In summary, the NIMD Board would like to highlight the following findings:
On support to multiparty dialogue:
- Small, strategic results were achieved through the multiparty dialogue platforms;
- CMDID Mali quickly facilitated dialogue in response to the 2012 military coup: the platform was used as the initial forum to discuss the democratic transition immediately following the coup, held only ten days after, which underlines the great benefit of a pre-existing platform;
- The NIMD programmes managed to influence political culture in all three countries under evaluation; NIMD facilitated peaceful dialogue between parties that are rivals and may not have other forums in which they can engage constructively, and thus made a significant contribution in terms of recognition of the intrinsic value of political dialogue;
- Specific agreements have been reached through the NIMD programmes, e.g. a multiparty agreement on the role of women in politics in Georgia, and in Guatemala the dialogue platform contributed to a draft law on public security and to the installation of the Women’s Commission;
- Effective if salience for powerful players and fit with political context rather than thematic / permanent platform.
On strengthening legitimate political parties:
- Tangible results originating from the NIMD backed interventions were hard to identify, except some isolated results for one or two specific parties;
- Parties appreciated the assistance, but there is limited evidence that the assistance has helped parties function better, develop policies, or represent citizens more;
- Support to parties through the multi-party platforms seems to be a more effective way to help towards system reform, e.g. like the support given in Mali to strengthen the role of opposition parties in preparation of the multi-party elections.
On interaction between political and civil society:
- Concrete results have followed from interventions aimed at better linking political parties with civil society, especially through Democracy Schools;
- Through the Democracy Schools in Georgia 500 alumni have become active in civic life, for example through participation in municipal councils and in human rights NGOs, in four cities and they are kept active through follow up activities;
- Democracy school Guatemala gathered 1900 participants in 92 events and courses aimed at members of parties, Civil Society Organisations and members of Congress across country contributing to increased levels of political and civic participation;
- Nevertheless, the impact level of these interventions is yet hard to measure as the monitoring and evaluation systems still need to be adopted to track behavioral change, not just events.
On integrating gender and diversity:
- Though the programmes aimed at integrating gender and diversity are relatively recent and the topic has been only added to NIMDs interventions during the current multi-annual plan, the results indicate what NIMD could achieve and show that there is value added;
- Most progress on this topic is made on ‘gender’, not yet on ‘diversity’. There is a strong focus in all three evaluated programmes on strengthening women’s empowerment to become active politicians;
- In Guatemala small but important results have been achieved on ethnic and indigenous issues through targeted support to Winaq;
- Also results on youth are still less visible, despite support to political youth organisations in Mali and specifically targeting youth in democracy education programmes in Guatemala.
On organizational effectiveness:
- The evaluators underline that NIMD still has a clear niche and a good reputation with stakeholders;
- They also acknowledge that NIMD staff has sound political and facilitation skills and that programmes are developed and implemented while being responsive to the partners’ needs;
- NIMD impartiality still grants convening power to all political players;
- Its long term presence, its local presence, local staff and local networks make NIMD a trustful partner;
- One of the challenges of the country programme approach is that country offices and partners are very busy delivering activities, but are not always clear on their overall strategy or long term vision towards strengthening or reforming the party system;
- Country programme management seems to be at the project and activity level, rather than strategic and results-based; country programmes need more strategic management tools to adjust activities and tactics as context and opportunities change;
- The monitoring and evaluation systems developed and implemented during the current multi-annual period did not help yet. Reforms and investments that have been applied and tools that have been introduced have been too new and not yet well implemented at country level. It is therefore still hard to track behavioral change;
- There is still limited evidence of having successfully implemented a ‘learning approach’ at country level, as it has not been systematically applied.
Recommendations on future positioning
In the synthesis report, the evaluators have presented three strategic and more general recommendations that reflect on strategic policy choices made in the MAP 2016-2020. The NIMD Board would like to share its reaction and response to these recommendations:
- Recommendation 1:
Continue evaluating whether it wishes to remain a political party niche organisation or to broaden in focus towards democratization more generally.
- Response 1:
The NIMD mandate and niche clearly dictate that NIMD is and will remain a political party assistance provider, from a multiparty angle. Nevertheless, NIMD acknowledges that for its programmes to be effective they need to link to the environment surrounding them and that these programmes should thus be rooted in a wider democracy assistance context. As such, active linking of programmes, partners and fundraising opportunities to other actors in the wider democracy assistance community and beyond increases both the relevance and the effectiveness of NIMD’s interventions. The Board accepts the recommendation but underlines its clear choice to remain a niche organisation.
- Recommendation 2:
Consider whether it wants to retain its Dutch identity, or internationalize fully.
- Response 2:
The NIMD was founded by seven political parties represented in Dutch Parliament. Although these parties are no longer directly represented in the NIMD Supervisory Board, they remain close to NIMD’s work and provide NIMD with its mandate. The Dutch identity also gives NIMD an impartial status. On the other hand NIMD has created over the 15 years of its existence a solid and unique network of partners in the various countries where it runs its programmes. On the basis of this network it is currently co-founding the ‘Global Partnership for Multiparty Democracy’ (GPMD), which reinforces the NIMDs international status. The Board accepts the recommendation and reiterates that NIMD will remain an organization solidly rooted in Dutch politics (through its founding parties) and society, but through playing a leading role in the creation the GPMD it will strengthen its international ambitions, network and presence.
- Recommendation 3:
Decide whether it wants to continue to localize its programmes into a looser network, or whether it wants to strengthen itself as a unified organisation.
- Response 3:
The Board is of the opinion that the recommendation is partially valid and useful. NIMD HQ should provide a policy framework, which should lead to strong strategic direction and policy choices at country programme (as the local context dictates so). The focus is on localising programmes and further decentralizing its programme implementation, especially for longer running programmes, so more should be invested in strengthening the local management of programmes and ensuring strategic direction is being provided at local level. Nevertheless, although programmes should be largely locally owned, NIMD needs to secure from its HQ that the Theory of Change and intervention logic provide a framework for programme design and implementation.
In the follow-up to the evaluation’s findings and recommendations, and starting in 2016, NIMD will specifically emphasize and prioritize:
- A stronger commitment and dedication to NIMDs niche: supporting political parties through a multi-party approach in strengthening political systems, the actors within this system, and aspects of political culture. To achieve this, the organization will more intensively than before, work in close cooperation and collaboration with actors that focus on other areas of democracy assistance, on basis of a solid an broad analysis of synergies and complementarities.
- Improvement of the Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation function in the organization, with special attention to investing in systems, instruments and methodologies that are needed for more robust results- measurement, but also through aiming at changing the culture vis-à-vis capturing of results throughout the entire organization. This investment should lead to an increased capacity within NIMD to determine how NIMD interventions have contributed to program results. At the beginning of the new Multi-Annual Plan, a start will be made to put in place a structure that will allow for more rigorous evaluation of programme effectiveness and programme staff will have to develop an increased attention towards PME to ensure data is regularly captured.
- In line also with the recommendations contained in the 2014 thematic evaluation on NIMD’s bilateral party assistance, NIMD will work primarily with parties on a multi-party basis, and only on an exceptional basis, and following the development of strategic plans developed per party, work through bilateral support schemes for parties.
- Finally, NIMD will in the future invest more in documenting, communicating, and ensuring learning from its approach and interventions.. A Knowledge and Innovation Unit will therefore be formed that will be tasked with this.
In more general terms the 2015 institutional evaluation underlines once more that NIMD through its programmes has gradually shifted from focusing on ‘the creation and strengthening of sustainable local organizations to become actors that support democratic processes’ towards focusing, jointly with local partners, on ‘supporting democratic processes to become increasingly sustainable’. Creating sustainable local partners is no longer the end goal of NIMD programmes, but rather a means to a different end. As a consequence the sustainability of the partner no longer dictates a possible exit of NIMD from a country, but rather the sustainability of democratic processes dictates that moment. NIMD will have to underline this gradual shift that has taken place more actively towards stakeholders, partners and specially donors to justify its extended presence in a number of countries where it has been long present and where its role might have been changed over time. Nevertheless, this leaves no doubt that still other reasons for an NIMD exit can still exist.
NIMD’s Supervisory Board has approved the Management Response and the follow-up actions it contains. The NIMD Board commits itself to further elaborating the follow-up actions with staff, country teams and partners, and to implementing these. Implementation of the follow-up will be monitored by including the Management Response in NIMD’s Management Information System (MIS). Follow-up of the recommendations specific to the three country studies will be taken up by NIMD’s Head of Programmes, the Planning Monitoring and Evaluation Coordinator and the three country-teams concerned. With this the 2015 NIMD institutional evaluation does not only mark the closing of the 2012-2015 multi-annual period, but also the continuation of a process of learning and improving throughout the next multi-annual plan.
NIMD Executive Director