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Final Evaluation of Social Protection Policy Support (SPPS) Programme
Commissioning Unit: Bangladesh
Evaluation Plan: 2017-2021
Evaluation Type: Project
Completion Date: 07/2020
Unit Responsible for providing Management Response: Bangladesh
Documents Related to overall Management Response:
 
1. Recommendation:

Completion of the pending activities: The project needs to be proactive in ensuring that several pending activities which are critical to the various outcome areas of SPPS are followed up and implemented in appropriate phases, some of which can be carried forward to the next phase as indicated by the project management. These include, but not limited to: i. Initiate the Innovation Challenge fund that can involve the NGOs, civil society and the private sector; ii.  Facilitating the Social Insurance system (see full discussion below); and iii. Undertake proactive steps for potential twinning arrangements with some of the best practice institutions overseas, based on learning from the study tours; and iv. Undertake steps to have the Bangladesh Social Security (Coordination) Act 2019 enacted that focuses on social security governance at both national and sub-national levels, and addresses beneficiary selection. This Act needs to be expedited so that it can be passed during the Parliament session during the mid-2020.

Management Response: [Added: 2020/08/10] [Last Updated: 2020/08/10]

Partially agreed. Responses for each: i) discussions with government counterparts on the PSC have resolved that the Innovation Challenge fund will not be pursued as this was originally intended from 2014 and is no longer relevant; ii) advancing the social insurance agenda remains a priority area for the next phase of the project and will be pursued, although the project is only one of many actors that will be responsible for advancing this national agenda; iii) the twinning arrangements with overseas institutions will no longer be pursued due to domestic capacity building activities on social protection; iv) advancing the Social Security Act agenda remains a priority area for the next phase of the project and will be pursued, although the project is responsible only at the policy support level while legislative advances rest with the legislature.

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
Subject to donor financing, hold a series of national consultations on advancing the NSIS agenda
[Added: 2020/08/10] [Last Updated: 2020/12/30]
UNDP, Cabinet Division, General Economics Division 2021/12 Initiated On hold due to COVID-19 safety restrictions. The social insurance situation assessment has been shared with the Ministry of Labour and Employment for their comments. Central Management Committee (CMC) of National Social Security Programmes Focal Points discussed the social insurance issue as an agenda, where they have agreed with a national consultation to determine Bangladesh social insurance scope and implementation. History
Subject to donor financing, hold a series of national consultations on advancing the Social Security Act agenda
[Added: 2020/08/10] [Last Updated: 2020/12/30]
UNDP, Cabinet Division, General Economics Division 2021/12 Initiated On hold due to COVID-19 safety restrictions. Social insurance financing came up as an agenda in discussion with the development partners (DPs). They recognized this as an important issue in Bangladesh social protection reform, which required time and substantial amount of financing both from the Government and DPs. History
2. Recommendation:

Strengthen the coordination structure and process: A number of angles relate to this recommendation: i. The coordination Unit within the Cabinet Division needs strengthening with a revised Terms of Reference, appropriate human resource structure in place and continuity of staff therein. A rapid organization development (OD) study can be undertaken at the earliest opportunity in this regard; ii. Given that equal level of capacity is difficult to be built across the 35 ministries, and that most ministries have small schemes, some of which may not, arguably fit into the character of life cycle based social security, the SPPS should focus on the core ministries which may range between 5 and 8. The coordination and technical knowledge support by SPPS to the key line ministries would be more effective in building an inclusive and results oriented lifecycle based social security system. Together with this remains the need to install a robust and effective monitoring mechanism.

Management Response: [Added: 2020/08/10]

Agreed. Responses for each: i) this recommendation is aligned with the findings and recommendation of the 1st NSSS Mid-Term Implementation Review which called for establishing a task force for advancing the NSSS reform agenda through oversight and coordination; ii) this recommendation is also in alignment with the Review with recommendations focusing on technical support on key line ministries.

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
Re-activate a Central Management Committee (CMC) Sub-Committee to act as an oversight and coordination body for the NSSS reform process
[Added: 2020/08/10] [Last Updated: 2020/08/11]
Cabinet Division 2020/06 Completed CMC Sub-Committee has been re-activated to meet the recommendation. History
Revise next phase of the project plan to include targeted, dedicated technical support units to 5 key line ministries (MoF, MoLE, MoSW, GED, Cabinet Division)
[Added: 2020/08/10]
UNDP 2020/06 Completed The next phase of the project plan has been revised. Implementation for 2021 will now be subject to donor financing.
3. Recommendation:

Gradual strengthening the coordination capacity for the Ministry of Social Welfare: In tandem with support to key line ministries, technical support should continue with respect to other line ministries in an appropriate scale depending on their needs. Special attention should be given to strengthen the Ministry of Social Welfare (MoSW), which will take the lead by 2026 for the social security programme coordination and implementation. A consideration can be given to create a separate Division (Social Security Division) in the MoSW headed by a Secretary that will oversee the full delivery of social security services, and play the coordination role in this area.

Management Response: [Added: 2020/08/10]

Partially agreed. The recommendation for dedicated technical support to the MoSW is in alignment with Recommendation 2 which has been acted upon. However, the creation of a separate Division with the MoSW is subject to decisions by MoSW administrators and may not be necessary as the technical support unit assigned to MoSW will de facto play this role.

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
Revise next phase of the project plan to include a targeted, dedicated technical support unit to the MoSW
[Added: 2020/08/10]
UNDP 2020/06 Completed The next phase of the project plan has been revised. Implementation for 2021 will now be subject to donor financing.
4. Recommendation:

Monitoring and Evaluation (M&E) functions: Building a robust and strong M&E System in tandem with an equally robust MIS linking all the implementing ministries, the local government bodies, the GED and the Cabinet Division on a single unified platform is of paramount importance. This could comprehensively serve all aspects of the NSSS through a Single Registry data platform. Given that the M&E Framework implementation is a nationwide issue, a new mechanism must be found that can function independent of the ministries. This entails eventually a dedicated M&E Office exclusively created for monitoring the social security interventions nationwide as a universal system. The locus of such an office is extremely important, resourced with dedicated M&E professionals with necessary knowledge and expertise. Ideally, this can be housed within the GED or the Ministry of Finance. A piloting assisted by an external agency/private sector entity for such independent monitoring and evaluation can be useful. SPSS can consider supporting this activity.

Management Response: [Added: 2020/08/10]

Disagreed. While the recommendation has merit, supporting the function of a dedicated M&E Office exclusively for monitoring social security interventions nationwide is outside the scope and budgetary realities of the project. Additionally, the Implementation Monitoring and Evaluation Division department already exists within the Planning Commission, Government of Bangladesh.

Key Actions:

5. Recommendation:

Updating of M&E Framework: The M&E framework should be updated with identification of data collection requirements as well as  find ways and means to expand on nationally available data at a frequency higher than the Household Income and Expenditure Survey (HIES). There could be also the need for identifying sub-level indicators, including proxy indicators that do not require national data. The idea of regular, smaller panel surveys was laid out in the NSSS; however, this never was funded by any stakeholder. This could potentially be pursued in the next phase as a means of institutionalizing regular, high-level data collection for informed decision-making.

Management Response: [Added: 2020/08/10]

Partially agreed. This recommendation is aligned with the plans for the next phase of the project. However, the decision not to conduct smaller panel surveys for regular collection of data was a government decision and has not been funded by any stakeholder.

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
Update M&E Framework
[Added: 2020/08/10]
UNDP, Cabinet Division, General Economics Division 2021/11 Not Initiated Activities will commence once COVID-19 restrictions ease and the CMC M&E sub-committee can meet regularly.
6. Recommendation:

Integration of Single Registry MIS with M&E system: The import of HIES Data from BBS, Upazila level training data, financial and budget information, G2P records, and GRS. Every beneficiary could be brought under two key data (i) the NID number, and (ii) biometric identification. Therefore, there is a need to develop a unified IT structure from the Upazila level to the higher levels. The IT architecture design of this nation- wide system would require design of the entire hardware and software architecture of the IT system and a budget to support procurement and commissioning of hardware, development of software (including proposing a few options of dashboards), maintenance and systems support contract for at least five years for both hardware and software, and, trainings as may be required. The Strengthening Public Financial Management for Social Protection (SPFMSP) funded by DFID is an example of a possible intervention route that can continue to support the MIS strengthening process.

Management Response: [Added: 2020/08/10]

Disagreed. The recommendation falls outside the scope and budgetary realities of the project as the project provides policy support, while the implementation of this recommendation would require software infrastructure development and management across multiple government agencies. Additionally, a prior Single Registry situation assessment conducted by the project indicated that several line ministry databases are not yet at operational readiness which is a pre-requisite for expanding on the single registry. However, a multi-stakeholder single registry working group has been formed to further advance this national objective.

Key Actions:

7. Recommendation:

Knowledge management linked to M&E in SPPS Office: A dedicated Knowledge Management and M&E Unit in SPPS is highly recommended for conducting the standard project monitoring and reporting functions; and secondly, for supporting communication and advocacy functions, as well as consolidating and disseminating the various studies undertaken by the project. Also important is building a sustainable capacity within the government agencies in knowledge management and M&E, perhaps stretching it to MEAL (Monitoring, Evaluation and Learning) so that these learning materials and tools can be accessed by relevant people and institutions, including think tanks. The area of knowledge management and communication should assume a high priority in any further continuation of the current SPPS phase. In this connection, also important is the full operationalisation of the advocacy and communication strategy and the Gender Integrated Advocacy and Communication Strategy. Lessons can be learnt from the piloting of communication campaign e.g., posters and leaflets, that were distributed at the Ward level during pilot testing of GRS in the focused UPs in Kurigram under the SWAPNO project.

Management Response: [Added: 2020/08/10]

Agreed. The recommendation will be followed by establishing a full-time M&E position in the next phase of the project coupled with incorporating the responsibilities of a Communications Officer to manage and maintain knowledge in the project’s website.

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
Include full time M&E position in next phase of project and revise ToR scope of work for a Communications Officer.
[Added: 2020/08/10]
UNDP 2020/06 Completed It has been included in the project proposal. Subject to donor funding.
8. Recommendation:

Activating the Social Insurance scheme: Devising a social insurance scheme that would be affordable by the target beneficiaries as well as offer adequate coverage (particularly including covariate shocks) is complex and challenging. Such a scheme cannot be delivered as a component of the existing programme given the complex scope and highly specialized inputs that this demand. A separate dedicated intervention should be closely tied to the future SPPS phase as a facilitating instrument for its full implementation. Thus, the subsequent phase of the SPPS should undertake this pending task on a priority basis.

Management Response: [Added: 2020/08/10]

Agreed. The recommendation will be incorporated by making advancing the NSIS agenda a significant output of the next phase.

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
Revise next phase project outputs to include a dedicated output for advancing the NSIS agenda.
[Added: 2020/08/10]
UNDP, Cabinet Division, General Economics Division 2020/06 Completed A dedicated output for advancing the NSIS agenda has been included in the next phase project outputs. Subject to donor funding.
9. Recommendation:

Support the habit of saving: As saving is a major cultural shift it will require some time and adjustment before the beneficiaries can begin trusting the accounts to keep their money and start saving. Going forward, this output should become a major component in a subsequent phase alongside the establishment of the G2P process replication. Substantial investment in educating and motivating the beneficiaries to develop the habit to save would be needed as they keep graduating to the G2P platform with scaling up.

Management Response: [Added: 2020/08/10]

Partially agreed. It is outside of the scope of the project to provide substantial investments in motivating beneficiaries to develop savings habits. However, the project will incorporate G2P research elements and design a pilot for testing digital delivery on a universal basis under a couple of core schemes while investigating the dynamics of behavioural economics related to the G2P delivery.

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
Revise next phase project outputs to include a dedicated output for advancing universal delivery on a couple of core schemes via digital delivery with specific behavioural research components.
[Added: 2020/08/10]
UNDP, Cabinet Division, General Economics Division 2020/06 Completed A dedicated output for testing universal coverage with Old Age Allowance and Persons with Disability scheme incorporating G2P research elements has been included in the next phase project outputs. Subject to donor funding.
10. Recommendation:

Consolidating the social security schemes: Current number of social security programmes stands at 123, brought down from 145. In support of the MTR, it is strongly recommended to review the smaller schemes and consolidate these to a manageable number. This does not mean eliminating the existing benefits, but to rationalise the schemes/programme with identical or complementary objectives. The GED and the Cabinet Division have already taken some positive steps in this direction. Future dialogues to reach a consensus should be supported by SPPS in its new phase.

Management Response: [Added: 2020/08/10]

Partially agreed. The 1st NSSS Mid-term Implementation Review noted that while there are some economic benefits to harmonising small social security programmes, it should not be a primary focus of the project. The Review recommended carrying out a study on small programme harmonisation. While it is beyond the mandate of the project to influence a direct reduction in the number of small programmes, research and policy support in this direction will be provided.

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
Complete a study on small programme harmonisation.
[Added: 2020/08/11]
UNDP, General Economics Division 2020/06 Completed Inputs fed into development of the 8th Five Year Plan
11. Recommendation:

Increased engagement of multiple stakeholders: Increased engagement stakeholders beyond the current list need to be pursued. Regular interactions with NGOs, think tanks, universities, parliamentarians, private sector and trade bodies, and most importantly media should be pursued towards implementing more progressive and universal policies, together with innovations in the sector.

Management Response: [Added: 2020/08/10]

Agreed. The project will include this recommendation under an output for the next phase.

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
Revise next phase project outputs to include a dedicated output for advancing the Non-government Organisation/Development Partner Organisation (NGO/DPO) engagement on social protection policies.
[Added: 2020/08/10]
UNDP, Cabinet Division, General Economics Division 2020/06 Completed A dedicated output for advancing the NGO / DPO engagement on social protection policies was included in the next phase project outputs. Subject to donor funding.
12. Recommendation:

Scaling up innovations: With SPPS Programme’s possible long-term engagement with local-level implementation through piloting of ideas, such as the G2P, innovations should be tested and results disseminated as part of knowledge management functions. The testing of innovative approaches to social security at local level would play an important complementary role in influencing government, enabling policymakers to see for themselves the impact of these approaches on the ground, and potential roll out nationally.

Management Response: [Added: 2020/08/10]

Agreed. The project will incorporate G2P research elements and design a pilot for testing digital delivery on a universal basis under a couple core schemes while investigating the dynamics of behavioural economics related to the G2P delivery.

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
Revise next phase project outputs to include a dedicated output for advancing universal delivery on a couple of core schemes via digital delivery with specific behavioural research components.
[Added: 2020/08/10]
UNDP, Cabinet Division, General Economics Division 2020/06 Completed Partnership with MoSW to be established and subject to donor funding
13. Recommendation:

Study tour outcomes: Capacity building priorities must be based on assessment of capacity needs, absorptive capacity of the institutions, and qualitative outcomes expected from the capacity building interventions. At this stage, trainings are without systematic impact assessments, or a follow up tracer study. In future, post-study visit reports and action plans delineating how their learning could be put to use should be followed up, as well as, rapid tracer studies to see how well the investments have been in this area.

Management Response: [Added: 2020/08/10]

Agreed. The project will incorporate post-study visits reports and action plans, and follow-up actions for all such events and research outputs in the future.

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
Adjust project operating policy for study visits and research outputs to include follow-up actions.
[Added: 2020/08/10]
UNDP, Cabinet Division, General Economics Division 2020/06 Completed Internal project policy change has been discussed and adopted by project manager and national project director for any future similar activities to include a post-action dissemination / learning plan.
14. Recommendation:

Design and results framework: SPPS, before embarking on a new phase must ensure that the design errors of the earlier phase as discussed in this report (4.2) care should be taken in articulating a proper and SMART Results Framework, delineate the logical link between the development objective, immediate objective(s) and draw up a theory of change that contains elements to facilitate future evaluation of the project.

Management Response: [Added: 2020/08/10]

Agreed. Previously, the project was bound by the original project document indicators which lacked in some SMART areas and could not be deviated from. For the next phase, a set of new indicators will be developed, based on a revised Theory of Change.

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
Develop new set of SMART indicators for project outputs.
[Added: 2020/08/10] [Last Updated: 2021/04/21]
UNDP 2021/11 Initiated Subject to deliberations with potential funders. The new ToC is furnished with SMART indicators as well as activities indicators. History
Revise Theory of Change for next phase.
[Added: 2020/08/10]
UNDP 2020/06 Completed The Theory of Change has been revised and incorporated into the project next phase document.

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