Final evaluation of phase II of the Wider Europe: Aid for Trade for Central Asia, South Caucasus and Western CIS

Report Cover Image
Evaluation Plan:
2014-2017, RBEC
Evaluation Type:
Final Project
Planned End Date:
05/2016
Completion Date:
08/2016
Status:
Completed
Management Response:
Yes
Evaluation Budget(US $):
20,000

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Title Final evaluation of phase II of the Wider Europe: Aid for Trade for Central Asia, South Caucasus and Western CIS
Atlas Project Number: 61076
Evaluation Plan: 2014-2017, RBEC
Evaluation Type: Final Project
Status: Completed
Completion Date: 08/2016
Planned End Date: 05/2016
Management Response: Yes
Focus Area:
  • 1. Poverty and MDG
  • 2. Environment & Sustainable Development
  • 3. 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
Evaluation Budget(US $): 20,000
Source of Funding:
Evaluation Expenditure(US $): 21,378
Joint Programme: No
Joint Evaluation: No
Evaluation Team members:
Name Title Email Nationality
Christina Mosneaga Evaluator cristina.mosneaga@gmail.com
GEF Evaluation: No
Key Stakeholders: National Counterparts
Comments:

The project focuses on three sub-regions: Western CIS (Belarus, Moldova, and Ukraine), South Caucasus (Armenia, Georgia) and Central Asia (Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan. The evaluation will cover the full implementation period (Feb 2011 to March 2014) of the project, all the countries covered, and the beneficiaries involved in the project).

Lessons
Findings
Recommendations
1

Evaluation Recommendation or Issue 1: Keep national and regional authorities and stakeholders involved in the project. This could take the form of regular meetings, involving representatives in board meetings, participation in field visits and other activities. It allows a direct channel of communication and personal involvement of decision-makers. In some countries the private sector is not sufficiently organised to communicate with authorities on bottlenecks and solutions. Involving both public and private in project activities may provide a useful opportunity to convey these messages.

2

Evaluation Recommendation or Issue 2: When a project concerns several countries, putting in place common reporting and monitoring procedures can facilitate the task of data collection and consolidation. Having a ‘red thread’ running throughout all project components (e.g. comparable targets and indicators) will make it easier.

3

Evaluation Recommendation or Issue 3: Exchange visits and study tours inside the country (i.e. between regions) and direct neighbours should be encouraged. This evaluation showed that business and trade opportunities can often emerge ‘next door’. Indirectly such visits also contribute to improving relationships with neighbours in regions where such relations are often strained. Although useful and enriching, study tours and exchange visits should not represent the bulk of activities.      

4

Evaluation Recommendation or Issue 4: Increase the share of financing of business ventures in the project (grants, microfinance). It has a high impact and provides immediate positive change to the clients.

5

Evaluation Recommendation or Issue 5: In a project funds are limited and so is time allowed for implementation. However, it could be useful to foresee interventions covering the full production cycle, i.e. from growing to selling. This could contribute to building up capacities and competitiveness of small and medium farmers.

6

Evaluation Recommendation or Issue 6: Baseline studies were carried out in all countries. For the projects focusing on sectors that require high level of expert knowledge (i.e. agriculture) it is recommended to conduct specialized studies (e.g. focusing on specific crops, taking into account the seasonal nature).    

7

Evaluation Recommendation or Issue 7: Keep working with small and medium clients (farmers, producers, SMEs, etc.) in ‘remote’ areas. This is a more challenging task that may not result in high export numbers, especially not in the short and medium terms. However, the evaluation has shown that in all countries, in particular in Central Asia, this is the group of clients that needs support most. In order to avoid desperation of resources, the project could consider encouraging small and medium farmers / producers to consolidated (e.g. create co-operatives or farmers associations).

      

8

Evaluation Recommendation or Issue 8: Trainings need to be ‘gender aware’, i.e. the project should seek to tailor the training topics to women needs and recruit women trainers to facilitate feedback and communication (e.g. in rural areas women may feel more comfortable to speak up and participate more actively when the trainer is a woman). 

9

Evaluation Recommendation or Issue 9: The project staff should be encouraged to seek out synergies whether with on-going UNDP projects or initiatives & schemes put in place by other donors.

1. Recommendation:

Evaluation Recommendation or Issue 1: Keep national and regional authorities and stakeholders involved in the project. This could take the form of regular meetings, involving representatives in board meetings, participation in field visits and other activities. It allows a direct channel of communication and personal involvement of decision-makers. In some countries the private sector is not sufficiently organised to communicate with authorities on bottlenecks and solutions. Involving both public and private in project activities may provide a useful opportunity to convey these messages.

Management Response: [Added: 2016/08/12] [Last Updated: 2016/08/12]

Accepted

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
1.1. Hold regular stakeholder meetings jointly with the board members.
[Added: 2016/08/12]
AfT project manager 2016/08 Completed Regular meetings take place under the phase III History
2. Recommendation:

Evaluation Recommendation or Issue 2: When a project concerns several countries, putting in place common reporting and monitoring procedures can facilitate the task of data collection and consolidation. Having a ‘red thread’ running throughout all project components (e.g. comparable targets and indicators) will make it easier.

Management Response: [Added: 2016/08/12]

Accepted

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
2.1. Establish overarching indicators in addition to country indicators to consolidate the data
[Added: 2016/08/12]
AfT project manager 2016/04 Completed Standardised indicators developed for phase III as of March 2014.
3. Recommendation:

Evaluation Recommendation or Issue 3: Exchange visits and study tours inside the country (i.e. between regions) and direct neighbours should be encouraged. This evaluation showed that business and trade opportunities can often emerge ‘next door’. Indirectly such visits also contribute to improving relationships with neighbours in regions where such relations are often strained. Although useful and enriching, study tours and exchange visits should not represent the bulk of activities.      

Management Response: [Added: 2016/08/12]

Accepted

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
3.1 At least two exchange visits/collaboration
[Added: 2016/08/12] [Last Updated: 2017/04/27]
AfT project manager 2017/03 Completed 1. Regional meeting for women entrepreneurs from Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan to exchange on business practices in the three countries and discuss business opportunities. 72 participants from bordering country held in Osh 13-14th April. 2. Exchange visit between the AfT Namangan office and The Aral Joint Programme in preparation for skills transfer between AfT supported businesses and businessmen from the Aral sea. Product focus is on shoes and textile design. 24th April -28th April, Osh Kyrgyzstan. History
4. Recommendation:

Evaluation Recommendation or Issue 4: Increase the share of financing of business ventures in the project (grants, microfinance). It has a high impact and provides immediate positive change to the clients.

Management Response: [Added: 2016/08/12]

Accepted

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
4.1 At least 20% of programmable funding is reserved for supporting business ventures
[Added: 2016/08/12]
AfT project manager 2016/04 Completed Met under phase III as of March 2014
5. Recommendation:

Evaluation Recommendation or Issue 5: In a project funds are limited and so is time allowed for implementation. However, it could be useful to foresee interventions covering the full production cycle, i.e. from growing to selling. This could contribute to building up capacities and competitiveness of small and medium farmers.

Management Response: [Added: 2016/08/12]

Accepted

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
5.1 Develop a guidance note on integrating the full production cycle to be submitted to the board for approval.
[Added: 2016/08/12] [Last Updated: 2017/04/27]
AfT project manager 2017/03 Completed Guidance was not yet submitted to the board, however the project is integrating business support consultants in all its grant/loan activities, as well as stronger linkages to business support institutions with a mandate for export promotion fully addressing the recommendation of the audit recommendation. History
6. Recommendation:

Evaluation Recommendation or Issue 6: Baseline studies were carried out in all countries. For the projects focusing on sectors that require high level of expert knowledge (i.e. agriculture) it is recommended to conduct specialized studies (e.g. focusing on specific crops, taking into account the seasonal nature).    

Management Response: [Added: 2016/08/12]

UNDP does not accept this recommendation. The project identifies through the baseline assessment those crops that have the highest export potential. As market changes these assessment require to be up-to-date and cannot not necessarily be crop specific. UNDP however provides crop experts for the crops selected.

Key Actions:

7. Recommendation:

Evaluation Recommendation or Issue 7: Keep working with small and medium clients (farmers, producers, SMEs, etc.) in ‘remote’ areas. This is a more challenging task that may not result in high export numbers, especially not in the short and medium terms. However, the evaluation has shown that in all countries, in particular in Central Asia, this is the group of clients that needs support most. In order to avoid desperation of resources, the project could consider encouraging small and medium farmers / producers to consolidated (e.g. create co-operatives or farmers associations).

      

Management Response: [Added: 2016/08/12] [Last Updated: 2016/08/12]

Accepted

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
7.1 The project under phase continues to work in remote areas such as Naryn, Kyrgyzstan and Khatlon in Tajikistan
[Added: 2016/08/12]
AfT project manager 2016/04 Completed Met under phase III as of March 2014. Phase III works in Naryn and Khatlon. History
8. Recommendation:

Evaluation Recommendation or Issue 8: Trainings need to be ‘gender aware’, i.e. the project should seek to tailor the training topics to women needs and recruit women trainers to facilitate feedback and communication (e.g. in rural areas women may feel more comfortable to speak up and participate more actively when the trainer is a woman). 

Management Response: [Added: 2016/08/12]

Accepted

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
8.1 Develop a guidance note on integration of gender equality needs better in project implementation
[Added: 2016/08/12] [Last Updated: 2016/12/19]
AfT project 2016/12 Completed The AfT project developed concrete indicators to improve its gender equality spread. The indicators are effective as of 1st August 2016 and include concrete activities to ensure quality input for gender issues on the policy level. The update will be presented to Project Board in November 2016. Update in November: discussion held during the board meeting. Increased gender approach to be integrated in 2017 AWP (to be approved in December 2016). 19 December 2016 update: AWP approved by the board. Action completed. History
9. Recommendation:

Evaluation Recommendation or Issue 9: The project staff should be encouraged to seek out synergies whether with on-going UNDP projects or initiatives & schemes put in place by other donors.

Management Response: [Added: 2016/08/12]

9.1 A list of established collaboration will be shared during the mid-year 2016 board

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
9.1 A list of established collaboration will be shared during the mid-year 2016 board
[Added: 2016/08/12] [Last Updated: 2016/11/24]
AfT project 2016/11 Completed Will be presented to the Project Board which will convene in November 2016. Completed in November: Analysis conducted and shared with donor. History

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