The evaluation of the UNDP Country Programme for the Lao People’s Democratic Republic (2017-2021)

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Evaluation Plan:
2017-2021, Lao
Evaluation Type:
Country Programme Evaluation
Planned End Date:
02/2021
Completion Date:
01/2021
Status:
Completed
Management Response:
Yes
Evaluation Budget(US $):
60,000

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Title The evaluation of the UNDP Country Programme for the Lao People’s Democratic Republic (2017-2021)
Atlas Project Number:
Evaluation Plan: 2017-2021, Lao
Evaluation Type: Country Programme Evaluation
Status: Completed
Completion Date: 01/2021
Planned End Date: 02/2021
Management Response: Yes
Corporate Outcome and Output (UNDP Strategic Plan 2014-2017)
Evaluation Budget(US $): 60,000
Source of Funding: UNDP
Evaluation Expenditure(US $): 63,450
Joint Programme: No
Joint Evaluation: No
Evaluation Team members:
Name Title Email Nationality
Abhijit Bhattacharjee Team Leader abhijit@results-matter.co.uk
Paul George Governance Expert apaulgeorge.paul@gmail.com
GEF Evaluation: No
Key Stakeholders:
Countries: LAO PEOPLE'S DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC
Lessons
Findings
Recommendations
1

 

Strategic positioning 

Review the functioning of SWGs and redefine their role and results framework to ensure that these provide strategic inputs to the RTM process as well as to sector plans on an ongoing basis. This will need to be driven from the top with strong facilitation and leadership, working with relevant Ministries. The Government institutions provide the leadership for the SWGs, but UNDP can play a facilitating role in strengthening their capacity and this will need senior level engagement. This will be a demanding ask, so UNDP may, in consultation with GoL, prioritise a limited number of SWGs to start with.

2

Strategic positioning:

Linking the above process of SWG development, facilitate development of clearly defined results frameworks, involving relevant Ministries and provincial departments, for each key sector, prioritising the most critical ones first

3

Strategic positioning

Building on its Governance initiatives, UNDP should develop a comprehensive SDG support strategy to guide Lao PDR’s attainment of the SDGs, linking it to the ninth NSEDP which is under development. It may be that UNDP prioritises a limited number of SDGs which are most-critical and where UNDP has or can mobilise top-class expertise.

4

UNDP intenral capacity

Through advanced training, coaching, secondment from other UNDP offices and continuing professional development, as well as, where possible, fresh recruitment, develop high level staff skills in the following core areas

a. Developing theories of change and their use in programme design and results management.

b. Strengthening internal monitoring and data collection system focusing on results

c. High-level technical expertise in the area of rural livelihoods and UXO, in particular

 

 

 

 

d. Development policy analysis and advocacy

5

UNDP internal capacity

Senior managerial inputs need to go into exploring synergistic partnerships with UN organisations and other Agencies which may have technical capacity in specific areas of UNDP’s programming interest, namely agriculture and biodiversity, rural livelihoods, digitisation.

6

Programme issues & resource mobilisation

The community radio programme which has proven to be effective with a relatively small investment should be continued, and if resources allow, expanded. In this regard, UNDP may also consider using the Service User Feedback Survey (SUFS); these surveys elicit people’s views on public service delivery in order to measure the level of satisfaction and to identify where services could be improved

7

Programme issues & resource mobilisation

The governance and public administration reforms undertaken by the GIDP project, if they continue to be used by the government, will set the conditions for UNDP to end its broad support to the programme. However, ongoing support to the GSWG and the DDF could be valuable in maintaining UNDP’s policy influence and participation in the governance reform process. The support to DDF should continue along with advocacy with the central government to gradually take over total funding of these in a phased manner. This will require new agreements to be drawn up with the government setting annual increase in government funding and corresponding decrease in UNDP allocations over the next three years.

8

Programme issues & resource mobilisation

UNDP should develop the digitisation initiative to cover e-governance and related areas of the GoL in a phased manner through developing partnership with agencies (DESA) specialised in complex process of government digitisation

9

Programme issues & resource mobilisation

Ensure that when undertaking capacity building interventions, there is a clear baseline of the capacity gaps identified and a change pathway defined clearly before embarking on the process. One-off interventions, without clear links to the change pathway need to be avoided.

10

Programme issues & resource mobilisation

UNDP needs to develop a robust resource mobilisation strategy to strengthen its role in the country. In particular, UNDP needs to rebuild its relationships with key funding organisations, such as the EU. It should also explore funding opportunities for the GoL from the private sector

11

Programme issues & ressource mobilisation

Develop an inventory of all local EWS supported by UNDP and explore linking these up with the nationally adapted Disaster Monitoring and Response System (DMRS) being currently developed in the country.

1. Recommendation:

 

Strategic positioning 

Review the functioning of SWGs and redefine their role and results framework to ensure that these provide strategic inputs to the RTM process as well as to sector plans on an ongoing basis. This will need to be driven from the top with strong facilitation and leadership, working with relevant Ministries. The Government institutions provide the leadership for the SWGs, but UNDP can play a facilitating role in strengthening their capacity and this will need senior level engagement. This will be a demanding ask, so UNDP may, in consultation with GoL, prioritise a limited number of SWGs to start with.

Management Response: [Added: 2021/05/20]

Partially agree

The sector working groups are integral parts of the government structure in support of NSEDP. Although UNDP is a technical agency co-chairing the RTP including SWG mechanism, UNDP does not have the final decision/authorities to modify them.  However, UNDP will provide recommendation to the government to strengthen the RTP and SWG, and UNDP stands ready to support the government in the next programme cycle should the government request such support

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
Raise with MPI and take stock the implementation of key recommendations from 2016 RTP/SWG review
[Added: 2021/05/20]
Chanthalath, Poverty Reduction Unit 2021/12 Initiated RTP including SWG mechanism was reviewed in 2016. However, stock-taking of the current implementation status of those key recommendations has not been carried out during the last four years. Therefore, the time for this stock-taking is right as we embark on the first year of the 9th NSEDP
Together with MPI, and chairs/co-chairs of all SWGs/Sub-SWGs, identify further actions to strengthen RTP including SWGs
[Added: 2021/05/20]
Chanthalath, Poverty Reduction Unit 2021/12 Initiated Strategic movement for MPI and UNDP as a technical lead on RTP and SWG mechanism to discuss with all chairs/co-chairs of SWGs and Sub-SWGs on how we can further improve the RTP, particularly SWG mechanism in light of the 9th NSEDP and COVID recovery framework
2. Recommendation:

Strategic positioning:

Linking the above process of SWG development, facilitate development of clearly defined results frameworks, involving relevant Ministries and provincial departments, for each key sector, prioritising the most critical ones first

Management Response: [Added: 2021/05/20]

Agree

UNDP will review work plans and work processes of relevant SWGs to strengthen alignment with UNDP CPD and will identify priority targets or results for the SWGs to inform development of annual activities. Should support beyond 2021 be required by MPI, UNDP will work on strengthening the SWGs.  

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
Review challenges and effectiveness of relevant SWGs in achieving stated outcomes or objectives in 2021
[Added: 2021/05/20]
Unit Heads (relevant to different SWGs) 2021/11 Initiated UNDP reviewing specific TORs for workshops under SWGs to ensure alignment with outcomes and objectives;
Active participation in AWP development discussions for SWGs
[Added: 2021/05/20]
Unit Heads (relevant to different SWGs) 2021/11 Initiated Review of GSWG AWP conducted and feedback on effectiveness provided.
Detailed review of AWP to propose greater alignment with UNDP CPD
[Added: 2021/05/20]
Unit Heads (relevant to different SWGs) 2021/12 Initiated Agreement to review AWPs before draft development for 2022 period
3. Recommendation:

Strategic positioning

Building on its Governance initiatives, UNDP should develop a comprehensive SDG support strategy to guide Lao PDR’s attainment of the SDGs, linking it to the ninth NSEDP which is under development. It may be that UNDP prioritises a limited number of SDGs which are most-critical and where UNDP has or can mobilise top-class expertise.

Management Response: [Added: 2021/05/20]

Agree

UNDP will continue to support the integration of the SDGs in the new NSEDP, sectoral and province development plans including the M&E framework. UNDP will prioritize a number of SDGs and look to coordinate with other UN agencies and development partners to identify UNDP added value to maximize impact and accelerate the achievement of SDGs. The new CPD will be the primary guiding document for UNDP’s SDG implementation support strategy

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
Provide support to the GOL to integrate national SDG indicators and targets into the 9th NSEDP M&E framework which has been recently finalized
[Added: 2021/05/20]
All Senior Management 2021/12 Initiated - UNDP contributed to UN efforts to support the development of a M&E framework for the 9th NSEDP. - UNDP together with other UN Agencies support the government to finalize the national SDG indicators with proper baseline and updated data.
4. Recommendation:

UNDP intenral capacity

Through advanced training, coaching, secondment from other UNDP offices and continuing professional development, as well as, where possible, fresh recruitment, develop high level staff skills in the following core areas

a. Developing theories of change and their use in programme design and results management.

b. Strengthening internal monitoring and data collection system focusing on results

c. High-level technical expertise in the area of rural livelihoods and UXO, in particular

 

 

 

 

d. Development policy analysis and advocacy

Management Response: [Added: 2021/05/20]

Agree

UNDP encourages staff to develop their knowledge, skills and expertise throughout their career with UNDP. Staff identify specific learning goals as part of their annual goals. Staff and supervisors will review the goals twice per year. Learning sessions will be organised for all staff.

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
PSU with support from BRH M&E specialist will work with programme units to establish monitoring and data collection system.
[Added: 2021/05/20]
PSU and programme team leaders 2021/12 Initiated PSU has started to review the existing monitoring and data collection mechanism to identify its strengths and weaknesses. PSU will suggest ways to improve it and discuss actions with programme units.
Develop a stronger TOC of the new UNDP Country Programme Document (CPD 2022-2026) with a clear articulation of the pathway changes to achieve expected results in the next five years. The CPD TOC will be used for program design, monitoring, and evaluations.
[Added: 2021/05/20]
DRR with support from PSU and programme team leaders 2021/06 Completed UNDP programme staff jointly developed the TOC for the new CPD. The TOC was assessed as an example of a strong CPD TOC by the UNDP Regional Office
Staff enter their learning plan and career goals in the PMD
[Added: 2021/05/20]
All staff 2021/06 Completed All staff including FTA and SC have defined their learning plans in the PMD starting from April 2021
5. Recommendation:

UNDP internal capacity

Senior managerial inputs need to go into exploring synergistic partnerships with UN organisations and other Agencies which may have technical capacity in specific areas of UNDP’s programming interest, namely agriculture and biodiversity, rural livelihoods, digitisation.

Management Response: [Added: 2021/05/20]

Agree

Since 2019, UNDP has proactively sought agency synergies, initially within the UNCT based in Lao PDR, and since 2020 also with non-resident agencies.   This included but is not limited to COVID response and Digitalization, where collaboration was sought and achieved with WHO and UNDESA respectively.  Building on the good experiences, UNDP will further reach out and regularly engage UN organizations to ensure top quality technical solutions

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
Contribute to UNSDCF formulation and identification of indicators, and joint outputs
[Added: 2021/05/20]
Senior Management with support of Programme Team Leaders 2021/06 Overdue-Initiated UNDP has contributed to the UNSDCF formulation. UNDP had proactively worked with other UN partners to identify and develop joint outputs.
Develop more joint initiatives with other UN agencies
[Added: 2021/05/20]
Programme Team Leaders 2021/12 Initiated UNDP is currently finalizing a GCF proposal with FAO. Renewed cooperation with OHCHR has been initiated. UNDP is still implementing joint programmes with UNFPA and UNCDF
6. Recommendation:

Programme issues & resource mobilisation

The community radio programme which has proven to be effective with a relatively small investment should be continued, and if resources allow, expanded. In this regard, UNDP may also consider using the Service User Feedback Survey (SUFS); these surveys elicit people’s views on public service delivery in order to measure the level of satisfaction and to identify where services could be improved

Management Response: [Added: 2021/05/20]

Agree

UNDP are developing a sustainability strategy for the Community Radio project (EPPCR) including how to build the capacity of the core project team and design funding mechanisms that allows different donors to fund specific community radio programming, including by establishing new stations in rural communities. UNDP is also beginning to integrate the EPPCR project with other programmes of the CO, including Ending Violence Against Women project, and the SUFS project. UNDP will also connect the feedback provided to citizens, and EPPCR programming, including call-in shows, to provide feedback and experiences of local communities for delegates of National and Provincial Peoples’ Assemblies to better represent the interest of their constituents.   

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
Develop sustainability strategy for EPPCR in consultation with Project Team
[Added: 2021/05/20]
Team Leader, Governance Unit 2021/04 Completed Sustainability Report drafted and shared with national partners MICT for feedback
Include EPPCR and SUFS in the new National and Provincial Peoples’ Assemblies Project (STEPS)
[Added: 2021/05/20]
Team Leader, Governance Unit 2021/07 Completed EPPCR and SUFS has been included in the Project Document of the STEPS Program
7. Recommendation:

Programme issues & resource mobilisation

The governance and public administration reforms undertaken by the GIDP project, if they continue to be used by the government, will set the conditions for UNDP to end its broad support to the programme. However, ongoing support to the GSWG and the DDF could be valuable in maintaining UNDP’s policy influence and participation in the governance reform process. The support to DDF should continue along with advocacy with the central government to gradually take over total funding of these in a phased manner. This will require new agreements to be drawn up with the government setting annual increase in government funding and corresponding decrease in UNDP allocations over the next three years.

Management Response: [Added: 2021/05/20]

Partially Agree

UNDP is reviewing the GIDP programme, including the impact of the different components such as DDF, SUFS and the GSWG, status of relationship with MOHA and other partners, and capacity of the Governance Unit, to develop new programming on Public Administration Reform and Inclusive Governance. UNDP is discussing with development partners on specific components of the GIDP programme to match the impactful initiatives with interests of donors.  

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
Discussions with development partners on developing new programming on Public Administration Reform and Inclusive Governance
[Added: 2021/05/20]
Team Leader, Governance Unit 2021/12 Initiated Discussions held with development partners on new programming, including Irish Aid, and plans for focus on Public Administration Reform shared with development partners at CPD Consultation in May 2021
Review of GIDP Programme on effectiveness and sustainability of components
[Added: 2021/05/20]
Team Leader, Governance Unit 2021/09 Not Initiated Programme Effectiveness and sustainability included in TOR of Final Evaluation due to be conducted by July 2021, including recommendations for sustainability of initiatives
8. Recommendation:

Programme issues & resource mobilisation

UNDP should develop the digitisation initiative to cover e-governance and related areas of the GoL in a phased manner through developing partnership with agencies (DESA) specialised in complex process of government digitisation

Management Response: [Added: 2021/05/20]

Agree

UNDP is prioritizing digitalization in both existing portfolios where possible and in developing new programming. UNDP is partnering with UNDESA under the GIDP programme in supporting the digitalization of One Door Service Centres (ODSCs) in 44 districts across Lao PDR. UNDP has included specific references to digitalization in the new CPD and have included in the CPD M&E framework indicators on digitalization taken straight from the 9th National Socio-Economic Development Plan (2021-2025). In 2021, UNDP is conducting a Digital Maturity Assessment of a number of government partners to establish a baseline for future support.

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
Digital Maturity Assessment conducted
[Added: 2021/05/20]
Team Leader, Poverty Unit 2021/12 Initiated ToRs were approved by Ministry of Technologies and Communications. Consultants to be recruited in May/June.
Include support and targets on promoting digitalization in the new CPD
[Added: 2021/05/20]
Team Leaders 2021/06 Completed The theme of digitalization has been mainstreamed throughout the new CPD, with numerous references included to digital solutions, capacity building on digital skills, etc.
9. Recommendation:

Programme issues & resource mobilisation

Ensure that when undertaking capacity building interventions, there is a clear baseline of the capacity gaps identified and a change pathway defined clearly before embarking on the process. One-off interventions, without clear links to the change pathway need to be avoided.

Management Response: [Added: 2021/05/20]

Agree

Capacity needs assessments and the establishment of baselines will be required as an initial step for new projects, where appropriate

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
Capacity assessments should be conducted before designing new projects and/or at the beginning of new projects
[Added: 2021/05/20]
Programme and Team Leads 2021/12 Initiated A capacity needs assessment for NRA is being organised to set some baselines for the new UXO programme starting in 2022. Similarly, a baseline assessment will be conducted at the beginning of the new programme on NA/PPAs.
10. Recommendation:

Programme issues & resource mobilisation

UNDP needs to develop a robust resource mobilisation strategy to strengthen its role in the country. In particular, UNDP needs to rebuild its relationships with key funding organisations, such as the EU. It should also explore funding opportunities for the GoL from the private sector

Management Response: [Added: 2021/05/20]

Agree

UNDP will develop a clear resource mobilization strategy, based on the priority development issues outlined in the CPD, the NSEDP, added value of UNDP programming in relation to existing programmes funded by other donors and emerging trends in cooperation programming. UNDP is reaching out to development partners to strengthen coordination and collaboration, including the EU.

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
Develop Resource Mobilization Strategy
[Added: 2021/05/20]
DRR with support from Team Leads 2021/08 Overdue-Initiated Initial discussions took place during all staff meetings in Q1 and Q2, as well as during the Country Office retreat in February 2021.
11. Recommendation:

Programme issues & ressource mobilisation

Develop an inventory of all local EWS supported by UNDP and explore linking these up with the nationally adapted Disaster Monitoring and Response System (DMRS) being currently developed in the country.

Management Response: [Added: 2021/05/20]

Agree

Resurrection of the disaster inventory database (LaoDi) which moved between ministries (MONRE to MLSW - NDMO) is now underway, the collection and validation of information as well as output products will be an ongoing process in 2021-2022. An inventory of all local EWS systems supported by UNDP will be developed and if possible linked to the database.

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
Contracting of database consultant
[Added: 2021/05/20]
Team Leader, NRM CC DRR 2021/03 Completed procurement action undertaken to contract consultant on disaster inventory database. First phase to be completed in 2021.
Restarting of database and analysis of status of data
[Added: 2021/05/20]
Team Leader, NRM CC DRR 2021/03 Completed database has been reactivated, is now going through an updating and validation process. Analysis of current status determined.

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