UN Joint Support To The Jordan National Response To The Syrian Crisis Phase 1 (JPD)

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Evaluation Plan:
2013-2017, Jordan
Evaluation Type:
Final Project
Planned End Date:
11/2017
Completion Date:
09/2017
Status:
Completed
Management Response:
Yes
Evaluation Budget(US $):
15,000

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Title UN Joint Support To The Jordan National Response To The Syrian Crisis Phase 1 (JPD)
Atlas Project Number: 00085921
Evaluation Plan: 2013-2017, Jordan
Evaluation Type: Final Project
Status: Completed
Completion Date: 09/2017
Planned End Date: 11/2017
Management Response: Yes
Focus Area:
  • 1. Poverty and MDG
  • 2. Crisis Prevention & Recovery
  • 3. Others
Corporate Outcome and Output (UNDP Strategic Plan 2014-2017)
  • 1. Output 6.1. From the humanitarian phase after crisis, early economic revitalization generates jobs and other environmentally sustainable livelihoods opportunities for crisis affected men and women
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
SDG Target
  • 16.3 Promote the rule of law at the national and international levels and ensure equal access to justice for all
  • 16.6 Develop effective, accountable and transparent institutions at all levels
Evaluation Budget(US $): 15,000
Source of Funding:
Evaluation Expenditure(US $): 10,000
Joint Programme: Yes
Joint Evaluation: No
Evaluation Team members:
Name Title Email Nationality
GEF Evaluation: No
Key Stakeholders:
Countries: JORDAN
Lessons
Findings
1.

Finding 1. Effective Government leadership of the JRP has made the resilience approach operational. The impressive results at the technical level in establishing the JRP’s institutional framework can be largely attributed to the Secretariat.

There is near-unanimous recognition of the value and benefit of the resilience concept

All interviewees recognized the importance of the resilience concept and acknowledged the ownership of the GOJ in translating it into a clear and relevant policy to be implemented through the Jordan Response Plan (and its predecessor, the National Resilience Plan). The GOJ can now be seen to be actively managing the response to the Syria crisis; it is no longer reacting but guiding. The resilience approach is therefore widely regarded as a best practice. Extending support to host communities while maintaining programmes directed to the refugee response has proven to be invaluable in maintaining a highly visible profile on the international stage.

 


Tag: Resilience building Effectiveness Relevance Project and Programme management Conflict resolution

2.

The JP and the Secretariat have enabled GOJ to accept more risk

Understanding the resilience concept – somewhat fuzzy in its earliest applications - and its subsequent translation into public policy through the JRP represented a major undertaking and a new way of doing business. Would GOJ have been so willing to take on this task without the Secretariat and its formidable and experienced staffing complement? One interviewee noted that resilience is “not a complicated concept but touches upon huge vested interests.” Without strong UN backing from the RC/HC, 13-agency support to the JP and a strong and committed technical support team it may be that the GOJ would have experienced some difficulty in designing the JRP, convening all relevant actors and rolling out the JRP’s associated machinery.

Furthermore, prior to the Syria crisis, there was a very limited culture or practice of multi-partner dialogue in the generic aid coordination sense. A 2013 UN Country Team study found that, “There is no aid effectiveness policy … the absence of a structured dialogue and exchange during the national planning process between the Government and the donors makes it challenging for the donors to align their assistance . The [aid coordination] function has not been carried out due to the fact that there is no personnel.” While development officials with an international background may take the machinery for granted, for Jordan this was a big step into uncharted waters.


Tag: Resilience building Challenges Effectiveness Relevance Conflict resolution Awareness raising Operational Services Technical Support

3.

The JRP has successfully translated the resilience approach into a GOJ-led operational plan…

The JRP is held in high regard and its contribution to date has been recognized. It has established effective GOJ leadership over the response effort and has made the resilience approach operational. The merits of the JRP that were specifically and consistently identified during the evaluation include: (i) the translation of a political commitment into a workable framework for setting goals, prioritizing needs, mobilizing resources and implementing activities; (ii) linking the continuing humanitarian response effort to the more protracted and complex resilience work that supports host communities; and (iii) becoming an increasingly collaborative exercise.

…but the JRP is much more besides

Most Jordanian interviewees expressed a strong sense of pride in the JRP and the values that it represents. A significant majority of interviewees agreed that the JRP has introduced new ‘rules of the game’ for managing partnerships in Jordan. Specifically, it has: (i) established a multi-actor institutional framework (the Joint Platform and the Task Forces) that allows for a more coherent and effective dialogue on priority needs and programming; and (ii) provides an entry point for longer-term strengthening of national development management processes beyond the Syria crisis.


Tag: Resilience building Challenges Effectiveness Relevance Conflict resolution Awareness raising Policy Advisory

4.

Attribution for developing the Jordan Response Plan is assigned largely to the Secretariat

The role of the Secretariat in leading and managing all technical aspects of the JRP’s production and implementation is acknowledged. For the overwhelming majority of interviewees the JRP is fully synonymous with the Secretariat. Appreciation for the efforts and achievements of the Secretariat were consistently and strongly expressed by MOPIC and other GOJ officials. The personal commitment and efforts of the Secretariat are so frequently singled out for praise that this emerges as an important finding of this evaluation.


Tag: Effectiveness Efficiency Relevance Capacity Building Policy Advisory

5.

Finding 2. Capacity development results have been limited. Despite this being the JP’s overall objective. This is because there has been a readiness and acceptance on both the ‘demand’ and ‘supply’ sides of the capacity equation to focus on getting things done through gap-filling.

The JP and the Secretariat have recorded few explicit capacity gains

… MOPIC is not yet ready to fully manage the JRP. The ProDoc’s stated objective is “Enhanced MOPIC capacity…”. Line ministries and TFs to some extent draw either on: (a) capacities already internal to the organisation; or (b) external staff (e.g. UN TF secretariats).


Tag: Effectiveness Relevance Policies & Procedures Capacity Building Policy Advisory

6.

…yet there have been some tacit capacity development successes of major significance

Viewing capacity development at the institutional level, the Secretariat has successfully facilitated the establishment of a system of rules, processes and tools that brings together a large and diverse set of development actors. Beyond a 2015 self-assessment of needs for MOPIC/HRCU and Task Forces, however, focus on producing the Plan has been to the exclusion of sustained, deliberate and coordinated efforts directed at strengthening Task Force capacities. The JRP preparation process nevertheless now appears to be firmly embedded in the workflow of line ministries (e.g. convening Task Force members to conduct the CVA and sector strategies) and development partner agencies (e.g. contributing to PSS preparation). This a formidable achievement, even if it may be something of an ‘unintended consequence’.

While the Secretariat have steered this process, the attribution goes at least in part to the Task Forces themselves. While they have invariably found the Secretariat to be responsive and supportive, there have been few structured capacity-related initiativesthat respond to the needs of Task Forces. Yet it is observable that many Task Force staff in line ministries have secured some learning as a result of their exposure to JRP work, including of the more tacit kind related to managing partnerships and participating effectively in multi-actor processes.


Tag: Effectiveness Relevance Capacity Building Technical Support

7.

Understanding the capacity conundrum

How has the Secretariat been able to continue its work for 2½ years without making any concerted effort to secure the JP’s overall capacity development objective?


Tag: Effectiveness Relevance Project and Programme management Institutional Strengthening Policy Advisory Technical Support

8.

Finding 3. The JRP has been highly effective. But it is not sustainable even over the medium term and is at risk of becoming less relevant and effective as the situation evolves.

The JRP process retains value but needs to become more forward-looking to address issues that undermine its effectiveness and impact

The JRP’s institutional framework has succeeded in formulating, implementing and rolling over a costed plan to support the GOJ response to the Syria crisis. If support to refugees and host communities becomes a longer-term need, as many interviewees feel is likely, then the JRP needs to become more institutionalized at MOPIC and across GOJ. Currently the JRP and its associated machinery are highly unlikely to be sustainable even in the medium term without continued external support to the Secretariat function and the work of the UN agencies that facilitate the Task Forces as secretariats.


Tag: Resilience building Effectiveness Relevance Resource mobilization Conflict resolution

9.

Government is not homogenous and commitment to the JRP is variable

Task Force performance is highly variable. In the most impressive cases, Task Forces have experienced the JRP and the establishment of the Task Force as a revelation. Exposure to new approaches to partnering and dialogue on policy and implementation has been strongly welcomed. In some cases, Task Forces are now becoming actively involved in supporting and monitoring implementation. There is a latent demand for greater evidence on results that can inform future JRP work and, potentially, be assimilated into routine organisational working practices.


Tag: Effectiveness Relevance Resource mobilization Conflict resolution Crisis prevention Institutional Strengthening Policy Advisory Technical Support

10.

Need to institutionalize the process.

A forward-looking effort to institutionalize processes to a greater extent is very much needed. Furthermore, In many cases, the JRP has been seen to be managed in a top-down style. For some interviewees it has also been somewhat heavy-handed at times. Accounts of confrontation with the Secretariat were shared with the evaluator (for example, the management of budget revisions and efforts to reconcile numbers on external support). Differences appear to have been managed in some cases less on their technical merits and more as a battle of wills in the style of Game of Thrones.


Tag: Effectiveness Relevance Institutional Strengthening Policy Advisory Technical Support

11.

Coordination has not proceeded “smoothly and efficiently”. It can be fraught and tense.

Following on from the findings and lessons reported immediately above, let us pause and reflect for a moment on what coordination really means. What would effective coordination of the JRP process look like?

There is significant scope for improving coordination by emphasizing and making operational the need to “work together efficiently”. Regular high-level dialogue has potential to make a greater contribution. New working practices, such as an extended calendar for JRP preparation that would reduce pressure on all parties and increase the quality of the process, were frequently identified by interviewees. Using the ‘off-periods’ in the JRP calendar for training, solicitation of feedback, supporting peer learning and identifying future needs (capacity and implementation) were high-value opportunities proposed by line ministries, UN agencies, donors and NGOs.

Similarly the potential to work together more “smoothly”. To date there have arguably been inefficiencies – PSS preparation, transaction costs of an increasingly mechanical ‘cut & paste’ JRP preparation process, for example – that could be improved through improved communications and a generally more inclusive and collegial approach to managing relationships.


Tag: Efficiency Relevance Coordination Institutional Strengthening Policy Advisory Technical Support

12.

The Secretariat positioning and role

As the lesson immediately above has stated: “The Secretariat needs to position itself more neutrally as a facilitator and technical resource”. Almost every interviewee identified the Secretariat as Government or as close to Government as makes no difference.


Tag: Effectiveness Efficiency Relevance Conflict resolution Peace Building Institutional Strengthening Policy Advisory

13.

Non-GOJ interviewees noted that they have become less likely to approach the Secretariat staff over time as their UN identity has been replaced by an association to MOPIC. It was observed by about half of the interviewees that a previously collegial and responsive approach has dissipated over time to be replaced by a more didactic and top-down management style.


Tag: Effectiveness Relevance Conflict resolution Institutional Strengthening Policy Advisory Technical Support

14.

5. Findings related to the Joint Programme outputs

In addition to the findings and lessons associated with the management of the JRP process, the UN-supported JP has four outputs that have also been reviewed as part of this evaluation exercise. The outputs are as follows:

  • 1. Enhanced MOPIC capacity to lead the response to the Syrian crisis.
  • 2. MOPIC’s information management is strengthened enabling tracking of donor commitments and implementing partners’ interventions through a comprehensive information management system.
  • 3. MOPIC’s M&E capacity is strengthened, ensuring timely monitoring and evaluation of results.
  • 4. Enhanced MOPIC capacity for public outreach on the needs of Jordanian vulnerable communities and Syrian refugees. The Secretariat comprises a highly talented, experienced and motivated team of 8 persons. Issues related to their performance are addressed in the self-contained chapter on Programme Management.

Tag: Effectiveness Relevance Monitoring and Evaluation Capacity Building

15.

Output 1. Enhanced MOPIC capacity to lead the response to the Syrian crisis.

There is an important distinction to be made between leadership and management. The JP has not made satisfactory progress towards meeting its technical capacity goals related to strengthening Government capacity to manage the JRP (see previous Chapter).


Tag: Effectiveness Relevance Theory of Change Institutional Strengthening Technical Support

16.

Output 2. MOPIC’s information management is strengthened enabling tracking of donor commitments and implementing partners’ interventions through a comprehensive information management system.

No issue addressed in the course of this evaluation has divided opinion as much as JORISS. Interviews sometimes careered into the world of therapy rather than remaining grounded in technical appraisal and calm reflection. “Ah, let me tell you about JORISS…”.

There are different levels on which to think about JORISS as a tool and therefore different criteria on which to gauge its success and future potential in supporting information management.


Tag: Effectiveness Relevance Coordination

17.

The owner perspective. JORISS serves a necessary role in managing project approvals and has established itself as a welcome addition to HCRU/MOPIC capacities. It is therefore primarily a control tool, supporting an indisputably essential function to bring coherence and accountability to a complex funding and implementation environment. In addition to its control functionality, the wider value of JORISS, according to MOPIC, is the ability to produce reports that inform and support the coordination effort.

JORISS has been streamlined into the workflow process and has supported efficiency (it is operated by a single MOPIC staff member). Approvals for projects that require no further clarification are granted in about 3 weeks (this is the time reported by MOPIC for passing through all stages of the approvals process). The system is also now hosted on GOJ servers.

Constraints recognized by MOPIC include the fact that JORISS does not give a full picture of resource commitments. It does not track disbursements reliably (with a view to later measuring results). Predictability is a concern as forward planning at the strategic level is less structured and donors – encumbered by their own practices – are unable to provide reliable and timely figures.


Tag: Effectiveness Efficiency Relevance Strategic Positioning Coordination Institutional Strengthening

18.

The user perspective. While acknowledging the need for the JORISS tool, all non-MOPIC users expressed concerns that it can be time-consuming, frustrating and a moving target (changing templates and data requirements). Approvals can be time-consuming: up to 5 months in 2015, reduced to up to 3 months in 2016. Some NGOs have employed full-time ‘fixers’ to address this problem, leaving those that cannot afford this function at something of a disadvantage. In exceptional cases there is also concern that bottlenecks in the approval system may create an opportunity for rent-seeking practices. Increased transparency in the overall approval process – including the stages external to JORISS – would be welcomed.


Tag: Effectiveness Relevance Coordination Civil Societies and NGOs

19.

The policy-maker perspective. The resilience approach to emphasise the impact on host communities is universally welcomed. Yet JORISS does not lend itself to financial tracking or deeper reporting. It provides an incomplete record of assistance and does not aggregate contributions across projects to Key Performance Indicators referenced in the JRP. It has sometimes been used as a well-intended but ultimately crude approach to translate an agreeable policy objective – supporting host communities – into an insufficiently flexible practice, i.e. a minimum of 30% of all resilience projects dedicated to supporting host communities.


Tag: Resilience building Effectiveness Relevance Institutional Strengthening Policy Advisory

20.

The developer perspective. The Secretariat engages an IT expert with responsibilities to design, adapt and maintain the system. Suggestions for further system improvements are welcomed but need to be identified, prioritized, programmed and deployed in a structured way under the authority of MOPIC. There are some concerns over sustainability. At the organisational level, these can be mitigated by developing manuals and using widely-used software and hardware solutions(which is the Secretariat approach). At the individual level, the lack of a MOPIC IT expert counterpart is problematic; perhaps the solution is to accommodate the practice of outsourcing IT expertise, which is a common practice in many countries for accessing expert services such as IT support.

Each perspective is valid. The challenge is two-fold. First, there is a need to establish consensus around the identity and role of JORISS. Approvals, alignment, tracking, reporting: these are all necessary functions that are either only partially functional or beyond the current specifications of the system. Second, the wider system (JORISS and beyond) must be compatible with current and evolving needs, especially tracking and reporting, which are becoming more urgent if the JRP is to maintain its relevance.


Tag: Resilience building Challenges Sustainability Monitoring and Evaluation Institutional Strengthening Technical Support

21.

However, experience shows that the opportunity to solicit feedback and improvements clearly exists and there is evidently willingness on all sides to engage constructively. Given that the EUfunded component of the MOPIC support managed by UNDP is developing an aid management tool (the Aid Management Platform provided by the Development Gateway Foundation), the following recommendations seem relevant to JORISS and to supporting medium-term aid information system deployment in MOPIC4 :


Tag: Coherence Effectiveness Relevance Resource mobilization Monitoring and Evaluation Project and Programme management Coordination Institutional Strengthening Technical Support

22.

Output 3. MOPIC’s M&E capacity is strengthened, ensuring timely monitoring and evaluation of results.

The JRP exercise produces and manages a formidable set of data of information. The JRP document is itself evidence that these inputs are efficiently and effectively managed to produce a credible and operational plan. Monitoring and reporting, however, has to date been largely an exercise in reporting JORISS data (financial aggregates).

Beyond the planning stage, it is recognized by the Secretariat and other stakeholders (especially Task Forces) that there is significant unmet potential to facilitate a shift in the JRP’s emphasis from a Plan to a Report mode. This can be achieved by developing capacities, producing tools and establishing processes that focus on the production and use of evidence


Tag: Effectiveness Efficiency Monitoring and Evaluation Project and Programme management Coordination Institutional Strengthening

23.

Output 4. Enhanced MOPIC capacity for public outreach on the needs of Jordanian vulnerable communities and Syrian refugees

. This has been the weakest area of implementation and currently there is no staff member assigned to this function. Noting the political imperatives to begin producing and reporting evidence on results, achievements and challenges, the crafting of informed and well-targeted messaging through the public outreach function is essential. Major achievements were in place such as the web-site update, production of success stories, increased number of visitors to the web, preparing and providing support to several meetings with journalists.

As a natural extension of the monitoring and reporting role it will become increasingly important to develop relevant and timely information products for a wide range of development actors as well as wider society. Both the process and the product involved in recounting the story of the JRP’s achievements and future priorities will bring the JRP full circle by promoting a more reflective and learning-focused approach.

Sourcing this expertise should be given some consideration. Given, for example, the potential contribution to be made by an appropriately creative type of person and the obvious career benefits of working on such a high-profile issue, it seems plausible that a gifted and dynamic young intern with perspectives from outside of the UN and public sector would be relatively easy to find.


Tag: Coherence Effectiveness Relevance Monitoring and Evaluation Technical Support Vulnerable

24.

6. Programme management: Findings and Recommendations

There have been deficiencies in programme management. These appear to have been systemic throughout the lifetime of the project.

The JP encountered obstacles against many of its capacity development objectives (see Finding number 2) that have not been fully disclosed, either to the Board or to other stakeholders. MOPIC’s strong preference for gap-filling and weak project oversight has resulted in the JP’s stated objective of strengthening GOJ capacity being pushed to the margins of project activity. As a result, these deviations have persisted over time and the JP has followed the course of least resistance, i.e. to directly manage the JRP process by gap-filling.


Tag: Challenges Effectiveness Relevance Project and Programme management Coordination Institutional Strengthening Technical Support

25.

Mandatory reporting and dialogue at management level have not been effective

Mandatory reporting on substantive progress (for example the 2015 and 2016 annual reports) has been flimsy. (This is in contrast to strict approval and accounting for every Secretariat expenditure). Staff reporting lines have not been made clear or operational. The result is an information asymmetry between the JP team and the quality assurance function that has been allowed to increase over time. Yet, there has been little follow-up to acquire further insights or to establish an increased understanding of JP status, challenges and opportunities.

At the strategic level, effective communications between the RC/HC and the Secretariat’s Senior Coordinator need to be more established to to maintain its impartiality . This is an opportunity for the UN as a more facilitating and neutral positioning of the Secretariat to complement GOJ’s leadership role rather than simply serving as its instrument (e.g. by being able to play an intermediary role, to innovate, to facilitate partnerships and to moderate dialogue). The emphasis on “Joint” also implies a recognition of a partnership-based approach as integral to the ability to build institutional and organisational capacity that can facilitate and manage a complex multi-stakeholder process.

Meetings of the Steering Committee have taken place but have evidently not proven to be an effective governance arrangement for managing the JP and supporting the Secretariat. Risks identified in the Joint Programme document, for example, include donor fatigue, resistance to a joint platform approach and GOJ TF leadership concerns. Some or all of these issues need to be monitored and followed-up in discussion between the two JRPSC co-chairs if necessary.


Tag: Relevance Monitoring and Evaluation Project and Programme management Strategic Positioning Institutional Strengthening Technical Support

26.

Communication breakdowns and confusion have resulted in a climate of suspicion and mistrust

Discussions over the extension of the JP have been protracted and left the staff feeling isolated from the UN in general and from UNDP specifically. While clarifications have been provided, an air of uncertainty remains. The motivation for, and timing of, this evaluation was unclear to some Secretariat staff, for example, meaning that it was received as a possible precursor to “shutting us down”.

 


Tag: Effectiveness Relevance Communication Project and Programme management Coordination Institutional Strengthening

27.

“The greatest asset of the UN is its staff”.

 The Secretariat comprises a highly talented, experienced and motivated team of 8 persons. All team members are demonstrably committed to supporting Government in responding to the Syria crisis by doing their jobs to the best of their ability.

 


Tag: Effectiveness Efficiency Relevance Monitoring and Evaluation Project and Programme management Coordination Institutional Strengthening

Recommendations
1

Recommendation 1. The JRP remains highly relevant. Next steps in its consolidation and extension must be based on a clear message from MOPIC that sets out the wider Government vision for building on the JRP and accommodating new practices and priorities.

2

Recommendation 2. Reformulation of the Joint Programme (and the EU-supported UNDP-managed component) should be viewed as an opportunity to look beyond JRP consolidation to support MOPIC’s development management capacities.

3

Recommendation 3. Addressing longer-term development challenges requires looking beyond ODA mobilization and management. GOJ and its partners must identify a more strategic role for ODA in supporting national development. (Beyond the scope of the JRP, do not become distracted with building a top-heavy aid coordination machinery).

1. Recommendation:

Recommendation 1. The JRP remains highly relevant. Next steps in its consolidation and extension must be based on a clear message from MOPIC that sets out the wider Government vision for building on the JRP and accommodating new practices and priorities.

Management Response: [Added: 2017/12/09] [Last Updated: 2021/02/14]

The Country Office agrees on a wider Government vision for building on the JRP and accommodating new practices and priorities. The CO is taking this recommendation as a basis for a new phase of support.

Key Actions:

2. Recommendation:

Recommendation 2. Reformulation of the Joint Programme (and the EU-supported UNDP-managed component) should be viewed as an opportunity to look beyond JRP consolidation to support MOPIC’s development management capacities.

Management Response: [Added: 2017/12/09] [Last Updated: 2021/02/14]

The Country Office also agrees with this recommendation and is looking beyond JRP consolidation to support MOPIC’s development management capacities.

Key Actions:

3. Recommendation:

Recommendation 3. Addressing longer-term development challenges requires looking beyond ODA mobilization and management. GOJ and its partners must identify a more strategic role for ODA in supporting national development. (Beyond the scope of the JRP, do not become distracted with building a top-heavy aid coordination machinery).

Management Response: [Added: 2017/12/09] [Last Updated: 2021/02/14]

The Country Office agrees with the recommendation and believes that longer-term development management can consider how different resources can leverage other flows and support a policy agenda that addresses longer-term objectives. 

Key Actions:

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