A CHALLENGING EVALUATION
The NIMD appreciates the enormous effort made by the evaluator and his supporting team to reconstruct NIMD’s legacy in working on bilateral political party financing and direct party assistance over a period of 10 years. A decade in which NIMD grew from a pioneering organization into a more consolidated, but still relatively young, organization.
At the start of its programming, NIMD still lacked a clear, all-encompassing Monitoring & Evaluation (M&E) system for its direct party assistance. The reporting was done in a rather diffused manner and there had not yet been developed a clear organization-wide policy to guide direct party assistance.
This made the thematic evaluation, the first one to be conducted on such a large scale for NIMD, quite a challenge. Given these constraints, NIMD greatly values the report and its conclusions and recommendations. It presents a fair picture of NIMD’s interventions in direct party assistance over a period of 10 years. The recommendations have been taken into account at both country level and at strategic level for preparing the multi-annual plan 2016-2020.
CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS
The evaluation looks into three elements: the focus in the direct party assistance work itself, the institutional framework, and the financial features of the approach.
Focus in direct party assistance
With regard to the direct party assistance work itself the evaluation shows that it has been very relevant to the beneficiary parties. It contributes to NIMD’s objective: a well-functioning multiparty system. According to the evaluators, direct party assistance can be more than just an incentive for interparty dialogue. Therefore, they feel that NIMD could focus more on structural issues and not only on symptoms. Other conclusions are that DPA could benefit from a focus on specific thematic areas and more focus on addressing long-term capacity issues.
These conclusions and recommendations have been extensively discussed with the NIMD staff and NIMD’s Supervisory Board. Based on that, the NIMD management has formulated a number of policy lessons.
The first lesson is a recurrent assessment of the context of the country programmes. This will help to determine the appropriateness of the DPA instruments versus cross-party assistance. Effective linking or decoupling of direct party assistance and cross-party assistance will be regularly examined. NIMD’s Baseline and Review Toolkit (BART) will be used as a management tool for this.
A second decision is to combine methodologies. DPA will be used in combination with other methodologies and instruments, such as interparty dialogue, so that the structural issues hampering political party capacity development are tackled.
And finally, the Strategic Planning Tool for Political Parties will be used as a main instrument to guide structural change in the parties’ development. This tool has been developed by NIMD and International IDEA. Although DPA may still serve on occasion as an incentive to build a solid relationship and trust with political parties, this way it can no longer be detached from a more long-term agenda.
The evaluation concludes that a clear strategy, policy and operational guidelines are needed for all DPA programmes of NIMD. This has been scattered and very country specific in previous years. The same conclusion is drawn for the M&E framework and the technical support provided by NIMD’s country office/partner to the political parties and to M&E activities. The technical support was there, but needs to be improved.
In response to these findings, NIMD will implement a stronger M&E framework that can improve monitoring of political party development. The operational and methodological difficulties that have prevailed so far will be tackled together with other organizations in the Political Parties Peer Network and with other partners. Additionally, resources will be allocated for technical support provided by the country office/partner to the political parties for improved M&E, and for improved results-based management by country offices/partners.
To comply with the need for a clear strategy, NIMD’s institutional Theory of Change (ToC) will from now on be used to develop operational plans for the country programmes. On the basis of both the ToC and the new Multi Annual Plan 2016-2020, operational guidelines will be produced to ensure NIMD’s overall objectives can be implemented at country level. Improving strategic and operational guidelines this way will strengthen institutional memory.
The analysis of the financial features of NIMD’s direct party assistance shows that political parties have sometimes had difficulties in accounting for funds that have been directly transferred to them. Also, funds have sometimes been allocated on the basis of jointly agreed allocation rules, not on the basis of party-specific needs. On the other hand, the report confirms that the bilateral funding provided by NIMD has strengthened the relationship with the parties and encouraged dialogue with other parties.
The management of NIMD has decided that funding for DPA will from now on be allocated primarily on the basis of needs. This follows logically from the use of the Strategic Planning Tool as a basis for DPA. The tool also foresees more tailor-made financial schemes that cover specific needs of parties. However, applying more or less equal or pro-rata distribution of funds in order to ensure trust and impartiality may take place in case of new NIMD programmes.
When parties receive DPA, appropriate time and resources will go to support to parties through NIMD’s partners or country offices in order to increase their (financial) management capacities. Also, as in the past, when parties are not able to account in full for the funds received, corrective measures will be taken.