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

Recommendation 1. Unless recovery efforts are linked to re/development and are addressed simultaneously, there is a risk to the fragile peace in Syria. UNDP should reinforce its development mandate and implement a multi-track strategy to address simultaneously areas still in crisis and those which are moving towards a postconflict situation. To do so, UNDP should strengthen its engagement with the Government at different levels to promote well-tested development programme approaches linked to recovery efforts. UNDP should apply a resilience-based approach to humanitarian interventions, recovery, and re/development support. 

UNDP should pursue a multi-track strategy to reinforce support to policy and capacity development at the national level and strengthen institutions at the sub-national level. UNDP should be proactive in identifying key areas for institutionalized early recovery and re/development for substantive engagement, with emphasis on sustainable employment, strengthened local governance, improved service delivery and local development. Measures should be taken to anchor recovery and rehabilitation work within local government frameworks to strengthen service delivery processes. Drawing on its corporate work, UNDP is well-positioned to support sensitive areas such as elections and constitutional review process if the opportunities arise. 

For sustainable reconstruction, UNDP must engage with the Government at different levels and establish formal partnerships as other UN agencies have done. The expectations for UNDP support to re/development are high and have to be carefully managed. Unmet expectations could undermine the strategic role UNDP can play in Syria’s return to peace and development. UNDP should explore programming arrangements that would respond to the constraints of donor agencies while, at the same time, allowing UNDP to uphold its mandate. 

Management Response: [Added: 2020/06/30] [Last Updated: 2020/12/24]

UNDP takes note of the recommendation. It will continue to apply a resilience-based approach to humanitarian interventions and recovery working through the Early Recovery and Livelihoods Cluster in the HRP and through engagement with the UN Country Team in general. UNDP will further enhance its analytical and knowledge management capacities to offer evidence-based responses and policy choices.

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
1.1 Focus on local planning capacities for resilience and equitable gender-sensitive essential service delivery. a. Strengthen municipal services and community participation. b. Support country and local workshops on long-term local governance issues, the role of women in LG and evidence-based planning. c. Strengthen technical skills to deliver essential infrastructure services and support
[Added: 2020/12/24]
(Social Cohesion and Local Development) and (Basic Services and Infrastructure) portfolios 2023/12 Initiated
1.2. Spearhead the 2030 Agenda and the SDGs at local level with youth groups and others.
[Added: 2020/12/24]
Strategic Policy and Planning Unit with all portfolios 2023/12 Initiated
1.3 Review and establish a strategic planning and analysis hub within the office to ensure timely socio-economic and context-sensitivity analysis and evidence underpin the UNDP programme.
[Added: 2020/12/24]
Strategic Policy and Planning Unit with all Portfolios 2021/03 Initiated
1.4 Expand outreach and dialogue with partners and stakeholders on the importance of scaling up resilience and context-sensitive early recovery programming in support of the most vulnerable and in line with UN parameters and principles.
[Added: 2020/12/24]
Senior Management and Strategic Policy and Planning Unit 2023/12 Initiated
2. Recommendation:

Recommendation 2. UNDP should invest in efforts to promote a UN common vision for integrated local development to serve as a platform for rehabilitation, institutionalized early recovery and addressing re/development. UNDP should leverage its area offices to develop a more comprehensive local development programme beyond project implementation.

To bridge humanitarian efforts and local development, UNDP should promote area-based integrated local development solutions in a phased manner to strengthen services and improve sustainable employment and livelihoods. This should be done by engaging key actors, including the Government, UN, and the private sector in providing more holistic solutions. In areas it chooses to support, UNDP should engage substantively as against one-off micro initiatives on a range of themes. 

UNDP is well-positioned to provide context-specific programme models for employment and livelihoods. It should put greater emphasis on providing viable programme models for sustainable employment at scale rather than short-term income generation initiatives which target a small group. Routine enterprise development responses that do not address market linkages, access to finance, and linkages to private sector investments are bound to produce limited impact. As UNDP resources will not be sufficient to address the full range of issues, UNDP should use the right set of tools and partnerships while supporting vocational training and enterprise development. UNDP should pursue opportunities for innovation in agricultural livelihoods, drawing on international best practices and partnerships with relevant UN agencies.

A deliberate approach to service delivery areas such as solid waste management, water management, and energy efficiency should be pursued for strategic engagement. UNDP should develop a phased approach for a national solid waste management strategy, which would re-establish local government waste management in terms of manpower and cost-recovery and gradually increase attention to sustainable waste management practices according to national policy targets. UNDP should also engage in the upcoming national energy strategy and promotion/integration of renewable energy options.

An additional area where UNDP should strategically engage in is the facilitation of private sector engagement. Despite the crisis, there is considerable private sector engagement in Syria, and this will increase in the future. Building on the current initiatives, UNDP should identify appropriate tools and areas for systematically pursuing private sector engagement and development, especially in Aleppo.Social cohesion and community peace efforts should be integrated across programmes at the local level. 

Management Response: [Added: 2020/06/30] [Last Updated: 2020/12/24]

UNDP agrees with this recommendation and has incorporated an area-based development approach to underpin its draft country programme document for 2021-2023 and will promote a UN common vision through pilot initiatives with key UN partners. UNDP will also continue investing to develop programming models that deliver conflict-sensitive early recovery and resilience interventions.

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
2.1 Leveraging its area offices and early recovery coordinators, UNDP will develop area-based strategies and plans to foster community resilience and to tailor integrated programmatic interventions targeting most vulnerable groups of women, youth and PwDs.
[Added: 2020/12/24]
Strategic Policy and Planning Unit, Management Support Unit and Area Offices and all portfolios 2022/12 Initiated History
2.2 Engage in context-specific social cohesion and gender-responsive programme initiatives at the local level to foster peaceful and cohesive communities.
[Added: 2020/12/24]
Social Cohesion Portfolio 2022/12 Initiated
2.3 Support local planners to better understand the current context and develop a new phase of the local strategy based on building capacities of related technicians for managing solid waste.
[Added: 2020/12/24]
Basic Services and Infrastructure portfolio 2022/12 Initiated
2.4 Explore and test system-based approaches including through Accelerator Lab that will be a platform for an integrated local development.
[Added: 2020/12/24]
All portfolios and Accelerator Lab 2023/12 Initiated
3. Recommendation:

Recommendation 3. UNDP should pay specific attention to youth employment. Jointly with other UN agencies, UNDP should take concrete measures to address the gender implications of the crisis in select sectors. The demographic imbalance after the crisis presents a renewed opportunity to further pursue gender equality and women’s empowerment at the policy level. 

The crisis further exacerbated gendered social norms, inequalities, and vulnerabilities with an additional challenge of imbalance of male-female ratio and a significant increase in the female-headed households. This situation needs both women-oriented responses as well as gender-informed recovery and reconstruction strategies. This is an area where UNDP contribution will be enhanced with partnerships. While there are ongoing partnerships with UN agencies, further joint efforts are needed for a comprehensive response to address gender- and women-specific issues in recovery and re/development.

The Syria context also requires a strategic approach to youth development and not merely including youth as beneficiaries in one-off short-duration projects on employment and empowerment. Given the significant role youth play in peacebuilding and development of Syria, UNDP should facilitate systematic youth employment strategies.

Management Response: [Added: 2020/06/30] [Last Updated: 2020/12/24]

UNDP agrees with the recommendation and will continue to pay special attention to initiatives that aim to provide youth with the skills, tools and opportunities for decent employment, and will
pursue the gender equality and women’s empowerment agenda by empowering women leaders and targeting young women for entrepreneurship, employment and training opportunities. UNDP will partner with other UN agencies for a comprehensive response.

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
3.1 Establish a network to guide UNDP on social cohesion, gender, community security and cross-sectoral programmatic and advocacy initiatives.
[Added: 2020/12/24]
Social Cohesion and Local Development portfolio 2021/03 Initiated
3.2 Strengthen the social, civic and digital engagement of youth and fostering of volunteerism, addressing negative gender dynamics and social cohesion-building. Promote youth as partners rather than beneficiaries.
[Added: 2020/12/24]
Social Cohesion and Local Development portfolio 2023/12 Initiated
3.3 Explore and pilot women and youth economic empowerment that will address social, cultural and economic challenges women and youth face, including promoting women and youth as partners for co-designing and integrated approaches.
[Added: 2020/12/24]
Local Economic Development and Livelihoods portfolio 2023/12 Initiated
4. Recommendation:

Recommendation 4. UNDP should further develop and institutionalize stronger partnerships with other UN agencies in complementary areas of employment and livelihoods, service delivery and women’s empowerment. 

Partnerships with UN agencies are critical for the repositioning of UNDP as well as the UN in responding to institutionalized early recovery and re/development programming needs in Syria. UNDP should pursue programme partnerships with UN agencies in complementary areas of employment and livelihoods, service delivery, and cross-cutting issues such as women’s empowerment and social cohesion. Partnerships with the UN need to be institutionalized with a clear purpose and targets. Area-based approach in select thematic areas should be pursued with other UN agencies to provide integrated solutions. 

An area where concerted joint efforts with the UN are needed is the strengthening of development statistics at the national and subnational levels and needs and market assessments at the subnational level. Building on its ongoing work in this area, UNDP should invest resources in conducting conflict sensitivity and market assessments to enable evidence-based programming in Syria. As there is an increased interest in mainstreaming the SDGs at the national level, UNDP should support efforts towards strengthening development data systems to enable SDG monitoring, an area where joint UN efforts can be more productive. UNDP should consider support to policy analysis and specific assessments such as implications of brain drain.

Management Response: [Added: 2020/06/30] [Last Updated: 2020/12/24]

A comprehensive area approach is already part of the UNDP mandate in Syria. Partnership with UN agencies is already in place especially in the areas of light rehabilitation of social service infrastructure (for example, water supplies for irrigation purposes, health and education facilities) and climate change resilience. UNDP collaborates with WHO, UNFPA, UNHCR, UNICEF, WFP, FAO and UN-Habitat. Theselinks will be strengthened within the new CPD.

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
4.1 Active participation in UN gender working group and integrate gender and protection issues in UNDP programme.
[Added: 2020/12/24]
Social Cohesion and Local Development portfolio 2022/12 Initiated Gender is a cross-cutting issue in the new country programme document where outcomes and outputs are sex-disaggregated and gender-sensitive.
4.2 Develop an agreement on a joint initiative with UN agencies to: a. Support efforts towards climate change resilience of communities through sustainable and climate-change-resilient integrated natural resources management.
[Added: 2020/12/24]
Basic Services and Infrastructure portfolio 2023/12 Initiated Initiated in collaboration with UN agencies in the area of water infrastructure rehabilitation
4.2.. Develop an agreement on a joint initiative with UN agencies to: b. Provide support to respond to the urgent community need for water resources for irrigation.
[Added: 2020/12/24]
Basic Services and Infrastructure portfolio 2022/12 Initiated
4.3 Promote complementarity between UN agencies in rehabilitation activities considering the mandate and added value of each to support outcome achievement.
[Added: 2020/12/24]
Basic Services and Infrastructure portfolio 2022/12 Initiated
4.4 Leverage UNDP’s technical leadership in the socio-economic response to COVID-19 and its lead of the socio-economic outcome under the UN Strategic Framework to facilitate joint initiatives.
[Added: 2020/12/24]
Local Economic Development and Livelihoods portfolio 2021/12 Initiated
4.5 Elaborate specific area based interventions with UN agencies based on joint assessments and analysis, including UNHCR, UNICEF and UNFPA.
[Added: 2020/12/24]
All portfolios and Area Offices 2022/12 Initiated
5. Recommendation:

Recommendation 5. UNDP should ensure conflict sensitivity and gender analysis informs programme interventions. Further emphasis should be given to strengthening the programme and management efficiencies. 

Currently, needs analysis is carried out with a humanitarian response goal. For sustainable employment, livelihoods and inclusive service delivery, broader needs and market assessments are required. In addition, conflict sensitivity and gender analysis should inform UNDP programme interventions. With the change in the country’s demography, the importance of gender analysis in programming should be emphasized. 

UNDP should also strengthen linkages between and within programme areas as parallel interventions on similar themes are undermining UNDP’s contributions. It would be important to revisit programme team structures for greater efficiency gains and consolidate programme team structures and themes to strengthen UNDP’s response and contribution. UNDP should identify key integrator elements that will be catalytic for institutionalized early recovery and re/development. 

UNDP has made a considerable investment in developing a monitoring system with different streams of data, including an online data portal. Attention should be paid to streamline multiple sources of data into one online database system to reduce redundancies and for effective use of this data for programme management and oversight and for sharing lessons.

Management Response: [Added: 2020/06/30] [Last Updated: 2020/12/24]

UNDP agrees with the recommendation. During the current country programme period, UNDP has carried out several conflict sensitivity and market assessments. UNDP will undertake further assessments and put in place mechanisms to apply conflict sensitivity and market analysis in the design and implementation of the UNDP programme. UNDP has also prioritized gender-sensitivity analysis in programme formulation and implementation. Measures are already being taken to review internal structures and processes to strengthen programme and management efficiencies.

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
5.1 Adopt a multi-goal and multi-disciplinary planning approach to support gender mainstreaming, capacity-building initiatives and information by: a. Developing minimum gender standards b. Conducting training/ orientation session to enhance gender-related capacity in programme design, budgeting, implementation and monitoring c. Conducting a study and analysis on the impact of the Syrian crisis on the gender dynamics and the situation of most vulnerable groups of women, adolescents, girls,female youth to guide gender evidence-based programming and responses.
[Added: 2020/12/24]
Social Cohesion and Local Development portfolio 2021/06 Initiated
5.2 Continue conducting and updating local context analysis and thematic conflict analysis to inform current and future programme interventions and engage UN and partners in analysis and advocacy.
[Added: 2020/12/24]
Strategic Policy and Planning Unit 2023/12 Initiated
5.3 Adopt a context-sensitive approach into all programme interventions to minimize their potential negative impacts on the context through a do-no-harm approach and maximize positive impact to alleviate tensions and increase efficiency of the response.
[Added: 2020/12/24]
Strategic Policy and Planning Unit 2023/12 Initiated
5.4 Undertake a review of programme support functions and processes and implement recommendations in order to ensure alignment and synergies that promote programme and management efficiencies.
[Added: 2020/12/24]
Senior Management 2021/03 Initiated
5.5 Continue facilitating coordination for market assessments as the lead in socio-economic recovery outcome under the UN Strategic Framework to facilitate joint initiatives.
[Added: 2020/12/24]
Local Economic Development and Livelihoods portfolio 2023/12 Initiated
6. Recommendation:

Corporate UNDP

Recommendation 6. UNDP programme should be guided by a corporate strategy to communicate its development approach unambiguously and get the buy-in of all actors involved. An early recovery/stabilization strategy should inform UNDP’s response in conflict and post-conflict contexts. 

Resilience approach and its different manifestations should not be left vague, instead should be clarified how it will manifest and consistently applied in crisis contexts. To provide clarity regarding what the international community can expect from the organization consistently, UNDP at the corporate level should develop a set of signature programme models to accelerate peace and transition to development. 

UNDP needs to work with its member states to ensure a predictable stream of funding for early recovery/stabilization programmes that underpin the humanitarian-development nexus approach. This is essential for UNDP to provide global thought leadership in promoting the humanitarian-development nexus approach, which is urgently needed given the increasing trend of prolonged humanitarian programmes even when there is a need for development support.

Management Response: [Added: 2020/06/30] [Last Updated: 2020/07/04]

Key Actions:

7. Recommendation:

Corporate UNDP 

Recommendation 7. A politically sensitive and programmatically challenging response in Syria needs steady leadership. UNDP should desist from changing the country-level leadership frequently as it disrupts country programme strategy, momentum and efforts in building partnerships. 

While UNDP corporate management may have reasons for frequent change in the country office leadership, this has impacted programme performance and morale. UNDP management should ensure continued and consistent leadership for the entire country programme period.

Management Response: [Added: 2020/06/30] [Last Updated: 2020/07/04]

Key Actions:

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