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Based on evidence provided by the CCA, the UN system ensures the following elements are common to all UNDAF development processes.

  • Identification of a limited number of key UNDAF strategic priorities (sometimes called results, areas, pillars or clusters) that are issue-based and framed by the 2030 Agenda, rather than being sector-oriented, and in which the UN system has the capacity and comparative advantage to make an impact through results that can be taken to scale and achieve transformative change;
  • Development of an overall theory of change that identifies viable development pathways. The theory of change will be used to derive collective outcomes, outputs and indicators for measuring changes, and articulates the logic and assumptions behind the assertion that those will lead to results.

FORMULATING UNDAF STRATEGIC PRIORITIES AND THE RESULTS MATRIX

STRATEGIC PRIORITIZATION

The strategic priorities of the UNDAF should be primarily drawn from the CCA and the UN Vision 2030. Those selected are envisaged to generate the greatest impacts in contributing to the achievement of the SDGs, in line with national priorities and needs. The identification of strategic priorities and the theory of change associated with them (including UNDAF outcomes) occurs through a transparent and consultative process involving national stakeholders.

Strategic prioritization takes into account national priorities, and gaps in policies and legal frameworks as well as the capacities of state and non-state institutions. It also considers a possible geographic focus, and looks at what other bilateral and multilateral partners are doing, and how the United Nations will work with them to achieve national priorities. The strategic prioritization exercise should be based on a previously agreed and shared UN understanding of the priority areas in the country, including under humanitarian and peacekeeping agendas, where the UN system, based on its comparative advantage, will focus its contribution.

UNDAF Outcomes

In line with UNDG RBM Handbook, outcomes represent changes in the institutional and behavioural capacities for development. Outcomes should:

  • Make a substantive and measurable contribution to the achievement of the selected priorities of the national development framework and the 2030 Agenda;
  • Directly address key issues/development challenges identified by the country analysis;
  • Be specific, realistically achievable, sustainable and measurable, ensuring accountability and monitoring;
  • Include special measures to address gender inequalities and empower women based on the findings from the CCA; and
  • Reflect the contributions of one or more organizations, clearly highlighted in the UNDAF results matrix.

Outputs are changes in skills or the abilities and capacities of individuals or institutions, or the availability of new products and services that result from the completion of a development intervention. Outputs are reflected in annual, biennial or multiyear joint work plans. Results at output level are directly attributable to the UN system and contribute to outcomes. While outputs are not required for the UNDAF, the UN system may choose to develop outputs as part of the outcome theory of change, which underlies work plans.

PREPARING A THEORY OF CHANGE

UNDAFs are founded on a clearly articulated, evidence-based theory of change that describes everything that needs to happen for development change to occur. As such, the theory of change allows the UNCT to understand the ways in which the results of the UNDAF results framework relate to one another. It explains the causal relationship between different types and levels of results, and makes explicit both the risks and assumptions that define the relationship. By doing so, it allows the UNCT and its partners to interrogate those assumptions and risks when subsequently developing programmes and projects.

Developing a theory of change is crucial for shaping the strategy for change that underlies the UNDAF, and for making explicit the focus on groups left behind or at risk of being left behind. This exercise in collective thinking helps the UN system and its partners to devise programmes best suited to achieving the desired change based on evidence and learning. The theory of change enables: a better and more agile strategy; more effective communication of it; improved partnership decisions for delivering on the strategy; and broader, deeper and more substantial ownership of it.

UNDAFs have an overall theory of change that shows how it is assumed that UNDAF strategic priorities will support achievement of national priorities and the SDGs, as well as how the outcomes collectively support the achievement of chosen priorities while mutually reinforcing each other. UNCT Results Groups also prepare a theory of change for each UNDAF outcome.

An UNDAF theory of change:

  • Is based on analysis and data provided in the CCA;
  • Articulates the high-level change the UNCT intends to contribute to in the context of the 2030 Agenda;
  • Makes clear why the UNCT believes that lower level results will necessarily result in higher level results;
  • Lays out the risks and assumptions that define the relationships among different results;
  • Is developed through a consultative process, reflecting the understanding of all relevant stakeholders; and
  • Supports continuous learning and improvement from programme design to closure.

UNDAF RESULTS MATRIX

UNDAF strategic priorities and outcomes are articulated in the UNDAF results matrix (see Annex 3). The matrix includes indicators, baselines, targets, means of verification, a list of partners, the medium-term CBF, and, where relevant, links to other UN plans. It makes the division of labour clear within the UN system by identifying roles and responsibilities. To the extent possible, indicators, targets, baselines and means of verification are aligned with the relevant SDG indicators and targets, and are drawn from the data used in the CCA.

UNDAF outcomes can be adapted directly from SDG targets that are lagging behind in areas where the United Nations has a comparative advantage. They are tailored to the national context and drawn from national priorities. The results matrix becomes the basis for monitoring and evaluation of the UNDAF, serving as a key element for ensuring evaluability.

The multiyear CBF is discussed under financing the UNDAF.

REVIEW AND VALIDATION OF THE UNDAF

The UNDAF is prepared in a standard template (see Annex 4), which also contains a standard legal clause (Annex 5). Prior to finalization, the Resident Coordinator, on behalf of the UN system, shares a draft of the UNDAF, including the results matrix and CBF, with the regional Peer Support Group for review. The group has 15 working days to provide consolidated comments, assessing the UNDAF based on the quality criteria in Annex 1. For more details about quality assurance at the regional level, see Annex 6. The UNCT reviews and incorporates comments it considers appropriate into the final draft UNDAF, and provides an explanation to the Peer Support Group on those comments it chooses not to include. In countries with UN missions, the Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary-General/ Resident Coordinator shares the draft UNDAF with the inter-agency taskforce to receive feedback within the same timeframe. After incorporating feedback, the UN system provides a new draft to the government, and seeks feedback on it from key stakeholders and other development partners.

SIGNATURE AND LAUNCH OF THE UNDAF

Once the UNDAF is agreed upon, it is signed by the government and all UN entities. Launching the UNDAF simultaneously with the national development plan, where feasible, can increase its visibility. The Resident Coordinator sends the signed UNDAF to all partners and to the Chair of the UNDG. Completed UNDAFs are posted on the UNDG website.

ALIGNMENT OF UN ORGANIZATION PROGRAMME DOCUMENTS

All UN organizations participating in the UNDAF align their programming processes to the UNDAF process to the extent possible. UNDAF strategic priorities, outcomes and joint work plans provide a basis for individual organizational planning instruments. While preparation of such plans will often begin before the final signature of the UNDAF, the final versions of these plans should align with the UNDAF, reflect its specific strategic priorities and outcomes, and make explicit their relationship with the UNDAF.

REGIONAL APPROACHES TO  PROGRAMMING

In certain sub-regional contexts, such as those involving small island developing states, the possibility of applying a regional approach to programming may be considered, including through multicountry UNDAFs to ensure coherent, coordinated and, where appropriate, integrated support that reduces duplication and increases impact. This has been done successfully for the Pacific Region (2013-2017 United Nations Development Assistance Framework for the Pacific Sub-region), covering 14 countries, and for the Caribbean (2017-2021 UN Multi-country Sustainable Development Framework in the Caribbean), covering 18 countries.

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Silo Fighters Blog

Innovation scaling: It’s not replication. It’s seeing in 3D

BY Gina Lucarelli | September 12, 2018

My brother is a mathematician and on family vacations, he talks about data in multi-dimensions. (Commence eyes-glazing over). But as the family genius, he’s probably on to something. Lately, in my own world where I try to scale innovation in the UN to advance sustainable development, I am also thinking in 3D, or, if properly caffeinated,  multi-dimensionally. As new methods, instruments, actors, mutants and data are starting to transform how the UN advances sustainable development, the engaged manager asks: when and how will this scale?  To scale, we need to know what we are aiming for.  This blog explores the idea that innovation scaling is more about connecting experiments than the pursuit of homogeneous replications. Moving on from industrial models of scaling innovation In the social sector, the scaling question makes us nervous because the image of scaling is often a one dimensional, industrial one: let’s replicate the use of this technology, tool or method in a different place and that means we’ve scaled. This gives us social development people pause not only because we can’t ever fully replicate [anything] across multiple moving  elements across economic, social and culture. Even if we could replicate, it would dooms us to measuring scaling by counting the repeated application of one innovation in many places.   Thankfully, people like Gord Tulloch have given us a thoughtful scaling series that questions the idea that scaling social innovation is about replicating single big ideas many times over. [Hint: he says scaling innovation in the public sector is less about copy-pasting big ideas and more about legitimizing and cultivating many “small” solutions and focusing on transforming cultures.]  Apolitical’s spotlight series on scaling social impact includes a related insightful conclusion: when looking at Bangladesh’s Graduation Approach as one of the few proven ways out of poverty, they suggest that while the personalized solutions work best, they might be replicable, but too bespoke to scale. So if scaling ≠ only replication, how do we strategize for scale? I’ve got a proposal:  what if we frame the innovation scaling question more about doing deep than broad? The scaling question becomes: How will we move from distinct prototypes managed by different teams at the frontier of our work to a coherent, connected use of emergent  experiments in programme operations? Scaling also means moving from fringe to core Scaling innovation in a large organization like the UN has a glorious serendipity to it. Did you hear that we are looking into impact bonds in Armenia? What about the food security predictor in Indonesia? Nice collective intelligence approach in Lesotho. Blockchain is being used for cash transfers in Pakistan and Jordan. Check out the foresight in Mauritius. UNICEF is using Machine learning to track rights enshrined in constitutions. UNHCR is using it to predict migration in Somalia. UNDP is testing out social impact bonds for road safety in Montenegro. These organic innovations are beautiful and varied and keep us learning, but we as a UN system are not yet scaling in 3D. These days, I’ve been talking to people (my brother’s eyes glaze over at this point) about how to see various methods of innovations not as distinct categories of experiments, but rather as connected elements of an emergent way of doing development. Towards a connected kind of 3D.  Yes innovation is more of an evolving set of disruptions than a fixed taxonomy of new methods, but if we narrow our scope for a moment to the subset of innovations which have passed the proof of concept stage, can we start thinking seriously about how they connect? [As an important side note, thinking in terms of taxonomies of innovations is not a panacea. Check out @gquagiotto’s slides for a more thorough story on how classification is trouble for public sector innovation because it means we limit our vision and don’t see unexpected futures where they are already among us.] Projectizing innovation without keeping an eye on the links among the new stuff won’t get us far, and might even be counter-productive.  Instead, what would it be like if innovations were deployed in an integrated way? A bit like Armenia’s SDG innovation lab where behavioral insights, innovative finance, crowd-sourced solutions and predictive analytics [among others] are seen as a package deal.  I am looking for collaborators to learn more about how are all these methods and tools related. Do they help or hinder each other? Are there lessons that can be learned from one area and applied to others? Should some new tech and methods not be combined with others? 9 elements of next practices in development work A few of us UN experimenters came together in Beirut in July to pool what we know on this.  We had a pretty awesome team of mentors and UN innovators from 22 countries. We framed our reflections around the 9 elements of innovation which I see as approaching critical mass in the field. This is by no means exhaustive, but it’s a start to moving these methods from fringe tests led by various teams to core, connected operations. Here are the “nine elements of next practice UN” we are working with: Tapping into ethnography, citizen science and amped up participation for collective intelligence to increase the accuracy, creativity, responsiveness and accountability of investments for sustainable development. Using art, data, technology, science fiction and participatory foresight methods to overcome short-termism and make sustainable futures tangible. Complementing household survey methods with real time data and predictive analytics to see emerging risks and opportunities and design programmes and policies based on preparedness and prevention. Building on the utility of “superman dashboards”  for decision makers to helping real people use their own data for empowerment, entrepreneurship and accountability. Leveraging finance beyond ODA and public budgets by finding ways to attract private capital to sustainable development. Evolving the way we do things and even what services we offer by managing operations through new technologies Applying psychology and neuroscience for behavioral insights to question assumptions, design better campaigns and programmes and to generate evidence of impact when it comes to people’s behavior. Carving out space for science and technology partnerships within the UN’s sustainable development work Improving how we support our national partners in managing privacy and ethical risks Moving from “that’s cool” to “aha it’s all connected” We need to start thinking of these 9 elements as connected. It might be that they reinforce each other - whereby focusing on data empowerment gives meaning, context and legitimacy to the use of big data to understand behaviors and online activity. Or that they undermine each other - in the way that citizen science can undermine innovative finance pay-outs, or behavioral insights are helping companies get around privacy regulations. Looking for the practical connections, here’s what we’ve got so far: Collective intelligence methods that listen to people organically can help determine whether your behavioral campaigns are resonating.  Because people’s intell is often more granular than statistics, they could also be used to test whether new forms of finance are making an impact on health, education and other development issues. Small scale and/or internal experiments in the UN to manage operations with new technology help us know what the next generation privacy and ethics risks are. Experiments in gray zones can then inform future-oriented regulatory frameworks. Keeping a focus on helping people use data for empowerment is a good northstar when using new data and predictive analytics to ensure that cultivating realtime sources of data isn’t deepening the digital or data privacy divide. Using foresight methods or predictive analytics can point to signals of where to invest with innovative finance instruments [Follow Ramya from IFRC innovations for more on this. Hence some early connections form a budding conspiracy theory! If you are thinking multi-dimensionally too, or using a few of these methods and see where this line of thinking can be improved, help me draw more lines on the innovation conspiracy board! [Or tell me why this is the wrong tree to be barking towards… That’s always helpful too.]   We’re working on a playbook to codify what we know so far in terms of principles and methods for each of these 9 elements. Stay tuned for that... and please do get in touch to throw your own knowledge in!

Silo Fighters Blog

Promise to data: What the SDGs mean for persons with disability in China

BY Marielza Oliveira, Elin Bergman | August 29, 2018

China has strong and capable statistical systems, no surprises there. After all, China is known for its ambitious Five-Year Plans, which have shifted focus from economic growth to policy planning, environmental protection, and social programmes for its population of 1.4 billion. What's different and unique about its 13th Five-Year Plan is that it's very much aligned with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Even so, China faces a daunting challenge to implement Agenda 2030. For starters, it only has official data for less than 30 percent of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) indicators, and much less when considering data that covers vulnerable groups, such as persons with disabilities. With more than 85 million, China has the largest population with disabilities in the world. The good news is that China keeps a record of people with disability, so the official data sources are up-to-date. To support the Chinese government’s efforts to improve monitoring of the SDGs addressing people with disabilities, we at UNFPA, UNESCO, UNRCO, UN Women and WHO came together to test innovative approaches to collect focused and disaggregated data. Starting in Qinghai We selected the Qinghai Province in Northwest China as the pilot location to test new ways of collecting data. In Qinghai, the estimated number of persons with disability is five percent of the total population, of which about 70 percent live in rural areas. There are about 150,000 people registered in Qinghai Disabled Persons’ Federation, the local chapter of China Disabled Persons’ Federation. Therefore, it was important for us to look at their administrative data, which are key for crosslinking data from various sectors, including public services data. To demonstrate how data collection in underdeveloped regions can be operationalized in a smart way, we collected, analyzed and crosslinked all the administrative data of people with a disability ID with the following big data sources: Data from the national survey of basic services and needs for people with disabilities which is developed and updated by China Disabled Persons’ Federation, the National Bureau of Statistics and local Disabled Persons’ Federations; Data from the public services and various sectors including health, education, employment, social security, poverty alleviation and community services. This type of data is gathered from crosslinking disability ID data with public services data. Data from internet-based platforms. It's possible to use big data to integrate and crosslink all data from the disability ID system, administrative data of disability services from China Disabled Persons’ Federation and the administrative data of public services. By expanding the existing official data with information from other sources, China has the potential to not only monitor the additional SDG indicators, but it can also compile additional disaggregated views of SDG progress to monitor specific groups and locations in need of support while strengthening “real-time” monitoring and analytics. During this process, we engaged the vulnerable groups in the analysis and interpretation of data. For us, knowing what people living with disabilities think and need is key. We carefully examined their views to highlight the SDGs indicators that could directly benefit their well-being. The hindrances of data collection We experienced a few setbacks throughout the process, but, we adopted coping mechanisms to address the issue of data collection and analysis: Quality control of data. The disability data available from different sectors uses very different standards and follows different collection approaches. Moving forward, we propose to check and purify the data using standard disability datasets and a data crosslink approach. We also optimized the timeliness and the mechanisms to update the data. Sharing data among sectors. The key index of disability and people with disabilities was determined using the disability ID. The data across sectors was crosslinked with key index such as disability ID and others. What we discovered The administrative data platform of people with disability was recently updated with the results from the annual survey of unmet needs and services for people with disabilities nationwide. This platform provides timely data for monitoring SDGs that address people with disabilities. Other sectors have developed big data platforms using citizens’ ID. To continue enhancing the administrative data records, it's important to collaborate with other stakeholders, such as health care and educational departments to extend the existing data sources. Household surveys can also be used to fill in the gaps of official disability statistics. We shared our discoveries with an expert panel, which included representatives from the Chinese government, the National Bureau of Statistics, China Disabled Persons' Federation and its Qinghai branch, Qinghai Department of Commerce, Institute of Rehabilitation Information/WHO Family International Classifications Collaborating Center China, China Disability Data Research Institute, Soochow University, Nanjing Special Education Teachers College, UN agencies, as well as Chinese IT giants What's next The methodology implemented in Qinghai province can easily be extended to other vulnerable groups since they also face similar challenges. Stakeholders can also adopt similar tactics to develop specific SDG indicators, data collection and analysis to evaluate their progress. As for next steps, the UN country team will continue to research protocols and methods to monitor disability-inclusive SDGs. We will also develop a knowledge platform in Chinese to promote capacity building for the implementation of Agenda 2030 and conduct an international comparative study of technical approaches of data collection and analysis. Data and internet-based surveys will also be developed to learn more about the needs of people with disabilities and improve services for them, while at the same time using those statistics to make sure that we leave no one behind. What methods are you disaggregate the SDGs to ensure data for action with people living with disabilities? If you have some tips, do tell! Photography: Jonathan Kos-Read. License by Creative Commons