Independent Country Programme Evaluation: Armenia

Report Cover Image
Evaluation Plan:
2018-2021, Independent Evaluation Office
Evaluation Type:
ICPE/ADR
Planned End Date:
12/2019
Completion Date:
12/2019
Status:
Completed
Management Response:
No
Evaluation Budget(US $):
35,000

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Title Independent Country Programme Evaluation: Armenia
Atlas Project Number:
Evaluation Plan: 2018-2021, Independent Evaluation Office
Evaluation Type: ICPE/ADR
Status: Completed
Completion Date: 12/2019
Planned End Date: 12/2019
Management Response: Yes
Corporate Outcome and Output (UNDP Strategic Plan 2018-2021)
  • 1. Output 1.1.2 Marginalised groups, particularly the poor, women, people with disabilities and displaced are empowered to gain universal access to basic services and financial and non-financial assets to build productive capacities and benefit from sustainable livelihoods and jobs
  • 2. Output 1.4.1 Solutions scaled up for sustainable management of natural resources, including sustainable commodities and green and inclusive value chains
Evaluation Budget(US $): 35,000
Source of Funding:
Evaluation Expenditure(US $): 35,000
Joint Programme: No
Joint Evaluation: No
Evaluation Team members:
Name Title Email Nationality
Elinor Bajraktari Evaluation Consultant
Tianhan Gui Research Consultant
Boris Houenou Research Consultant
GEF Evaluation: No
Key Stakeholders:
Countries: ARMENIA
Lessons
Findings
1.

Finding 1: UNDP has contributed to the promotion of green agricultural production and some small businesses in the most vulnerable areas of Armenia. The CO reported some evidence of increased income for the target population, while sustainability might be challenged by the lack of adequate agricultural extension services in the target areas. Efforts are underway to promote a better understanding of what the future job market needs are, particularly for young generations.


Tag: Jobs and Livelihoods Poverty Reduction Effectiveness Sustainability Agriculture Technical Support

2.

Finding 2: UNDP supported the design and implementation of community development plans and funds, promoting inter- and intra-community collaboration and better ownership of processes. Plans and funds filled an important gap in the provision of community services, sometimes at a lower than market rates. The long-term financial sustainability of the funds is yet to be proven, and synergy with local governance processes and systems, particularly in consolidated communities, needs to be further explored.


Tag: Poverty Reduction Programme/Project Design Effectiveness Sustainability Rural development Technical Support

3.

Finding 3: UNDP contributed to the development of the tourism sector in Armenia, with a focus on vulnerable areas. The CO worked in collaboration with international and national partners, and valuably promoted the involvement of private sector companies. Albeit at a still early phase of implementation, these initiatives have yielded positive results in the form of increase in tourism and income for vulnerable populations. The institutional sustainability of some of the structures and outputs created remains uncertain, as their transfer to the State Tourism Committee has yet to be agreed.


Tag: Vulnerable Tourism Effectiveness Private Sector Technical Support

4.

Finding 4: UNDP supported the first national agricultural census of Armenia, whose data have informed the development of agricultural policies and strategies. Other policy developments in employment and inclusive growth planned in the CPD were not supported, as the programme veered towards the promotion of investments through the simplification of business procedures. There is room for UNDP to further support policy development work in the area of agri-business and rural development at large, by promoting interministerial collaboration across areas of interventions.


Tag: Inclusive economic growth Effectiveness Agriculture Rural development Technical Support

5.

Finding 5: Managing a multi-donor basket fund, UNDP effectively supported the Government in the organization of transparent Parliamentary elections in 2017 and 2018. All stakeholders favourably reported UNDP’s neutrality and efficiency. UNDP’s long-term support to building the capacity of the electoral management body is important in terms of sustainability, but it requires coordination to build on previous results, as some of the same activities appear in different project documents.


Tag: Capacity Building Election Parliament Multi Donor Trust Funds Effectiveness Technical Support

6.

Finding 6: UNDP effectively managed significant capital investments for the development of infrastructure and technical capacities of the border agencies, which facilitated the traffic of people and goods across three points between Armenia and Georgia. A fourth control point at the border with Iran is under development. Analytical tools allowed the recording of processing times, which is an important anti-corruption measure. However, since crime statistics have not been collected, the impact of the projects on illicit trade and traffic of people and goods cannot be fully assessed.


Tag: Climate change governance Migration Effectiveness Technical Support

7.

Finding 7: Within the framework of the EU Human Rights Budget Support, and in partnership with other United Nations agencies, UNDP promoted institutional capacity development to improve the protection of human rights in Armenia. Work in this area has not progressed as expected, with limited evidence of significant contributions to outcome results, partly because of the changes in the Government which affected the timeliness of the planned activities.


Tag: Capacity Building Human rights Effectiveness Efficiency UN Agencies Technical Support

8.

Finding 8: In the area of support to people with disabilities, UNDP promoted a multidisciplinary assessment model in line with international conventions and supported a concerted approach including different line Ministries. Work in this area has been slowed down by the revolution and changes in the Government’s structure, requiring time for reprioritization.


Tag: Disabilities Challenges Effectiveness Efficiency Technical Support

9.

Finding 9: Through the Women in Local Democracy (WiLD) 2 project and innovation labs, UNDP encouraged youth’s interest in public affairs and promoted citizens’ engagement and participation in decision-making. While youth benefited from important opportunities to shape national and local strategies, other tools to improve citizens feedback on the provision of services have been less effective due to the novelty of the tools proposed, which require trust of the population in their utility, and limited openness by local administrations.


Tag: Youth Civic Engagement Human rights Gender Equality Effectiveness Technical Support

10.

Finding 10: UNDP’s work in the area of governance partly responded to the needs articulated in the SPPD. No reform of the public administration system for enhanced efficiency, accountability and transparency was planned; and support to anti-corruption strategies was cancelled. Starting from 2018, UNDP has expanded its work in this area by supporting a review of the civil service system and planning a large project in support of Parliament’s capacity-building.


Tag: Capacity Building Justice system Parliament Public administration reform Effectiveness Efficiency Relevance Technical Support

11.

Finding 11: While the participation of women in politics remains low, UNDP effectively helped a number of female project beneficiaries to get a seat in local councils. The potential of women’s networks as a driver of change has not been fully tapped. UNDP’s advocacy for changes in the policy and legal framework for gender equality in politics has not yet produced the expected results.


Tag: Election Gender Equality Effectiveness Relevance Technical Support

12.

Finding 12: UNDP’s gender portfolio has increased in terms of financial resources and number of projects to include initiatives targeting women’s economic empowerment and women’s participation at all levels of the public administration system. Through the Joint Programme on Human Rights, UNDP and UNFPA developed institutional capacity in the area of GBV to fight a culture of impunity, although much remains to be done. The growth of the gender portfolio requires careful coordination of activities by different projects to benefit from synergies and avoid duplication.


Tag: Human rights Gender Equality Gender-Based Violence Women's Empowerment Joint UN Programme Efficiency UN Agencies Technical Support

13.

Finding 13: UNDP has contributed to integrating gender in the electoral code but fell short of supporting other gender-sensitive policy formulation at the national level, including through the use of disaggregated data for policymaking. The absence of a dedicated and strong national women’s machinery affected the ability of UNDP to provide more strategic support in the area of gender equality and empowerment of women.


Tag: Election Gender Equality Gender Mainstreaming Women's Empowerment Effectiveness Efficiency Technical Support

14.

Finding 14: Sustainable management of natural resources has been one of the key directions of UNDP’s work. The CO has been a valued adviser to the Government, and it supported authorities in strengthening environmental, legal, policy and institutional frameworks, as well as raising public awareness about environmental issues and related international conventions. There is space for the CO to better ensure that the instruments and innovative practices introduced are continuously applied and scaled up, as relevant.


Tag: Environment Policy Natural Resouce management Effectiveness Efficiency Relevance Policy Advisory

15.

Finding 15: With UNDP’s assistance, the Government has elevated disaster risk management (DRM) as a key priority. The CO’s support to national and subnational institutions and instruments, combined with the implementation of small-scale projects in disaster-prone communities, contributed to the establishment of a well-developed DRR/DRM system, underpinned by effective coordination among relevant stakeholders.


Tag: Disaster Risk Reduction Effectiveness Technical Support

16.

Finding 16: UNDP contributed to the reduction of energy consumption and associated GHG emissions from residential buildings, lighting, and electrical appliances. This has been achieved through the creation of an enabling regulatory environment, development of skills and capacity among industry professionals, and the piloting of new technologies and business models.


Tag: Emission Reduction Energy Effectiveness Efficiency Technical Support

17.

Finding 17: UNDP has been engaged in the protection of health and the environment by promoting the elimination of persistent organic pollutants (POPs) and phasing out hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs) in the refrigeration and air conditioning servicing sectors. While legal and institutional foundations for the elimination of POPs have been laid, the actual transfer of waste to a disposing facility has not taken place due to political challenges.


Tag: Emission Reduction Challenges Effectiveness Technical Support

18.

Finding 18: UNDP has successfully managed the GEF Small Grants Programme (SGP) for Armenia, through which it has funded a range of community-based initiatives addressing key environmental priorities and targeting marginalized communities. This work has resulted in the promotion of a number of innovative approaches and technologies that address key environmental problems in the country.


Tag: Emission Reduction Resilience building Natural Resouce management Global Environment Facility fund Effectiveness Efficiency Technical Support

19.

Finding 19: UNDP’s work has been affected by significant changes in the political landscape, which delayed results and/or affected effectiveness. UNDP’s strategic positioning was strengthened over time, particularly in the area of governance, thanks to the effectiveness of its work on elections and its support to women in local politics.


Tag: Parliament Strategic Positioning Challenges Operational Services

20.

Finding 20: UNDP positioned itself as a propulsive force for innovation in Armenia. Through the Kolba Lab, it promoted citizen participation, crowdsourcing, and modernization of public services. UNDP also established the first country-level SDGs Lab, and promoted the use of innovative finance mechanisms and digital tools to advance socio-economic development solutions. The lack of data, combined with the limited time passed since the creation of some of these ventures, hampers the assessment of impact and sustainability of the supported innovations.


Tag: Programme Synergy Strategic Positioning Coherence Relevance Technical Support

21.

Finding 21: In addition to the establishment of the SDGs Lab, UNDP has supported the Government in the definition of local targets for the SDGs and promoted analysis of achievements and gaps. Progress both at policy and data monitoring level has been hampered by changes in the Government following the revolution.


Tag: Agenda 2030 Strategic Positioning Coherence Relevance Technical Support

22.

Finding 22: UNDP has valuably engaged with both citizens and the private sector, promoting a vision of sustainable development which empowers actors other than the Government to contribute to change.


Tag: Programme Synergy Strategic Positioning Coherence Relevance Country Government Private Sector Technical Support

23.

Finding 23: UNDP mobilized a larger than expected amount of resources in support of its programme of work, particularly in the area of governance (through the electoral support project) and on energy and environment. The funding sources have been diversified thanks to new agreements with the GCF and the Russian Federation, thus reducing dependency on EU and GEF funding.


Tag: Election Energy Environment Policy Global Climate Fund Global Environment Facility fund Efficiency Technical Support

24.

Finding 24: UNDP promoted gender equality and empowerment of women through gender-focused projects and women-targeted activities in the inclusive growth and, to a smaller extent, environment portfolio. The CO’s Gender Equality Strategy and Action Plan promoted a number of important measures for internal gender mainstreaming through planning and management actions, but it could have further developed the identified entry points to mainstream gender into programme areas and projects. UNDP’s efforts in this area awarded the CO the Silver Gender Seal in 2017.


Tag: Inclusive economic growth Gender Equality Gender Mainstreaming Women's Empowerment Effectiveness Technical Support

25.

Finding 25: The M&E system currently in place does not allow for an adequate assessment of the results achieved, for both accountability and learning. The CO put in place a number of measures to improve the frequency and quality of reporting; yet, M&E activities have mostly focused on financial management and counting of outputs, with little attention paid to outcomes and learning to improve effectiveness. Few evaluations have been conducted outside the energy and environment area. The CO’s capacity remains inadequate.


Tag: Monitoring and Evaluation Challenges Operational Services

Recommendations
1

UNDP should develop its future programme interventions based on clear theories of change derived from its vision for Armenia.

UNDP should translate its vision for a green and inclusive economic revolution into theories of change for defined issues that need to be addressed, taking advantage of the synergies produced by combining its different technical expertise and facilitating coordination among various line Ministries. When defining the theories of change, UNDP should take into full account existing initiatives by other stakeholders, to enhance the impact of its work through a multiplier effect. In this process, UNDP should use the SDGs accelerators as a reference framework, to ensure full alignment between its vision and the support to areas where Armenia is lagging more behind.

2

UNDP should support the revitalization of the national committee for the implementation of the SDGs and continue advocating with the Government for the full alignment of national and sectoral policies with the SDGs.

In partnership with the United Nations Resident Coordinator, UNDP should reinvigorate the dialogue around the SDGs, to ensure the alignment of national policies to the agreed goals and targets. In order to enhance accountability and inclusiveness, UNDP should promote a more active role of the Parliament and civil society in the discussion around the SDGs. In addition, UNDP should continue working with the SCA and other partners to improve the quality and accuracy of SDGs-related statistics, promoting their use to inform policies and strategies.

3

UNDP should promote a more integrated vision of local development, reinforcing the synergy among its portfolios, following an area- and outcome-based development approach.

UNDP should ensure that all its interventions at the local level are implemented in close coordination with local stakeholders and are inscribed into existing institutional frameworks and structures, to promote synergy and sustainability. UNDP’s support to municipal participatory budgeting processes under the governance/ gender portfolio and the work in support of community-based organizations under the inclusive growth portfolio should be better coordinated. The growth portfolio could also be linked more closely with projects aimed at improving the management of protected areas, for the promotion of green tourism.

4

In the area of inclusive growth, UNDP should enlarge its support for employment creation and build on good practices to affect impact at a broader scale.

UNDP should expand its work in this area by reinforcing its support to SMEs’ participation in value chains and promoting integrated rural development approaches with the participation of all relevant national stakeholders – including the Ministry of Economy, the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs, and the Ministry of Environment. UNDP should take stock of the work conducted in Tavush and evaluate the effectiveness of its community initiatives, to promote their institutionalization and scaling up, as relevant. In addition, UNDP should identify ways to strategically support the implementation of the employment strategy to promote the development of capacity demanded by the market and thus reduce inequality. In the area of tourism, UNDP should agree with national stakeholders the transfer of the TRM to the State Tourism Committee and agree with the latter on a strategy to institutionalize the tourism and research centres.

5

UNDP should seek ways to strengthen its governance portfolio in support of national institutions, through initiatives on open governance and an improved system of checks and balances in the country.

UNDP should expand its portfolio in the areas of institution building in support of the Parliament, public administration reform, and rule of law. In the implementation of the agreed reforms, UNDP could consider adopting a model similar to the one successfully applied in Georgia, where basket funds and flexible funding arrangements have allowed the financing of different initiatives in support of emerging needs.

6

UNDP should further support national institutions in the promotion of gender equality and empowerment of women, adopting a comprehensive approach that focuses on addressing structural and root causes behind GBV and what is preventing women and girls from fully enjoying their rights.

UNDP should lead the UNCT’s efforts in support of the new women's national machinery, and – together with other GTG members – define a joint approach to address the institutional and cultural barriers that affect women’s capacity to participate in political and economic life, as well as the factors behind the high rate of GBV. Any future intervention in this area should aim at tackling behavioural change and cultural assumptions about the role and rights of men and women in the society, including among members of national institutions. The CO should also consolidate the creation of women’s networks in politics and business, to stimulate the discussion about the role of women in society and set positive examples for young girls to look up to.

7

UNDP should strengthen its support to human rights to further integrate the 2030 Agenda principles of leaving no one behind.

UNDP should enhance its work in the area of human rights, and in particular on abuses by enforcement officials, anti-discrimination, and people with disabilities. Planned interventions should not be limited to the reinforcement of national strategic and planning capacity but ensure the implementation of on-the-ground solutions to protect the rights of the most vulnerable. The collaboration with IOM and UNHCR in the area of migrant rights through enhanced border management should be strengthened.

8

UNDP should develop a strategy for its innovation work, to better define its goals and reflect on the sustainability of the structures it has created.

UNDP should better define the contribution of its innovation work, including funding to start-up, to the CO’s programmatic goals, to ensure that any intervention supported in this area is aligned with the expected outcomes, and technology is fully harnessed to promote broader corporate results. The strategy should not just focus on innovation as technology, but also consider how behavioural science experiments could be integrated into projects to identify successful practices in development. The respective roles of the three Labs and their sustainability should be clarified.

9

UNDP should reinforce its M&E system to track progress against well-defined outputs and outcomes and use results to inform regular discussions with the CO’s Senior Management.

Based on issue-based theories of changes, UNDP should identify appropriate outcome level indicators to determine progress on the expected behavioural change (at individual or organizational level) to which different projects will contribute. Progress against key outcome indicators should inform regular discussion within the Senior Management Team. The CO should monitor with particular attention the success of pilot and innovation initiatives, even after project’s completion, to derive lessons learned and inform possible scaling up. The CO should seek out the support of UNDP headquarters for training on project’s design and monitoring, focusing on the quality of RRFs and the identification of appropriate tools and methodologies for data collection and reporting.

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