PROLOGO Project External Evaluation Executive Summary
Background The project PROLOGO - Proposals for Local Governance - is a regional project in the area of Democratic Governance Practice, funded by the Generalitat Valenciana, and implemented by three Country Offices of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) with support from the UNDP Regional Centre for Latin America and the Caribbean. PROLOGO is an initiative that promotes local democratic governance in the context of Human Development through inclusive participation and the strengthening local institutions. The project has a budget of $ 1,063,815.07, with funding of $ 831,685.71 from the Generalitat Valenciana. The project started in September 2008 with a closing date of December 31, 2010.
The LAC Regional Centre has established a partnership with UNDP Country Offices in Colombia, the Dominican Republic and El Salvador, and through them with local stakeholders (authorities and civil society) to create the PROLOGO Network, comprising three interrelated components. a. Establish and launch three local centers to review and monitor the conditions of local administration for achieving the MDGs, disseminate and share information, and provide a forum for dialogue between local authorities and civil society organizations. b. Establish and launch a Regional Node to consolidate the work of PROLOGO Network. The Regional Node provides local centers with knowledge tools and methodologies on good local governance, strengthens, compares and systematizes the information provided by local centers, promotes and facilitates cooperation between the local centers, and offers local actors a training center for leadership and governance issues. c. The design and implementation of a virtual training system for Local Democracy: the training provides conceptual tools and promotes the development of practical skills of local actors, provides a meeting space for citizens using the learning platform of the Virtual School of UNDP and of the Regional Center.
Three municipalities were selected for establishing PROLOGO Centers, based on their respective initiatives in the area of local governance: Cartagena in Colombia, Santa Tecla in El Salvador, and El Cercado in the Dominican Republic. Thematic areas of work specific to each center were identified. The Cartagena Center seeks to promote public policies for economic integration and political participation of Afro-Colombian communities. The Santa
Tecla Center seeks to promote civil society participation and citizenship in municipal planning. The PROLOGO Center in El Cercado emphasizes the promotion of citizen participation, particularly among young people. In each municipality a local governance assessments were carried out with particular emphasis on the selected thematic area.
Purpose, Objectives and Scope of Assessment The purpose of this joint UNDP-Government of Valencia final evaluation is to assess and document the results obtained in the implementation of the project during the period 20082010 and determine compliance with the objectives outlined in the original document and in the framework of the results and other effects as an added value generated during the execution of the project. Since PROLOGO is a project that was completed in late 2010, the evaluation was carried out immediately in order to provide an input to the funding agency's decision about whether to make a financial commitment to proceed with a subsequent stage of the project. The work done by the assessment team included an analysis of the extensive literature on PROLOGO, including periodic quarterly reports. Field visits were made to the three countries (Colombia, El Salvador and the Dominican Republic) in addition to the UNDP Regional Centre in Panama to verify the implementation of activities and achievement of results. During these visits, the evaluation team held interviews with relevant stakeholders in UNDP New York, the Generalitat Valenciana, the Regional Centre, UNDP Country Offices in Colombia, El Salvador and the Dominican Republic and beneficiaries in the three participating municipalities. The main users of the evaluation are - Generalitat Valenciana (project financing entity), the three Country Offices of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the UNDP Regional Centre for Latin America and the Caribbean. Likewise, it is expected that the assessment may be useful not only for the departments and practice areas of UNDP, but also for other agencies of the United Nations and international cooperation partners. As an added value, it is expected that the results of the evaluation will serve as the analytical basis for the preparation of a possible future programming of PROLOGO in the cooperation framework with the Generalitat Valenciana. We also hope that this assessment, as a UNDP evaluation, will generate knowledge to be generalized and applied more widely (knowledge management).
Methodology The evaluation process has been developed on the basis of four main approaches: participatory, finalist, appreciative and learning. The evaluation was carried out according to the five assessment criteria of the Development Assistance Committee (DAC) of OECD: Relevance and Coherence, Effectiveness, Efficiency, Sustainability, and Ownership and Empowerment. A matrix of key questions for each of these dimensions of the evaluation was developed. The evaluation was conducted using a blended methodology, including focus groups, semi-structured interviews, direct observation, and document analysis. Triangulation was the main methodological procedure used to ensure the accuracy of the
analysis of the collected data to answer key questions. The evaluation was carried out in compliance with the "Ethical Guidelines for Assessment ” of the United Nations System (UNEG, 2008).
Main findings of the Assessment Relevance and Cohesion: The project has responded to the priorities of Human Development in the region, as well as in the countries and the municipalities concerned. The basis for a PROLOGO model of action has been laid, based on the simultaneous operation of its three components duly cohesive and articulated in three different municipalities. The added value of the Regional Node was significant thanks to its close monitoring of the implementation process in the three municipalities. The Regional Forum played an important role in the coordination of activities in the three countries.
Effectiveness: PROLOGO has reached the two objectives to an acceptable level - inclusive participation has been promoted and local institutions have been strengthened. There has been a relatively greater level of success in the case of the first of the two. The project almost entirely accomplished its three expected results - Local Centers equipped and running in two of the three municipalities and the third in the process of reaching the objective, a Regional Node organized and functioning, and a system of training of beneficiaries also organized and in operation, Longer-lasting effects were also identified in the three municipalities and there is evidence that several activities have laid the ground for a future contribution to the design of new national policies and public programs in the area of local governance.
Efficiency: The initially established budget was respected, but there was a gap that delayed the time originally planned in the project by more than a year. However, the expected results were achieved without increasing the budget and with only a three months extension of the timeframe. The cost-benefit of the entire project seems acceptable, thanks to the Virtual Course multiplier effect in the three municipalities, additional training before and after the Virtual Course, as well as a range of products, materials, and events. A communication strategy from the Regional Node also indirectly benefited a significant number of other beneficiaries beyond the three countries.
Sustainability: Despite being a project with a very short effective duration of fifteen months, PROLOGO has laid important foundations for the process of institutionalization or :”bedding –down” the actions that have been implemented. Two of the centers have already secured municipal financing. It should highlighted that the current dynamism of the PROLOGO Centers, which have become places for meetings and public participation, is having positive effects on the strengthening of civil society organizations.
Ownership and Empowerment: A strong positive impact of the initiative on the empowerment of beneficiaries and their ownership of the knowledge acquired was found. It has significantly increased their level of self-esteem and given a strong impetus to active citizenship. The appropriation of local authorities varies considerably. In Santa Tecla the institutions were strengthened through the adoption of more participatory and inclusive municipal budgets and operational plans. In comparison, the level of appropriation by the municipal authorities of Cartagena and El Cercado was smaller. Gender: A gender perspective was not incorporated in the project design. However, this perspective was included in the implementation process, which strengthened the capacity for participation and self-esteem of women beneficiaries.
Social Inclusion: Social inclusion was the component that received most attention in the design, implementation and achievement of project results, particularly in the case of the high level of empowerment among the afrocartageneros group.
Conclusions The PROLOGO Project has empowered new citizen actors committed to Human Development at the local level to active political participation and a commitment to further training to take on even greater political roles in the future. This evaluation verifies the validity of the following two main hypotheses about the change process that underlies the PROLOGO project:
• The “dual track” approach followed by PROLOGO, to strengthen municipal strategic capacity and the organization of excluded and vulnerable groups by promoting partnership between municipal authorities and civil society organizations, is an effective strategy to promote local governance and social inclusion. • The policy of PROLOGO to identify and support potential leaders, "champions”,in the municipal sphere and civil society, is a crucial factor in ensuring the necessary political will, institutional change and empowerment, both to promote transparency and accountability of local government as well as to ensure the organization and participation of marginalized groups.
Recommendations As the main recommendation, the evaluation proposes consideration of further commitment of financial and technical support in a bridging phase that should extend for at least twelve months and allow for the systematization of results and lessons learned in order to strengthen mechanisms for sustainability and the potential future replication and expansion of PROLOGO.
Four other recommendations refer to specific areas identified in the Terms of Reference. These are summarized as follows: i)
ii) iii) iv)
Nine (9) measures to enhance performance and ensure the viability and sustainability of PROLOGO and its results in order to guide the preparation of a possible new project phase in the medium term. Six (6) measures to be taken into account for assisting future project replication in other countries in the region. Eleven (11) measures that would improve the project's impact on gender relations. ) Recommendation to establish a link of complementarity and coordination between PROLOGO and the ART Initiative
Lessons Learned Four lessons may be learned from PROLOGO. First, weak progress towards municipal institutionalization in the areas of transparency and accountability can hamper considerably the scope of local democratic governance even if there has been strong progress in the empowerment of marginalized groups. Second, the approach represented by PROLOGO, with its strong emphasis on education about governance, is an excellent remedy to eradicate the old political culture of patronage and nepotism in Latin America and to open up space for a flowering of a healthy programmatic political culture at the local level. Third, it is important to always pre-plan the gender impact that is to be promoted in order to visualize clearly how to reduce negative impacts and enhance positive effects in reducing existing gender inequalities. Finally, relative freedom of action granted to project management can result in a very positive pro-active flexibility in the implementation of the activities concerned.