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

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Conclusions

5.1 The initial assessment of Malawi-focused projects has provided the Scottish Government with an independent review of the performance of the IDF in Malawi in terms of its relevance, effectiveness, efficiency and impact.

5.2 As shown through the case studies and discussions that have taken place as part of this review, projects funded through the IDF have been able to deliver real benefits on the ground when planned and targeted effectively. Thinking about the expanded nature of the policy, there is an opportunity for future projects to draw on the lessons identified through the review, for the IDF programme to focus on its strengths and punch above its weight.

5.3 Emerging from this assessment are a number of lessons and good practices which show that, generally, successful projects have:

  • A simple, realistic objective within the scope of the IDF resource constraints
  • Recognised a real need and identified Malawian partners who have the capacity to deal effectively with that need
  • A well-planned and structured project
  • Strong partnerships with Malawian partners
  • Transparent decision-making processes
  • Taken on un-planned or unexpected outcomes and used them to leverage further impact for the project.

5.4 The projects were analysed by 4 thematic areas and a large number of lessons of relevance to project design and implementation were made. The key findings were that: the beginning and end of projects are critical to their success; project applicants need to consider the exit process up front during project design; and the inception phase needs to be used to work with project partners to develop comprehensive and viable work plans.

5.5 Those projects that were most successful were those that were based on the strong technical expertise of the Scottish partner and the strong regional knowledge of the Malawian partners with inputs encouraged from both during inception and implementation phases.

5.6 IDF projects are relatively small and therefore as stand-alone projects are unlikely to impact on a larger policy or geographic scale. However, by engaging with similar projects and groups through established networks, this will potentially allow IDF projects to extend their impact considerably.

5.7 Investing time in feedback from the Scottish Government to grantees on performance, but also for sharing lessons and best practice generated through monitoring and evaluation, could improve further project quality, build social capital amongst the grantee community and motivate improved monitoring.

5.8 Given the increased IDF budget, an appropriate M&E framework will be required to connect the project level to the programme level.