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Raising Development Impact through Evaluation

Bhutan: Validation of the Country Partnership Strategy Final Review, 2014–2018

Evaluation Document | 21 June 2019

Bhutan’s country partnership strategy (CPS), 2014–2018 aimed to support the country as it transitioned to middle-income status. The country program of the Asian Development Bank (ADB) over the CPS period sought to contribute to economic growth, expand connectivity infrastructure, and address the quality of life in rapidly growing urban centers. Its focus on energy, transport, and urban development exhibited continuity with earlier CPS programs.

The validation considered the program successful on the borderline. The program was relevant to the country’s development needs and government priorities. It was effective in delivering outputs and key outcomes. Frequent delays experienced in the design, preparation, and implementation of operations resulted in a less than efficient program. The validation notes considerable risks to the program’s sustainability, which is assessed less than likely. The overall development impact of the CPS is nevertheless assessed satisfactory, as the program made significant contributions to Bhutan’s development outcomes.

The report makes five recommendations in anticipation of the new CPS, 2019–2023: (i) develop a well-articulated strategy to support the country’s economic diversification objectives; (ii) provide continued support in finance and public sector management, based on expressed demand, to extend the governance reforms already under way; (iii) intensify analytical work on the anticipated social stresses that a skewed economic growth will present; (iv) undertake a local government sector assessment; and (v) accelerate the establishment of a fully functioning resident mission in Bhutan.

Note on IED's Country Evaluations and Validations

Using its 2015 Guidelines for the Preparation of Country Assistance Program Evaluations and Country Partnership Strategy Final Review Validations, the Independent Evaluation Department (IED) intends to provide an objective and informed judgement of the performance and results of country partnership strategies (CPSs), particularly in terms of their relevance, effectiveness, efficiency, sustainability and development impacts.

In ascertaining relevance, IED considers not only the alignment of the program with country needs and government objectives, but also cross-sector CPS objectives, appropriateness of modalities and sector program designs, and sufficiency of donor coordination.

The effectiveness of a country program in delivering results is also an important aspect of an IED evaluation. Primary focus is on the achievement of the outcomes and outputs of ADB interventions (and the likelihood of achievement if the program is still ongoing), as worded in CPSs and their results frameworks. These include knowledge products and institutional development efforts.

Performance and results are likewise judged from an efficiency perspective, that is, whether the program was delivered in a cost-effective and timely manner, and generated value for money. It also considers the capacity of executing agencies that may contribute to start up and implementation delays, and cost overruns.

Another critical element of IED's evaluation is the likely sustainability of results over the medium term, technically, financially, environmentally, socially, politically, and institutionally. Further, IED looks at how results led to development impacts. Specifically, whether ADB contributed to achieving the CPS objectives, directly through its sector programs and implementing cross-cutting agenda(s) across various modalities in different sectors and by various development partners.

IED gives special importance to cross-cutting objectives by considering how the cross-sectoral and thematic objectives of the CPS are articulated in the results framework and provided with appropriate indicators and targets; and how the program achieved the cross-sector thematic results. Equal weights are given to the achievement of sector and cross-cutting objectives in the relevance and development impact assessments, in both country assistance program evaluations (CAPEs) and CPS final review validations (CPSFRVs). This aligns with ADB's increasing emphasis on achieving corporate strategic priorities.

In preparing its country evaluations and validations, IED conducts document reviews, consults with concerned departments, staff, governments and other stakeholders, and undertakes evaluation missions. IED has put in place a quality assurance system to ensure consistent application of its 2015 guidelines. In CPSFRVs, IED's primary focus is to validate the evidence presented in the CPS Final Review.