Statement on UNDP’s evaluation of the organization’s contribution to poverty reduction

14 Jan 2013

The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) conducts regular, comprehensive evaluations of its activities as a cornerstone of its reform process.

These evaluations are conducted by an Evaluation Office, an independent unit directly accountable to the Executive Board, with the capacity to critically assess the organization’s work and make that information public.

At the same time, as a standard procedure, UNDP presents the management response and makes it publicly available with the measures to address the challenges agreed upon, and also with the disagreements that the organization is entitled to have with the evaluation as part of a constructive dialogue.

The Evaluation Office has recently conducted an evaluation of UNDP’s contribution to poverty reduction covering the period from 2000 to 2011.

The report itself and the subsequent management response are among the documents to be considered at UNDP’s forthcoming Board meeting at the end of January 2013.

In December 2012, an executive summary of the evaluation report in question, as well as UNDP management’s response, was shared with its Executive Board members and posted on the organization’s own website.

UNDP welcomes this close scrutiny of its operations and results, and the learning which results from it. It is part of the organization’s commitment to enhancing development effectiveness, increasing transparency, supporting accountability and improving learning and knowledge within UNDP and among its partners.

This evaluation clearly underlines that while development solutions are mainly local, UNDP has made a valuable contribution towards establishing the agenda of poverty reduction from the multidimensional perspective of human development.

UNDP has made this contribution in a number of ways, including through the publication of its flagship global Human Development Reports and some 700 national human development reports.

More specifically, the evaluation recognizes that UNDP has helped to place the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) – a set of eight time-bound quantitative targets to reduce basic human poverty, – at the centre of many developing countries’ development plans.

UNDP has in recent years developed the MDG Acceleration Framework (MAF), a tool to identify bottlenecks in the way of MDG progress and to identify and implement solutions. After piloting, the Framework was presented in September 2010 at the time of the MDG Summit of the General Assembly. Helen Clark, Administrator of UNDP since April 2009, has continually emphasized that UNDP must work to support transformational change in development and scale up the impact of its work.

Poverty is one of the most complex problems humankind has to resolve. Even the most advanced societies struggle to find a satisfactory solution to poverty, and have to remain constantly vigilant to avoid reappearances of social deprivation. Addressing issues related to poverty, is a long term process; it is “a marathon, not a sprint”.

UNDP management’s response to the evaluation underscores that there are two views in the long running poverty debate: on the one hand that poverty is solely an income problem, and on the other that it is a multi-faceted problem, combining a mix of human deprivation in education, health, dignity, and rights; and obstacles to participation and lack of voice. Related to these two views is the issue of whether poverty is best addressed by taking a narrow, targeted intervention on the poor themselves, or by taking a broader approach.

UNDP has advocated and strongly believes in the human rights-based approach to development, taking into consideration its mandates to promote democratic governance, gender equality, the prevention of conflicts and crises and disaster risk reduction as key elements in the fight against poverty.

The evaluators have identified some weakness that UNDP’s management recognizes: it needs to work harder to scale-up its successful pilot projects as clearly stated from the beginning by the Administrator in her first statement to the board in 2009.

UNDP also needs to work more closely with other UN and civil society organizations on the social determinants of poverty arising from deficient healthcare, poor education or vocational training. Finally, the organization is committed to following the evaluation’s advice and will try to place jobs for young people in the process of rebuilding infrastructure destroyed by disasters or conflicts.

In the coming weeks, UNDP’s work and its multidimensional and broader approach to poverty reduction will be vigorously debated at its Executive Board session.

UNDP management looks forward to this important debate and, in its outcome, will lie some of the vital clues and possible future direction for UNDP in dealing with one of the most complex issues of our times.

The complete report will be made public, as per UNDP guidelines, only after the Board session.

If this statement or any part of it is used, please attribute it to a UNDP spokesperson.

Papers for Executive Board sessions are publicly available at: http://www.undp.org/content/undp/en/home/operations/executive_board/documents_for_sessions/