Country Assistance Program Evaluation for Bangladesh (2003)

Evaluation Document | 31 January 2003

The country assistance program evaluation examines the effectiveness of the ADB assistance program to Bangladesh during the 1986-2003 period.

Between 1986 and 1988, the Asian Development Bank (ADB) was primarily a lender for projects, selected on a more or less ad hoc basis in line with government priorities, in sectors identified as growth promoting.

In the period 1989-1998, ADB's project lending in the growth-promoting sectors was increasingly linked to institutional and policy reform. The 1993 country operational strategy (COS) was the first to identify poverty reduction as the single overriding objective.

In line with the shift indicated in the 1999 COS and the Medium-Term Strategic Framework (1999-2002), the pattern of interventions in the period 1999-2003 has reinforced the emphasis on human development and poverty reduction, and expanded the scope of new interventions in urban and rural infrastructure, and education to encompass decentralization and good governance.

Lessons

General Program:

  • Need for more sectorally integrated approach to project formulation. To ensure that the benefits are in fact realized will require ADB, in conjunction with concerned government authorities, either to structure its other sector programs to have complementary impact, or to act in concert with other development partners and/or nongovernment organizations (NGOs) to a similar effect.
  • TA can produce important results even when not linked to significant lending. ADB's support for the development of a leasing industry, which principally took the form of a regional technical assistance (TA) followed by policy dialogue leading to enabling legislation, is an example of how, in certain circumstances, TA can have a disproportionately positive impact even without any significant loan.

Sector:

  • highlight the importance of identifying vested interests opposed to policy reforms;
  • promoting micro, small, and medium enterprise development to generate employment;
  • setting more specific indicators in the partnership agreement on poverty reduction (PAPR);
  • reducing the Government's role in the provision of health, education, and family planning services;
  • improving accountability of managers and service providers in the social sectors;
  • enhancing ownership, and increasing and optimizing the role of NGOs in these sectors; and
  • further expanding infrastructure and ensuring its adequate maintenance.

Recommendations

  • Need for a more proactive approach to governance issues. This will require stronger collaboration with/support for NGOs.
  • Increased support for small and medium enterprise development. This should involve intermediate size loan programs, in collaboration with NGOs and selected commercial banks. TA support for target groups and participating financial institutions should also be considered.
  • Increased support for the recurrent budget in health and education. By raising its overall share of contribution to social sector spending, ADB should also increase its leverage over government policy in these areas.
  • Making PAPR health targets more concrete. The existing targets expressed in terms of improved social indicators should be linked to ones for increased levels of access to specific facilities/treatments.
  • The spread of arsenic contamination in groundwater. It is anticipated the contamination of well water with hazardous levels of arsenic from geological sources will rise as more testing is done. Immediate and concerted action backed by adequate resources is of paramount importance.
  • Support of local "champions." ADB should rigorously pursue ways to increase TA and financial support to accountable and transparent "champion" organizations.
  • More focused program interventions. Given the current broad sector coverage, there is a need to focus interventions on fewer sectors in order to have greater impact on poverty reduction and development effectiveness.

Contents 

  • Executive Summary
  • Introduction
  • Background
  • Description of the Country Assistance Program
  • Evaluation of the Country Assistance Program
  • Evaluation Synthesis
  • Appendixes

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.