Monitoring and evaluation (M&E) are essential for accountability and learning from the UNDAF. They are the basis on which the UN system assesses and makes transparent its contribution to the achievement of national priorities and the SDGs. They help the United Nations ensure that it is delivering on the commitment to leave no one behind, and that its support is primarily reaching those who are most disadvantaged. Anticipated M&E activities during the UNDAF cycle are laid out in a costed M&E plan.
Monitoring takes place continuously to track progress towards anticipated results, and checks if the theory of change identified at the design stage is still valid or needs to be reviewed. Building on identified data needs and baselines established during the CCA, monitoring helps the UN system and partners to prioritize, learn, make course corrections and communicate these to stakeholders. It incorporates attention to programme and operational bottlenecks.
The UNDAF should be regularly monitored against the programming principles and approaches in each stage of the programming cycle. As part of the annual review process, the One UN Country Results Report, based on existing evidence, demonstrates how the UNDAF:
- Contributes to the implementation of the 2030 Agenda, the SDGs and recommendations by UN human rights mechanisms;
- Reaches those left furthest behind first, and contributes to the reduction of inequalities and discrimination;
- Is inclusive, participatory and transparent, and enables stakeholders to hold the UN system accountable for results;
- Addresses risks and resilience;
- Is based on a valid theory of change, whereby assumptions on how UN programmes affect development change are confirmed and revised in light of changes in the context;
- Contributes to developing the capacity of duty-bearers to meet their obligations and rights-holders to claim their rights;
- Enhances coherence between the development, humanitarian, human rights, peace and security, and environmental agendas;
- Contributes to fostering new and effective partnerships between national stakeholders and international actors, including through South-South and triangular cooperation;
- Promotes integrated and coherent policy support to partners;
- Contributes to strengthening national capacities to collect and analyse data for policy-making and reporting.
UNDAF evaluations are external and a minimum requirement of a quality UNDAF process. They are conducted once in the UNDAF life cycle, with timing coordinated among UN entities so that organizational or programme evaluations can contribute to them. UNDAF evaluations assess whether planned UNDAF results were achieved, whether they made a worthwhile and durable contribution to national development processes and delivered on the commitment to leave no one behind, whether this was done in a cost-efficient manner and whether results built on the United Nations’ collective comparative advantage (rather than that of individual agencies) in a coherent manner. UNDAF evaluations also assess the extent to which UN interventions contribute to the four UNDAF programming principles.
An UNDAF evaluation supports institutional learning on what works and does not work, where, when and why, and provides information that contributes more broadly to the evidence base for policy approaches backed by the UN system. It serves as the foundation for subsequent UNDAF planning processes. UNDAF evaluations and management responses issued by the UNCT are prepared in line with the UNEG Norms and Standards on Evaluation.
At the country level, an inter-agency M&E group supports the planning and coordination of joint monitoring and evaluation efforts, including the coordination of data collection, provision of coherent M&E advice, capacity strengthening, and sharing of monitoring and evaluation information. In doing so, it draws upon expertise from across the UN system, acknowledging that organization-specific monitoring and evaluation practices will complement the UNDAF monitoring and evaluation work. The M&E support group works closely with the Results Groups and in some cases is an integral part of them. In UN mission settings, M&E groups work with mission staff to ensure coherence. In humanitarian settings, the groups link as much as possible with humanitarian response monitoring frameworks and systems.
Monitoring and evaluation of the UNDAF contributes to strengthening national data collection systems, including by improving data quality, analysis and use with regards to monitoring progress on national SDG targets, and consistency with global SDG monitoring. Building on and strengthening existing national data and information systems help ensure national ownership as well as sustainability.
Increasingly, the United Nations undertakes joint real-time monitoring activities to support data collection, gauge perceptions from national stakeholders on progress towards UNDAF outcomes, monitor risks and test the continued relevance of the theory of change. A monitoring platform such as DevInfo/ (UNINFO) can support the transparency of data and provide information for reporting. The companion guide on monitoring and evaluation lays out the different steps in detail.
 Bottlenecks are blockages that may be related to supply or demand (e.g., knowledge of services, behavioural factors that influence people’s ability to access available services), the quality of services, or social values, legislative frameworks, finances or management influencing a sector or area. For more, see the UNDG Guidance on Frequent Monitoring for Equity.