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THE UNDAF. UNITAR SEMINAR – February 22, 2012 Paul Balogun- Consultant. Mandate. ECOSOC resolution 2011/7 asks for UNDAF assessment, to look at their: Alignment with national priorities; Focus on the internationally agreed development goals, including the MDGs; and

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the undaf


UNITAR SEMINAR – February 22, 2012

Paul Balogun- Consultant

  • ECOSOC resolution 2011/7 asks for UNDAF assessment, to look at their:
    • Alignment with national priorities;
    • Focus on the internationally agreed development goals, including the MDGs; and
    • the effectiveness of their process
  • Supporting the alignment of UN support with national priorities;
  • The promotion of MDGs;
  • The promotion of coherence in the UN system’s operations;
  • The reduction of duplication of programmed support;
  • The reduction of programme transaction costs ;
  • Enhancing the results focus of the UN at country level.
the opportunity
The opportunity?
  • The UNDAF is a structured engagement between the whole of the UN and primarily the centre of government
process step 1
Process – Step 1

Plan process for formulation of new UNDAF

  • Develop plan (roadmap) in consultation with government coordinating body for formulation of the UNDAF.
  • Ensure alignment of government and UNDAF planning calendars
process step 2
Process – Step 2

Carry Out Country Analysis

  • Assess country situation
  • Undertake causal analysis
  • Identify national priority problems and root causes
  • Map UNCT work and identify UN Comparative Advantages
process step 3
Process – Step 3

Do Strategic Planning

  • Carry out Strategic prioritization exercise (e.g. SPR)
  • Select priorities and outcomes
  • Develop UNDAF Result Matrix
  • Draft Document Narrative
  • Develop UNDAF Action Plan (if using)
  • Develop M&E Plan
  • Develop and get approval for Country Programmes from UNDP, UNICEF and UNFPA Executive Boards
  • Government and UNCT sign UNDAF
process step 4
Process – Step 4


  • Use Outcome groups to do AWPs, etc
  • Annually update Action Plan, where used
  • UNDAF Annual Reviews
  • UNDAF Progress Report – once per cycle
  • UNDAF Evaluation – once per cycle
assessment challenges 1
Assessment challenges - 1
  • No targets or baselines established which would allow one to definitively judge whether the UNDAF has achieved its intended purpose
  • There is no consensus on what many of the terms – alignment, coherence, prioritisation, ownership, accountability - really mean in operational terms
assessment challenges 2
Assessment challenges - 2
  • The UNDAF results framework says what UN would like to do – the ‘intended’ strategy
  • What delivered by end of implementation is usually different – the ‘realised’ strategy
  • Rarely know what is different between the intended and realised strategies and what most important in causing the difference
  • Probable cause is what called the ‘emergent’ strategy
conclusions 1
Conclusions -1
  • What UN says will do is aligned with national priorities?
  • It is moving quickly to synchronise planning calendars with government?
  • But UN support is not often prioritised by comparative advantage or during UNDAF formulation or, possibly, implementation?
conclusions 2
Conclusions - 2
  • Government ownership of the UNDAF document/process is often poor?
  • Better at AWP/project level?
  • Little evidence that UNDAF is driving programming decision making by the agencies during implementation?
  • But only one of many opportunities to engage in policy dialogue and prioritization?
conclusions 3
Conclusions 3

Greater coherence, in terms of UN agencies talking with each other?

Some benefits identified from joint programming?

Joint programmes driven more by MDG Fund and other initiatives than because of UNDAF?

Action Plan offers more formal approach linking formulation and implementation?

conclusions 4
Conclusions - 4

Three major factors fatally affected value of UNDAF for enhancing results focus:

  • The UN has seen this as a technical issue. It is not.
  • The UNDAF results framework is a statement of intent
  • No clarity what results evidence will be used for (beyond reporting) in most cases. Where is the demand?
big question 1
Big question 1

What really is the value of the UNDAF to programme member state governments?

Question has been asked and answered by some governments

But an opportunity missed by many of the 130 concerned programme countries?

big question 2
Big question - 2

If the UNDAF is an emergent strategy – what are the implications for delivering what the UN and government want?

  • Determining who decides what
  • Determining the appropriate balance between design and emergence
  • How to guide emergence.
big question 3
Big question - 3
  • What tools are appropriate in which country contexts?