Outcome Evaluation of UNDP India's Democratic Governance Programme (2008-2011)

31 Dec 2011

The Outcome Evaluation assesses the contribution of UNDP India’s Democratic Governance programmes (2008-2011) to development results in the country with a view to understand their relevance and contribution to national priorities.It also assesses the extent to which UNDP has succeeded in building capacities of key institutions.


This Outcome Evaluation assesses the contribution of UNDP India’s Democratic Governance programmes (2008-2011) to development results in the country. Conducted independently in July- September 2011 (near the end of the 2008-2012 programme cycle), it has run in parallel with and contributed to UNDP’s Global Evaluation Offi ce’s decennial Assessment of Development Results (ADR) in India.

The Evaluation’s specifi c objectives were to:

1) Review the UNDP India Democratic Governance Programme with a view to understand its relevance and contribution to national priorities,

2) Review the status of the outcome and the key factors that have affected (both positively and negatively, Assess the extent to which UNDP has succeeded in building capacities of key institutions,

3) Review and assess the Programme’s partnership with the government bodies, civil society and private sector and international organizations in Programme,

4) Review and assess links/joint activities with other UNDP Programmes and UN Agencies and how these have contributed to the achievement of the outcome, and  Provide recommendations for future country programmes.

Scope and Methodology

The Evaluation examined all the Democratic Governance projects listed in the India Country Programme Action Plan/ the Country Programme Document (2008-2012), as also the handful of projects carrying over from the previous programming cycle (2003-2007): a total of 20 projects. It also considered the results of UNDP’s key non-project advocacy efforts in India.

UNDP’s Democratic Governance project activity broadly fall into fi ve key areas, which are to:

(i) build state, district, and rural-micro planners’ capacity to incorporate human development considerations into all their planning activity,

(ii) build governmental and civil society capacity to strengthen implementation of the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA);

(iii) enhance the governance capacity of elected representatives, particularly women;

(iv) build governmental and civil society capacity to use the Right to Information Act (RTI); and

(v) improve access to justice for the marginalised sections, especially women.

Most of these programmes operate/d only in seven states: Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Orissa, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh, though some had a larger coverage. Administratively, most of these programmes involve a mix of UNDP national, state and district level activity and partnership,

The Evaluator reviewed all project-related documents and interviewed 112 varied stakeholders in New Delhi and three sample states (Rajasthan, Orissa and Chattisgarh) to obtain a 360% view of programme strengths, contributions and shortcomings. All interviewees were asked a common set of ten questions on programme effectiveness, relevance, effi ciency and sustainability and UNDP strategic positioning and impact in India, which were drawn from UNDP’s Assessment of Development Results Method Manual (January 2011).

Key Findings

Informants overwhelmingly credit UNDP with having made seminal contributions in the run-up to or rollout of strategic national initiatives, such as the Right to Information Act, the National Rural Employment Guarantee Programme, and Panchayati Raj training.

Relevance and contribution to national priorities

All informants also feel that UNDP’s Democratic Governance portfolio (2008-2012) is strongly aligned with national priorities because it has been designed and is being implemented in close partnership with GoI. They also feel that UNDP’s ‘human development’ focus closely accords with India’s ongoing struggle against poverty, hunger, ill-health and illiteracy. UNDP’s unique strength by far is that it is the only international development partner completely trusted by government and citizens. UNDP’s other key strength is that its monies are fl exible and so can be used innovatively to trigger multiplier effects, particularly in the area of training and capacity building.

Informants unanimously consider the concept of Human Development to be UNDP’s prime contribution to India. Most important is that UNDP’s human development work has fundamentally guided the Government of India in strategically boosting and fi ne-tuning social sector spending over the past two decades.


UNDP’s Human Development Reports, Human Development Index and its human development trainings have taught Government offi cials that they must look at planning through a human development prism, showing how human well-being translates directly into economic development. UNDP’s genderinclusion and social-inclusion work is also credited with having triggered a similar mindset shift. Most important, UNDP took human development, gender and inclusion out of the realm of NGOs, straight to the heart of Government. Equally important, UNDP’s emphasis on inclusive consultation in its DHDR and District Planning projects has triggered the beginning of popular participation in village and district planning, creating noticeable accountability pressures on Government.

National Rural Employment Guarantee Act

UNDP has played a major role in supporting the Ministry of Rural Development operationalize India’s landmark Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) by fi nancing a Technical Cell to help run the project, a national series of programme evaluations, and a variety of programme-related pilots. Similarly, UNDP is credited with being the fi rst international development partner to recognize the importance of India’s Right to Information movement. It “broke new ground” by underwriting cross-state exchanges and international workshops of activists, elected representatives, and government offi cials, as also widespread governmental training once the Act was passed.

Right to Information Act

UNDP is credited with being the fi rst development partner to recognize the importance of India’s Right to Information movement and it played a seminal role in the exchange of ideas that led to the enactment of this Act in 2005.

Capacity building of Panchayati Raj Offi cials, including women

UNDP’s Orissa Dakshyata and Capacity Building for Local Governance programmes have helped GoI radically upscale the quantity and quality of training for Panchayati Raj offi cials throughout the country. These programmes have also facilitated the development of some innovative new courses for rural stakeholders, particularly in Chattisgarh. Its work to politically empower women is also yielding observable results, encouraging a growing variety of women to step out of their homes and take up issues of public relevance.

Access to justice for the marginalized

UNDP is the only development partner chosen by GOI to support its effort to strengthen and reform of the justice system, and its two access to justice programmes have created a close working partnership between the Indian judicial system and civil society for the fi rst time. It is now helping India’s judicial system identify areas for improvement in delivery of justice to the poor women and men and implement innovative small pilots on legal aid and legal empowerment.

Status of the outcome and key factors affecting it

Despite the notable contribution being made by UNDP’s Democratic Governance initiatives, projects are not able to meet all their deliverables. This is due to a handful of structural issues, referred to repeatedly by informants. Broadly, these issues are:

1) UNDP is “spreading itself too thin” and not seeing issues “through to the end”,

2) It requires 1-1.5 years of the 4-year programme cycle just to obtain government clearances and put in place project personnel/ infrastructure, Human resource turnover is extremely high in certain projects,

3) UNDP Country Offi ce staff need to monitor and drive projects more closely at the fi eld level,

4) project budgets are too small, and

5) there is not suffi cient governmental ownership and drive behind projects.

Building capacity of key institutions

While the materials and methodologies being produced with UNDP support are constructively embedding themselves in State-training institutions, the same is not happening with UNDP-provided experts, trainers, and district staff, who tend to serve primarily as short-term, parallel capacity, say informants.

Informants thus advise UNDP to focus on building permanent local capacity and on creating local knowledge repositories, even if it is more timeconsuming,

Partnership with government bodies, civil society, private sector and international organizations

UNDP has created a variety of platforms that have enabled Government and civil society to collaborative constructively on accountability, governance and human development issues, with important results for national planning, policy-making and capacity building. However, informants would like to see more direct UNDP-civil society in the next programme cycle. Informants also say there is need for tighter intra-UN coordination in the UN-GoI Joint Programme on Convergence.


Going forward, UNDP should build strategically on its strengths, informants advise. Equally important is to identify and expand areas of programmatic synergy, both within the overall UNDP India programme and the Democratic Governance portfolio itself. Doing this will maximize fi eld impact and cost-effectiveness, they say.

Planning for Human Development

All informants urged UNDP to press ahead with its Human Development Reports, in particularly its District Human Development Reports. These are bringing unique value to district planners, district administrators and district populations. Key suggestions include: DHDRs should be regularly released at 2-3 year intervals, and UNDP should help each District Administrations set up a comprehensive and up-to-date database of ‘human development’ statistics for use in district planning and in tracking district performance. Informants also urge UNDP to systematically build local capacity for human development research and analysis, including microplanning capacity within panchayats.

Capacity Building for Local Governance

State government and civil society informants underlined the need for a thorough evaluation of learning outcomes to determine whether and how Panchayati Raj training is impacting the quality of grassroots governance. UNDP also needs to support its training institute partners in creating “holistic and ongoing learning systems” that result in discernable behavior change and better governance. Trainees should be taught how to think critically about law, policy, and government schemes, so that they can make constructive inputs in these areas.


Informants feel that UNDP needs to upgrade the Technical Cell to keep with the Government’s new ‘mission mode’ approach to the MGNREGA programme, They also call for similar UNDP-fi nanced Technical Cells within each state Government, and a broader set of MGNREGA operational partnerships.

Access to Justice – In the next programme cycle, the Access to Justice programme should focus on expanding the reach and depth of training and sensitization within the judicial system, and on building mass legal literacy. As important is to undertake a systematic evaluation of programme impact with a view to improvements.

Access to Information and Urban Governance – Many informants suggested that UNDP continue to support RTI capacity-building by making access to information initiatives a fundamental component of its other Democratic Governance programmes.

A handful of informants also urged UNDP to institute an urban governance programme. Since India’s urban population is growing very rapidly, there is a pressing need to radically improve the quality of Indian municipal governance, they say. . Close to a half of India’s population is already urban, and half of this population is poor, making it vital to create a cadre of well-trained municipal offi cials who can address this immense administrative and developmental challenge. UNDP might thus approach its urban governance programme, as an organic parallel to its Panchayati Raj training programme.

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