The “Training and Advanced Training of West African Security Forces” project aimed at supporting the Kofi Annan International Peacekeeping Centre (KAIPTC) in becoming the leading international centre for training, education and research in African peace and security, supporting the establishment of i) operating frameworks; ii) infrastructure and equipment; iii) training and mentoring; and iv) expanding partnerships, while being aware of the numerous international and regional partners to the centre.
The evaluation assessed the project against the six OECD/DAC criteria: relevance, coherence, effectiveness, efficiency, likelihood of impact, and likelihood of sustainability; with focus on institutional assessment and support; during the period from July to December 2022. The evaluation also used these criteria to identify good practices and potential challenges that the project has encountered throughout its implementation.
The evaluation was based on a mixed-methods approach combining qualitative and quantitative tools that are gender and human rights sensitive. Some limitations were observed due to the concomitance of the evaluation with the delivery of final activities and data collection in the fourth quarter of 2022.
Key evaluation findings and conclusions
Relevance: The evaluation found that the project demonstrated relevance to regional security and training challenges, and moderate relevance to KAIPTC’s needs.
The project objective aligns and complement ECOWAS, African Union, and KAIPTC policies and directives. However, the project approach did not demonstrate an understanding of limitations and opportunities inherent in the relationship between KAIPTC and ECOWAS; and some of the Centre’s organisational needs. All courses do follow KAIPTC’s approach to gender mainstreaming.
Coherence: The evaluation found the project to be aligned with numerous current or past initiatives, thus ensuring high thematic coherence, but not resulting in cooperation initiatives or synergies with other donors or training centres.
Effectiveness: The evaluation found the project to be effective in delivering training (14 training courses) in a short period of time (October to December 2022) and in supporting female participation (training was delivered to 71 per cent (634) male and 29 per cent (260) female participants, making a positive contribution to the UN 2028 targets for uniformed women in peace operations), yet less so in applying the UNITAR Quality Assurance Framework (QAF) to KAIPTC’s work practices due to the lack of relevance to the Centre’s needs.
The Centre’s mobilisation capacity was further demonstrated in delivering courses abroad through its mobile training team. The evaluation found that KAIPTC’s solid monitoring framework supported the assessment of the quality of training as perceived by trained participants and course facilitators and directors.
Efficiency: The evaluation found the project to be very efficient in planning and managing training and budgeting under time and exchange rate constraints. This positive assessment is based in part on pre-existing procedures and institutional mechanisms that the project could mobilise. The evaluation also found that the presence of a UNITAR advisor at KAIPTC played a crucial role in facilitating communications on challenges and in planning and delivery.
Likelihood of impact: The evaluation found limited evidence on the likelihood of impact of the training on policing and military functions in peacekeeping missions, due in large part to the lack of interfaces and formal feedback mechanisms. At the level of perceived impact, most of the reported changes are experienced at the domestic level (in contrast to changes in peacekeeping missions).
Likelihood of sustainability: The evaluation found likelihood of sustainability to be limited. In terms of design, the project did not secure conditions for long-term effects that would fully coordinate the Centre’s strategy and donors’ efforts. The presence of the UNITAR representative and renewed funding from Germany enables the next project to focus on continue building UNITAR’s relationship with the Centre.
The evaluation issued a set of five recommendations to inform future phases of the project.
- Map KAIPTC capacity gaps and UNITAR strengths and formulate an action plan.
- Develop a sustainability strategy that defines UNITAR’s long-term relationship with KAIPTC.
- Revisit and refine the project’s logical framework and chain of results, be explicit about efforts and decisions’ rationale.
- Strengthen accuracy and quality of UNITAR reporting.
Promote and support exchanges of experiences and expertise with other African training centres in the 2023 phase and other future projects.
The evaluation identified three sets of lessons learned.
On partnerships, convergence and synergies
- By implementing integrated strategies within partnerships as defined in the inception phase of a project and in accordance with partners’ priorities and current activities, the impact and sustainability of outcomes can be amplified.
- By aligning parallel initiatives funded by the same or other donors and capitalizing on synergistic opportunities, substantial potential can be realized. It is imperative to recognize and effectively utilize available resources, encompassing financial, human, infrastructural, and material assets from both internal and external sources.
- Harnessing technical expertise and establishing clear delineation of roles and responsibilities among partners are pivotal to fostering fruitful collaboration. Coordination and synchronization of efforts fosters a demand-driven approach from donors, ensuring that concerted or parallel interventions align with local context and needs. This approach prioritizes catering to the specific requirements of intended beneficiaries, rather than implementing supply-driven interventions that may ultimately prove ineffective or irrelevant.
- Cooperation between training centres needs to be monitored and coordinated and requires leadership and facilitation.
On monitoring, evaluation and reporting
- The logical framework or results chain plays a fundamental role in providing a strong foundation and guides a project’s implementation, monitoring, and evaluation. Well formulated and measurable goals and indicators are key for a successful project monitoring and evaluation.
- To ensure accountability, it is imperative to ensure alignment between actual and reported progress. Narrative reports with insufficient quality can hinder accountability and underrate the current efforts in project implementation.
- It is important not to overlook the importance of strengthening M&E capacities and emphasizing accountability even if they are not the primary goals of the project. Assessing the effectiveness, efficiency and potential impact of an intervention can only be achieved through M&E processes, which rely on the availability and quality of data. Thus, recognizing the significance of M&E and investing in data collection and analysis contribute to informed decision-making and improved project outcomes.
- When independent evaluations of related projects are taking place simultaneously, it has proven useful to connect evaluators and organize briefing sessions.
On training needs assessment, SWOT analysis and training expertise
- In matching training needs assessments with the results of a SWOT analysis, a comprehensive and well-documented set of training selection criteria can be developed that effectively identifies specific training needs. This approach facilitates a shift towards a demand-driven strategy, which successfully addresses the challenge of diverse donor priorities. Additionally, this alignment highlights the significance of UNITAR's strategic entry point by providing value-adding components, such as capacity-building in monitoring and evaluation processes, with a specific focus on results generation.
- Ad hoc and channelled donor support encourages an approach where training is run in much the same format as in the past, thereby missing the opportunity to reflect evolving operational requirements.
- Supporting recognized centres of expertise by highlighting technical and network assets can raise the profile of a training institute and lead to the development of strategic partnerships within and beyond countries.