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Independent Country Programme Evaluation: El Salvador
Commissioning Unit: Independent Evaluation Office
Evaluation Plan: 2018-2021
Evaluation Type: ICPE/ADR
Completion Date: 12/2019
Unit Responsible for providing Management Response: El Salvador
Documents Related to overall Management Response:
1. Recommendation:

Recommendation 1. UNDP El Salvador should review the office operational and programmatic structure to ensure it can effectively address the country’s priorities in line with UNDP’s mandate and adapt its way of working to proactively position itself strategically with the new government, promoting more innovation and south-south cooperation.

In light of the UNDP-Resident Coordinator Office delinking, the arrival of a new government and a new Resident Representative, it is important for the CO to seek a more coherent and efficient division of labor within the office, reassessing and adjusting the human capacities it has in place at all levels, in alignment with the 2019 audit recommendations. This should enable the CO to deliver on the strategic, thematic and operational fronts with more efficiency, effectiveness and state-of-the-art innovative solutions to development.

It would also require ensuring an improved balance between a substantive programmatic pipeline of work, to secure its positioning as a key technical and policy advisory partner at country level, and the provision of administrative services for the government, with the adequate oversight and exit strategies to limit operational and reputational risks and ensure capacity development. At the time of the evaluation, UNDP was, while engaging in discussions, mostly waiting to have clearly defined government strategies and had not positioned itself as a clear partner of choice. The CO should build upon its south-south and triangular cooperation capacities to respond to the emerging needs of the government and should leverage staff ideas and pilots showing approaches which can be upscaled. UNDP should also urgently prioritize the development and implementation of a resource mobilization strategy to diversify its sources of funding and support the delivery of a coordinated programme. 

Management Response: [Added: 2020/06/18] [Last Updated: 2020/10/27]

The CO implemented all the recommendations for staffing since the Transformation plan of 2016. However, it will adapt its structure to reflect the delinking from the Resident Coordinator’s office, the arrival of a new government with different needs for support as well as to incorporate the recently approved Acceleration Labs. These efforts will foment innovation and leverage staff ideas.

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
The CO will reassess and adjust human capacities to be fit for purpose, in line with the NextGenUNDP strategy, as well as the new government priorities.
[Added: 2020/10/27] [Last Updated: 2021/06/07]
RR 2020/12 Completed In line with the NextGen UNDP’s strategy, and the government priorities the CO has strengthen its capacity to leverage and combine global, cutting-edge thinking in development to build on and invest in local solutions and partners, by hiring 3 staffs who conform the “Acceleration Lab Team”. History
2. Recommendation:

Recommendation 2. UNDP El Salvador should review the underlining strategies and theories of change of its programme for enhanced effectiveness of the human-rights based approach, institutional capacity development strategies and knowledge management.

To improve the relevance, coherence and sustainability of its interventions, the CO should promote adequate attention to: i. Pathways of change focused on right-holders and duty-bearers, strengthening citizenship participation and engagement in development processes; ii. Clear exit strategies for its work with the government embedded within capacity-building activities, particularly regarding the generation of information and data, compliance with international standards, and procurement of goods and assets; iii. Strategic partnerships to influence the design, implementation and M&E of public policies, ensuring transparency and social auditing through the dissemination and use of the information generated, expanding its collaboration with the civil society and academia.

Management Response: [Added: 2020/06/18] [Last Updated: 2020/10/27]

UNDP is a reference in the country and has led various processes of consensus building and the development of public policies, in matters of citizen security, education and environmental sustainability, in spaces for multi-actor dialogue. In these spaces, UNDP sought the inclusive participation of different sectors of society and the full promotion of human rights principles. UNDP promoted strategic alliances and disseminated knowledge in multi-actor dialogue spaces. UNDP will strengthen alliances with civil society and academia.

With the change of government, and termination of the project that supported the National Councils, UNDP will continue to promote dialogue through new strategies and agreements with the new government.

UNDP has contributed to the generation of evidence in the area of citizen security for decision-making; in the acquisition of health supplies and passports, among others. UNDP recognizes that it must strengthen the development approach in its support of acquisitions, particularly in the health area, and has already started doing so, since the visit of the evaluation team.

Finally, the CO acknowledges that there is space for enhancing effectiveness of the human-rights based approach, and will strengthen in the upcoming CPD.

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
2.1 Promote the strengthening of the national health system, through enhanced data management and enhanced planning.
[Added: 2020/10/27] [Last Updated: 2022/03/10]
RR, DRR, ARR, Official of Democratic Governance. 2021/11 Completed Within the framework of the Digi-Chiquihuites project, in 2022, progress has been made in designing a digital solution for the ISBM, which could be a benchmark for initiatives with other institutions of the national health system. History
2.2 Strengthen alliances with civil society, the private sector and academia especially in the construction of the response to the health, humanitarian and socio-economic crises created by the COVID-19.
[Added: 2020/10/27] [Last Updated: 2022/03/10]
RR, DRR, ARR, Official of Democratic Governance. 2021/11 Completed With the Salvadoran Association of Industrialists (ASI) we jointly developed an SDG guide for companies, which seeks to raise awareness and promote knowledge about said instrument; and seeks to promote the development of initiatives aligned with the Agenda among the industrial sector. UNDP has strengthened partnerships with civil society and private sector in the promotion of an inclusive economic recovery through the work in the Early Recovery Cluster of the humanitarian team since the beginning of the pandemic. In this Cluster we analyze topics such as: the reopening of the economy, food security, and the vulnerability of households. History
3. Recommendation:

Recommendation 3. UNDP should reposition itself as a lead agency on inclusive economic development and, through joint initiatives at local level, develop integrated inclusive sustainable development initiatives to further promote resilience and sustainable livelihoods which address the most pressing needs of women and youth in terms of inequality and poverty reduction. 

Given UNDP’s core mandate and considering it was identified as the agency to work on economic development accelerators by the MAPS, UNDP should strengthen its engagement on inclusive sustainable development through joint and cross-sectoral thematic initiatives positioning itself as the lead UN agency with the new government. This would require facilitating an area-based development approach in selected locations with other agencies which would help to respond to the local drivers of migration and displacement. It would be key for UNDP to frame its environment sustainability, natural resource management, climate change and disaster risk reduction objectives and initiatives, within a broader resilience strategy to address vulnerabilities and promote resilient livelihoods. The CO should also tackle the barriers for youth and women employment building on local economic development objectives. The CO support to improved social public investments should focus on strategically targeting it to the most vulnerable places. 

Management Response: [Added: 2020/06/18] [Last Updated: 2020/10/27]

The country office partially accepts this recommendation. UNDP remains the leading agency on inclusive economic development, especially through the Human Development Reports (HDR) and the multidimensional poverty analysis. It is important to note that El Salvador’s 2018 HDR focused on youth development and the most pressing needs of young people in economic, social, educational and political terms – the document became a national reference.

One of the main challenges to deepen studies in poverty and inclusive economic development is that there is no population and housing census since 2007, which makes difficult to explore subnational levels. Despite that, the multidimensional poverty measure was adopted by the country as a reference for public policy and was first published in 2015, three more measurements have been done since then. Focusing on ‘local drivers of migration and displacement’ is also a very limited approach to looking into the complex issues of multidimensional poverty in the country. With the opportunity of the roll out of the UN framework for the immediate socio-economic response to COVID-19 at country-level, the office is leading the UN effort in analyses and policy formulation.

UNDP has supported the country in making great advances in the environmental agenda. For example, it managed to promote an environmental sustainability plan agreed between the government, the private sector and civil society. The office supported large scale reforestation projects, called attention to areas that had never been protected, developed sustainability plans for 7 RAMSAR areas with a special focus to the very fragile wetlands of the country via a GEF project, and also put NDCs high in the government’s agenda. Moving forward, the sustainable development portfolio will be strengthened with new climate change projects, for example the adaptation of one of the areas most affected by the dry corridor and poverty: Ahuachapán.

Also, UNDP has been working very closely with IFAD on rural development. The national office is an implementing partner of the Rural Adelante Program, which is geographically focused in one of the areas with highest internal and external migration, promoting, and it promotes resilient livelihoods specially for rural youth and women.

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
3.1 UNDP as the technical leader in the socio-economic response to the Covid-19 pandemic, it will lead the UN efforts within the framework.
[Added: 2020/10/27] [Last Updated: 2021/05/05]
RR, ARR 2021/11 Completed UNDP is the coordinator and leader of the Early Recovery Cluster of the Humanitarian Country Team, since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic UNDP has forethought links between humanitarian and development approaches. In the cluster, UNDP has led socioeconomic analyzes of the impacts of the pandemic, and rapid assessments evaluations about economic reopening, income, and food and nutrition security. History
3.2 Develop the national Human Development Report, with economic analysis and dialogue for a new development model for the country.
[Added: 2020/10/27] [Last Updated: 2022/03/10]
RR, ARR;HDR Coordinator 2021/09 Completed The Special Report was presented on January 19th 2022, in a press conference and at an event with high government authorities. The event was chaired by the Vice President of the Republic, to whom officially the document was handled. The event also had presence of cabinet members, delegates form the Legislative Assembly and members of the diplomatic corps. Until February 10th a total of 19 coverages related to the Special Report were counted. The Special Report is characterized by a new paradigm that seeks to balance the economic, social, and environmental dimensions. It is highlighted that climate change is the one that will have the greatest impact on the well-being of El Salvador in the long term. The impact of climate change has a human face, mainly on the most vulnerable groups. And the Report points out the need for a transformation in the country's development model and gives specific recommendations to initiate a national discussion on this issue. History
3.3 Implementation of the Rural Adelante Program as well as the climate adaptation project, to promote early recovery in a highly impacted areas.
[Added: 2020/10/27] [Last Updated: 2022/03/10]
DRR, ARR, Official Sustainable Development 2021/12 Completed With UNDP support, the country presented the National Agenda for Nationally Determined Contributions (NDC), increasing the ambition of its commitment to climate change adaptation measures. The Adelante Rural Project has accelerated activities to reactivate the eastern region's economy, prioritizing the vegetable, dairy and fruit value chains. History
4. Recommendation:

Recommendation 4. UNDP should expand its institutional strengthening support to justice entities with a comprehensive rule of law approach as an enabler of good governance.

To improve citizen security and social cohesion results, the CO should provide significant capacity-development to the justice system for a more coherent response to the country’s violence and insecurity challenges through a rule of law approach. This would also require continuing to pilot models for scale up at the local level, such as the Pionero initiative or restorative justice models, with cross-sectional thematic objectives such as social reintegration and inclusive economic development. It would be important that the CO maintains its support to internal controls and expand it to external controls to reduce impunity in cases of possible violations of human rights, along with clearly defined strategies and frameworks to mitigate risks in line with the Policy on Due Diligence on Human Rights and in partnership with human rights agencies. 

Management Response: [Added: 2020/06/18] [Last Updated: 2020/10/27]

UNDP has implemented initiatives that follow and promote an integral approach to effective governance. As thoroughly explained to the evaluation team, the country office has put the justice system and the rule of law approach in the centre of every one of citizen security and consensus building initiatives as an integral approach to promote citizen security and effective governance. 

In 2015, UNDP successfully promoted the inclusion of the Judiciary and the Unidad Coordinadora del Sector Justicia (the coordinating body of six top justice system agencies and institutions) in the National Security Council, a multi-stakeholder council entrusted of monitoring the implementation of Plan El Salvador Seguro (PESS).UNDP also successfully promoted the inclusion of key judicial reforms in the PESS, along with planning tools to monitor progress. In addition, starting in 2016, the office mobilized funds (internally at UNDP, as well as from PBF) to work with police security forces to enhance their internal oversight mechanisms. In particular, UNDP assisted the National Civil Police organize the full history of their officers, including with digital profiles and mechanisms to track police abuses and disciplinary proceedings. Despite being a sensitive topic, UNDP invested time and effort in this key area to that ensures transparency and the protection of human rights.

Furthermore, UNDP coordinated in 2018 an internal analysis of the justice sector. A mission from HQ was requested to help identify entry points for rule of law and peacebuilding initiatives. UNDP mobilized fonds to work with the Public Defense Office to enhance free legal aid services to reduce overcrowding in prisons and foster conditions for rehabilitation. Moreover, UNDP also designed the joint initiative Pionero, which will benefit the juvenile justice system and generate conditions for the national institution to draft a social reinsertion policy. And finally, UNDP designed and launched the Spotlight initiative, which seeks to impact the specialized jurisdiction of violence against women.

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
4.1. Draft new proposals on social reinsertion, transitional justice and transparency/anticorruption to mobilize new funds.
[Added: 2020/10/27] [Last Updated: 2021/06/07]
RR and program officers 2021/12 Completed A new proposal was drafted and awarded by Peace Building Fund. The initiative is a joint program that will be implemented with UNODC, OHCHR, civil society and UNDP. The project name is “Fortalecimeinto de la Paz y Derechos Humanos a traves de la Justicia Transicional, el combate a la corrupcion y el fomento a la transparencia” History
4.2. Coordinate with RCO the update of the monitoring process of Due Diligence Policy on Human rights with new authorities.
[Added: 2020/10/27] [Last Updated: 2021/06/07]
RR and program officers 2021/12 Completed The follow-up of the Due Diligence Policy will be provided by the Office of the Resident Coordinator through the Peace Development Advisor. They are defining their approach strategy. History
5. Recommendation:

Recommendation 5. The CO should ensure organizational learning and risk management takes places at all levels, moving away from a compliance-focused approach without proper knowledge management.

UNDP should implement the recommendations of previous evaluations that remain valid and unimplemented, including those from the 2011 Assessment of Development Results that were not fully addressed. Some of risks identified, which have materialized, should be carefully mitigated, particularly: 

i. The effective and timely implementation of UNDP’s Quality Assurance Policy for Health Products with support from the Health Procurement Centre of Excellence, including a health procurement review mission to provide quality assurance and support to the CO to quickly solve the situation and avoid financial and operational risks; ii. The measures, frameworks and instruments put in place to ensure the impartiality and credibility of UNDP considering its high financial dependency on government resources which can create political and reputational risks, particularly in sensitive areas such as security and justice.

Management Response: [Added: 2020/06/18] [Last Updated: 2020/10/27]

  • The CO fully complies with UNDP’s Quality Assurance Policy for Health Products, there is no evidence of the contrary and therefore this point should not be an issue in this evaluation report. The CO reiterates that quality assurance is of outmost importance and a corporate priority. The CO requests advice from HIST regarding quality assurance for the procurement of medicines and maintains regular exchange. HIST provides recommendations, the CO takes note of such and acts accordingly.
  • The CO rejects that the government cost sharing model impacts on the impartiality and credibility of UNDP. The model of cost recovery and government cost sharing, on the contrary, attests of the good services and value of UNDP to the country.
  • Moreover, The CO fully rejects Evaluation finding #8. The CO has taken these affirmations seriously and, in order to take action, requested the evaluation team to provide concrete information in relation to the assertion related to violation of human rights, which were stated as based on ‘perceptions’. None was provided. The Report demonstrates that Evaluation Team misunderstood the role of UNDP in the National Security Council and the context where the CO operates, and therefore a highly sensitive issue was addressed inappropriately.

Furthermore, the CO provided ample evidence on the full compliance with the Policy on Due Diligence on Human Rights endorsed by the RC as well as the UNCT.

Key Actions:

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