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Independent Review of Scottish Government International Development Fund Projects Focused on Malawi

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1. Background

Scotland's International Development Fund

1.1 The devolved government in Scotland initiated a programme of international development in March 2005. 1 It set out the rationale for the Scottish Executive (Government) to play a role within the international community, where the work is complementary to the work of the UK Government Department for International Development and other UK agencies, and is considered to be "assisting Ministers of the Crown in relation to foreign affairs". 1

1.2 The initial programme was heavily focused on Malawi in recognition of the long-standing historical links between the 2 countries encompassing education, missionary work and commerce. The size of the funds (relative to other donors in Malawi such as DFID, USAID, EU and World Bank) was small and the policy identified 4 priority areas for its support: Education; Health; Civic governance; and Sustainable economic development.

1.3 In 2007, the new Scottish Government confirmed its intention to continue the international development programme, publishing a revised policy in 2008. 2 The new policy maintained the 4 priority areas within the Malawi programme and the grant-based mechanism, raising the upper limit from £250,000 to £400,000. The Scotland-Malawi Cooperation Agreement, signed in 2005, continues to inform the element of Scottish support to Malawi.

Purpose of the review

1.4 The Scottish Government commissioned LTS International to review the International Development Fund in March 2008. The aim of the review was to inform the implementation of the 2008 policy by learning from the implementation of the International Development Fund ( IDF) thus far. Lessons were to be drawn from available monitoring information on the performance of the projects funded in Malawi with a view to identifying good practice and lessons for the future development of the IDF. The other element of the review was to map the monitoring and evaluation processes currently in place and look to identify potential methods and tools that could help illustrate the impact of the IDF at a project, programme and policy level.

Approach and methodology

1.5 LTS assembled a team of specialists to undertake the work including subject and sectoral expertise as well as people with long experience of monitoring and evaluation of development work, communications, and of working and operating in Malawi. All team members had long experience of international development for a wide range of donors.

1.6 For the initial performance assessment of Malawi-focused projects, LTS applied the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development ( OECD) criteria for project evaluation. 3

1.7 As the IDF projects are comparatively small in financial scale, the assessment methodology utilised tools and methods designed for reviewing small grants projects. The assessment looked at the IDF model, heavily built around partnerships between Scottish and Malawian agencies and institutions, and the specific value it had in development in Malawi.

1.8 The initial assessment of Malawi-focused projects applied a desk-based assessment of progress using evidence available at the time; semi-structured interviews with Scotland-based project staff; a purposive sampling of 20% of projects in the field and facilitated lesson learning discussions with Malawian project partners and government representatives. A short review report has been produced for each project assessed which has been forwarded to project leaders.

1.9 The study of the individual projects allowed an overall assessment of the effectiveness and impact of the programme to be made and lessons learned to be analysed thematically. Four cross-cutting themes emerged from the assessment of the individual projects and these were agreed in discussion with the Scottish Government (partnerships, advocacy and leverage, project modality and project design).

1.10 In analysing current monitoring and evaluation ( M&E) processes a 'step-wise process' was adopted to enable the collection of information on: the current and future roles of the M&E system; scope for ( M&E) data collection and management; and the existing information collection systems and procedures. This analysis informed the development and testing of a set of tools and indicators as a basis of a programme-level M&E system for the International Development Fund.