Terminal Evaluation_ Liberia Decentralization Support Programme

Report Cover Image
Evaluation Plan:
2013-2019, Liberia
Evaluation Type:
Final Project
Planned End Date:
10/2018
Completion Date:
10/2019
Status:
Completed
Management Response:
No
Evaluation Budget(US $):
20,000

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Title Terminal Evaluation_ Liberia Decentralization Support Programme
Atlas Project Number: 00074387
Evaluation Plan: 2013-2019, Liberia
Evaluation Type: Final Project
Status: Completed
Completion Date: 10/2019
Planned End Date: 10/2018
Management Response: Yes
UNDP Signature Solution:
  • 1. Governance
Corporate Outcome and Output (UNDP Strategic Plan 2018-2021)
  • 1. Output 3.3.2 Gender-responsive and risk-informed mechanisms supported to build consensus, improve social dialogue and promote peaceful, just and inclusive societies
SDG Goal
  • Goal 17. Strengthen the means of implementation and revitalize the Global Partnership for Sustainable Development
SDG Target
  • 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 $): 20,000
Source of Funding:
Evaluation Expenditure(US $): 37,754
Joint Programme: No
Joint Evaluation: No
Evaluation Team members:
Name Title Email Nationality
Julius J. Togba National Consultant juliusjtogba@gmail.com
GEF Evaluation: No
Key Stakeholders: Ministry of Internal Affairs, Governance Commission, UNDP
Countries: LIBERIA
Lessons
Findings
1.

2. Findings: Analysis of Results

The presentation of findings follows the OECD/DAC evaluation criteria with focus on: program relevance, efficiency, effectiveness and sustainability. Impact analysis is based on the projections based on the hitherto program outcomes. The analysis of results also covers UNDP programing principles of Gender and Human Rights. Central in the analysis is the articulation of program strengths, weaknesses and gaps worth harnessing and redressing in future programing respectively. The strategic analysis of the results in this section forms the basis of the conclusions, best practices, lessons learn and recommendations presented in section three.

2.1 Programme relevance

The internal and external programme consistence was the key parameter on which programme relevance was assessed. Externally, the evaluation analyzed the degree of programme alignment with the national development aspirations enshrined in various development documents as well the UNDAF strategic direction. Internally, analysis of the programme concept and design, implementation and management as well as monitoring and evaluation arrangements have formed a central part of the relevance analysis as presented hereunder;


Tag: Relevance Gender-Based Violence Justice system Local Governance Rule of law Policies & Procedures Programme/Project Design Country Government

2.

2.1 Programme relevance

2.1.2 Integration of Decentralization in National Policies and Discourse

a) National Level

Since Liberia’s return to democracy in 2003, decentralization has been part of a broad agenda for the recovery and development of the country. Efforts have been made in that direction from the first transitional Poverty Reduction Strategy (PRS) which commenced in 2003. In 2006, the government created the Governance Commission whose mandate is to finalize and implement a blue print, providing options for political, social and economic decentralization. The main achievements as of 2011 included the implementations of the County development fund (CDF) and County Development Agenda (CDA). The CDA was overseen by the Ministry of Planning and Economic Affairs (now defunct) in consultation with the legislature including joint implementation carried-out by MIA and GC. The CDF is operated by a County project Committee and the Superintendent with oversight responsibility of legislators. Although progress in de-concentration has been made with the second PRS “Lift Liberia” which lasted from 2008 to 2011, a lack of political will and financial mismanagement led to poor implementation of the governance pillar. In 2013, a nation-wide consultation was held to design the eighteen year-long development programme, Vision 2030-Liberia Rising, a platform that provided the pathway to Liberia becoming a middle income economy within the specified time frame. In this program, decentralization is a top priority as specified in the good governance section of the agenda.


Tag: Youth Relevance Gender Equality Gender Mainstreaming Women's Empowerment Local Governance Capacity Building Coordination Civil Societies and NGOs

3.

2.1 Programme relevance

2.1.3 Programme implementation and Management

Programme implementation and management strategies proffered in the PRODOC put at the top of LDSP management structure the Inter-Ministerial Committee on Decentralization (IMCD) chaired by former President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, with the Minister of Internal Affairs serving as secretary to the Committee. It was intended to hold meetings twice each year with membership of relevant ministries, agencies and commissions (MACs), which were incrementally amendable as decentralization of government functions went nationwide. The Committee was constituted to report on progress of planned activities and allow the President to have on-hands monitoring of the decentralization processes. Key informants across programme stakeholders hardly found minutes of the committee’s meeting.

The next line of management authority was the programme board, chaired by the Minister of Internal Affairs. The Board met quarterly and reported to the IMCD. Co-chaired by the Governance Commission, the board took responsibility for providing strategic advice and direction on the programme and made related decisions; approved program annual work plans and budgets based on resource framework; provided oversight and monitored progress against annual work plans and programme cycles; ensured coordination of program activities and accomplishments among other implementation and management responsibilities. Number of annual work plans and budgets approved are indicative of its performance as the strategic policy oversight of the LDSP. 

As a means of ensuring effective compliance and quality assurance of the LDSP, the National Decentralization Implementation Secretariat (NDIS) was established at the MIA to provide technical support to coordinate, facilitate and support the capacity building, implementation and monitoring and evaluation of the program. The program planning envisaged 15 staff for the NDIS, in view of its organogram, but at the time of this evaluation at least 44% was on seat both at the MIA and GC. The program was planned to move from Direct Implementation (DIM) to National Implementation modality. Its 2015 approved work plan emphasized the National Implementation (NIM) modality, noting that MIA would manage and coordinate activities of the programme. MIA had reporting responsibility to UNDP and MFDP on outputs and use of financial resources. However, the programme witnessed UNDP Country office support to NIM or “hybrid direct implementation” on grounds of donor concerns around procurement and government budget bureaucracy pinching on reporting, approvals and other implementation processes. The implementation strategies produced legal and institutional frameworks such as the enactment of the Local Government Act (LGA), transforming the Ministry of Internal Affairs to Ministry of Local Government (MIA-MoLG) and the County Service Centers (CSCs). LDSP’s basket funding and pool strategy harnessed donor resources, which gave management oversight responsibility to one agency (say UNDP), enhancing transparency and accountability. On incremental basis, MACs rolled out their presence in CSCs, opening windows of services under their respective corporate jurisdictions. It also enhanced publicity and created awareness in addition to building and strengthening existing key national formal and informal institutions, using inclusive approach. UN Volunteers assigned within the counties were proactive in ensuring capacity building and institution strengthening, which contributed significantly to knowledge, attitude and practice at national and local levels. 


Tag: Coherence Relevance Civic Engagement Local Governance Human and Financial resources Project and Programme management Poverty Reduction

4.

2.1 Programme relevance

2.1.5 Programme consistence with national/beneficiary needs and priorities

LDSP was consistent with Liberia’s post conflict needs in that it addressed the key conflict factors of centralization, poverty and participatory governance at the national and county levels. Inclusivity is at the core of the programme goal for the stabilization and development of the country. Decentralization aims to ensure a fairer access to administrative services, political decision making, and mainstream funding at the local level, thus bringing government to the population. The County Services are however located in the main cities of the counties, which is logical and relevant for practical reasons, but mainly benefits rural elites. They have easier access to the provisions of services and local government structures while the most vulnerable groups consisting of the population in the most remote communities may find the CSCs inaccessible. Community awareness through community radio was put in place to increase the outreach of information on decentralization, using the concept of the LDSP Communication Strategy developed over the program span.

LDSP has extended provision of services to rural populations. Women have been a key category that have benefited from this expanded service delivery. The Ministry of Gender is one of the MACs represented at the CSCs in addition to the presence of its offices in all the county capitals. Specific attention to marginalized groups such as disabled, ethnic minorities, or youths do not appear in components of the LDSP Programme document, even though youths and women groups have been consulted generally on the provisions of the LGA and their perspective on decentralized governance. The question of youths, students’ participation and/or inclusion into the process to endorse local government legitimacy and accountability still remains a key factor, as well as the integration of rural women, who are the population’s least educated. Regarding the provision of increased administrative and legal recognition to rural populations, the LDSP has made strides that have impacted some groups and have reduced their vulnerabilities.


Tag: Relevance Gender Equality Women's Empowerment Civic Engagement Local Governance Monitoring and Evaluation Service delivery Theory of Change Disabilities Advocacy Capacity Building Youth

5.

2.2 Effectiveness

The LDSP effectiveness analysis covers: i) the extent to which the envisaged program results at outcome and output levels have been realized; ii) contribution of the program’s partnership arrangements; (iii) specific changes (intended/unintended, positive/negative) caused by the project; and iv) factors (facilitators and/or inhibitors) that have influenced program performance. 

2.2.1 Analysis of program results at outcome and output levels

The LDSP was designed to deliver four core outcomes with effective and efficient program management as the fifth. Specific outputs and their corresponding actions were developed and they form a pathway to the desired outcome level results (see theory of change in annex 2). The presentation of findings are organized by the program outcomes and their corresponding outputs as here below. 

Outcome 1: De-concentrated functions and corresponding resources managed at the assigned level of government.

Liberia’s decentralization policy dates way back to 2006. However, the de-concentration of decision-making powers, logistics and basic infrastructure had remained a glaring challenge prior to the LDSP as they were concentrated in Monrovia. The state of quagmire in social service delivery at county level was mostly revealed during the 2014 Ebola response. Although all the 14 MACs that were responsible for service delivery had physical presence at county level, the lack of basic facilities and supplies made them less functional at that level. 


Tag: Challenges Effectiveness Gender Equality Gender Mainstreaming Local Governance Communication Human and Financial resources Operational Efficiency Results-Based Management Service delivery Coordination

6.

2.2 Effectiveness

2.2.1 Analysis of program results at outcome and output levels (continuation)

Outcome 2: Service delivery and accountability of local governments is improved The de-concentration of services and functions comes along with an inevitable requirement of enhanced transparency and accountability in order to achieve effectiveness and efficiency in service delivery. It is on this ground that the evaluation found the LDSP interventions in strengthening accountability of local governments very strategic in achieving the overall aspirations of the decentralization policy in Liberia. Under this outcome, the program envisaged to deliver three outputs namely: i) Capacity for participatory planning, budgeting and managing of development funds as well as revenue collection strengthened; ii) Capacity of the public, citizens’ groups and civil society organizations strengthened to undertake participatory and performance monitoring and to carry out watch-dog functions; iii) Anticorruption measures (systems and enforcement mechanisms) established and functional at county, city, district and community levels; and iv) Capacity of women and girls to participate in local government as leaders enhanced. The evaluation noted that the program outputs were derived from the outcome indicators implying that the program interventions under this outcome were well aligned with the envisaged results. The set progress markers were: i) the number of women and girls holding leadership positions in local government; ii) percentage of county projects implemented from the county develop agenda through CDF, SDF and LDF that are selected by the communities and managed at county level; and iii) percentage of citizens who perceive that corruption is decreasing in local government were the set progress markers under this outcome. Reading from the program work plans and progress reports, it is indicated that capacity strengthening, facilitation of dialogues, development of county development agendas and participatory planning manual, development of revenue sharing formula, as well as advancement of gender in development through women engagements and development of the Local Government gender policy are the key investments and achievements. Though still considered inadequate, the program supported trainings of the various stakeholders including staff from deconcentrating MACs, Governance Commission, female political leaders has seemingly built capacity for participatory performance monitoring. Furthermore, the bringing on board of anti-corruption and integrity institutions such as LACC is according to several stakeholders a key milestone in the promotion of transparency and accountability in the decentralized service delivery system. Much as more support especially towards development and implementation of anticorruption plans and participatory planning is still necessary, the implemented initiatives and results under the LDSP hitherto provide a strong foundation for continuous engagements to achieve accountable and transparent service delivery under the decentralized system.


Tag: Effectiveness Local Governance Parliament Rule of law Human and Financial resources Service delivery Country Government Capacity Building Technical Support

7.

2.3 Facilitators and inhibitors of performance

The overall program design and implementation coupled with the general implementation landscape have facilitated and/or inhibited the achievement of the desired results. However, the identified facilitators and inhibitors form critical lessons that would inform the design and implementation of similar interventions in future as seen hereunder;

a) Facilitators Hybrid of NIM/CO Support to NIM Implementation arrangement: This enabled institutional capacity strengthening which in turn supported program implementation. This arrangement enabled pooling of expertise from both the government institutions and UNDP for successful implementation of program components. Particularly, the use of NIM/CO Support to NIM Implementation ensured streamlined financial management hence leading to efficient use of resources.


Tag: Effectiveness Local Governance Human and Financial resources Implementation Modality Policies & Procedures Programme/Project Design Theory of Change

8.

2.4 Efficiency

As required in the Terms of Reference, the program efficiency analysis was anchored on: i) whether the LDSP’s approaches, resources, models, conceptual framework were relevant to achieve the planned outcomes; ii) the extent to which quality outputs were delivered on time; iii) the economical use of financial and human resources; iv) the robustness of LDSP monitoring and evaluation systems in ensuring efficient and effective management of activities and outputs; and v) the degree to which alternative approaches were considered in designing the programme. 

Thus, central in the analysis was the program budget and expenditure nexus, adoption of cost minimization strategies as well as programme financial management and accountability system as seen here under;

2.4.1 Programme budget and expenditure nexus

The LDSP was designed to achieve 5 core outcomes over a period of five years at an estimated cost of USD 18,604,472.2115. However, due to the effects of Ebola, the program was extended by two years bringing the project completion period to December, 2019. The program budget was envisaged to be raised through donor contributions as well as government co-financing as in table 2.1 below.

The program budget was further distributed across the 5 outcomes and across the implementation years. However, the financial data obtained by the evaluation team indicates that 11,492,766.92 has been realized as at 17 September, 2019 which constitutes 61.8% of the overall programme budget. However, of the realized budget, 10,226,301.69 (89%) had been spent and/or committed at the time of the evaluation.


Tag: Efficiency Anti-corruption Local Governance Implementation Modality Results-Based Management

9.

2.4 Efficiency 

2.4.4 Gaps in program efficiency enhancement strategies

Despite the adoption of results based management and report, the evaluation noted some inconsistence in narrative and financial reporting. There was no standardized reporting and as such, the content of the progress report varied considerably. Whereas some annual reports contained financial data, this was not uniform as some annual reports omitted this information. Furthermore, the presentation of financial data only hinged on the program burn out rate without giving a detailed account of the program expenditure in the light of the outcomes and outputs. Thus, from the annual progress reporting, the tracking of program outcome/output financial performance was less vivid. This can potentially inhibit the generation of evidence-based remedies for outcome/output level financial performance. Whereas the financial management procedures were sound and ensured transparency and accountability, there was a general outcry among program stakeholder over the cumbersome financial management procedures at UNDP. This repeatedly featured in nearly all the progress reports as an inhibiting factor for performance. Although a specific staff was hired to expeditiously handle financial management issues at UNDP, little progress according to the consulted stakeholders has been made. There are reported procurement delays which grossly affected activity implementation hence rocking program performance Inadequate human resource planning which led to staff turnover also grossly affected program implementation especially in 2016 when the NDIS became inactive due to the expiry of staffs’ contracts. Although some staff upon request remained serving as volunteers, this was a big blow to program implementation as many activities came to a standstill. Furthermore, the resignation of the Chief Technical Advisor before the expiry of the contract affected the program. As such, his replacement was not achieved quickly to the detriment of program implementation.


Tag: Efficiency Local Governance Monitoring and Evaluation Procurement Results-Based Management

10.

2.5 Sustainability

The likelihood of sustaining programme achievements beyond the programme funding period is a key indicator of success. However this requires deliberate interventions to ensure sustainability throughout the programme implementation process. Thus, under sustainability analysis, the presence of a sustainability plan, its strengths, weaknesses and gaps as well as the underlying opportunities and threats to sustainability formed the focus of the analysis as seen hereunder; 

2.5.1 Availability and structure of the sustainability plan

A flagship programme for the government and development milestone for donors, the LDSP design paid limited attention to sustainability concerns at the design stage. Consequently, a sustainability plan, articulating steps for continuation of program outcomes upon face-out that could be triggered by donor fatigue was hardly developed. While the programme inarguably created awareness on decentralization and local government reforms at various level of the Liberian society, it still lacks adequate funding in addition to abrupt political changes in leadership and some challenges that exists especially, as it relates to the revision of the local government structures on which the success of the programme depends and that could hamper the continuity of the process. There is no exit strategy indicated in the programme document, detailing for example, how the state will take over the program, or which mechanism would be put in place to sustain the activities without UNDP or other donors’ intervention. Sustainability of the CSC operations, through GoL budgetary allotment, salaries and logistics for staff assigned at service centers, which form the bedrock for national ownership tends to weaken the determination for service provision. While capacity developed through infrastructure and training exist, CSCs are demotivated by limited logistics for outreach, road network challenges in their respective counties, lack of signature rights are among scores of problems hampering sustainability of services. Sustainability can be better ensured through continued investments in capacity building of different stakeholders and not only Governments at the local level over a long period of time. 

The evaluation discovered that in order to ensure that capacity building is prioritized in the decentralization process; an assessment was conducted by Liberia Institute for Public Administration (LIPA) to assess the capacity of institutions and staff to implement decentralization, which revealed some capacity gaps and challenges both at the central and local levels. Hence, in consideration of the institutional and human capacity gaps, GOL has formulated a 10-year National Capacity Development Strategy. Presently, the Capacity Building Coordination Team is located at the MIA as part of the NDIS. As to date, some capacity building efforts have already been made and they are mentioned under the achievement section of this report. However, considering these significant capacity building achievements and the LDSP own approach to foster the use of knowledge and skills acquired through the capacity development component for actual implementation of planned activities to drive the decentralization process, the TE discovered the vital need for LDSP to additionally ensure the on-going of more professional capacity development activities at all levels of LG as outlined in the LDIP and as the need arises for smooth programme implementation. It is worth noting that in order to implement decentralization, the requisite capacities must be developed in the rural areas. Currently, GOL is strongly committed to installing a viable local decentralized governance system and to accomplish this goal, capacity building is a significant foundation of the decentralization agenda. Without building the requisite local capacities, the counties will be unable to assume the administrative roles devolved to them. The TE opines that capacity building at all levels must become the cornerstone to successful implementation of decentralization in Liberia. The LDSP capacity building initiatives were well received by stakeholders and partners. Significant achievements were reported under this component. However, as more MACs rolled-out in the counties, comprehensive capacity building became limited thus leading to some CSC staff who participated in training and others who did not. Consequently, capacity level of MACs within CSC had been at unequal wave length. Unequal capacity levels amongst MACs within CSCs had its impact on timely data synchronizing and reporting, community engagement strategies, coordination as well as use of limited logistics available to the centers. 


Tag: Sustainability Local Governance Operational Efficiency Policies & Procedures Capacity Building

11.

2.5 Sustainability (Continuation)

2.5.3 Opportunities to Programme sustainability

LDSP presents great opportunities to the Liberia decentralization process through its achievements. Policy processes developed during programme implementation, when fully adapted, would crystalize the decentralization process as well as rekindle its missing links. While enactment of the LGA and operationalization of CSCs present viable doors of opportunities, other policy process initiated or developed remain indelibly critical to enhancing administrative and fiscal decentralization. Few of the noble instruments include but not limited to:

Decentralization Implementation Strategy (DIS): This strategic document presents indisputable solution to challenges of de-concentration/decentralization over the years. These challenges include a) lack of implementation strategy; b) some MACs commenced decentralization even before the National Decentralization Policy but following it on an ad hoc basis and in isolation, ignoring intra-sector and inter-sector linkages or economies and scales; c) the decentralization process continues to suffer from human capacity constraints and limited institutional, system and process-based arrangements; d) overlapping administrative structures resulting to lack of efforts to coordinate and consolidate supporting administrative, financial and procurement services associated with decentralization functions of sector ministries and agencies; and e) inadequate participation of local citizens in community development decisions due to absence of formal functioning mechanisms for such participation.


Tag: Challenges Efficiency Sustainability Gender Equality Gender Mainstreaming Local Governance Communication Policies & Procedures Country Government Coordination

12.

2.6 Partnerships and Coordination

In a bid to establish if there were effective partnerships and coordination mechanism in the implementation of the LDSP in order to realize the set objectives and outcomes, the evaluation noted partnerships between UNDP with other Development Partners such as the EU, SIDA, UNMIL, and USAID. In another layer of partnerships, it was also noted that UNDP was able to partner and implement the program with government both Central Government as well as the local level County Administrations through creation of the County Service Centers (CSC).


Tag: Effectiveness Local Governance Partnership Bilateral partners Civil Societies and NGOs Country Government Capacity Building Coordination

13.

2.7 Cross-cutting issues

Several issues cut across the decentralization program. Some of these issues include gender, human rights, peace building, communication and outreach, youth and social inclusion. These issues are profoundly critical to the success of the entire decentralization program. This section of LDSP terminal evaluation report endeavors to articulate these issues based on information gathered during the mission.

1. Human Rights: the rights of all stakeholders within the programme catchment remain critical particularly the poor, indigenous, tribal people, women and other disadvantaged and or marginalized groups. Decentralization of government services must be defined in the context of the extent to which members of disadvantaged subpopulation benefited. From the stand point of this evaluation, the means by which the LDSP met the needs of these sub-population groups is through the enactment of the Local Government Act (LGA) and establishment of County Service Centers (CSCs). While the project has succeeded in establishing the Centers, which bring government services into the locale of indigenous, marginalized and disadvantaged populations, challenges such as limitation in awareness campaign, absence of most desired services such as adult birth and western marriage certification, lack of clout or robust authority to amicably settle the numerous gender related problems especially child abandonment, logistical shortfall, etc. still create service deprivation for local people. In cases of abandonment and persistent non-support for example, the gender units at CSCs make commendable effort. But with the absence of prosecution authority gender, staffs only negotiate with the accused (mostly men). The end result has created dissatisfaction for many women and girls who have expressly noted lack of confidence in the work of the CSC. 


Tag: Effectiveness Gender Equality Gender Mainstreaming Human rights Local Governance Rule of law Conflict resolution Vulnerable Youth

14.

2.1 Programme relevance - 2.1.2 Integration of Decentralization in National Policies and Discourse (Continuation from Finding 2)

b) Sectoral Level: The National Gender Policy of 2009 identifies the low presence of women in decisionmaking at the national and local levels as the main challenge regarding governance. The main actions required to address this issue established the need to implement a gender capacity-building plan and provide technical support to counties for gender mainstreaming thus ensuring that County development plans, programs, budgets and services benefit women. The 2002 National Environmental Policy mentioned the need to decentralize decisionmaking to the appropriate level of government and civil society. In addition, the Liberia National Capacity Development Strategy (2011) includes the decentralization perspective in planning for future human resources needs at the local level, and a two- year capacity-building strategy developed by the MIA. Decentralization has a potential to become the vehicle for coordination of and harmonization of sectorial decentralization strategies and sequencing. Many of the MACs participate in the Technical working Group and the Board. Progress has been made in de-concentrating documentation services. However the LDSP has initiated the drive and definition of sectorial decentralization efforts, bringing together the county authorities and key sector ministries to define strategy, objectives and key competencies and resources required.


Tag: Coordination Institutional Strengthening Technical Support Civil Societies and NGOs National Institutions Gender Equality Gender Mainstreaming Women's Empowerment Local Governance Policies & Procedures Results-Based Management Service delivery

15.

2.2 Effectiveness -2.2.1 Analysis of program results at outcome and output levels (Continuation from Finding 6)

Outcome 4: Responsible GoL institutions, the Ministry of Internal Affairs and the Governance Commission, are capacitated to lead and implement decentralization reforms.

The implementation pace of the decentralization processes and the sustenance of the achievements thereof require strong institutional capacities. Accordingly, the LDSP targeted to strengthen the capacities of the responsible government institutions particularly the MIA and Governance Commission given their pivotal roles in the implementation of the decentralization processes. This was intended to enable these institutions to provide better coordination and leadership in the implementation of the decentralization policy. The achievement of the above results was envisaged through three core outputs namely: i) Institutional and human capacity of the Ministry of Internal Affairs (Monrovia and Counties) built to co-ordinate and lead the implementation of the decentralization processes; ii) GC capacitated to undertake governance assessment and monitoring strengthened; and iii) County administration with necessary ICT facilities (software, services) in place. The evaluation noted that institutional capacity strengthening of both the MIA and GC has significantly been supported under the LDSP. This has mainly been through: i) development of capacity development strategy for MIA subsequent trainings for staff of both MIA and the GC; ii) review and update of governance and management manuals14; iii) development of the Liberia Local Government Assessment Framework spearheaded by the GC; iv) roundtable policy dialogues; v) constitutional review; and vi) mentorship of CSCs staff.


Tag: Effectiveness Local Governance Public administration reform Human and Financial resources Knowledge management Quality Assurance Institutional Strengthening Technical Support National Institutions

16.

Efficiency (Continuation from Finding 8)

2.4.2 Program’s financial management and accountability system In tandem with the National Implementation Modality, the LDSP adopted a coordinated financial management arrangement in which various donors delivered on their funding commitments with the responsibility of direct program implementation resting on the NDIS. Both UNDP and GoL financial management procedures provided guidance depending on the center of financial management. The UNDP financial management procedures were adhered to for the financial resources managed by UNDP while the GoL’s financial management procedures were respected in the management of finances controlled by Ministry of Internal Affairs. Program finances were released on quarterly basis in line with the quarterly work plans that were extracted from the approved annual work plans. Responsible officers at different levels of program implementation had accountability responsibilities for the funds disbursed to their respective office.

2.4.3 Program efficiency enhancement strategies adopted The evaluation noted that the implementation of LDSP was built of specific strategies that had enormous efficiency gains. These were embedded in the design, implementation and progress tracking of the program as discussed hereunder; Throughout program implementation, there was adequate adherence to approved work plans and budget lines which ensured that the deployment of program resources was well aligned with the activity schedules laid out in annual work plans. All annual work plan was satisfactorily signed off by all the delegated authority and this gave the implementation processes great momentum. Although as presented in sub section 2.2.1 above there were some variations between the budget and expenditure, in majority of the cases the variance was positive occasioned by activities that were carried forward. This arrangement curtailed diversion of program resources hence ensuring that financial resources were used for those purposes jointly agreed upon in the annual and even quarterly work plans. Coupled with the program budgeting and work planning, the evaluation further noted that the use of results based budgeting and expenditure framework was instrumental in aligning the program expenditure and the desired results. A review of annual work plans revealed that there was a clear flow program work with adequate emphasis that resources are deployed in respect to envisaged outcomes, outputs and specific activities. As seen in sub section 2.2.1 above, the annual budgets were systematically derived from the results framework. This provides an opportunity of ensuring that each unit of resources spent is targeted at achieving specific results hence achieving efficiency.


Tag: Efficiency Implementation Modality Policies & Procedures Project and Programme management Results-Based Management Risk Management

17.

2.2 Effectiveness - Outcome 1Outcome 1: De-concentrated functions and corresponding resources managed at the assigned level of government (continuation from Finding 5)

Despite the impressive rating of the services at the CSCs, there was however a concern among sections of the respondents over the issuance of western marriage certificates. It was revealed that final signatures for these certificates is still done in Monrovia and the time required and resources spent on the entire process of acquiring it defeats the motive of the de-concentration process as one respondent explained during interview. The above sentiments notwithstanding, 89% of respondents revealed that the services were easy to obtain as opposed to the time before the creation of the centers. In fact, 54% of the respondents said it took three days to get served; 15% said they were served within one week; and roughly 7% who are within the Western Marriage category intimated that it took more than a month to complete their service. It is therefore apparent that the improvements in accessing the services that has been created, improvements in service efficiency is still necessary. Awareness creation has well been paid attention to using a multi-pronged communication strategy that involved both media and community outreaches. Although 59% of the respondents indicated that the level of awareness about the deconcentrated services was minimum, it is apparent that the awareness creation efforts are continuing to take root. The programme successfully established partnership with the media and the arrangement is significantly yielding fruits as the communication expert explained;“……it would be futile for a success public policy implementation without the support of the media. The media has worked well with us on this programme in creating public awareness. Targeting the media as the very first change agents is a strategy that has paid off…..” 


Tag: Challenges Effectiveness Local Governance Operational Efficiency Project and Programme management Service delivery

18.

Sustainability (Continuation from Finding 11)

2.5.4 Threats to Programme sustainability 

However, challenges to LDSP or the decentralization programme sustainability are inherent in three critical areas: 1) the absence of sustainability plan at programme design; 2) weak coordination among MACs over decentralization; and 3) limited political will of national leaders.

The absence of a sustainability plan reduced commitment of stakeholders in donor and beneficiary spheres of the programme. Donors could not envision follow up and or exit strategy to commit additional funding thereby create artificial fatigue or directing resources from the basket fund. Equally, recipient and or implementing government agencies (for example MIA, GC, MFDP, etc.) had nothing binding in the programme design. It had a trickle-down effect on succession in government. MACs renege on devolving signature authority for their services within CSCs, which is a major setback to the operations of CSC. Some MACs (the Ministry of Transport for example) argue that they do not have personnel to assign to CSCs due to budgetary constraints and pledged to train staff of MIA to backstop them at CSCs. The Ministry of Finance and Development Planning, which is responsible for appropriating and disbursing government funds, has since withdrew its commitment to the programme. The absence of this key Ministry undercuts government’s funding allotment for support to operations of CSCs. Weak coordination amongst MACs on the decentralization programme at central and local level is a pitfall to sustenance of the program. As exemplified by withdrawal of MFDP, MACs’ dwindling commitment to the decentralization program has diminishing effect on the momentum of the programme. This is largely responsible for line ministries and agencies to assign staff to CSCs who have no authority to commit the agencies. Moreover, there is no policy instrument that gives supervisory authority to Center Coordinators over other MAC staff at the service centers. Hence coordination at the centers is left at the mercy of human relations and sustainable training activities. Again there would hardly be sustainable training activities in the absence of sustainability plan. The only hope is that the implementation strategy for the LGA, which would enhance the decentralization programme when successfully implemented. Political, bureaucratic and limited awareness are among reasons underpinning weak coordination of decentralization.


Tag: Challenges Efficiency Sustainability Local Governance Communication Donor relations Human and Financial resources Knowledge management Programme/Project Design Coordination

19.

Continuation from Finding 13

3. Peace Building: Centralization/concentration of distribution authority over national resources and opportunities in Monrovia had been among underpinning factors of conflict in Liberia. This conflict factor had been responsible for lack of participation in national policy decision making by local people, marginalization and or exclusion of vulnerable members of the population, and growing distrust in the government that further degenerated into broken institutional relationships throughout the country, leading to the civil crisis. Reconciliation and conflict mediation have been the core of the intervention of the international community with a piggyback strategy of decentralization from Rwanda. Widely seen as a prerequisite to avoiding future conflict, decentralization process however has potential for fueling new conflicts if it does not offer tangible results that the population can relate to and benefit directly from. In furtherance of the concept of avoiding renewed conflicts, a UN CountryTeam driven approach to deliver a decentralized system of government, creating room for participation of all Liberians as a tangible dividend of peace. LDSP’s establishment and functioning of County Service Centers, where citizens from all walks of life access government services, is an embodiment of the tangible results. The challenge however remains the inability on the part of the government to incentivize the Centers for their effective and efficient operations. Conflict can hardly be avoid when most desired services such as adult birth certificate, western marriage signature rights, passports, vehicle registration, fuel, mobile and other logistics are hardly available at the Centers. 


Tag: Challenges Effectiveness Local Governance Communication Knowledge management Operational Efficiency UN Country Team Conflict resolution Peace Building Social cohesion National Institutions

Recommendations
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3.4 Recommendations

Design and Strategy

Recommendation 1. UN strategic SDG interventions: 

The UN should also strategize and MIA in its quest to roll out and operationalize the LGA 2018 ensure that the SDGs are mainstreamed and reported on systematically within the SDG Development Cooperation Framework.

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Design and Strategy

Recommendation 2. M&E Systems:

There is need for a robust M&E Framework and system to guide full implementation of the program from a Results Based Management perspective. 

This is because of the following:

• Indicators are key components of design and log frame and should be set at design with their intention made clear: to determine a project’s progress, impacts, and effects.

• Baseline indicators should be sought or set for all expected outputs and outcomes. Without measurable baseline data impact or effect cannot be measured nor attributed to an intervention. • Target indicators should be realistically set; that is, they must be set within the capability to be achieved given the resources, time frame, and capacities.

• Means of verification should be included in the design and be methodologically robust and time bound in order to give validity not only to monitoring but also to the analysis of effects, outcomes, results and impact. 

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Design and Strategy

Recommendation 3. LDSP Management Systems:

Streamline management and organizational systems that hinder timely implementation, such as issues associated with delays in disbursements, lengthy procurement processes, and lack of coordination between partners. In this case the NDIS (PMU) should in future be fully constituted and filled with adequate staffing and empowered especially the head to have specific Program Bank Account as well as financial management powers in consultation with Ministry heads.

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Design and Strategy

Recommendation 4. Gender Mainstreaming:

The Decentralization processes should in future ensure and enhance integration of gender aspects of the program as well as follow up on the full development of a Gender Policy and Strategy in the MIA or Ministry in Charge of Local Government that will guide in the operationalization of the LGA.

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Design and Strategy

Recommendation 5. Resource Mobilization Strategy:

As the GoL prepares and plans to roll out the LGA 2019 and fully decentralize, there is need to have a robust Resource Mobilization Strategy highlighting key areas of concern and drivers of Decentralization such as Infrastructure and Communication as well Institutional Development and Capacity Building Resource requirements.

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Government of Liberia

Recommendation 1. Political Will and Support: LDSP having achieved an important milestone of enacting the Local Government Act 2018, the GoL should fast track its operationalization as well as put in place all the required regulations, strategies, plans etc. The government should take full charge and ensure that LGA Implementation Plan is fact tracked and owned so that all the other procedures and process are realized in order to consolidate the gains of the LDSP. 

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Government of Liberia

Recommendation 2. Signing powers and Partial De-concentration: In order to fully de-concentrate services from the central government, the CSCs should be fully given signing powers on the documents and certificates issued under the One Stop Shop CSC. In the same breath the Government should fats track the services under the de-concentration platform specially transport related services and Commerce in order to boost revenue etc.

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Government of Liberia

Recommendation 3. Fiscal Decentralization through County Treasuries: Whereas the CSC generate revenues from the de-concentrated services there is need for the government to fast track the roll out of County Treasuries in all the 15 Counties as well as speed up the constitutional and legal processes of revenue sharing in order to ensure financial sustainability. GoL Financial appropriation and Revenue Sharing: For effective and efficient operation of the CSCs, the GoL should prioritize and start appropriating funds through its national budget to the CSCs as well as scale up all the 15 Counties with County Treasuries. GoL should also fast track the enactment of the newly developed Revenue Sharing Formula between the Central government and the respective CSCs. The CSCs should be captured in the budget planning during County Council Sitting.

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Government of Liberia

Recommendation 4. IT and software:

A number of Information Technology (IT) recommendations have been floated as a result of the current challenges faced by various CSCs and these include.

- The absence of internet connectivity at the center from 2017 to 2018 hampers regular communication to LDSP and partner who normally requests for information. The installation of internet to center should be considered.

- Since 2017 to date, there has been no software for the production of traditional marriage certificate. This has resulted to dormancy of the activity at the center. There is an urgent need to resolve this challenge to enable the center to produce traditional marriage certificate.

 - It is important to note that the Labor Local office staff at the center has not been trained to use the biometric ID card equipment, thus results to lack of software for the machine. It is suggested that a solution be found by LDSP to enhance the smooth running of the equipment, including training of staff and provision of appropriate software.

- To date, the software (windows7) and antivirus installed on the supplied desktops are outdated. There is a need for IT technician to visit the center to correct the situation. 

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Government of Liberia

Recommendation 5. Logistics, Infrastructure and support staff

- Support Staff: Government prioritizes recruitment of support staff since CSC is detached from administration building.

- CSC Premises security: In 2017 and 2018 the center has run without security guards and office assistants. Ultimately, securing assets and maintenance of the center hinges on retaining security guards and office assistant. These are challenges that require immediate solution

- Transport: The issue of mobility and communication should also be handled by providing more transport equipment like Motor Bikes and if possible vehicles in order to take services to the people coupled with bad roads and infrastructure. Prioritize the infrastructure programs such as mobilizing resources for opening and gravelling of the County and District Access Roads for the decentralization impact to take root.

- Power supply: In the absence of CSC adequate resources to maintain the generators the government should provide Solar system as power source alternatives.

- Donor partners should increase funding and ensuring monitoring and supervisory responsibility over the activities especially of CSCs.

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