Monitoring multilateral population assistance

The United Nations system has continued to strengthen the substantive content of its programmes and had increased the volume of financial assistance directed to developing countries. For the United Nations system as a whole, assistance to population programmes had increased from US$181 million in 1987 to US$253 million in 1992. UNFPA funds had accounted for 81 per cent of those resources.

Family planning integrated with reproductive health and carried out through the primary health-care system continued to absorb most of the multilateral resources for population. IEC efforts in support of family planning had also received considerable assistance. In the past two years, the allocations for basic data collection and analysis had decreased.

There had been a continued emphasis on support for programmes and projects designed to improve the status and living conditions of women. Women's concerns had increasingly been mainstreamed into all substantive areas of population assistance. At the same time, projects to improve the status of women, such as education for girls, leadership training, literacy programmes and projects designed to increase the income of women and their families, were being supported by multilateral agencies.

The past two years had seen continued support for population programmes in Africa, where reproductive health and family planning needs were a major concern and where population growth rates were currently the highest in the world. About one third of UNFPA resources for Africa were devoted to maternal and child health and family planning (MCH/FP) programmes. Trends in multilateral assistance in Africa had shown that the earlier emphasis on basic data collection and policy formulation was giving way to operational population-programme activities, particularly in MCH/FP.

The l990s were considered to be critical: Actions in population taken in that decade would play a large part in determining individual welfare and even survival as well as the size and composition of populations well into the twenty-first century. It had become increasingly apparent that current multilateral resources for population and development were inadequate to meet the challenges of the decade.

In the period under review, the United Nations system continued to monitor and evaluate population assistance both to conform to accountability requirements and to acquire data for improving managerial performance. Revised UN FPA guidelines on monitoring and evaluation were released in August 1990, updating those formulated in 1986. Serious efforts have been made to coordinate monitoring and evaluation processes and procedures in order that different agencies might learn from each other and lighten the burden on cooperating governments. A coordinating mechanism, under the Joint Consultative Group on Policy, has been installed among UNICEF, UNDP, UNFPA, the World Food Programme (WFP) and the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD). The Group has encouraged joint programming and programme review exercises, as well as the harmonization of programming cycles, and the establishment of common premises and joint procurement facilities. Efforts are also being made to promote the harmonization of evaluation policies and principles among members of the Group.

Over the past few years, as the result of an effort to place increased emphasis on monitoring and evaluation as an integral component of the programming process, the responsibility for co un try programme and individual project evaluations has shifted to decentralized entities within and outside UNFPA, including its field offices, as well as to project management and executing agencies.

Consequently, the number of evaluations carried out by UNFPA has considerably increased, ranging from self-evaluations conducted by project management to large-scale evaluations carried out by a team of independent experts, which vary in the depth and intensity of analysis, depending on the circumstances of each case. In 1991, such independent, in-depth evaluations covered the WHO/Western Pacific Regional Office (WPRO) programme, the global programme in Africa and Asia of the former Department of Technical Cooperation for Development of the UN Secretariat, as well as the WHO/Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) and WHO/South East Asia Regional Office (SEARO) programmes.

Major thematic evaluations, either completed in 1993 or in an advanced stage of preparation, include: projects linking population to income-generating schemes for women; IEC strategies in support of family-planning programmes; the quality of family-planning services; the local production of contraceptives; and external evaluations of a number of interregional projects executed by WHO.

UNFPA is also in the process of establishing a new evaluation database that will eventually be accessible on the UNFPA computer network, consisting of information extracted from project evaluation reports as well as thematic evaluations. The objectives of the database are to create an institutional memory of evaluation findings; to promote the dissemination and use of evaluation findings; and to enable UNFPA to conduct, periodically, trend analyses of issues and problems in project design and implementation.

Type Classification:
F: Exceptional strategies
Related UN Sustainable Development Goals:
GOAL 10: Reduced Inequality