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Cornerstones for effective ARD programmes under a programme-based approach

Cornerstones for effective ARD programmes under a programme-based approach

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Going from project aid to harmonised and government-led development in ARD.
Going from project aid to harmonised and government-led development in ARD.

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Categories:Types, Research
Published by: Global Donor Platform for Rural Development on Nov 08, 2012
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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For effective aid management, government, donors, private sector and civil society are today moving towards
 jointprogramme-based approaches (PBA) for the promotion of agriculture and rural development
.The programmme-based approach is a
coordination and communication mechanism
toharmonize and align programmatic planning,financing, capacity development and general management and execution of an ARD program in a given country.The following definition is given by OECD/DAC:
OECD DAC Definition of a Programme-based Approach
Programme-Based Approaches (PBAs) are a way of engaging in development cooperation based on the principles ofco-ordinated support for a locally owned programme of development, such as a national development strategy, a sec-tor programme, a thematic programme or a programme of a specific organisation. Programme-based approachesshare all four of the following features: (a) leadership by the host country or organisation; (b) a single comprehensiveprogramme and budget framework; (c) a formalised process for donor co-ordination and harmonisation of donor pro-cedures for reporting, budgeting, financial management and procurement; (d) efforts to increase the use of local sys-tems for programme design and implementation, financial management, monitoring and evaluation.
(Source: OECD/DAC (2006b, 19)
Derived from
practical experiences
in the preparationand implementation of programme-based approaches(PBAs) as well as based on
empirical evidence
,theGlobal Donor Platform for Rural Development offers thefollowing ‘Cornerstones for effective agriculture & ruraldevelopment (ARD) programmes under a PBA’ as a
prac-tical tool tofacilitate the transition process from ‘donorproject aid’ to harmonized and government-led develop-ment approaches
following the OECD-DAC guidelines foraid effectiveness.PBAs arelong-term approaches. The preparationprocess can take two to three years until the implemen-tation process, including disbursement, actually starts.The traditional project cycle is here no longer valid,therefore – rather than sequencing these ‘corner-stones’ – , the document refers to 1)
the content defini-tion process
and to 2) the
operational processes of aPBA
including 2.1) ownership, harmonization, align-ment and 2.2) monitoring, mutual accountability, andpublic financial management. The cornerstones are
underpinned by practical guidelines, appropriatemechanisms & tools
as well as by
risks & pitfalls
tothe processes.Whilethereareother documents focusing in length onthe characteristics of PBAs, and while the Platformacknowledges the complexity of PBAs, especially in ARD,wewish toprovide with this document a concise
‘check-list’ for easy reference
,mainlytobe used by ARD practi-tionersin the ‘envisioning’ or planning stage of PBAs.In addition tothe presentation of these ‘cornerstones’, theGlobal Donor Platform is facilitating the
process towards joint donor minimums standards for effective ARD pro-grams
.These standards, once agreed upon by the mem-bersof the Platform, are intended to serve as a
Code ofConduct todemonstrate ‘the way we (the members ofthe Platform) mean to do business in ARD’
.The Code ofConduct will be
based on the ‘Joint Donor Rural Concept’
,established by the Platform members in 2006, and thepresent document.
Cornerstones for effective agriculture&rural development programmes under aprogramme-based approach
Appropriate Mechanisms and Tools
Assessment of content key areas (based on analyticalwork).Sound sector strategy.Technical secretariat for the sector round table to ensuretransparent information and communication.Free-form fora for dialogue, brainstorming, trustbuilding.PBA road map / action plan.Portfolio review/mapping exercise/stocktaking exercise.
Risks & Pitfalls
Eager, experienced and knowledgeable donors mayassume leadership functions in the content definitionprocess that belong to the government.All actors do not need to agree on all issues. But theremust be a consensus on key issues among a criticalnumber of stakeholders.
Practical guidelines
Ensurethat sector policy & strategy are
onsistent withnational and sectoral development plans, such as PRS, andinclude stakeholder & beneficiary consultations
.Ensure that
sector strategy
provides a basis for developingan operational plan.Include joint
institutional assessment
from the outset.Promote
innovative public/private partnerships
for thedecentralized delivery of services taking into account of areaspecific needs and potentials and sound and transparentmechanisms (e.g., cost-sharing arrangements, competitivefunds, capacity building facilities).Use
universally accepted vocabulary
by OECD/DAC.Plan for ‘
quick wins
obvious to all stakeholders to assuretheir continuous support in often lengthy PBA processes.Design the
evaluation system at the design stage
,and ensurebaseline datais adequatelygenerated (and keeping a simplefocus)
At the beginning of any PBA process,
acommon vision, agen-da and scope of program has to be discussed, agreed andcommitted to by
all stakeholders (government, donors, priva-te sector, civil society): the choice of mechanisms, modalitiesand instruments can follow after.
Amore focused approachonagriculture key sub-sectors
(e.g. agroforestry, technology,commodity chains) rather than on ‘rural development’ isrecommended as such ‘sub-PBAs’ are easier to manage dueto less complexity.
The participation of the private sector
asdriver of agricultural growth and the
consideration of decen-tralization and devolution dimensions
is of utmost importan-ce in the content definition process.
1.Content definition process of PBAs in agricultureand rural development
Risks & Pitfalls
PBA processes are administratively very intensive anddemanding and therefore tend to become overly central-ized and administration-oriented at the expense of servicedelivery at sub-national levels.PBA is a public sector concept but there is a risk ofassigning all the needed tasks to the public authorities.Many civil society and private sector actors will not be sat-isfied by a mere consultative role, they want to be part ofdecision-making and implementation.Beneficiaries & stakeholders may become frustrated withconsultations if they don’t see improved service delivery inareasonable period of time.Donor headquarters may not provide clear signals andadequate incentives to take extra efforts for promoting in-country harmonization activities and resultsSometimes donorscondition the alignment tothe readinessof the government structures and mechanisms. This maypostpone the alignment into undefined future. There is aneed for donorstoencourage and support strengthening ofGovernment systems and procedures from the outset.
Appropriate Mechanisms and Tools
Training in PBA principles and methods (at central andregional levels).Code of Conduct (focuses on behavioral partnership princi-ples).Memorandum of Understanding (focuses on operationalmechanisms).Sector web site (maintained by the lead sector ministry) toensure transparent information sharing.Explicit portfolio alignment process of on-going projectsand operational plan.Joint missions with jointly prepared ToR, joint analyticaland study workJoint arrangements of technical assistance, coordinated byGovernment sectoral agency.Joint programmatic support modalities, such as budgetsupport and basket funding.Joint Assistance Strategies.
Practical guidelines
Donors and other external actors should have a thoroughunderstanding of what is an
appropriate role
for them inthe PBA process, while taking proactive steps to strengthenGovernment ownership and leadership.Donors should not insist on perfect operational systems ledby the government,
good enough will do
,and “
will eventually happen.Identify
lead donors
based on comparative advantages, con-sider
delegated cooperation and silent partnerships
andconcentrate number of donors in the sector; donors can also
participate through project assistance and budget support
,but with
firm commitment to the sector strategy
.The simultaneous use of various
modalities for supportingasector programme
(project, SWAp, budget support) needto be closely coordinated to
ensure consistent alignment
.Make sure everybody speaks the
same language
,the keyconcepts of a PBA must be understood in same ways.
The leadership is with the partner government
.Lead min-istry and coordination with other key ministries involved,especially Ministry of Finance, is defined from the outsetTransparent country -led structures and mechanisms facil-itate coordinated
dialogue between donors and, especiallyrelevant in ARD, representatives from civil society and theprivate sector
.Under the leadership of the lead ministry,the portfolio of
on-going donor projects needs to bealigned
,in accordance with the sectoral strategy and aspart of the PBA process.
Division of labour
among donorsin the sector has to be requested and seen through by leadministry.
2.Operational processes of PBAs in agricultureand rural development2.1 ownership, harmonization, alignment

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