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

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2. Findings of the Project Assessment

Overall project performance

2.1 In comparison to other programmes of this nature, the IDF projects performed well and this is a commendable achievement. When assessed using the standard OECD evaluation criteria, the findings from the reviews of progress by individual projects concluded that 32 of the 39 projects (81%) were considered relevant, had been efficiently delivered, were effective in meeting their planned outcomes, had secured impact and were reasonably sustainable. Box 1 gives brief case examples from the project assessments.

2.2 The remaining projects were assessed as partially successful. There were a number of common issues faced by these projects which may go some way to explaining this assessment. The initial problem identification or needs analysis was insufficient; the planning process was not fully considered, e.g. risk identification and monitoring; and some of these projects were unable to generate sufficient policy and institutional support to secure impact and sustainability.

Funding allocation

2.3 The geographical spread of the funded projects largely followed Malawi's population distribution. The region that had the most projects was Southern Malawi with 17 projects. Northern Malawi accounted for the least value of funds whereas Central Malawi accounted for the least number of projects. The greatest value of funds was delivered to nationwide projects.

Box 1 Examples of project findings from performance assessments

Using e-learning to build capacity for healthcare professional education in Malawi, University of Edinburgh
"The project is well-conceived, appropriately administered and brings new technologies to bear in a critical area, that of healthcare human resource development, in Malawi. The project is noteworthy in that it fully embraced the idea of the Scottish and Malawian partners bringing equal, but very different knowledge to the project - technical expertise and local knowledge respectively - to ensure that the project was relevant to the Malawian context. The project also demonstrates that there are appropriate uses for new technologies in the developing world context."

Community Therapeutic Care (CTC) Programme, Concern Worldwide
"This project has been well-planned and well-implemented with strong partnership working between Concern Worldwide and a range of appropriate host country partners….with different partners contributing appropriate and necessary skills/materials/experience to the project. Two districts were identified by the Malawi Ministry of Health as having specific needs regarding child malnutrition due to circumstances particular to them - Lilongwe being the largest district in Malawi and Nsanje being the most remote. This project speaks to the theme of strong technical expertise, in this case based on in-country experience of implementing CTC. The multiple benefits - in terms of number of children treated, capacity built in local staff, the positive impact on parents' competing responsibilities - demonstrate that the project was successful in turning funds from the Scottish Government into tangible benefits at the community level."

Malawi Millennium Project: Making Wonders, University of Strathclyde
"This is a well-managed project that thought about the sustainability of their intervention from the beginning and has reached their major targets to date….In terms of convincing the Malawian Government of the benefits of assistive technology and making a difference to the lives of blind and visually impaired (BVI) students, the project has clearly made an impact. The project has also liaised closely with the Malawi Tomorrow project (also funded by the Scottish Government) which focuses on the use of Braille. This two-pronged approach to meeting the needs of BVI students appears to have re-awakened the Malawian Government's interest in special needs education and assisted implementation of the special needs policy."

Partnership for Trade Policy Development, Imani Enterprise Ltd
"This is a well-conceived and well-delivered project that meets the spirit and the letter of the partnership between Scotland and Malawi effectively. After the first year of operation, the Malawi Trade Fair held in Glasgow was a major success, particularly in terms of generating better understanding on the part of Malawi business of the requirements of the Scottish market. It also provided good publicity for the partnership through the trade fair….The project is particularly interesting in that by letting partner companies be self-selecting and by working with more than 20 [partner companies], there is diversification across sectors and also some cushion in case of less successful companies. Partners had to make significant commitment in terms of time and some resources, which meant that a high-level of interest was generated and a sense of ownership was created. There are good indications that the size of trade and the range of companies engaged are larger than would have been the case without this project."

2.4 It is clear that the balance of funding to Malawi-focused projects under the IDF has been in line with the priorities of the Malawi Government. Table 1 outlines the balance across the 4 priority areas and it is apparent that Health and Education have received the major share of IDF funds. The percentage allocation of resources under the 2006-2011 Malawi Growth and Development Strategy ( MGDS), excluding infrastructure (which represents 57% of the resources) is also shown, in the right hand column. The relative proportion of funds allocated by the IDF under its 4 priority strands and that of the MGDS is similar.

Table 1 Funding by 'strand' priority area and comparison to MGDS theme

Strand

Number of projects

Total funds

% of total fund

MGDS themes

% fund allocation

Education

13

£2,094,296

30

59*

Health

16

£2,629,772

38

Civic governance

7

£905,775

13

12

Sustainable economic development

7

£1,111,954

16

16

13 (Social Protection)

* Education and Health fall under the Social Development Theme of the Malawi Growth and Development Strategy ( MGDS).

2.5 In the roundtable discussions with the Malawi strand leaders, the IDF Health projects were considered to have the best fit with national priorities as the topics were selected from the health strategy paper and were generally in accordance with Government of Malawi national priorities. The Malawi Health Sector has a donor Sector Wide Approach ( SWAp) that guides and harmonises donor inputs. The Scottish maternal and child health related projects were highly regarded by the strand leaders and it was noted that this was an under-supported sector by donors, relative to the HIV/ AIDS sub-sector where there was already considerable donor support.

2.6 The Education projects focused on BVI students and exchanges/twinning. Both were considered by strand leaders to be very useful and successful because they provided clear benefits and were appropriate in this context.

2.7 Governance projects were mainly perceived to involve engagement with the parliament. Strand leaders noted that some of the initially identified links could be developed in the future (as with the Advocate General's Department and proposed twinning with the Scottish Prisons Service).

2.8 The strand leaders acknowledged the importance of the sustainable economic development strand and noted that there was scope for further support to this area in the future.

Scottish funding and the Millennium Development Goals ( MDGs)

2.9 The analysis of the funded projects against the Millennium Development Goals ( MDGs) demonstrates that the IDF funding was clearly aligned with the declared aim of supporting the MDGs. One of the key principles in the 2005 International Development Policy was to contribute to the achievement of the MDGs and the elimination of world poverty. Tables 2 and 3 show how the 39 IDF projects reviewed were allocated to the MDG goals and sub-themes. Some of the IDF projects relate to more than one goal and/or sub-theme.

Table 2 Scottish funded projects targeting each MDG

MDG

Number of IDF Malawi projects targeting the MDG

Explanation

1

3

Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger

2

4

Achieve universal primary education

3

3

Promote gender equality and empower women

4

12

Reduce child mortality

5

11

Improve maternal health

6

14

Combat HIV/ AIDS, Malaria and other diseases

7

3

Ensure environmental sustainability

8

12

Develop a global partnership for development

Table 3 Scottish funded projects targeting each MDG sub-theme

MDG sub-theme

Number of IDF Malawi projects targeting the MDG sub-theme

Explanation

1.1

2

Tourism growth sector

1.3

3

Export led growth

1.4

2

Conserving natural resources

2.1

5

Protecting the vulnerable

3.1

17

Health and population

3.2

14

Education

3.3

4

Gender

4.3

4

Science and technology

5.3

1

Decentralisation

5.6

1

Corporate governance

2.10 The Health-related MDG Goals (4, 5 and 6) were predominant in the IDF programme with Goal 6 having the most funding. The most commonly targeted diseases were HIV and AIDS. Other diseases targeted included respiratory diseases resulting from HIV/ AIDS. IDF funding also appropriately supported Goal 8 on partnerships for development. In terms of MDG sub-themes, more than half the projects funded contributed to sub-themes 3.1 and 3.2, which relate to health and education.

Monitoring

2.11 The majority of projects demonstrated a capacity for monitoring (Table 4). Grantees acknowledged their responsibility for project-level monitoring and there was a view that monitoring procedures could be strengthened through ongoing dialogue with grantees, beneficiaries and partners.

Table 4 Scope of monitoring and evaluation amongst Malawi project grante

es

M & E amongst IDF grantees

Yes

No

Grant (Project) specific monitoring indicators in place

82%

18%

Involvement of Malawi (in-country) partners in project monitoring

65%

35%

Scope for additional project monitoring

74%

26%

2.12 In the Malawi roundtable discussions, local grantee partners stated that they would welcome feedback from the Scottish Government on project performance. They would also appreciate the opportunity for feeding back and sharing lessons and best practice generated through monitoring and evaluation. It was felt that this could improve further project quality, build social capital amongst the grantee community and motivate improved monitoring.

2.13 Evaluation activity at a project-level has been less common, although this was not a requirement of the IDF. A small proportion of grantees had intended undertaking internal (mid-term) evaluations of project progress, but none had reported doing so. However, through the process of this review, lessons and impacts have been drawn from all projects assessed and examined more closely through the cross-cutting thematic analyses. Also, M&E systems relating to the future development of the IDF are covered in Chapter 4.

2.14 The way monitoring information is used and communicated is vital when it comes to telling people about the impacts of the projects funded through the IDF. In the case of these projects, there is an important link to be made between how the projects are understood both in Malawi and Scotland. The notion of a mutual relationship rather than of a donor/recipient relationship is important for people in Malawi so that partnerships are not seen to be one way. Furthermore, people in Scotland can learn from the way in which their Malawi counterparts respond to the challenges in their country and adapt technologies and techniques to meet needs.