in conjunction with needs and vulnerability assessments, as well as more general context analyses.


Tag: Effectiveness Relevance Gender Equality Gender Mainstreaming Women's Empowerment Human rights Knowledge management Monitoring and Evaluation Conflict Peace Building Agenda 2030 Data and Statistics Leaving no one behind SDG Integration Vulnerable

12.

3.2.5.3 Thematic Areas for Future Programming

While UNDP Afghanistan’s strategy to focus programming on six areas - Governance, Rule of Law, Livelihoods, Environment, Gender and Health - should remain adequate in the medium term, programming under the CPD will have to be aligned more closely with specific themes and SDGs that are emphasized in the ANPDF and the NPPs. In addition, programming could consider SDGs that are only partially addressed in the national development agenda yet constitute priority issues for sustainable and inclusive development. As such, the following thematic areas could be explored or further strengthened in a revised CPD: 

- Inequality (SDG 10) and Data: Afghanistan, in spite of considerable economic developments over the last one and half decades, still remains one of the poorest countries where about 40% of the population lived under the poverty line. While the annual GDP rate grew considerably over many years, the Gini index increased from 29.7% in 2007-8 to 31.6% in 2011-12 which remarks a widened gap between living standards of the poor and the rich, including a growth in income inequality. At the same time, lack of systematic analyses of root and underlying causes of development challenges and conflict – which directly affect the quality and effectiveness of the ANPDF and the current UNDAF - makes it very challenging to ensure efficient and effective targeting of those population groups that are left behind. Therefore, UNDP should make deliberate and substantial investments to achieve solid disaggregation of data across all results in the CPD RRF, thus making sure who is benefiting in terms of sex, age, geography, migratory status, etc.. Increased investment in data will also strengthen the HRBA to programming across the CPD, as well as evidence-based UNDP communications, advocacy, and resource mobilization. 


Tag: Climate Change Adaptation Climate change governance Effectiveness Sustainability Resource mobilization Gender Equality Gender Mainstreaming Women's Empowerment Human rights Integration Policies & Procedures Programme/Project Design Country Government Humanitarian development nexus Resilience Data and Statistics SDG Integration

13.

3.2.5.3 Thematic Areas for Future Programming

- Urbanization: Both the ANPDF and NPPs, including NPP 9 (Urban Development Program), show a very strong emphasis on SDG 11 (sustainable cities and communities). Afghanistan has experienced unparalleled growth of the urban population due in part to the organized return of refugees as well as voluntary and/or forced migration to urban areas in search of better livelihoods and increased security. Internal migration to cities is putting a significant strain on the ability of urban authorities to provide services such as water, waste management and sanitation, and the rate of population inflows is outpacing growth in the urban economy needed to generate new jobs. However, the current UNDAF and CPD are not focusing on urbanization which represents a key area for impacting various SDGs while also linking to humanitarian work with returnees and IDPs. As such, UNDP should further explore this theme both, to identify programmatic activities under the CPD, as well as approaches for joint programmatic engagement with other UN agencies and development partners.


Tag: Effectiveness Sustainability Local Governance Service delivery Resilience Inclusive economic growth Jobs and Livelihoods Technology Urbanization Private Sector

14.

4. EFFECTIVENESS

This section assesses the effectiveness11 of the CPD, with a focus on assessing progress in achieving CPD results since the start of implementation in January 2015, as well as opportunities for further strengthening the development effectiveness and impact of UNDP’s programmatic engagement.

4.1 CPD Progress and Achievements

4.1.1 UNDP Afghanistan Results Monitoring System 

Progress and achievements of each project under the CPD are captured on a quarterly basis through the UNDP Afghanistan Results Monitoring System which is a “home-grown” excel-based tracking system managed by the Programme Strategy and Results Team (PSRT). Most CPD outcomes and outputs meet the requirements of baselines, indicators and targets as a basis for systematic tracking and reporting. The Results Monitoring System follows the UNDP Country Office decision to cluster all UNDP projects into six thematic areas: Governance, Rule of Law, Resilient Livelihood, Gender, Environment & Climate Change, and Health. It uses a traffic light system to track reporting against each of the 292 project output indicators. As of November 26, 2017, the overview table shows the following status: In close collaboration with the project teams and UNDP programme units, the PRST makes sure all indicators, which correspond to project outputs as stated in the AWPs, have baselines, targets and available date for tracking progress and achievement of results. In case an indicator becomes obsolete or can otherwise not be reported on, projects can qualify the indicator as not applicable (NA) and replace the indicator (see NA column in Figure 5). A number of indicators are reported off-track becausenew projects often start at a later stage during the relevant reporting year. That said, indicators reported off-track are followed up closely with UNDP Programme Units and the concerned projects to understand and address the causes for slow or no progress during the reporting period. Indicators that appear as not reported are usually reported on at a later stage. For some projects these delays in reporting are now addressed through following new SOPs introduced in 2017. For the indicators falling under Health, the reason they are not yet reported on for the 3rd quarter lies in the fact that the Global Fund portfolio, for which UNDP serves as the Principal Recipient of grants, uses its own reporting system, which can cause a slight delay. For LITACA, a cross-border project with Tajikistan, the primary reporting line is with UNDP Tajikistan which also causes a slight delay in reporting under the UNDP Afghanistan Results Monitoring System.  


Tag: Efficiency Monitoring and Evaluation Project and Programme management Results-Based Management Theory of Change

15.

4.1.2 CPD Performance to Date (2015-2017)

In the first two years of CPD implementation, 2015 and 2016, the Country Office reported progress against CPD Outputs, not against the four CPD Outcomes. This is in line with prevailing practice given that outcomes have a longer-term horizon and begin to materialize on the basis of significant progress or full achievement of UNDP outputs, together with contributions from other UN agencies and external partners. While these reports, such as the 2015 and 2016 ROARs, were not systematically measuring progress against the CPD RRF indicators, it seems evident that UNDP Afghanistan has not only made significant progress against project-level outputs but also towards the achievement of CPD Outputs and Outcomes. This is also confirmed through a number of independent project MTRs and evaluations performed during the current CPD cycle, including the ISCPA Midterm Evaluation, APRP Final Evaluation, Biodiversity and CCAP MTRs, LOGO MTR, etc.. 

Under Outcome 1, Improved legitimate, transparent and inclusive governance at all levels that enables progressive realization of human rights, UNDP is currently implementing projects focused on elections, gender, parliament, local governance, SDGs and peace-building (support to the High Peace Council), as well as Global Fund projects responding to Malaria, TB and HIV/AIDS. Since 2015, UNDP continued to strengthen legislation, institutional capacities and accountability as well as service delivery. Elections assistance resulted i.a. in the revision of the electoral law and appointments of new IEC/IECC commissioners. In the context of supporting the IDLG, UNDP contributed to the finalization of the subnational governance policy and a number of provincial development plans. 


Tag: Effectiveness Gender Equality Gender Mainstreaming Women's Empowerment Election Human rights Justice system Local Governance Parliament Public administration reform Rule of law Project and Programme management Results-Based Management Conflict Peace Building

16.

4.1.2 CPD Performance to Date (2015-2017) (continuation)

Outcome 1(continuation) In support of the High Peace Council, UNDP assisted i.a with the drafting and launch of the Afghanistan National Peace and Reconciliation Strategy in 2017. The SDG project contributes to CPD Output 3, Capacities of national and local institutions strengthened through improved assessment, planning and budgeting to respond to development priorities, especially of the most vulnerable and women. In 2017, the project helped in strengthening institutional capacities of the Ministry of Economy (MoE) so it can effectively perform its leading role in the rollout of the SDGs in Afghanistan, starting with a revision of the MoE’s internal structures. UNDP also assists the MoE in the nationalization of the SDGs and in aligning the localized SDGs with the national development strategies, planning and budgeting process. The Global Fund achieved results in health systems strengthening, essential infrastructure and medical supplies


Tag: Effectiveness Gender Equality Women's Empowerment Human rights Justice system Rule of law Country Government Donor Conflict Conflict resolution Humanitarian development nexus Peace Building Vulnerable

17.

4.1.2 CPD Performance to Date (2015-2017) 

Under Outcome 3, Economic growth is accelerated to reduce vulnerabilities and poverty, strengthen the resilience of the licit economy and reduce the illicit economy in its multiple dimensions, UNDP has been diversifying and deepening its programming to strengthen sustainable livelihoods, resilience building and environmental conservation. In 2015 through GEF, UNDP supported community based organizations to develop local plans to conserve animal and plant life in protected areas, and regulate sustainable land use while mitigating land degradation. At policy level, UNDP supported the National Environmental Protection Agency to prepare the Afghanistan Climate Change Strategy and Action Plan and the Afghanistan National Adaptation Plan. By supporting the Afghanistan National Disaster Management Authority (ANDMA) and the Ministry of Rural Rehabilitation and Development (MRRD) to prepare an Early Recovery Needs Assessment and a Recovery and Rehabilitation Plan, UNDP contributed to developing the capacity of these two institutions. Through the GEF funded Small Grant Programme (SGP), UNDP improved access to clean energy through the provision of solar cookers and heaters. The establishment of a tourism center in a protected area helped promote biodiversity conservation and increased income for the local population. In 2016, tourism facilities created with UNDP support attracted about 150.000 tourists. Under the Natural Area-based Development Programme (NABDP), UNDP helped improve the livelihoods of about 1.1 million rural women and men and promoted equitable access to natural resources and affordable energy. Natural disaster mitigation projects contributed to increased community resilience to climate change and protected 577 hectares of agriculture land. Women empowerment projects were instrumental in enhancing the social status of rural women through vocational training. 


Tag: Effectiveness Partnership Project and Programme management Results-Based Management Country Government Inclusive economic growth Jobs and Livelihoods Poverty Reduction Institutional Strengthening National Institutions

18.

4.1.2 CPD Performance to Date (2015-2017) 

Under Outcome 4, Social equity of women, youth and minorities and vulnerable populations is increased through improved and consistent application by Government of principles of inclusion in implementing existing and creating new policies and legislation, Government capacity was enhanced to address women’s rights, resulting in the implementation of a number of CEDAW recommendations. Areas of strengthened capacity include monitoring and oversight, as well as enforcement of legislation against discrimination. UNDP also supported Gender Responsive Budgeting (GRB) within the Ministry of Finance, including the development and introduction of a GRB Strategy and gender sensitive Ministry budgets. UNDP supported the Ministry of Women’s Affairs (MOWA) to develop a gender policy review kit, review sectorial strategies to ensure the integration of gender priorities into national policies. In order to improve access to gender-disaggregated data, MOWA was supported to develop an online National Action Plan for Women in Afghanistan (NAPWA) monitoring database that is able to produce an evidence-based NAPWA report. 


Tag: Effectiveness Gender Equality Gender Mainstreaming Gender Parity Women's Empowerment Human rights Justice system Rule of law Policies & Procedures Vulnerable Women and gilrs Youth

19.

4.1.3 Considerations for the way forward

Overall, UNDP Afghanistan has made significant progress in achieving project results in support of the four CPD Outcomes and corresponding CPD Outputs. Figure 6 shows substantial investments over the period 2015-2017 in each of UNDP’s programme areas. That said, in view of the magnitude, depth and range of remaining development challenges in Afghanistan, and the far-reaching aspirations and goals of the 2030 Agenda, UNDP Afghanistan should make additional efforts to further increase the leverage and scale of its programmatic activities – including through boosting UNDP’s policy-level voice and using its privileged position to rally together other development partners around central and SDG-related development themes - in order to achieve transformational development impact that can make a lasting difference in the lives of the people of Afghanistan. 

4.1.3.1 Leveraging UNDP’s Programme Different approaches should be used to strengthen the leverage and impact of UNDP’s Country Programme, including by 1) increasing synergies between existing UNDP programmes and projects, within and across UNDP’s main programme areas, 2) strengthening programmatic collaboration with UN sister agencies and a wider range of international development actors, 3) boosting collaboration with the private sector and civil society, and 4) identifying additional linkages and complementarities across the development, humanitarian, and peace and security dimensions of UN assistance to Afghanistan. With regards to 1) creating synergies within and between UNDP’s programme pillars, closer collaboration between the Livelihoods and Resilience Unit with the Governance Unit could strengthen complementarities, including around the Local Governance (LOGO) project with its focus on local-level planning and service delivery. Beyond establishing linkages with UNDP’s livelihoods and resilience  programming, LOGO could serve as a strategic foundation and framework for more broad-based engagement and joint programming with other UN agencies in support of effective and sustainable community-based service delivery. More broadly, the UNDP Regional Offices established in 2016 (in Mazar-I-Sharif, Herat, Kandahar and Jalalabad), and perhaps additional ones in future, should enable synergies and complementarities between programmes and projects at the provincial level, both, in terms of administration/logistics, and to link programmatic objectives. 


Tag: Effectiveness Efficiency Impact Sustainability Partnership Programme Synergy Project and Programme management Results-Based Management Risk Management Agenda 2030 SDG Integration Civil Societies and NGOs Private Sector

20.

4.1.3.1 Leveraging UNDP’s Programme

In relation to 3) above, a number of interviewees stressed that UNDP should increase its engagement with the private sector and civil society. This echoes the narrative of the current CPD which envisages close partnerships with both, the private sector and civil society. Although there is widespread recognition that the private sector remains limited and that the current country situation is not conducive to attract large-scale investments, there should be scope to engage more with established international companies (incl. telecom), and with emerging non-traditional and innovative businesses, especially in urban settings, for increased collaboration and programme support. The UNDP NHDR on the extractives sector should also be leveraged in this regard (see also under 3.2.5.3) 

Regarding partnerships and collaboration with civil society, interviewees noted substantial capacity limitations, as well as a lack of transparency and reliability amongst civil society organizations, all of which makes it hard to identify suitable partners and entry points for effective engagement and collaboration. At the same time, it seems that UNDP could, and should, do more to support civil society in Afghanistan in order to strengthen more broad-based national ownership of the development process, public accountability to the people of Afghanistan, as well as the quality and relevance of development programmes. Strengthening civil society also fits well with the 2030 Agenda, including through boosting the voice and representation of vulnerable groups. Finally, 4) above - which is about working across the UN’s development, humanitarian, and peace and security dimensions – reflects closely the vision and rationale of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Even with further adjustments and increased programme funding, UNDP’s Country Programme in Afghanistan can only make a limited contribution towards addressing all remaining development challenges and needs. In this regard, it is positive to see that UNDP is successfully engaging with humanitarian UN agencies and other partners through the Durable Solutions Working Group. The development of an Integrated Action Plan for Return, which combines humanitarian assistance and development activities, is a key achievement of this group. 


Tag: Effectiveness Efficiency Sustainability Partnership Project and Programme management Results-Based Management Humanitarian development nexus Peace Building Inclusive economic growth Poverty Reduction Agenda 2030 SDG Integration

21.

4.1.3.2 Focus on People-Centered Local Development

In addition to the above points 1-4, UNDP’s engagement at sub-national and community levels will be of central importance in the coming years. While the Country Office has invested heavily in central institutional development, the preceding CPD 2010-2014 already noted that “the positive impact on the lives of Afghans has been limited...” Building on the people-centered interventions under the current CPD, especially the portfolio supporting Outcome 3, strengthened community-based development should allow the Country Office to tackle more effectively the high poverty rate, low trust in Government institutions, weak service delivery, and the grim perspectives for the majority of Afghans to attain sustainable livelihoods and a better future. The Strategic Review Mission report issued in early 2016 confirms this focus recommending “an increased emphasis on programmes and initiatives which create tangible impact for the average Afghan to help create bastions of hope and incentives to remain engaged in Afghanistan instead of migrating.” 


Tag: Effectiveness Efficiency Civic Engagement Local Governance Project and Programme management Service delivery Country Government Peace Building Inclusive economic growth Poverty Reduction Advocacy Awareness raising

22.

5. EFFICIENCY

This section seeks to assess the efficiency of operationalizing the CPD 2015-2019, including its overall governance, implementation arrangements and operational support. In addition, it focuses on “how to” issues of programme management and related processes. As a precursor to this section it is important to note that the extent to which UNDP is able to achieve its results in Afghanistan in an efficient and cost-effective manner is extremely constrained by the prevailing lack of security across the country. Reviewing the efficiency of CPD implementation is closely linked to the extensive reorganization of the UNDP Afghanistan Country Office which aimed at structural streamlining while, at the same time, maintaining and strengthening critical functions to ensure effective programming, operations and communications. 

5.1 CPD Governance Structure

The reorganization of the programme management structure from six into three portfolios and units, namely 1) Governance; 2) Rule of Law and Human Security, and 3) Livelihoods and Resilience, helped to match up the three UNDP Programme Units with the three corresponding CPD Outcomes. The fourth CPD Outcome with its focus on gender was also assigned to the Governance Unit, due to its close linkages with the UNDP governance theme. When new Global Fund projects had to be added to the UNDP Country Programme in the second half of 2015, the lack of a health-based CPD outcome made it necessary to subsume the Global Fund portfolio under the Governance Outcome (see above 3.2.3 on how to address this issue). To ensure effective leadership and management of the three UNDP Programme Units and to strengthen programmatic oversight, care was taken to ensure that each Unit is led by an experienced international staff and consists of a strong team of programme experts. The Heads of Units were given responsibilities for developing the next phase of the programme in close collaboration with Government. It was also emphasized to adhere to a better division of labor between programme and project staff, with programme assuming a more strategic and proactive role in engaging with partners, commissioning research, conducting substantive and financial monitoring of projects, and ensuring synergies across portfolios. 


Tag: Efficiency Business Model Change Management Integration Oversight Project and Programme management Results-Based Management Country Government

23.

5. EFFICIENCY

5.2 Office-Wide Collaboration, Communication and Learning

UNDP programme staff widely confirmed that collaboration, communication and information-sharing, within and between Programme Units, have significantly improved during the current CPD cycle. Regular meetings amongst Unit Heads, convened by UNDP senior management, contribute to all units being “on the same page”, as well as addressing urgent issues and taking important decisions in a timely manner. In addition, Heads of Units often take initiative to communicate with each other as part of their daily work. That said, some interviewees believe that further adjustments could be made to strengthen information sharing and collaboration amongst UNDP programmes and projects. Some programme managers and staff feel that the Programme Units still tend to work largely in silos and that – at critical junctures – UNDP Senior Management should bring together all Units for more strategic consultations on the Country Office’s overall programme direction, advocacy, partnerships and resource mobilization. Beyond the Programme Units, some project managers and CTAs would like to have more structured opportunities for technical discussions with each other, as well as with Heads of Units and UNDP Senior Management. This could strengthen i.a. the identification of concrete synergies between projects and minimize duplications of project activities such as trainings and surveys. 


Tag: Efficiency Communication Knowledge management Programme Synergy Project and Programme management Coordination Data and Statistics

24.

5. EFFICIENCY

5.3 Strategic Planning

As described under 4.1.1 above, the Country Office has significantly strengthened results-based planning, monitoring and reporting, as well as the quality of results and indicator frameworks for new projects under the CPD 2015-2019. That said, the primary focus of results tracking and reporting has been at the level of projects, not how project-level achievements contribute to higher-level UNDP results (CPD outcomes and outputs) and country-level impact. As part of the CPD rollout, its narrative section envisages the formulation of CPD Outcome Strategies to ensure clear strategic direction, prioritization and coherence of programme activities under each outcome. In the course of the MTR, Programme Unit Heads welcomed the idea and started to engage in formulating and sharing their outcome strategies for the coming years (in line with the draft One UN -One Programme 2018 - 2021). A stronger focus on high-level CPD results helps to contain the risk of isolated, fragmented and inefficient planning at project level and re-confirms the CPD as the central reference document for strategic longerterm programming. 

Another important aspect to ensure the efficiency of future strategic planning concerns the updating of the CPD indicator framework in light of the 2030 Agenda, the SDGs, and the new UNDP Strategic Plan 2018-2021. To the extent possible, UNDP Afghanistan should refrain from developing its own CPD indicators. Instead, it should contribute to ensuring a solid national SDG indicator framework as a basis for both, measuring progress in implementing the vision of the ANPDF and the 10 NPPs, and tracking the results of the One UN-One Programme and the revised UNDP CPD.  


Tag: Coherence Efficiency Anti-corruption Civic Engagement Human and Financial resources Joint UN Programme Operational Efficiency Policies & Procedures Project and Programme management Results-Based Management Technical Support

25.

5. EFFICIENCY

5.5 Implementation Modalities

The reorientation of the national agenda towards more development-oriented planning - which already began under the ANDS and during the UNDP CPD 2010-2014 - strongly emphasizes national leadership and ownership of all development programmes and projects in Afghanistan. Consequently, UNDP has been implementing its Country Programme mostly through the National implementation Modality (NIM) which was also meant to strengthen capacity building in counterpart institutions. However, this approach led to questionable results and very limited development of sustained capacities. HACT micro assessments conducted in 2015 rated most implementing partners as “significant risk” which led to a comprehensive review with counterparts of existing cash transfer modalities. The HACT ratings also meant that UNDP started to use and promote predominantly the Direct Implementation Modality (DIM) while integrating capacity building of national counterparts into project designs. In case the Government insisted on NIM for reasons of national ownership, care was taken to use payment modalities which limit UNDP’s risk exposure. In view of persistent capacity limitations amongst implementing partners, interviewees widely agree that DIM should continue to be the preferred modality for the foreseeable future. 


Tag: Efficiency Sustainability Resource mobilization Communication Implementation Modality Ownership Partnership Project and Programme management Results-Based Management Risk Management Financial Inclusion Institutional Strengthening National Institutions

26.

5. EFFICIENCY

5.6 Partnerships, Resource Mobilization and External Communications 

The 2017 UNDP Afghanistan Partnership and Resource Mobilization Strategy contains many useful and pertinent elements which should allow the Country Office to expand its partnerships and attract additional funding, including from non-traditional donors such as China. The document also describes UNDP’s value proposition for the coming years, highlighting UNDP’s established operational capacity across all 34 provinces, its strong national cadre of experts, and a unique approach to capacity development which allows UNDP to work with the executive, legislative and judiciary, and provides an opportunities for using a “whole of government” approach. It also emphasizes that UNDP is well positioned to use the strong donor commitment to 2020 as, perhaps, the last window of opportunity to develop sustainable national capacities in Afghanistan. 


Tag: Efficiency Resource mobilization Human rights Justice system Local Governance Public administration reform Communication Knowledge management Partnership Policies & Procedures Country Government Institutional Strengthening National Institutions

27.

6. SUSTAINABILITY

With a deteriorating security situation and weak economic growth, even the most optimistic scenario will not allow Afghanistan to finance and ensure the sustainability of the framework of central and sub-national institutions that have been built with abundant donor-funding over the last fifteen years. At the same time, many would argue that the substantial investments in building infrastructure and capacities, promoting peace and social cohesion, providing basic services and supporting livelihoods have contributed to strengthening the resilience of institutions, communities and individuals, and the foundations for achieving the long-term Government vision of a self-reliant, stable and prosperous Afghanistan. In light of the precariousness of any development gains made so far, continued donor support to development, peace and security over the coming years will be crucial to consolidate these gains and achieve the required economic, social and structural transformations at national and local levels. 

Recent evaluations of UNDP projects (ICSPA, GEF-Biodiversity, APRP, etc.) confirm that - without continued external support - chances of sustained functioning of institutions beyond the completion of UNDP projects are very slim. While UNDP projects often provide effective support in producing policies, legislation, and administrative guidance and procedures, the lack of institutional capacities and available financing does not allow for benefits to continue after the project ends. That said, and depending on a continued increase in revenue collection by the Government, UNDP, together with other development partners, should sustain its close engagement with Government authorities to assess and identify opportunities for a gradual increase in co-financing through the national budget. 


Tag: Challenges Efficiency Sustainability Government Cost-sharing National Local Governance Public administration reform Donor relations Human and Financial resources Peace Building Resilience Social cohesion Inclusive economic growth Poverty Reduction

Recommendations
1

The Management Response is being re-designed with management consultation and expected to be ready by March 2019.

2

1.2 Key Recommendations

• The ambitious and comprehensive 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, substantial changes inside Afghanistan, and a new UNDP Strategic Plan 2018-2021, are making it increasingly important and urgent for the UNDP Country Office to move beyond the “business as usual” ways which have characterized its position in Afghanistan for many years. At the same time, this challenge – and the President´s request to demonstrate and strengthen the added value of the UN system in Afghanistan - constitute a unique opportunity for the Country Office to rewrite its narrative in the current development context. 

With a distinct track record as campaign manager and score-keeper of the MDGs, and as advisor on the MAPS approach to achieve the SDGs, UNDP Afghanistan should use the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development as the ultimate rationale for its presence in Afghanistan. 

In promoting the 2030 Agenda´s lead principle of “leaving no one behind”, UNDP can rally other UN agencies and development partners together for investing strongly in national data and statistics. This will allow better targeting of the most vulnerable groups and help accelerate a shift towards nation-wide evidence-based planning, programming and advocacy, under the leadership of the Government. Based on the 2030 Agenda narrative and credible data, UNDP Afghanistan should be able to project its new identity through a small set of priority themes and derived “key messages” which permeate and align all UNDP activities, including normative and policy-level advocacy, programmes and projects, partnerships, resource mobilization, and internal and external communications. 

3

• Linked to the promotion of the 2030 Agenda and its overarching principle of ‘leaving no one behind and reaching the furthest behind first”, UNDP should continue to improve the balance between assisting Government and supporting the people of Afghanistan, with a focus on 1) community-level support to service delivery, livelihoods and resilience-building, and 2) strengthening civil society to increase public pressure towards accountable governance and effective and equitable service delivery.

4

• The increased focus on data and statistics, as well as targeting the most vulnerable people should also help UNDP to apply more consistently the HRBA and conflict sensitive programming which both rely on contextual and conflict-specific evidence, including in relation to identifying the root causes of conflict and non-fulfillment of human rights. In view of the growing instability and conflict in recent years, and with UNDP’s increasing focus on local-level development and resilience-building, investing in project-level conflict analyses seems essential to avoid doing harm and contributing to the conflict. If stand-alone exercises are not possible, conflict analyses can be done in conjunction with needs and vulnerability assessments, as well as more general context analyses. 

5

• In view of the Government’s goal of self-reliance, UNDP´s projects should further reduce dependence on non-Tashkeel personnel and focus capacity building on the existing civil service, even though transitions will need to be managed very carefully to ensure continued project delivery. More broadly, UNDP should advocate for comprehensive, “whole of Government” Civil Service Reform and Public Sector Reform, using its impartial convening role to lead the international community in making capacity building efforts more coherent, effective and sustainable. 

6

• Even though sustainability of UNDP projects is constrained by weak institutional capacities, lack of public financing and the overall protracted crisis context, UNDP should endeavor to explore any potential opportunities for strengthening sustainability of its interventions, including government co-financing. Based on these examinations, project exit strategies should be included as a standard in any new projects.

7

• In increasing and further diversifying UNDP’s programmatic engagement at sub-national level, the Programme Units should give more attention to identifying linkages, synergies and complementarities within and between project portfolios, both around issues of logistics and administration, and in terms of programmatic results and impact. The UNDP Regional Offices created in 2016 provide a good basis in this regard and could be strengthened and replicated once they have demonstrated their value. 

1. Recommendation:

The Management Response is being re-designed with management consultation and expected to be ready by March 2019.

Management Response: [Added: 2018/12/09] [Last Updated: 2021/01/31]

The Management Response is being re-designed with management consultation and expected to be ready by March 2019.

Key Actions:

2. Recommendation:

1.2 Key Recommendations

• The ambitious and comprehensive 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, substantial changes inside Afghanistan, and a new UNDP Strategic Plan 2018-2021, are making it increasingly important and urgent for the UNDP Country Office to move beyond the “business as usual” ways which have characterized its position in Afghanistan for many years. At the same time, this challenge – and the President´s request to demonstrate and strengthen the added value of the UN system in Afghanistan - constitute a unique opportunity for the Country Office to rewrite its narrative in the current development context. 

With a distinct track record as campaign manager and score-keeper of the MDGs, and as advisor on the MAPS approach to achieve the SDGs, UNDP Afghanistan should use the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development as the ultimate rationale for its presence in Afghanistan. 

In promoting the 2030 Agenda´s lead principle of “leaving no one behind”, UNDP can rally other UN agencies and development partners together for investing strongly in national data and statistics. This will allow better targeting of the most vulnerable groups and help accelerate a shift towards nation-wide evidence-based planning, programming and advocacy, under the leadership of the Government. Based on the 2030 Agenda narrative and credible data, UNDP Afghanistan should be able to project its new identity through a small set of priority themes and derived “key messages” which permeate and align all UNDP activities, including normative and policy-level advocacy, programmes and projects, partnerships, resource mobilization, and internal and external communications. 

Management Response: [Added: 2021/01/26] [Last Updated: 2021/01/31]

Key Actions:

3. Recommendation:

• Linked to the promotion of the 2030 Agenda and its overarching principle of ‘leaving no one behind and reaching the furthest behind first”, UNDP should continue to improve the balance between assisting Government and supporting the people of Afghanistan, with a focus on 1) community-level support to service delivery, livelihoods and resilience-building, and 2) strengthening civil society to increase public pressure towards accountable governance and effective and equitable service delivery.

Management Response: [Added: 2021/01/26] [Last Updated: 2021/01/31]

Key Actions:

4. Recommendation:

• The increased focus on data and statistics, as well as targeting the most vulnerable people should also help UNDP to apply more consistently the HRBA and conflict sensitive programming which both rely on contextual and conflict-specific evidence, including in relation to identifying the root causes of conflict and non-fulfillment of human rights. In view of the growing instability and conflict in recent years, and with UNDP’s increasing focus on local-level development and resilience-building, investing in project-level conflict analyses seems essential to avoid doing harm and contributing to the conflict. If stand-alone exercises are not possible, conflict analyses can be done in conjunction with needs and vulnerability assessments, as well as more general context analyses. 

Management Response: [Added: 2021/01/26] [Last Updated: 2021/01/31]

Key Actions:

5. Recommendation:

• In view of the Government’s goal of self-reliance, UNDP´s projects should further reduce dependence on non-Tashkeel personnel and focus capacity building on the existing civil service, even though transitions will need to be managed very carefully to ensure continued project delivery. More broadly, UNDP should advocate for comprehensive, “whole of Government” Civil Service Reform and Public Sector Reform, using its impartial convening role to lead the international community in making capacity building efforts more coherent, effective and sustainable. 

Management Response: [Added: 2021/01/26] [Last Updated: 2021/01/31]

Key Actions:

6. Recommendation:

• Even though sustainability of UNDP projects is constrained by weak institutional capacities, lack of public financing and the overall protracted crisis context, UNDP should endeavor to explore any potential opportunities for strengthening sustainability of its interventions, including government co-financing. Based on these examinations, project exit strategies should be included as a standard in any new projects.

Management Response: [Added: 2021/01/26] [Last Updated: 2021/01/31]

Key Actions:

7. Recommendation:

• In increasing and further diversifying UNDP’s programmatic engagement at sub-national level, the Programme Units should give more attention to identifying linkages, synergies and complementarities within and between project portfolios, both around issues of logistics and administration, and in terms of programmatic results and impact. The UNDP Regional Offices created in 2016 provide a good basis in this regard and could be strengthened and replicated once they have demonstrated their value. 

Management Response: [Added: 2021/01/26] [Last Updated: 2021/01/31]

Key Actions:

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