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Afghanistan Support Project implemented by the Institute for State Effectiveness - $12.1m over 2016-2020

Summary of Publication

Through the Institute for State Effectiveness (ISE, an international NGO), Australia is helping to provide targeted strategic advice and technical assistance to the Afghan Government and its development partners to progress the reform agenda, including on public financial management, social and economic development programming, and infrastructure.

In February 2020, ISE undertook a partner-led, independent evaluation of the Afghanistan Support Project (ASP). Abt Associates was the independent evaluator. Attached report is a summary of key findings for donors from a partner-led evaluation of the Afghanistan Support Project (ASP). Its purpose is to communicate the key outcomes and messages from this evaluation to ASP local and international partners, as well as other interested stakeholders.

The review found that:

  • ASP’s contribution has undoubtedly been of strategic significance;
  • the approach adopted by ASP in Afghanistan is effective, efficient and influential;
  • getting the right people is necessary but not sufficient. The right people have to be in the right place at the right time (the ISE idea of an ‘open moment’), and with ‘reach-back’ into a supportive and responsive office able to draw in additional expertise as needed and in quick time;
  • ASP has managed something that is rare in development: a small but significant ‘mass’ of technical advisers, all of whom have both technical and country knowledge, who have long-standing and trusted relationships with their government colleagues. The result is both a breadth and a depth of relationships; and
  • the funding modality matters – having confidence in the partner to make good decisions on the basis of the evidence; to take risks in the context of an uncertain and volatile environment, and to act with responsibility and integrity.

The independent evaluation made four broad recommendations for ASP to consider, including:

  • management maintain the program’s effectiveness by continuing the established organisational structure (not-for-profit, lean staffing profile, 24/7 response capability, output based contracts);
  • ensuring, as far as possible, that the ‘mass’ of technical advisers is maintained in order to preserve a networks of reformers;
  • maintaining its flexibility and responsiveness through grant funding rather than contracting; and
  • continuing to exercise judgment on when to engage, based on its idea of an ‘open moment’ and its long-standing, trusted relationships within in-country stakeholders.

DFAT’s response to the partner-led, independent evaluation report

  • DFAT considers the report to be of high quality. It has addressed the Terms of Reference thoroughly. The report is also consistent with the Evaluation Plans and Evaluation Tools documents, which were prepared by the independent team in consultation with DFAT’s Afghanistan program.
  • DFAT will take the recommendations into consideration in negotiating a new phase of the ASP.
  • DFAT has discussed the recommendations with ISE when designing the new proposal 2021-2024.
  • DFAT will continue to monitor and report on these four recommendation during the annual Investment Monitoring Reviews.

Full Publication

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