CONSOLIDATED COMMENTS BY THE PEER SUPPORT GROUP
QSA Team - UNDAF for EEC/CIS
Snowland UNDAF PSG Comments
Document for review UNDAF 2011-2015
Draft date Icy summer of 2009
PSG Review Period 15 working days in 2009
Comments received from OHCHR, UNAIDS, UNDP (from several Practices), UNECE, UNEP,
UNESCO, UNICEF, UNIDO and UNFPA
PSG Comments consolidated Babar Sobhan – QSA Lead (with contributions from Nargiza
by Juraboeva – Regional QSA Coordinator and Patrick Gremillet – PSG
Contacts email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org or
Table of Contents
Introduction ............................................................................................................................................ 2
General Comments ................................................................................................................................. 3
Areas for Improvement / Omissions ....................................................................................................... 3
Comparative Advantage ......................................................................................................................... 5
Focus and Prioritization .......................................................................................................................... 5
Alignment ................................................................................................................................................ 6
Logical Framework .................................................................................................................................. 6
Conflict/Transition Issues........................................................................................................................ 7
Specific Comments / Editorial Suggestions (Narrative) .......................................................................... 9
The Regional Directors of UNDG agencies and the Executive Secretary of the relevant Regional
Commission, in consultation with designated representatives of other agencies that don’t have
Regional Directors, nominate staff to serve on the Peer Support Group (PSG) for the duration of the
preparation of the Country Analysis and UNDAF development process in the concerned countries.
The major responsibility of the PSG is to accompany and support UNCTs during their analytic work
and UNDAF development process.
Membership of the PSG includes representatives of:
UNDG Executive Committee agencies
Non-Resident Agencies (NRAs)
Relevant geographical focal point of the UN Development Operations Coordination Office
In Europe and CIS, UNDP serves as the Convening Agency for the quality support and assurance
(QSA), and chairs the PSG.
These comments have been prepared by the QSA team following a review conducted by the UNDAF
Peer Support Group for Europe and CIS between 15 working days of 2009. During this period,
comments have been received from the following agencies: OHCHR, UNAIDS, UNDP (from several
Practices), UNECE, UNEP, UNESCO, UNICEF, UNIDO and UNFPA.
Snowland UNDAF PSG Comments
1. The UNCT should be commended for developing a draft UNDAF which is, on the whole, well
formulated and provides a clear understanding of current development challenges and
UN priorities in Snowland.
2. The three proposed areas of cooperation—Economic Development, Social Development and
Governance—are relevant to the country situation and to the overall role of the UN in a country
3. There is a strong articulation of capacity development as one of the key value-adds/comparative
advantages of the UNCT. One comment is perhaps to amend the text on page 6 that reads “…are
concerned with capacity development at the institutional level” to make this read more directly
“…capacity development of institutions.” This would bring the terminology more in line with that
utilized in the UNDG position paper on CD and UNDP’s Practice Notes and guidance. Overall,
however, there is an excellent consideration of all three levels of capacity (enabling
environment, organizational and individual levels) throughout the analysis.
Areas for Improvement / Omissions
4. The introduction could be edited and at times repeats information that appears elsewhere in the
document (e.g. a section on the specific features of Snowland’s current phase of development
from the introductory part could be merged with the UNDAF results part).
5. The three sub-chapters on the three UNDAF outcomes should follow the same basic structure to
provide a reader-friendly overview of the planned UNDAF results (the first sub-chapter on the
first UNDAF outcome has a section on partnerships but nothing for the other two UNDAF
6. The document only refers to the Millennium Development Goals, though the UNCT should also
consider the outcomes of other international conferences and summits (e.g. EFA) to the extent
7. The draft is missing a section on past experience and lessons learned by the UN during the
previous programming cycles. There is one paragraph on page 7 that alludes to a slightly
different focus of the new UNDAF compared to the previous one, but there is no actual analysis
of what has worked and what needs to be changed or improved in UN programming. The key
findings of the UNDAF review conducted by the UNCT in 2008 should be reflected briefly in the
8. A good example of building synergies with the past UNDAF is provided in section 2.1.4 which
explains how the interventions will be linked with and builds on past activities. However, there is
much less information on how the second and third UNDAF outcomes build on past activities.
Elaborating on this would help to demonstrate continuity and sustainability of operations and
possible improvements in approaches and modalities of cooperation under the new UNDAF.
9. The UNDAF should include a solid partnership strategy that would outline how the UN intends to
achieve a multiplier effect and leverage development change in Snowland through partnerships.
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The current information on partnerships is scattered through the document and seldom goes
beyond just listing partners.
10. Some of the language describing the development situation, institutional capacities and UN
comparative advantage and UNDAF goals may not be entirely suitable for the document e.g. ‘the
country has a weak tradition’, ‘this is an inheritance from the Soviet period’. The UNCT may wish
to revisit this before submission to Government.
11. The phrase ‘decent work opportunities’ (e.g. page 10) is used frequently. This phrase—albeit
well known in UN circles—needs to be defined in the context of Snowland (and so that it is not
seen as a negative comment on the government).
12. Section 2.1.2 notes that the “... lack of decent employment opportunities have meant that a
section of the labour force has migrated to Russia or other countries to look for work...” This
could be strengthened by elaborating on what this means in concrete terms (low pay, poor
working conditions, or the absence of jobs).
13. Corruption is not mentioned as a specific concern, even though Snowland ranks poorly in
international corruption assessments and is one of the early ratifiers (in 2005) of the UN
Convention Against Corruption (UNCAC). However, it is possible to work on the preventive side
of anti-corruption (as per chapter II of the UNCAC) and to focus efforts on promoting integrity,
transparency and accountability in the public sector. The outcome statement (3.2) includes
some language to this effect, but it is not clear how this will be integrated into the programme
and operationalized through the outputs.
14. The UNDAF (particularly Agency Outcome 1.2) has a strong (sub-national) regional focus and
involves a large number of interventions at the local level, such as output 1.2.3 and outputs 1.2.5
– 1.2.9. Even though decentralization may not be key factor in Snowland, activities are
implemented at the local level by local state actors (even though decisions may be taken at the
centre). Therefore local authorities should be explicitly mentioned as partners (where they are
not) and as a primary focus of capacity development efforts to ensure the sustainability of
activities after the UN withdraws.
15. The role of the private sector in the new UNDAF does not come across very strongly even though
private sector development is vital for achieving all three UNDAF outcomes. If the private sector
is perceived as one of the main beneficiaries and one of the important partners for the UN-
country cooperation within UNDAF, it should be more involved into the UNDAF development
process and its role should be highlighted throughout the document.
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Does the document, in explicit terms, present the UN’s comparative and competitive
advantages1 (as a whole and for each individual agency) both in terms of demonstrated
capacity to achieve results and in comparison with other actors?
16. While the draft identifies 4 areas—a trusted partner, focus on capacity development, the rights-
based approach and a proven track record of success—as the basis of the UN’s comparative
advantage in Snowland these are still quite broad. The UNCT may wish to consider the extent to
which these are objectively verifiable in the context of Snowland. As with the CCA, a short and
clear description of past UN achievements and UNDAF implementation would make the value
added of the UN (and the UNDAF) much clearer.
Focus and Prioritization
Glance at the UNDAF Results Matrix and put it aside. Can you recall how the UNCT sees its role
in the country, and its key deliverables for the next five years?
Do the UNDAF outcomes "zoom in" on specific results, or are they formulated as door openers
to include everything as activity? Are UNDAF outcomes merely an umbrella for a range of
agency products? (Bad examples: "Improved access to social services...", "Reduced poverty",
Beyond focus in terms of themes/sectors or geographical regions, is there a clear line of
argumentation regarding the kind of intervention foreseen (e.g., technical assistance, capacity
development, advocacy, knowledge-brokering)?
Is the UNDAF Results Matrix a true planning instrument, or merely a rewording of the
established areas of intervention? A true planning instrument would include at a minimum
expected results, a budget against those results and an M&E framework.
To what extent does the UNDAF incorporate the five inter-related programming principles
(i.e., human rights, gender equality, environmental sustainability, RBM, and capacity
17. Overall, the results matrix still reads as a combination of agency products (see bullet 2) and does
not effectively capture the value added of the UN system. Most of the outputs are individual
agency outputs, with only a few examples of joint outputs even in areas where there is an
obvious overlap between the agencies (like UNDP with UNEP on environmental issues). The
focus of the text does not translate concretely within the Results Matrix, which would require
additional work to become a stronger planning instrument.
18. However, as noted elsewhere, there is some degree of consistency with regard to focus on
capacity development but there are fewer examples of where the UN is leveraging its influence
through advocacy and/or bringing together different stakeholders
19. Even though the UNDAF refers to the five key programming principles, these do not come across
strongly in the results matrix. Both Gender and Environmental Sustainability are dealt with
Criteria to assess comparative/competitive advantage: (i) Demonstrated track record of achieving
results, leading to established credibility in the priority area and acceptance by other actors; (ii)
Recognized technical expertise within country staff and/or easy access to recognized technical
expertise, in the priority area; (iii) System and agency capacity, both in terms of staff levels and
availability of resources (including access to surge financial and human capacity); (iv) Geographical
presence where the needs have been identified for the priority area.
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through the occasional (agency specific) outputs but these dimensions are not obviously
addressed in the other outputs (i.e. the “mainstreaming” appears limited).
20. The three major areas of intervention are within the key priorities of the country but the way
they are formulated makes effective monitoring difficult—e.g. how would one monitor “decency
of the jobs” or the “health of the environment” ?
Is the UNDAF finalized after completion of a PRSP or NDP?
Do the UNDAF outcomes relate to national priorities as expressed in the PRS, NDP or
equivalent national document?
Is the UNDAF M&E system aligned with the national monitoring system?
21. The UNDAF draws heavily on the National Development Programme which is the key national
planning document. In addition, the fact that a large part of the UN budget is supported by the
Government also suggests that the interventions are considered to be aligned with national
22. In its current form the draft UNDAF does not support the UN’s claim to provide guidance to the
government to strengthen its national monitoring systems.
Are the number and range of UNDAF outcomes and planned activities realistic, given the
strength of the UN presence and programme resources available?
Is the number of country programme outputs reasonable?
Can an agency be accountable for the output(s) assigned to it in the UNDAF?
Is the logical chain of results (if-then) followed correctly?
Are the M&E indicators objective verifiable indicators?
23. The formulation of results would require significant improvements especially at the output level.
Most of the outputs do not reflect short-term results and are often beyond the [sole] influence
of the UN. At output level UNCT should avoid using phrases such as ‘strengthening’ or
‘improving’ capacities or ‘creating enabling environment’ which may go well beyond the UNDAF
24. It is understood that the approach is to keep up to three agency outcomes under each UNDAF
outcome in the matrix, but in some cases it leads to the following weaknesses:
lengthy and complex formulation of the agency outcomes and
extremely high number of corresponding outputs (from 7 to 13 outputs per outcome area);
25. More important, too many of the agency outputs are too loosely connected to the
corresponding agency and UNDAF outcomes. They need to be clustered and reformulated, to
sharpen their focus on the UNDAF outcomes.
26. Further consideration should be given to how each CP Outcome (and related outputs) relate to
one another and to support the achievement of the UNDAF Outcome. One possible approach
would be to structure the CP Outcomes using an HRBA framework focused on bringing
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legislation in line with international standards, capacity development of claim holders and duty
bearers and advocacy.
27. For example, the agency outputs on management of vulnerable ecosystems under outcome 1.3
could probably be grouped together as one output. Similarly, the agency outputs on
strengthening national capacity for sustainable energy could be clustered together to better
demonstrate how the UN system (collectively and individually) can come together to address
28. Agency Outcomes 1.1, 1.2 & 1.3 – At first glance, and again without all the information to
support the outcome statements, these 3 outcomes do not seem to convey sufficient
institutional and/or behaviour change. They focus on strategies and policies to be strengthened,
without identification of the "who", corresponding to the subject of the intended change. They
also seem to repeat – at a lower level – the UNDAF outcome statement.
29. Outcome 2.2 and related outputs – the outcome statement would need a redefinition to better
reflect 1) the institutional change 2) the "owner" of the intended change. Outputs should be
narrowed down to correspond to more tangible results. For instance, what is covered by "more
effective use of ICT in Education"? Will all level of education be targeted or only selected areas
and so on?
30. Outcome 2.3 and related outputs – here again, further redefinition of most outputs would be
required to ensure that outputs represent commitments and tangible deliverables, as opposed
to long term results which do not appear possible to measure as currently stated.
31. As many as 71 of the 86 outputs cannot be monitored easily. As many as 63 of the 71 outputs
include such immeasurable words as ‘improved’, strengthened, ‘enhanced’, ‘increased’. The
immeasurability of the outputs puts in question the logic of having outputs at all since they will
add no value in terms of accountability and management performance monitoring.
32. Most of the outcomes and 66 of the 86 outputs refer directly to intended capacity development
activities of government institutions, private sector, civil society or beneficiaries (rights-holders).
These results convey an intention by the UN in Snowland to use its resources on low-level
training activities which seems inappropriate for a Middle Income Country with relatively good
33. UNDAF M&E framework includes about 150+ output indicators (outcome 2 &3) which are very
difficult to track. In addition output indicators are at different levels (intermediate outcome,
output and process indicators). The UNCT may consider reviewing the M&E framework further
and include the most critical indicators following UNDG indicator terminology. Referral is made
to the RDT discussion paper on UNDAF simplification for guidance on how to work with
indicators in UNDAF.
Has the likelihood of crisis/disaster & and who is likely to be affected, been considered?
Is the UNDAF based on a conflict analysis from a human rights and gender equality
34. Given the fact that Snowland is ‘frozen conflict zone’, conflict issues and the impact of conflict
seem to be largely overlooked and under-analyzed – with the small exception of a brief mention
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on page 7 (in reference to the UN shifting focus to support voluntary re-settlement in case of a
resolution of the conflict in the nearby district). In light of this further consideration may be
given for the UN to design interventions that strengthen regional cooperation
35. There is no mention of national strategies to mitigate disasters or whether the UN has tried to
create dialogue with government on the subject or how the UN plans to facilitate this discussion.
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Specific Comments / Editorial Suggestions (Narrative)
Page 6 Section In addition to reporting, OHCHR recommends adding “and pertinent follow- up”
1.2, para 4 to international bodies concerned with monitoring.
Page 7 para 3 line Add “economic and social rights (non-discrimination, social and legal protection,
10 housing, education, employment, health),” to natural ecosystems, biodiversity
and human health.
Page 9, section Before the last sentence, a further sentence can be included “In the context of
1.4, para 2: the Universal Periodic Review of the Human Rights Council which was held in the
first half of 2009, Snowland accepted concrete recommendations of the Council
related to gender. The recommendations could serve as an important reference
for this process.”
Page 11 (final Food security comes up in a disaster management context, but is not
para) mentioned in the disaster management section.
Page 12 “…While a legal framework and policy documents have been developed to
address environmental issues, there are capacity gaps in implementation,
monitoring and control.” Is there more information available on the
organizational and individual level capacity gaps that can make this more
M&E section, The UNCT may consider to include the following in the final UNDAF document
under M&E component:
Composition, roles and specific responsibilities of M&E task force (e.g.
developing the UNDAF M&E Action Plans, regularly reviewing progress of
the outcomes and outputs, recommending, if necessary, adjustments and
revisions of indicators and targets based on changing circumstances,
Providing oversight and guidance on coordination mechanisms of the
Mechanism of capturing status of indicators including establishment of
baseline and periodic updates.
Time line of annual/mid-term and final evaluations (can be reflected in
Section 2.1.3 : In the heading, it might be useful to mention “and adverse effects on vulnerable
populations, promote the green economy and human rights, in particular the
right to safe and adequate water and food, the right to health…”
It may be opportune to revisit the economic arguments for diverting private
consumption remittances to local employment and private sector development
(page 12). It seems intuitive that any remittance spent locally has a potentially
positive impact on the local economy resulting in local employment
opportunities. Perhaps this idea could be explained differently.
Page 13 “Capacity building will help ensure that non-oil sector development is clean and
based on sustainable use and improved management of natural resources.” Is
this a conscious change of terminology (instead of using capacity
development?). If so, why is capacity building necessary (which implies starting
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from scratch and that no capacities exist in this area)? And if capacity building is
going to be used as an approach, what is the mid/long term plan for
transitioning from this type of assistance to capacity development.
Page 14 “Past experience has shown that passing laws and adopting state programmes
are just the first steps and do not in themselves lead to results. There is a need
2.2.1 second para
to establish feedback mechanisms to control and monitor implementation, to
ensure that medical staff has incentives to follow through with implementation,
and to improve the management and planning of implementation.”
An excellent point, but could be made even stronger by detailing specifically the
organizational and individual capacity constraints as well (and not just the
enabling environment and broad areas of concern as is done now)
Page 15. “…avian influenza in 2007, further support will be provided to capacity
development to deal with the spread of epidemic diseases and other health
crises.” Capacity development for whom? For what specific purposes? At what
Section 2.2.1, After asylum seekers, add “infants, children, women” – since infant, child and
para 4: maternal mortality rates are already mentioned in an earlier paragraph (para 3
of this section) as remaining relatively high.
Page 17. “…Capacity development interventions will aim at providing a clear mandate for
local level child protection bodies, and ensuring that they are staffed by trained
professionals, who can refer children to a range of services provided by different
government and non-government bodies.” While this addresses the enabling
environment and individual level issues, what about the organizational level?
Will the business processes/operating procedure of the protection bodies also
need to change? Will the newly trained staff have the appropriate incentives in
place at the organizational level? Perhaps more detail can be added here on the
organizational constraints that these bodies face, or if it is not known, how a
capacity assessment will help define future interventions at this level
Page 18 The analysis here touches on many relevant CD issues, but could perhaps be
Section 2.3.2 better structured using three levels where capacity resides. The text as it stands
is quite broad and could be made more specific – or if information is not
available it could be useful to note that a capacity assessment will be
undertaken to further define the CD support.
Page 19 Applying HRBA, it would be important to mention the empowerment of the
vulnerable groups which could look at legal empowerment and other
dimensions of the empowerment. Awareness raising, empowered participation
and capacity building will help to improve demand side with ultimate goal to
make services provided by legal institutions really available, accessible,
acceptable and adaptable. Taking the example of the protection of women
against violence, such measures should be accessible for women by using
adequate information channels to inform them about their possibilities and
rights; they should include the provision of women’s shelters in sufficient
quantity and qualified personnel to deal with domestic violence; they should,
where appropriate, reach and thus be acceptable to, minority women, and be
adaptable to, for example, meet changing patterns of domestic violence
Section 2.3.3: Consider whether journalists and some religious groups should be included here
as partners and vulnerable groups or whether they are already covered in point
3.1 of the matrix (which deals with roles in policy formulation and
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implementation and not protection).
Two sentences could be added to the end along the following lines “...the UN
could provide support to a National Preventive Mechanism designed under the
Optional Protocol against Torture (ratified by Snowland in January 2009) in
order to become operational and effective. The authorities should be
encouraged to improve media freedoms and more broadly the freedom of
expression, including through changes in the legislation (e.g. the criminal
sanction for defamation) and related practices.” However, we appreciate it if
this is felt to be already adequately covered.
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