Final Evaluation of the project ? Institutional and Capacity Support to the Parliament of Afghanistan (ICSPA)

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Evaluation Plan:
2015-2020, Afghanistan
Evaluation Type:
Final Project
Planned End Date:
06/2019
Completion Date:
08/2019
Status:
Completed
Management Response:
Yes
Evaluation Budget(US $):
50,000

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Title Final Evaluation of the project ? Institutional and Capacity Support to the Parliament of Afghanistan (ICSPA)
Atlas Project Number: 00080438
Evaluation Plan: 2015-2020, Afghanistan
Evaluation Type: Final Project
Status: Completed
Completion Date: 08/2019
Planned End Date: 06/2019
Management Response: Yes
UNDP Signature Solution:
  • 1. Poverty
  • 2. Governance
Corporate Outcome and Output (UNDP Strategic Plan 2018-2021)
  • 1. Output 1.1.1 Capacities developed across the whole of government to integrate the 2030 Agenda, the Paris Agreement and other international agreements in development plans and budgets, and to analyse progress towards the SDGs, using innovative and data-driven solutions
  • 2. Output 2.2.2 Constitution-making, electoral and parliamentary processes and institutions strengthened to promote inclusion, transparency and accountability
SDG Goal
  • Goal 16. Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels
  • Goal 17. Strengthen the means of implementation and revitalize the Global Partnership for Sustainable Development
SDG Target
  • 16.6 Develop effective, accountable and transparent institutions at all levels
  • 17.18 By 2020, enhance capacity-building support to developing countries, including for least developed countries and small island developing States, to increase significantly the availability of high-quality, timely and reliable data disaggregated by income, gender, age, race, ethnicity, migratory status, disability, geographic location and other characteristics relevant in national contexts
Evaluation Budget(US $): 50,000
Source of Funding: Project resources
Evaluation Expenditure(US $): 50,000
Joint Programme: No
Joint Evaluation: No
Evaluation Team members:
Name Title Email Nationality
GEF Evaluation: No
Key Stakeholders:
Countries: AFGHANISTAN
Lessons
Findings
1.

5. Findings of the final evaluation

5.1. Relevance of the ICSPA project

Under the relevance, the final evaluation analysed the extent to which the ICSPA project is suited to the priorities and policies of the National Assembly of Afghanistan. The focus was to assess the extent of consistence of the ICSPA project with the needs of the National Assembly of Afghanistan and its validity to meet the identified needs of its both houses (Wolesi and Meshrano Jirga). The FE analysed if the assistance available through the ICSPA project was coherent, realistic and aligned with the priorities of the NAA. Within this context, the FE analysed challenges that the project faced and the extent of adaptability and flexibility of the ICSPA project in responding and addressing these changes and challenges. Also, the FE assessed relevance and importance of the ICSPA project at any point during its life-cycle, answering if the intervention logic remained true in the context of possible changes on the demand side while identifying the response made to address changes and fine-tune the intervention. Part of the analysis included ICSPA targets and indicators, from the perspective if remained valid and achievable or whether there was a need to revise them to ensure full utilization of resources and achievement of results.

- In the rapidly changing context of Afghanistan, the ICSPA has been designed to provide responsive and agile assistance to the National Assembly of Afghanistan (NAA) by addressing the most urgent needs of the secretariats and setting the foundation for the long-term institutional development of the Wolesi and Meshrano Jirga

The support available during the first phase of the project (2014-2016) was gradually moved to more targeted assistance that prioritized reform needs of the NAA.

The ICSPA project supported nationally-driven approach to organizational development that started with self-assessment to identify needs and capacity gaps and continued with preparation of the Reform Action Plans that set priorities and served as a core reference for institutional development of the NAA. This approach that the ICSPA project adopted and followed has been one of the best practices in organizational development of public institutions

The ICSPA focus on supporting general secretariats and respective departments of Wolesi and Meshrano Jirga was fully aligned with the needs and priorities of the NAA. The analysis from the identification/ formulation mission (in 2013) highlighted some of the core problems of the NAA, such as lack of fiscal and administrative autonomy that affects the NAA’s ability to carry out its responsibilities effectively. The core functions of both Houses have been affected by a lack of internal institutional capability, lack of infrastructure resources, including core information sharing capabilities and its general inability to attract and retain high-quality staff. The FE finds that the design of the ICSPA project was satisfactory, as the project document reflected the needs and priorities of the NAA and its General Secretariats resulting that the final proposed action was explicitly tied to identification and assessment phase. This bottom up approach during the formulation and design phase with collaboration and involvement of the leadership of both houses of the NAA contributed to the relevance of intervention. Additional contribution to the relevance of the ICSPA project has been ensured through the previous partnership and initiatives of UNDP implemented for the NAA, including lessons learned and best pratcies generated during this period. The initially approved project document defined activities for the period 2014-16; at the same time, this document provided the basis for full alignment of the ICSPA project with the priorities and needs of the NAA. Namely, the ICSPA Phase 1 supported a comprehensive and nationally driven setting of priorities for the NAA and the Secretaries-General of both houses took the lead in this self-development approach. The ICSPA was instrumental in supporting the leadership and employees of the NAA to identify challenges through a tailor-made methodology based on the IPU standards. The Self-Assessment Report (December 2015) was prepared, summarizing problems in the Secretariats’ departments, while also serving as the basis for a detailed Reform Action Plan (RAP). The RAP included over two hundred remedial actions in the core service areas of the NAA ranging from highly strategic to very operational.

The result of the comprehensive self-assessment and the Reform Action Plans (RAP) for the Secretariats of the Wolesi and Meshrano Jirgas were critical references for the ICSPA project, as its intervention logic was revisited to accommodate these identified reform priorities. Hence, the focus of the project including its milestones and benchmarks were fully aligned with the Reform Action Plan, taking the central role for the implementation of the RAP and institutional development of the NAA. The active involvement, experience and high-level expertise of the ICSPA project team, led by highly competent Chief Technical Advisor, have been additional support to lasting relevance of the ICSPA project. The ICSPA project provided a positive model for replication through a nationally-driven development approach, and active involvement of the leadership and employees from the assessment of needs to implementation of priorities. Also, further efforts to create a culture for reforms towards greater transparency and accountability have remained relevant goals for the NAA. 


Tag: Relevance Justice system Parliament Public administration reform Rule of law Human and Financial resources Capacity Building

2.

5.1. Relevance of the ICSPA project (continuation)

- The ICSPA project has been effective in proposing and adopting appropriate measures to timely identify and address risks and challenges. The project was responsive to emerging priorities of the NAA and flexible to challenges that have occurred during its implementation. This has contributed to the achievement of results and quality and relevance of the assistance available through the ICSPA project  

The ICSPA project has been facing different challenges that periodically impeded progress in its implementation. Protracted armed conflict in Afghanistan and deteriorating security situation in Kabul with frequent terrorists’ attacks, caused serious hurt to the NAA staff. There were significant damages to the ICSPA project office within (the former) main parliamentary building, with disturbing effects on staff recruitment and retention. The 22 June 2015 Taliban attack directed at the Parliament building has had a traumatic impact on Parliament and project staff, which resulted in the suspension of project activities while staff was recovering20. In 2016, some of the important project national counterparts were murdered in Kabul and fled Afghanistan as refugees, including the Director of the Wolesi Jirga’s Human Resource Department and the Director of the Wolesi Jirga’s Gender Directorate. In January 2017, at least 30 parliament staff were killed and more than 70 injured in a twin bomb attack perpetrated by Taliban terrorists in front of the Afghan Parliament administrative building in Kabul22. The attacks on the Afghan Parliament further exacerbated existing difficulties in recruiting or deploying qualified experts, consultants and staff for posts supporting the Parliament in Kabul. This included Experts from the Inter-Parliamentary Union who subsequently cancelled missions to Kabul.

The project’s response and the reaction from UNDP as the implementing partner after these attacks, has been timely and adequate. The ICSPA project adopted various security measures, such as, for instance, authorizing alternative work modalities, installation of a safe room at the Parliament and formulation of security-related Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) for the NAA. In the absence of meetings with Parliament officials, the UNDP staff were also authorized to work remotely from the UN compound. All these measures granted flexibility in the completion of activities despite substantiated threats. However, the ICSPA project has been directly affected by the absence of the CTA after the 2015 Taliban’s attack against the NAA. The project implementation and almost all its activities have been suspended as the CTA has been on recovery and recuperation leave for more than six months. This was an important lesson learned for UNDP and the response during the next absence of the CTA on the health ground was more appropriate and the project continued with smooth implementation, until successful completion. The ICSPA project has in general been responsive and flexible to the changes in the project external environment within the agreed programmatic framework. The existence and approval of the Annual Work Plans has been participatory, and ensured focused implementation. Still, the ICSPA project team was in some cases rigid in responding to the demands from the NAA. Some of the examples could be English language course for the senior management of the NAA or participation in the IPU conference on eParliament. The initial response from the ICSPA was positive but with the final decision these requests were rejected for support. This has created a certain degree of discontent and dissatisfaction with the ICSPA project team.

- The ICSPA project intervention logic has, in general, a well-established hierarchy of objectives and satisfactory internal coherence. The project has established a clear links between the project intervention logic (hence, outcome and outputs and activities) and the needs of the both houses of the NAA. The ICSPA’s indicators have been in principle useful to measure progress and validate achievements.

Formulation of the ICSPA project was comprehensive, ensuring that the proposed action was explicitly tied to identification phase. The initial project document provided for the revision of the project intervention. Specifically, the results of the Parliament’s self-assessment served for formulation of the reform action plans for both houses (Wolesi and Meshrano Jirga). Thus, the project document was subsequently revised (June 2016), ensuring full alignment with the reform priorities of the NAA. The formulation of the intervention logic has followed sound and inclusive process with involvement of the leadership of both Houses of the NAA, specifically the Speakers, General Secretaries and their deputies together with the heads of the respective departments that were involved in implementation of project activities.The ICSPA internal structure has been well-established and solid. The intervention logic has followed the principles of Results Based Management, showing the chain of connections/ causality and attribution between input and activities and the results presented as outputs and outcome (also, the document indicated prospects for impact). 


Tag: Challenges Relevance Parliament Results-Based Management Theory of Change Conflict

3.

5.2. Effectiveness of the ICSPA project

Effectiveness refers to the relationship between the planned and achieved results of the project; it could be considered as a measure of the extent to which the project achievements have enabled progress under the project outputs and contributed to the project outcome. In this context, the final evaluation finds that the ICSPA project has been effective in achieveing its objectives, despite challenging implementation environment. 

- The ICSPA project was in general effective in ensuring progress under the planned outputs, while in results in some areas contributed to sustainable organizational changes that exceeded anticipated benefits. 

During the implementation of the project, the most important results have been

• Both Houses of the National Parliament carried out the self-assessment in October 2015 and prepared the Self-Assessment Report ensuring a substantial information about Parliament’s reform requirements to its political and administrative leaderships. Following this stage, the Secretary Generals (SGs) to both houses and their teams were leading the preparation of the Reform Action Plans (RAPs). The RAP’s actions included those of high and low levels covering virtually the entire operational life of Parliament: plenary session management, committees’ management, research, library, information and public relations, human resources, finance and administration, information and communications technology (ICT), international affairs, gender, internal audit, and procurement. The fact that the SGs have led the self-assessment process and preparation of the Reform Action Plans with project support has created a real sense of ownership and the desire to speed ahead with the implementation of the identified priorities. However, the issue remains with regular monitoring and assessment of achievements and progress in implementation of the RAP. The regular engagement with the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) has secured the additional commitment of the SGs: they have been able to make presentations on their progress andchallenges to the IPU’s Association of Secretaries General in Parliaments (ASGP)while also improving their knowledge of parliamentary best practices. 

• The ICSPA project was effective in supporting and encouraging the leadership of the NAA to embark on reform processes, with the Secretaries General and their deputies on forefront of these efforts. The ICSPA project, and particularly its CTA, has been the principal advisor to the SGs and their teams in formulating and implementing reforms. Initiating reforms of one of the National Assembly of Afghanistan, as one of the most important public institutions, was associated with different challenges. The ICSPA project has ensured strong partnership with the leadership of the NAA, namely, the Speakers of the Parliament, the Secretary Generals, their deputies and heads of departments based on mutual trust and respect. Building partnership and gaining confidence, primarily based on technical expertise, required extensive involvement and efforts from the ICSPA project, and particularly important was personal engagement of the CTA. Some of the most notable achievements during this initial period were improved system to share information about the Parliament’s functions and functioning, structures and proceedings. This information was made available to the public through the national media and the Parliament’s website. The NAA decided to reduce number of Parliamentary committees to ensure efficiency. Also, the NAA started publishing MP attendance records, fining and suspending MPs for nonattendance. These achievements have been highly important in gaining commitments to reforms.The ICSPA project was effective in facilitating partnership with the Inter-Parliamentary Union. For example, the Secretaries General engaged with the Association of Secretaries General of Parliaments (ASPG), requesting assistance with the reform related issues. The ICSPA project in partnership with the IPU provided the National Parliament with technical assistance to design a Parliamentary Service Act. The central objective of the Act is to set the basis towards ensuring the autonomy of parliament staff from the Executive branch in alignment with international parliamentary best practice as well as towards establishing a sustainable human resource base required for its long-term institutional development; 


Tag: Effectiveness Parliament Partnership Technology

4.

5.2. Effectiveness of the ICSPA project (continuation)

- The ICSPA project (and UNDP as the implementing partner) has been and remained a valuable partner in supporting achievement of development priorities for the NAA. Strong and effective partnerships and UNDP collaborative advantages, paved the road for implementation of the ICSPA project, with recognized impact on sustainable improvements in the functioning of the NAA.

The stakeholders from the NAA recognized “strong comparative advantages” of UNDP as the implementing partner for ICSPA project, also stating that UNDP remains “an important, credible and widely accepted partner in achieving development priorities for the Parliament of Afghanistan,”. This opinion evolved from the practical experience in working with UNDP in Afghanistan. The long-lasting presence, technical capacities and profound understanding of the organization-specific constraints and development needs of the NAA, but also its proven independency and impartiality have been the backbone of UNDP’s comparative advantage. In addition, “UNDP through the ICSPA project and previous interventions in the NAA demonstrated strong abilities to establish and maintain effective partnerships based on trust, responsiveness and mutual respect”. Also, the stakeholders from the NAA recognized the added value of the ICSPA project through its technical support and enhanced efforts to ensure compliance of the NAA with international norms and standards (adopted at the level of Inter-Parliamentary Union) . The genuinely nationally driven approach has been emphasized and capacity support available through the ICSPA project has been based on needs assessment and reform priorities. This approach has generated fairly strong sense of ownership of processes and results achieved with support from the ICSPA project. During the field phase, the stakeholders from the NAA commented on the draft ICSPA final report, clearly stating that the results of the ICSPA project have been achieved in partnership and that the report has insufficiently captured this. Also, formulation and implementation of the staff survey could be another example. The leadership of the NAA recognized the role of the ICSPA project (and the IPU) in formulating and implementing surveys as a tool that enabled a unique view of their human capital. Still, they have emphasized their involvement in ensuring understanidng and participation and forlumating management response. The NAA leadership stated willingness and confirmed existence of capacities of to continue Surveys in subsequent years as a basis for further staff capacity development. 

- The ICSPA project has effectively complement intervention of other development partners, as the single intervention working on development of permanent (non-political) structures of the NAA.

The ICSPA project was uniquely placed and focused on supporting the professional development of Parliament’s secretariats, non-political structures of the NAA. This focus together with the nationallydriven capacity development approach set the basis for effective complementarity. The example could be between complementarity between the ICSPA project and USAID funded Assistance to Legislative Bodies of Afghanistan (ALBA). While the ICSPA project provided assistance to the General Secretariats and the departments of the NAA, the ALBA project focused on committees. Also, the ALBA project was also working to improve parliament’s constituency outreach efforts, communications and coordination at the sub-national level, while ICSPA project was working to develop capacities of journalists and also put in place communication channels (e.g. media pool in the Wolesi Jirga, youtube channels, etc).

The ALBA and ICSPA teams had an established practice of regular meetings to share information and ensure continued project complementarity. The heads of both projects also organized joint meetings with the Speakers and the Secretaries General of both Houses to ensure the leadership well understood the delimitations of both projects. Another example of complementarity could be with the efforts of UN Women in the NAA. UN Women provided short-term technical assistance to the Wolesi Jirga Women’s Commission, comprising legal and research support to review legislation and policies from a gender perspective. Complementary to this, the ICSPA project provided support to the Gender Directorates of both houses to perform their core duties. Some of the important achievements could be discussion and follow up measures on the content of Staff Perception Reports and particularly the allegations of sexual harassment, abuse of authority, and discrimination in departments for management action.


Tag: Effectiveness Parliament Implementation Modality Partnership Strategic Positioning Capacity Building Coordination Operational Services Technical Support

5.

5.3. Management arrangements and efficiency of the ICSPA project

Efficiency refers to the extent to which the project results have been achieved by rational use of inputs, such as financial resources, expertise, time, etc. The analysis of the ICSPA project efficiency reflected on the overall implementation approach, management, and operational mechanisms. UNDP provided information on the project governance structure and implementation mechanisms that were in place during the project implementation. The filed visit served to confirm these inputs. UNDP with its technical and administrative capacities, was in charge for implementation of activities and delivery of outputs, under the Direct Implementation Modality (DIM). Considering the specific situation of Afghanistan and capacities of the national institutions, namely the National Assembly of Afghanistan, the DIM was adequate and appropriate implementation arrangement. Still, the nature of the ICSPA projectaimed at institutional development of the NAA required an intensive cooperation and involvement of the national partner. The ICSPA project was working continuously to ensure national ownership and involvement. Within this context, the implementation of the ISCPA project required multi-layered advisory and management structures, to ensure national ownership and participation of the stakeholders through the implementation cycle. 

- The ICSPA steering and advisory structures were timely established, ensuring nationally ownership and contributing to more efficient project implementation. 

At the strategic level, the ICSPA project included the following structures:

The Project Management Board (PMB) was established to provide strategic support and make management decisions, including approval of project annual work plans and reports. The Speakers of the Wolesi Jirga and the Meshrano Jirga, together with the UNDP Resident Representative, co-chaired the PMB meetings. Other members of the PMB were the donors of the project, represented by Ambassadors, and the CTA. The ICSPA project document envisaged the PMB meetings every three months or as often as may be necessary. Considering the role of the PMB and high-level representation, this frequency was unnecessary and overambitious. Finally, the PMB was meeting once per year, successfully performing its role while also creating supporting environment for the parliamentary leadership to implement politically challenging reforms

The Project's Technical Working Group (P-TWG) was established to provide technical oversight, quality assurance advice and recommendations to the PMB on emerging priorities during the project implementation. The P-TWG reviewed progress updates and provided technical feedback on issues, such as, for example, changes to the budget and staffing structure; monitoring and responding to risks, reporting on progress. The ICSPA project document planned for bi-monthly meetings (or as often as may be necessary). Finally, the P-TWG meetings were organized twice per year; considering the role of the P-TWG this frequency was appropriate. 

Also, the Parliament's Donors Group was established as a discussion forum for international stakeholders to facilitate cooperation and coordination and also provide updates and discuss issues on the implementation of the ICSPA Project.  


Tag: Efficiency Human and Financial resources Monitoring and Evaluation Project and Programme management Results-Based Management Operational Services

6.

5.4. Sustainability and impact

- Overall, the ICSPA project has made important contribution to the National Assembly of Afghanistan’s long-term sustainable institutional development.

The stakeholders from the NAA have in general expressed positive views about sustainability of results achieved by the ICSPA project in the context of the long-term sustainable institutional development of the NAA. 

The ICSPA project has been instrumental in initiating organizational development processes in the Wolesi and Meshrano Jirgas. As indicated in the previous paragraphs of this report, the self-assessment of all Wolesi Jirga and Meshrano Jirga Departments and Directorates has been the initial step and joint working groups of directors and staff from similar departments in each House have been working to prepare plans per department. These processes resulted in the Parliament Secretariats’ Reform Action Plans (RAP). The ICSPA prepared its support to the self-assessment methodology in close interaction with the management of the NAA, while adhering to the IPU standards. The Self-Assessment Committee, comprising of the Wolesi and Meshrano Jirga’s senior management was established and reported regularly to the Speakers and Administrative Boards. The joint involvement of two Houses during the process ensured exchange of expertise and lessons between the houses. The self-assessment revealed a wide range of issues and recommendations to support the Parliament’s institutional development and the ICSPA project remained involved in some of the priority areas of reform.

The ICSPA project has been perceived as balanced and neutral support, and its assistance (through partnership) was essential to enable the Houses of the NAA to undertake this exercise. The NAA expressed strong ownership and leadership during the self-assessment process, stating that the NAA has established internal capacities to continue with similar analysis in the future. Organizational, operational and technical capacities of the Wolesi and Meshrano Jirgas have been strengthened through sound technical assistance/ mentoring and transfer of knowledge provided through direct interaction with the Inter-Parliamentary Union; the ICSPA project has initiated this partnership and cooperation. Preparation of the draft Parliamentary Service Act has been one of the most important results of this partnership. Highly important staff perception surveys have been introduced as a regular practice to assess staff perception of the NAA’s performance in different areas using quality standards from the IPU as points of reference. The project also assisted with the development of operating procedures and policies for the NAA. Some examples are the: Archives policy; the Library Policy; the Gender Mainstreaming Policy for the NAA; annual action and work planning procedures, etc. The ICSPA project was working on development of capacities of the professional staff of General Secretariats of both houses for policy and law-making. However, the confidence about sustainability of these results has been less evident, as the partners clearly stated that capacity gaps in these areas (policy and law making) remain apparent and require immediate assistance. This is especially evident in the context of recent elections and the needs of the newly elected members of the Parliament and the NAA Commissions. 

- At the level of leadership of both houses, the ICSPA project has been recognized as an effective support that contributed to altering mind-sets of the parliamentary leadership in adopting and implementing reforms towards compliance with international parliamentary standards. The technical capacities of the ICSPA team particularly through the involvement of the CTA and direct interaction with the Inter-Parliamentary Union have been critical factors that have generated and maintained high degree of commitment to reforms within the NAA. 

The ICSPA project, closely working with the Inter-Parliamentary Union, was instrumental in changing and developing mind-sets and the approach of the parliamentary leadership in adopting and implementing reforms towards compliance with international parliamentary standards. Specifically, the Secretary Generals, the Deputy Secretary Generals and other members of the leadership/ management teams from the Wolesi Jirga and the Meshrano Jirga increased their capacities on practical aspects of institutional reforms (e.g. organizing and implementing self-assessments; identifying reform priorities and preparing action plans). There is evident commitment and readiness to implement reform priorities and work towards transparent and accountable governance system in Afghanistan. Particularly important remained the adoption (and also implementation) of the Parliamentary Service Act. The PSA has been based on the concept of "separation of powers" between the executive and legislative branches and its adoption should set the basis for parliamentary "functional autonomy"; namely, to establish the NAA as a modern and effective parliament that “demonstrates impartiality in the NAA's oversight of government” , with a sustainable human resource base required for its long-term institutional development. At the same time, the NAA's leadership reported important achievements in the implementation of the Reform Action Plans particularly related to document management, human resources, gender equality, finance, and procurement. Specific results have been: i) regular uploads on the NAA website all the key plenary and committee program papers; ii) functioning of the Legislative Tracking System that ensured public availability of all the laws and by-laws; iii) e-archiving for the secretariats to modernize their paper handling; implementation of rules of procedures, including regular updates of the attendance records (these efforts for increased transparency will be further advanced and institutionalized through e-voting system and iv) the NAA has established televised oversight of government sessions held by committees of the Upper and Lower Houses.

The Staff Perception Surveys (SPS), prepared and piloted in 2016 (and also implemented in 2017 and 201880) with technical support from the ICSPA project and in coordination with the IPU, has been institutionalized as an important element for continuous reform efforts, providing the leadership of the NAA and other stakeholders with “useful management information”. Some examples could be the results related to perception of harassment and abuse of authority that allowed the Secretaries-General to take immediate actions. Substantial and successful support was delivered for the Houses’ Gender Units to improve their work plans and strengthen engagement of women journalists and civil rights bodies with Parliament.


Tag: Effectiveness Impact Sustainability Civic Engagement Parliament Public administration reform Human and Financial resources Operational Efficiency Partnership Technical Support

7.

5.5. Gender mainstreaming 

- The ICSPA project has been effective in enhancing the role of women in Afghanistan by providing support to the Parliament to test laws and draft laws for gender equality. Also, the Reform Action Plans includes recommendations to improve the role of women in the National Parliament.

The project has been providing support to the Gender Directorates in both Houses to work towards the achievement of gender-related targets for the Meshrano Jirga and Wolesi Jirga, as highlighted in Afghanistan’s National Action Plan for Women of Afghanistan 


Tag: Gender Equality Gender Mainstreaming Gender-Based Violence Women's Empowerment Civic Engagement Parliament Rule of law Policies & Procedures Technology Technical Support Data and Statistics

Recommendations
1

7. Recommendations

Based on the analysis of findings and conclusions the evaluation has prepared the following core recommendations: 

R1. It is recommended to design new project that will continue and further build on activities that were available through the ICSPA project.

The National Assembly of Afghanistan, with the newly elected Speakers and Secretary Generals of both houses and also newly elected members of the Parliament has reached challenging stage of its development. At the same time, technical assistance that was available through international development assistance ceased: the USAID/ ALBA Project as the principle technical research and legislative drafting assistance provided to committees has been completed. Similarly, other initiatives such as UN Women support to women MPs and ICSPA project have been completed. Further support is needed – as requested by Parliament’s leadership - to ensure consolidation and development of the gains made by the secretariats with the help of ICSPA and previous projects. It is recommended to consider large, multi-annual programmatic framework to support the NAA, following, aligned with the successful ICSPA’s approach. Hence, for the follow up project it is recommended to continue support to the General Secretariats and directorates of the Wolesi and Meshrano Jirgas. Considering best practice from the ICSPA project, it is recommended to include revision of the Reform Action Plan as one of the first activities, and set clear priorities for the period 2020-2022. The RAP should resolve the issues from the previous period, particularly concerning the roles and responsibilities for implementation of priorities, timelines and clearer indicators to measure progress. It is recommended to continue and expand efforts for preparation/ finalization and adoption of the Code of Conduct for each house of the NAA. Also, it remains the priority to continue support to define and improve rules and regulations that would regulate the core areas of the NAA performance. 

2

R2. It is recommended for the follow up project to include support for the elected members of the Parliament and the committees. Particularly recommended is to consider development of capacities of the MPs for policy making and law drafting

It is recommended for UNDP to use its technical capacities and expertise and support newly elected members of the Parliament and strenghten their capacities to implement core functions, namely, lawmaking, oversight, and representation. Large number of the MPs are elected for the first time, and do not have any political experience. Therefore, it is recommended to prepare and deliver basic training on the core functions of the Parliament. Also, there will be a need for more specialized training programs. Particularly important will be to address and develop capacities of the MPs for the overall policy cycle (from issue definitiation, to policy drafting and allocation of resources, to policy implementation, including monitoring and evaluation to reporting on progress). It remains critically important to strenghetn law-making capacities of the MPs, from preparation to analysis of possible impacts of laws. 

3

R3. It is recommended to link the support to the NAA with the Sustainable Development Goals and enhance the role of the NAA in the achievement of the SDGs for Afghanistan

Parliamentarians have an opportunity, and a constitutional responsibility, to play a significant role in supporting and monitoring SDG implementation. The Agenda 2030 Declaration acknowledges the “essential role of national parliaments through their enactment of legislation and adoption ofbudgets, and their role in ensuring accountability for the effective implementation of our commitments.” Members of parliament are uniquely positioned to act as an interface between the people and state institutions, and to promote and adopt people-centered policies and legislation to ensure that no one is left behind. Therefore, it is recommended to design support that would start with an overview of the SDGs and their relevance to parliamentarians. It is recommended to demonstrate and highlight that almost all the issues that come before a parliament for consideration concern the SDGs. Implementation of the SDGs in Afghanistan would require to use a wide range of policy and programme approaches. In this context, legislation is the necessary policy response to address challenges that the NAA should carry out. The NAA plays a vital role in the adoption of the state budget (enacted as a law of the NAA). Thus, the NAA has critical importance in creating enabling environment and ensuring that funds are directed towards the most vital national SDG priorities.Based on a review of the core functions of a parliament - lawmaking, oversight, and representation- it is recommended to identify specific methods and tools for the parliamentarians to actively deliver results for the people whom they represent that support SDG implementation. 

Some of the recommended activities could be:

i) Possible activities and recommendations related to lawmaking

The achievement of the A-SDGs would require law reform in different sectors. Therefore, a systematic approach is recommended that will enable the NAA to undertake more comprehensive law reform, to contribute to the implementation of national development priorities. This process should start with an SDG Law Reform Needs Assessment. The assessment should enable to identify legal reform priorities for progress under the A-SDGs. 

ii) Possible activities and recommendations related to budget approval and oversight

The annual state budget law should be the primary funding instrument to direct resources towards SDG implementation. Therefore, the role of the NAA will be highly instrumental in the process of budget formulation and endorsement. The NAA should ensure that the budget is primarily focused on outcomes within the SDG framework. This would require that MPs develop their technical capacities for budget preparation and analysis. At the same time, the guiding principle should be to ensure that efforts are “people-centered” and that no-one – especially from marginalized and vulnerable groups – is left behind. The NAA should develop capacities to analyze and ensure that the funding allocated for SDG achievement (through the national budget) is effectively and accountably spent. The focus should be on sustainable and impactful results. Particularly important will be to provide technical support to the specialized parliamentary committees mandated with reviewing the government’s expenditures at the end of the budget cycle. It is recommended to carry out hearings and field monitoring activities, and provide technical support to the committees through direct interaction to assist with the analysis and reporting.

iii) Possible activities and recommendations related to oversight role of the NAA

It is recommended to strengthen committee oversight role, as one of the most reliable mechanisms available to the NAA to engage in SDG implementation. The priority will be to enhance capacities of the MPs to assess in more depth if and to what extent policies, laws, and programmes are supporting attainment of the SDGs. The MPs should be capacitated to provide recommendations on how to improve implementation. The MPs through the committees have the opportunity to undertake detailed examinations of critical issues, by allocating more time to individual issues and engaging a wide cross-section of stakeholders in their deliberations. In this regard, parliamentarians can play an essential role as a link between the State and the people, including the most marginalized and vulnerable. Ideally, it is recommended that the committees consider public engagement as a core part of their functions. This could become one of the most active domestic accountability mechanisms available to make sure that SDG implementation stays on track.

iv) Possible activities and recommendations related to the representation role of the NAA in implementation of the SDGs

It is recommended to build on the results of the ICSPA project and further strengthen policyoriented dialogue with the citizens. The objective should be to establish continues dialogue and gain insight from the experiences of people if the laws passed and the monitoring conducted by parliament reflects interests and concerns of people. It is recommended to explore opportunities to get comments and insights from the most vulnerable citizens of Afghanistan. Finally, it is recommended for the NAA to work with other implementing institutions from the public management system and also with civil society and the media to ensure progress towards the ASDGs.

4

R4. It is recommended to prioritize adoption of the Parliamentary Service Act

Adoption and implementation of the Parliamentary Service Act remains a critical requirement for the long-term institutional development of the NAA. However, the current governance system in Afghanistan including division of power remains particular challenge and the executives will resist the adoption of the PSA. It is recommended that the new project consider carefully approaches and scenarios to advocate for the adoption of the PSA. The strong argument could be that the enactment of the Parliamentary Service Act would ensure adequate oversight of the SGDs and control of the national resources and budgetary support from the EU and other international partners. It is recommended to subsequent to the adoption of the Parliamentary Service Act, UNDP and development partners provide more specific assistance to facilitate full implementation of the PSA. 

5

R5. It is recommended to continue support to the NAA for its active role to ensure of greater gender equality in Afghanistan

The need remains high to ensure effective gender equality processes within the National Parliament.

It is recommended to design activities to foster women empowerment and gender mainstreaming within the Afghan Parliament. Some of the recommended actions could be capacity building for female employees to increase their participation in decision-making; capacity building for all employees to understand the basic principles of gender equality and gender mainstreaming in policy formulation. Support to the Gender Directorates in both Houses should intensify in the next period. It is recommended to consider gender transformative approach (not only participation as the mean feature of gender equality) in all interventions within the new project. Also, the new project should include more elaborate gender-specific targets and gender disaggregated indicators.

For the new intervention, it is recommended to explore opportunities and introduce gendersensitive reporting practice (to the extent possible) especially in the preparation of annual reports.

1. Recommendation:

7. Recommendations

Based on the analysis of findings and conclusions the evaluation has prepared the following core recommendations: 

R1. It is recommended to design new project that will continue and further build on activities that were available through the ICSPA project.

The National Assembly of Afghanistan, with the newly elected Speakers and Secretary Generals of both houses and also newly elected members of the Parliament has reached challenging stage of its development. At the same time, technical assistance that was available through international development assistance ceased: the USAID/ ALBA Project as the principle technical research and legislative drafting assistance provided to committees has been completed. Similarly, other initiatives such as UN Women support to women MPs and ICSPA project have been completed. Further support is needed – as requested by Parliament’s leadership - to ensure consolidation and development of the gains made by the secretariats with the help of ICSPA and previous projects. It is recommended to consider large, multi-annual programmatic framework to support the NAA, following, aligned with the successful ICSPA’s approach. Hence, for the follow up project it is recommended to continue support to the General Secretariats and directorates of the Wolesi and Meshrano Jirgas. Considering best practice from the ICSPA project, it is recommended to include revision of the Reform Action Plan as one of the first activities, and set clear priorities for the period 2020-2022. The RAP should resolve the issues from the previous period, particularly concerning the roles and responsibilities for implementation of priorities, timelines and clearer indicators to measure progress. It is recommended to continue and expand efforts for preparation/ finalization and adoption of the Code of Conduct for each house of the NAA. Also, it remains the priority to continue support to define and improve rules and regulations that would regulate the core areas of the NAA performance. 

Management Response: [Added: 2020/01/15] [Last Updated: 2020/11/29]

Agreed: UNDP has initiated to design new project to support the Parliament of Afghanistan

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
Develop new prodoc Strenghtening of Legislature in Afghanistan (SOLA)
[Added: 2020/01/15]
Programme Officer 2019/12 Completed This activity is completed. History
2. Recommendation:

R2. It is recommended for the follow up project to include support for the elected members of the Parliament and the committees. Particularly recommended is to consider development of capacities of the MPs for policy making and law drafting

It is recommended for UNDP to use its technical capacities and expertise and support newly elected members of the Parliament and strenghten their capacities to implement core functions, namely, lawmaking, oversight, and representation. Large number of the MPs are elected for the first time, and do not have any political experience. Therefore, it is recommended to prepare and deliver basic training on the core functions of the Parliament. Also, there will be a need for more specialized training programs. Particularly important will be to address and develop capacities of the MPs for the overall policy cycle (from issue definitiation, to policy drafting and allocation of resources, to policy implementation, including monitoring and evaluation to reporting on progress). It remains critically important to strenghetn law-making capacities of the MPs, from preparation to analysis of possible impacts of laws. 

Management Response: [Added: 2020/01/15] [Last Updated: 2020/11/29]

Agreed: UNDP unders its new project to support the Parliament of Afghanistan has included a compreshesive section on capacity development of newly elected MPs.

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
Include capacity development component in SOLA Prodoc.
[Added: 2020/01/15]
Prorgamme Officer 2019/12 Completed This activity is completed
3. Recommendation:

R3. It is recommended to link the support to the NAA with the Sustainable Development Goals and enhance the role of the NAA in the achievement of the SDGs for Afghanistan

Parliamentarians have an opportunity, and a constitutional responsibility, to play a significant role in supporting and monitoring SDG implementation. The Agenda 2030 Declaration acknowledges the “essential role of national parliaments through their enactment of legislation and adoption ofbudgets, and their role in ensuring accountability for the effective implementation of our commitments.” Members of parliament are uniquely positioned to act as an interface between the people and state institutions, and to promote and adopt people-centered policies and legislation to ensure that no one is left behind. Therefore, it is recommended to design support that would start with an overview of the SDGs and their relevance to parliamentarians. It is recommended to demonstrate and highlight that almost all the issues that come before a parliament for consideration concern the SDGs. Implementation of the SDGs in Afghanistan would require to use a wide range of policy and programme approaches. In this context, legislation is the necessary policy response to address challenges that the NAA should carry out. The NAA plays a vital role in the adoption of the state budget (enacted as a law of the NAA). Thus, the NAA has critical importance in creating enabling environment and ensuring that funds are directed towards the most vital national SDG priorities.Based on a review of the core functions of a parliament - lawmaking, oversight, and representation- it is recommended to identify specific methods and tools for the parliamentarians to actively deliver results for the people whom they represent that support SDG implementation. 

Some of the recommended activities could be:

i) Possible activities and recommendations related to lawmaking

The achievement of the A-SDGs would require law reform in different sectors. Therefore, a systematic approach is recommended that will enable the NAA to undertake more comprehensive law reform, to contribute to the implementation of national development priorities. This process should start with an SDG Law Reform Needs Assessment. The assessment should enable to identify legal reform priorities for progress under the A-SDGs. 

ii) Possible activities and recommendations related to budget approval and oversight

The annual state budget law should be the primary funding instrument to direct resources towards SDG implementation. Therefore, the role of the NAA will be highly instrumental in the process of budget formulation and endorsement. The NAA should ensure that the budget is primarily focused on outcomes within the SDG framework. This would require that MPs develop their technical capacities for budget preparation and analysis. At the same time, the guiding principle should be to ensure that efforts are “people-centered” and that no-one – especially from marginalized and vulnerable groups – is left behind. The NAA should develop capacities to analyze and ensure that the funding allocated for SDG achievement (through the national budget) is effectively and accountably spent. The focus should be on sustainable and impactful results. Particularly important will be to provide technical support to the specialized parliamentary committees mandated with reviewing the government’s expenditures at the end of the budget cycle. It is recommended to carry out hearings and field monitoring activities, and provide technical support to the committees through direct interaction to assist with the analysis and reporting.

iii) Possible activities and recommendations related to oversight role of the NAA

It is recommended to strengthen committee oversight role, as one of the most reliable mechanisms available to the NAA to engage in SDG implementation. The priority will be to enhance capacities of the MPs to assess in more depth if and to what extent policies, laws, and programmes are supporting attainment of the SDGs. The MPs should be capacitated to provide recommendations on how to improve implementation. The MPs through the committees have the opportunity to undertake detailed examinations of critical issues, by allocating more time to individual issues and engaging a wide cross-section of stakeholders in their deliberations. In this regard, parliamentarians can play an essential role as a link between the State and the people, including the most marginalized and vulnerable. Ideally, it is recommended that the committees consider public engagement as a core part of their functions. This could become one of the most active domestic accountability mechanisms available to make sure that SDG implementation stays on track.

iv) Possible activities and recommendations related to the representation role of the NAA in implementation of the SDGs

It is recommended to build on the results of the ICSPA project and further strengthen policyoriented dialogue with the citizens. The objective should be to establish continues dialogue and gain insight from the experiences of people if the laws passed and the monitoring conducted by parliament reflects interests and concerns of people. It is recommended to explore opportunities to get comments and insights from the most vulnerable citizens of Afghanistan. Finally, it is recommended for the NAA to work with other implementing institutions from the public management system and also with civil society and the media to ensure progress towards the ASDGs.

Management Response: [Added: 2020/01/15] [Last Updated: 2020/11/29]

Agreed: UNDP has been fostering its role as (SDG integrator) and will definitly link the support to NAA under its new project to the SDGs.

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
Link SOLA outputs to SDGs
[Added: 2020/01/15]
Programme Officer 2019/12 Completed This activity is completed.
4. Recommendation:

R4. It is recommended to prioritize adoption of the Parliamentary Service Act

Adoption and implementation of the Parliamentary Service Act remains a critical requirement for the long-term institutional development of the NAA. However, the current governance system in Afghanistan including division of power remains particular challenge and the executives will resist the adoption of the PSA. It is recommended that the new project consider carefully approaches and scenarios to advocate for the adoption of the PSA. The strong argument could be that the enactment of the Parliamentary Service Act would ensure adequate oversight of the SGDs and control of the national resources and budgetary support from the EU and other international partners. It is recommended to subsequent to the adoption of the Parliamentary Service Act, UNDP and development partners provide more specific assistance to facilitate full implementation of the PSA. 

Management Response: [Added: 2020/01/15] [Last Updated: 2020/11/29]

Agreed: UNDP under its new project has a specific (activity result) on following up the Parliamentary Service Act .

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
Add Parliamentary Service Act as an activity result in SOLA project.
[Added: 2020/01/15]
Programme Officer 2019/12 Completed This activity is completed.
5. Recommendation:

R5. It is recommended to continue support to the NAA for its active role to ensure of greater gender equality in Afghanistan

The need remains high to ensure effective gender equality processes within the National Parliament.

It is recommended to design activities to foster women empowerment and gender mainstreaming within the Afghan Parliament. Some of the recommended actions could be capacity building for female employees to increase their participation in decision-making; capacity building for all employees to understand the basic principles of gender equality and gender mainstreaming in policy formulation. Support to the Gender Directorates in both Houses should intensify in the next period. It is recommended to consider gender transformative approach (not only participation as the mean feature of gender equality) in all interventions within the new project. Also, the new project should include more elaborate gender-specific targets and gender disaggregated indicators.

For the new intervention, it is recommended to explore opportunities and introduce gendersensitive reporting practice (to the extent possible) especially in the preparation of annual reports.

Management Response: [Added: 2020/01/15] [Last Updated: 2020/11/29]

Agreed: UNDP under its new Parliament project - SOLA has a specific Gender component that will ensure greater Gender Equality in the Parliament functions.

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
Add Gender component to the Parliament functions.
[Added: 2020/01/15]
Programme Officer 2019/12 Completed This activity is completed.

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