Over 60 representatives from the Government, development partners, UN agencies and civil society participated at the stakeholders’ workshop deliberating on the findings of the Assessment of Development Results (ADR), a key report of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).
The event was held on 31st July 2012 at the Galadari Hotel, and was co-chaired by Dr. P. B. Jayasundera, Secretary to the Ministry of Finance and Planning and Mr. Indrakumaran Naidoo, Director of the UNDP Evaluation Office in New York.
Undertaken jointly by the Government of Sri Lanka and the UNDP Evaluation Office, New York, with support from UNDP Sri Lanka, the ADR aims to capture evidence of UNDP’s contribution to development results in Sri Lanka over the past ten years, covering the previous (2002-2007) and the current (2008-2012) programme cycles. The ADR report comes at a crucial juncture as UNDP plans its next programme cycle (2013-2017) in a changing environment. Starting from next year, the focus of UNDP’s work will gradually shift from providing direct socio-economic assistance to technical and policy-oriented support that will strengthen systems and institutions. As such, the findings and recommendations of the report will be significant in improving the programmes, future strategies and direction of UNDP.
“In the ADR, we see many recommendations on the “how” or the approach that we adopt in our work across sectors. For example, how we link policy interventions to field work, how we forge multi-sectoral partnerships and how we link capacity support with sustainability,” explained, Mr. Subinay Nandy, UN Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative, sharing his thoughts on the significance of the report. Mr. Nandy also expressed his gratitude to the Government of Sri Lanka, especially the Ministry of Finance and Planning for their commitment to the “joint” nature of the evaluation.
Dr. P. B. Jayasundera emphasized the need for UN agencies to partner with the Government in addressing the country’s development challenges and delivering the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Referring to the United Nations Development Assistance Framework (UNDAF), upon which the new UNDP Country Programme Document is based, he explained that it is relevant for the country and is in line with the development priorities of the Government. He added, “The United Nations can make an enormous contribution, by partnering with us, because in my opinion, UNDAF 2013-2017 is fully in line with the Mahinda Chinthana Vision for the Future. I think it is one of the best inclusive strategies”.
Work on the ADR began in 2011. The report presents the evaluation of a cross section of UNDP programmes conducted over the past 10 years under different thematic areas, including, Poverty Reduction and the MDGs, Democratic Governance, Energy, Environment and Disaster Risk Reduction and Crisis Prevention and Recovery. The relevance and effectiveness of the activities towards achieving the programme outcomes and ensuring the sustainability of results have been assessed. Contributions of UNDP projects to the national development goals have also been looked at.
In gathering data, the evaluation team visited all districts in which UNDP works and held discussions with diverse stakeholders, including policy makers, project implementers, key national counterparts, programme managers, beneficiaries, officials of Non-Governmental Organizations and the private sector, to ensure that all aspects were covered. Over 140 interviews and 15 semi-structured group discussions were conducted. The evidence gathered through these interviews have been analyzed and presented in the report.
The ADR report notes that while UNDP’s programmes have responded very well to evolving government priorities and the needs of the country, particularly in post-war and post-tsunami situations, it will be vital to make tangible impact and strengthen policy advice, advocacy and partnership building roles, moving forward. Further, the report also recognizes the wide range of capacity development support provided by UNDP. Yet, it notes that the capacities developed have not always been utilized to the fullest, partly because, while the capacity needs of individuals and institutions were addressed, there was insufficient focus on implementing systems and mechanisms. In addition, the report also highlights the need to ensure the sustainability of the capacities developed, and makes note that more attention needs to be paid to the conditions in which outputs produced could lead to actual development results.
Responding to the ADR recommendations, Ms. Razina Bilgrami, Country Director a.i. of UNDP Sri Lanka assured that the recommendations as well as the outputs of the stakeholder workshop will be integrated into UNDP’s new Country Programme Action Plan, which will come into operation in January 2013. For example, strengthening the multi-stakeholder coordination, support for policy/planning skills and use of technology and best practices needed to mobilise all partners towards achieving the Mahinda Chintana goals will be key areas of UNDP’s work in the future. Steps will also be taken to enhance its policy advisory role and work with the private sector to facilitate the achievement of development goals. In the ensuing years, UNDP will also aim to engage in deeper programmatic coordination with the UN country Team in working towards common development goals, while programmes will be implemented aimed at promoting accountable and transparent public service delivery mechanisms. Furthermore, UNDP will also share expeiences and build on its past successess, including in the areas of livelihood support, community-level environment projects and local governance initiatives, among others. The significance of such interventions was also highlighted by Mr. Rathin Roy, Regional Manager of UNDP’s Asia Pacific Regional Centre, who also offered support of UNDP’s Asia-Pacific regional policy advisors based in Bangkok in taking this agenda forward.