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

Recommendation 1. UNDP needs to consolidate its country portfolio and ensure support is provided in the areas where it has strongest comparative advantage. Demand driven nature will remain, but responsiveness to government demands needs to happen within the parameters of outcome level results and a well-defined theory of change with proper analysis of causal assumptions and risks. UNDP should ensure that piloting and modeling of services and/or approaches is done within this larger institutional framework to ensure sustainability of results. 

Given the dwindling donor resources and country’s UMIC status, UNDP needs to ensure that its support is relevant and contributes to system level changes in a limited number of sectors where UNDP has most visible comparative advantage. Thus far, UNDP has engaged across multiple sectors. In many of them this engagement lacked depth and was fragmented into one-off interventions without scaling and transformative potential. This was possible given broad country programme framework and loose results framework. UNDP needs to invest efforts in elaborating its country level theory of change based on a thorough assessment of the sectors with strongest comparative advantage in terms of expertise and strongest strategic positioning and commitment by the government. Assessment of risks and assumptions and detailed mitigation strategies need to be developed, particularly for areas where modelling/ demonstration pilots will happen as part of system level intervention. It is also advisable to avoid embarking on new themes and sub-themes and areas of intervention that loosely belong to wider programme’s intervention framework.

Management Response: [Added: 2020/06/11] [Last Updated: 2020/12/27]

The country office accepts the recommendation.

Guided by the SDG Agenda, UNDP will support Kazakhstan as it seeks to realize national priorities enshrined in the Kazakhstan 2050 Strategy, Strategic Development Plan to 2025, and other key sub-national as well as sectoral strategies and plans. As analyzed in the Theory of Change, these stated priorities include the need for a new model of economic growth and increased productivity; boosting the business environment and scaling up new technologies across sectors; improved performance of public institutions and effectiveness of key state and sectoral programmes; responsible and effective budget allocations; modernization of law enforcement and judicial systems; improving the quality of education and health care, and economic development in the regions of Kazakhstan, especially the remote ones.

UNDPs work will cut across all the above priorities, with the overall objective of supporting Kazakhstan in sustaining its growth trajectory by diversifying the economy, modernizing institutions, reducing inequalities and sustainably managing natural resources. UNDP will consolidate its assistance to the country in four main areas:

Built on its comparative advantages, UNDP will facilitate integrated responses to complex issues through a five-fold approach, drawing on the six UNDP signature solutions and leveraging new technologies, resources and partnerships for impact.

  • Strengthening thought leadership and the linkages between policies and implementation. 
  • Facilitating collective action, networks and more participatory approaches by leveraging UNDP’s integrator role
  • Leveraging innovation
  • Mobilizing SDG-based financing
  • Promoting regional knowledge exchange networks and deepened cooperation


Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
Consultations are held with national stakeholders to define consolidated areas for UNDP support in the new CPD cycle
[Added: 2020/12/27]
UNDP country office 2020/04 Completed UNDP country office held the constructive consultations with national stakeholders to define consolidated areas for UNDP support in the new country programme cycle and integrated into CPD 2021-2025.
New CPD is formulated to reflect the consolidated approach and ensure support is provided in the areas where UNDP CO has strongest comparative advantage
[Added: 2020/12/27]
UNDP country office 2020/09 Completed UNDP Kazakhstan CPD 2021-2025 was adopted at Executive Board in September 2020.
2. Recommendation:

Recommendation 2. UNDP should invest strongly on gathering and utilizing evidence towards improved programming and knowledge management in the country office. This should be supported by a cross-portfolio knowledge platform for regular reflection on results, synergy and coherence within and across the CO portfolio. 

UNDP is following standard monitoring and reporting procedures, and commissions external project and outcome level evaluations. However, weaknesses are found in the manner in which UNDP gathers, analyses and uses the monitoring data, particularly from piloting and modelling for internal decision making but also for promotion of best practices to draw attention and commitment of the government to scale up working models. Reporting is mainly output oriented with little analysis and reflection on outcome level results, and with little use of externally-available research studies, analytical papers or reports to support this analysis. It is strongly advised to further invest in knowledge management within the office, with emphasis on outcome level monitoring, reporting and analysis by thematic areas and/or programme clusters and to establish a knowledge sharing platform for regular reflection on results, synergy and coherence within and across the CO portfolio. 

Management Response: [Added: 2020/06/11] [Last Updated: 2020/12/27]

The country office accepts the recommendation.

In line with the #nextgen UNDP agenda, the office would like to set up necessary processes to improve knowledge management and analytical work in the office. The CO will mobilize external support seeking for recommendations to the CO management in terms of improving business processes in the office related to the programme management support, project implementation, including programme-operations integration aspects, as well as knowledge management and analytical work.

Along with the standard monitoring and reporting procedures, and commissioning of external project and outcome level evaluations,

the country office will focus develop both external and internal knowledge management systems:

  • Improved quality and efficiency of thematic and operational work of the staff
  • Getting the greatest possible advantage of existing knowledge resources available through UNDP; global network such as such as  

             Communities of Practice, the Teamworks platform, public knowledge mobilization like the Rio+20 Dialogues)

  • Evidence and lessons for learning reporting, results-based management and communication
  • Talent management
  • Cooperation with the external partners on knowledge management

From 2019 the country office started to implement UNDP People 2030 strategy being a part of the knowledge management strategy.

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
A series of knowledge building trainings from Operations Unit to be conducted in different areas of the operations work
[Added: 2020/12/27]
Operations Unit 2020/12 Completed A series of knowledge building trainings from Operations Unit were conducted in different areas of the operations work: procurement, finance, travel, admin and ICT areas for programme and operations staff History
Trainings on UNDP programmatic M&E and financial procedures, tools and best practices
[Added: 2020/12/27]
Resources Monitoring and M&E Associate 2020/12 Completed A series of training were conducted for the programme and projects staff to enhance the knowledge and introduce new updtaed policies in the financila reurces management, quality assurance and efficient and effective M&E policies. History
Business-processed review mission provided its report and recommendations, including on strengthening the KM in the CO
[Added: 2020/12/27] 2020/12 Completed The country office commended business processes review mission targeted to improve efficiency and timeliness of programme delivery. The main objectives: - Enhance value for money and quality of project management. - Integrate and consolidate similar functions and roles to improve standardization and efficiency. - Improve programme support and explore utilization of new programme management tools and instruments. The received recommendations are in the process of the implementation. History
Monthly all staff meetings to provide updates on the global, regional and CO levels, solicit feedback, share information and best practices as well participate in a team environment.
[Added: 2020/12/27] 2020/12 Completed Monthly staff meetings are regularly conducted at the end of each month with the wide participation of all UNDP staff to provide updates on the global, regional and CO levels, solicit feedback, share information and best practices as well participate in a team environment. History
3. Recommendation:

Recommendation 3. UNDP should continue investing in social, public administration and civil service reforms, particularly in the areas in which support was initiated during this country programme cycle, such as meritocracy, anti-corruption and social service delivery.

Investments in strengthening foundations for active delivery of social services, particularly for PWD as well as investments in public administration and civil service demand long-term un-dwindling support and attention to ensure the changes take root towards changing mindsets and public service delivery habits. UNDP is strongly positioned in these sectors, so policy and technical leverage should be utilised to achieve change in an incremental manner, based on a clear theory of change and resource mobilisation plan. 

Management Response: [Added: 2020/06/11] [Last Updated: 2020/12/27]

The country office accepts the recommendation

The mentioned development areas are prominently featured in the draft CPD 2021-2025. The intention is to scale up initiatives commenced in the current CPD cycle, especially in the areas of institutional reform (public administration and civil service reforms, justice sector reform, local self-governance reform), prevention of corruption. The CO is also commencing new initiatives on police modernization and strengthening capacity of the Accounts Committee. The overarching theme of this work is supporting Government efforts to rebuild trust with citizens (and other people). In the area of social development, it is envisaged to focus on overcoming socio-economic exclusion of vulnerable groups and improving quality of services delivery, including special social services, especially in remote localities.     

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
Ensure adequate funding of the on-going and new initiatives through the Government Cost-Sharing mechanism, possibly complemented by other small-scale funding.
[Added: 2020/12/27] [Last Updated: 2021/12/30]
Governance and Local Development Unit 2022/12 Initiated Completion date is postponed due to state budget cuts related to Covid-19 mitigation measures History
Upgrade the UNDP offer to the national partners in key areas (Social Protection, PAR, Police Modernization, Justice Sector Reform) by mobilizing high-caliber experts and practitioners and retaining them on flexible contractual arrangements, including through GPN.
[Added: 2020/12/27] [Last Updated: 2020/12/28]
Governance and Local Development Unit 2020/12 Completed Several high profile experts were engaged and in partocular two senior economists, police senior expert, senior social policy expert in 2020 to upgrate UNDP offer in key priority areas in support of the Government strategies .Such a proactive mobilization of high caliber experts UNDP is part of all strategic dialogues in the country in key development areas. History
4. Recommendation:

Recommendation 4. UNDP needs to continue spearheading initiatives for empowerment of women, the most vulnerable groups and civil society to take more active role in decision making processes based on lessons learned and results of interventions in these areas achieved thus far. 

UNDP has achieved important results in terms of empowerment of vulnerable groups, notably women and PWD, and engaged strongly with civil society in various sectoral decision-making processes (e.g. health, human rights). This support should continue and build up on lessons learned gathered so far to ensure that partnering with government in different sectors is inclusive of various interest groups. Ongoing support needs to be based on human rights and leave no-one behind principles, to ensure full inclusiveness and transparency of decision making and service delivery. 

Management Response: [Added: 2020/06/11] [Last Updated: 2020/06/12]

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
Launched as part of the Gender Equality Seal in 2019, UNDP will continue gender empowerment mainstreaming into programme. In particular, in the biodiversity portfolio, focus will be given to women empowerment in the natural protected areas (project pilot areas) of Kazakhstan
[Added: 2020/12/27] [Last Updated: 2020/12/28]
UNDP country office 2022/12 Initiated The gender component has been strengthened in the biodiversity portfolio. Reports and media products have been posted History
Contribute to elimination of all forms of sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) in Central Asia through co-development and co-implementation of the Regional EU Spotlight Initiative
[Added: 2020/12/28]
UNDP country office 2022/12 Initiated The Regional Programme EU Spotlight Initiative has been approved by donor and launched in 2020 until 2022 with UNDP doing one of the 3 RUNOs. History
Launch of new regional project on Afghan Women Empowerment jointly with EU
[Added: 2020/12/27] [Last Updated: 2021/08/31]
UNDP country office 2021/05 Completed The new regional project Phase 2: Supporting the Economic Empowerment of Afghan Women through Education and Training in Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan have been launched jointly with EU History
Development of the new Government Cost Sharing proposal on police modernization
[Added: 2020/12/27] [Last Updated: 2021/08/31]
Governance and Local Development Unit 2021/07 Completed New government cost sharing proposal on Police Modernization was developed in partnership with the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Kazakhstan in 2020. However, due to the budget restrictions the proposal has not been supported by the Government in 2021. History
5. Recommendation:

Recommendation 5. UNDP should build on the achievements in the energy and environment sector and deepen its engagement to upscale and institutionalize the results by strengthening existing partnerships and engaging with non-traditional partners.

UNDP should seek to create more depth and expertise in the areas that it currently covers under the energy and environment portfolio. Climate change mitigation and adaptation, transboundary waters, environmental education, sustainable agriculture, renewable energy and DRR are among areas where UNDP CO could play a larger role. Given the cross-cutting nature, DRR activities should be integrated into other thematic areas (climate change adaptation in particular), with a focus on disaster prevention and risk reduction. In doing so, UNDP should engage with both the government partners and institutions, and the private sector and other non-traditional partners. 

Management Response: [Added: 2020/06/11] [Last Updated: 2020/12/27]

The country office accepts the recommendation.

In current and new CPD cycle 2021-2025 UNDP’s work will center around scaling-up and institutionalizing incentives and new and clean technologies for low-carbon business development, including through the SDG Finance Accelerator on green economy. These efforts will be based on a solid foundation already built in partnership with the Entrepreneurship Development Fund (Damu), and will extend to other sectors, especially introduction of renewables. Low-carbon business development will also be promoted through other innovative mechanisms such as green bonds, financial de-risking instruments and carbon trading, among others. The success of these initiatives will depend on UNDP’s capacity to bring together a variety of stakeholders, including private sector, financial and microcredit institutions (e.g. Astana International Financial Centre, International Green Technologies and Investments Center), national institutions and international partners such as the EU, EIB, EBRD, ADB, and the World Bank.

In continuation of its work on biodiversity, pastoralism and irrigated agriculture, UNDP will scale up existing work and introduce new solutions and more efficient farming techniques, including new methods for water-saving and water-harvesting. Through engagement of the private sector, introduction of new technologies will also lead to an increase in agricultural productivity that will at least partially offset the decrease in yields in drought years. As the risk of natural hazards increases, the CO will initiate work with the Emergency Management Committee to develop policies, capacities and a system to prevent and respond to natural disasters. Work under this focus area is also expected to contribute to generating jobs for women and men, as part of the green economy facilitating support, as demonstrated by the almost one thousand jobs created during the previous CPD cycle.

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
Establishment EIB partnership in agriculture to sustain food production practices and responsible value chains
[Added: 2020/12/27] [Last Updated: 2020/12/28]
Sustainable Development and Urbanization Unit 2022/12 Initiated New project is under development for consideration of Green Climate Fund, where partnership with EIB is planned History
Launch the strategy for the Green Finance Accelerator lab
[Added: 2020/12/27] [Last Updated: 2020/12/28]
Sustainable Development and Urbanization Unit 2020/12 Completed Green Finance Accelerator Lab was hired and onboarded History
Introduction of financial solutions and stimulus for renewables uptake, biodiversity conservation and sustainable land management
[Added: 2020/12/27] [Last Updated: 2020/12/28]
Sustainable Development and Urbanization Unit 2020/12 Completed Financial solutions introduced under DREI, NAMA and SFM project for stimulating update of renewable energy and biodiversity conservation, and first projects have been financed History
6. Recommendation:

Recommendation 6. UNDP should develop an exit strategy and engage with the Government to discuss the sustainability, institutionalisation and future of services and approaches modelled by UNDP across its portfolio, most notable of all being the Astana Regional Hub and support to the national ODA system. 

UNDP has modelled a number of services, mechanisms and approaches across all the targeted sectors. However, apart from the support in drafting of laws and regulatory instruments, the focus has mainly been on demonstration pilots and models, only some of which have been institutionalized. While the pilots have been helpful in demonstrating the ‘proof of concept’, significantly more sustained work is required to ensure institutionalizing and sustainability of results. Of particular relevance are UNDPs interventions in Outcome 21. UNDP has achieved important results through the work of the Astana Regional Hub and modelling Kazakhstan’s ODA interventions. Both have been successful in increasing the positive image of Kazakhstan and its civil service among regional and wider network of countries and civil service peers. At the same time, the Hub has served as an important resource for domestic civil service reform efforts. However, administrative and legal identity of the Hub remains within UNDP in a form of a project, funded mainly by the government with funds expiring in 2020; while the KazAid Agency has not been formally established yet. Considering the circumstances and investments of UNDP and development partners in the Hub, the Agency and the models, it is urgent for UNDP to engage in discussions with the government on future legal and administrative structures of the Hub and the Agency in particular. These discussions should lead to an exit strategy for UNDP, with measures to ensure sustainability and institutionalisation of the modelled institutions, services and approaches. 

Management Response: [Added: 2020/06/11] [Last Updated: 2020/12/27]

The country office accepts the recommendation.

The possible scenarios of the Astana Civil Service Hub future development are being discussed with the Government of Kazakhstan, including funding of the next phase in 2021-2023. The exact size of further support is currently being considered by the Government, with the expectation of the funding envelope in the order of USD 4,5 mln. for the next 3-years budget cycle

The ACSH will continue providing support to governments of the participating countries in strengthening institutional framework and human capacity in civil service, as well as in piloting and introducing innovative approaches and modern solutions in governance, including digitalization. In terms of the scope, ASCH is expected to sharpen its focus on innovations in public sector, including digitalization.

The CO management has regular consultations with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to keep updated on developments around the ODA in Kazakhstan. The UNDP stands ready to support the government once the KAZAID Agency is established and support is requested. So far, the CO provides expert support to keep up the collaboration with the MFA in this important area.

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
Complete negotiations with the Government with the aim of securing funding for the ASCH next phase.
[Added: 2020/12/27] [Last Updated: 2020/12/28]
Governance and Local Development Unit 2020/12 Completed The country office secured the funding of 3,5 mln USD for ASCH new phase for the period 2021-2023 approved by the Government. History
To further coordinate with state bodies of Kazakhstan and countries of the region the application of modern innovative methods and technologies in public administration at various levels, including the launch of accelerators
[Added: 2020/12/27] [Last Updated: 2020/12/28]
Governance and Local Development Unit 2020/12 Completed UNDP launched Accelerator Lab in close partnership with the Government. The platform of the ASCH will further be utilized for sharing innovative solutions between the countries of the regions. History
Provide ad hoc expert support as part of the SDG working Group “Partnership”
[Added: 2020/12/27] [Last Updated: 2020/12/28]
Governance and Local Development Unit 2020/12 Completed Substantive support provided on SDG financing. History
7. Recommendation:

Recommendation 7. UNDP should develop and proactively pursue a long-term resource mobilization strategy and implementation plan that includes a predictable government cost sharing agreement and innovative financing mechanisms including partnerships with the private sector and IFIs. 

Given Kazakhstan’s UMIC status, resource mobilization will remain a challenge for the CP. Funding in the new CPD cycle will very much depend on Government Cost Sharing (GCS) and vertical funds, due to the shrinking ‘traditional’ donor environment, as well as the ability of the CO to engage better with the IFIs and the private sector, building on its competitive advantages, and above all being creative and innovative. UNDP should develop a long-term resource mobilization strategy with clearly defined targets and proactively pursue resource mobilization efforts both from traditional and non-traditional sources. Cooperation with the IFI’s and the government in utilization of loans and engaging with the private sector on market-based mechanisms should be integral parts of this strategy. Given the fact that Government will remain UNDPs largest contributor, the CO and the Government should agree on making the GCS more predictable by setting aside a set amount of funds to be ‘reserved’ for the CO in the next CPD cycle based on the Government’s strategic priorities. This will make UNDP programme less volatile and vulnerable from the standpoint of financial stability. This should also help the CO mobilize a bigger amount from other donors to match/co-finance the Government funds. 

Management Response: [Added: 2020/06/11] [Last Updated: 2020/12/27]

UNDP country office accepts the recommendation.

In the current CPD cycle, UNDP will proactively pursue resource mobilization efforts both from traditional and non-traditional sources building a robust and more coherent portfolio to deliver the new country programme 2021-2025.

UNDP will continue working to enhance and expand the existing partnerships with such IFIs as EU, ADB, WB by targeting new development financing and seeking new stable cooperation with the private and non-government sector.

The primary goal will be securing the Government endorsement of the new country programme and an agreement to provide cost-sharing for the CPD on a more predictable basis totaling to USD 30 mln for the new cycle.

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
Sign an agreement with the government (MNE) to secure predictable funding from the government of Kazakhstan for the new CPD cycle
[Added: 2020/12/27] [Last Updated: 2022/06/21] 2022/12 Initiated In June 2022 UNDP and Ministry of Economy signed a Statement of Intent and agreed to develop a joint funding programme for the implementation of the UNDP Country Programme 2021-2025. History
Establishment of the partnership with Bitfury LLP for 1,5 mln USD within the joint project
[Added: 2020/12/27]
Sustainable Development and Urbanization Unit 2019/12 Completed UNDP and Bitfury signed a financing agreement for 1,5 mln USD at the end of 2019 to jointly implement the project "Assistance to the Republic of Kazakhstan in fulfilling international obligations to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by reducing the carbon footprint of electricity suppliers for the leading technology company Bitfury ". History
Start of the Spotlight project funded by EU
[Added: 2020/12/27]
UNDP country office 2020/06 Completed UNDP jointly with UNWOMEN and UNFPA started the Reginal Joint Spotlight Initiative "Alliances for Change- Ending Sexual and Gender-Based Violence and Harmful Practice in Central Asia". The programme is funded by EU for the total 4,2 mln USD and covers 5 Central Asian countries in partnership with Afghanistan. History
Start of the new project funded through WB loan to the Government of RK
[Added: 2020/12/27]
Governance and Local Development Unit 2019/12 Completed In December 2019 UNDP and Ministry of Justice funded though WB loan started a new project for 400K USD. The main objective of the assignment is to improve the institutional capacity, efficiency and operational optimization of justice bodies in protection of intellectual property rights based on good international practices. History

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