Evaluation of the Commonwealth Secretariat’s Economic Development Programme 2013/14 – 2016/17

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International Economics Consulting Ltd undertook an evaluation study of the Commonwealth Secretariat’s Strategy, Portfolio, Partnerships and Digital Division (SPPDD) to assess the performance and results of the Strategic Plan 2013/14–2016/17 in terms of 6 aspects namely its relevance, coherence, effectiveness, efficiency, sustainability and impact.

The evaluation study resulted in the identification of six findings. First of all, the Secretariat’s interventions under the Economic Development Programme (EDP) proved to be relevant to the member states’ development priorities – which were reconfirmed with 81% of respondents strongly agreeing/agreeing with the survey results that the Secretariat’s technical support had been consistent. Secondly, with regard to External Coherence, the involvement of the Secretariat with both international and regional organisations were found to differ depending on specific allotted team. Thirdly, mixed evidence of Internal Coherence and coordination was found amidst EDP’s teams. The evaluation study unveiled that the majority of funds were absorbed by the trade work itself (around 45.8%). Moreover, in terms of effectiveness (and efficiency also) most stakeholders assert that the versatility of their roles was the Secretariat’s main strength, and that the Secretariat was more cost-effective than other international organisations. There was some strain to quantify the impact of the Strategic Plan. Last but not the least, the evaluation assessment revealed that the sustainability of activities struggled to act as a strong focus for the Secretariat.

Nonetheless, the Evaluation Study came up with various propositions or components that, if implemented, can dynamize its whole organization. First and foremost, it was recommended that the Secretariat establishes and agree on well-defined objective prioritization criteria for the setting of scope of interventions owing to limited funds. Furthermore, the Commonwealth Secretariat proposed a wide range of fundraising measures inclusive of stronger joint programming with partners. Moreover, the evaluation study advocated for the adoption of formal strategies to tackle political economy challenges and to broaden the nature of support beyond bilateral technical assistance. Other propositions include the identification of alternative ways of raising funds and the promotion of inter-team cooperation and collaboration across the Secretariat.

The Evaluation Study can be downloaded directly from the Commonwealth Secretariat’s website.