Evaluation of Finland's Development Cooperation with Bosnia and Herzegovina
Birgitta Berggren, Anders Olin, SIPU International
SIPU International carried out the present evaluation between September 2003 and March 2004.
Around 115 persons have been interviewed during missions in Finland and Bosnia and Herzegovina.
The report begins with an overview of the Finnish policy environment and the administrative structure in the Ministry for Foreign Affairs. It is observed that since 1996, several policy documents have been produced regarding international development cooperation to update its foundations and principles in accordance with Finland's new foreign policy outlook.
Harmonisation with EU and coherence of all foreign policy instruments is emphasised.
While several administrative reforms have been carried out there is not enough capacity at the MFA to manage high quality development programmes, as has been observed in several other evaluations.
The target for Finnish assistance in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH), the peace process, has been slow and dramatic at times. The Dayton agreement, far from perfect, has been difficult to implement, due to nationalist divisive politics and the ethnic divisions which have still to be fully reconciled.
There has been dramatic progress on several fronts however, e.g. on the economic front, with low inflation and stable (albeit minimal) state finances, and considering the return of a million refugees and internally displaced.
A sample of nine projects and groups of projects were studied to form a base for country level conclusions. They were the following:
1. Reconstruction of two Kindergartens in Mostar, 1995-1996
2. Establishment of a Consulting Centre in Mostar, 1999-2002
3. Women’s projects in Mostar, 1998-2002
4. Return and reconstruction in Doboj, 2000-2002
5. Return and reconstruction in Ostra Luka, 1998
6. District Heating in Sarajevo, 1996-2000
7. Donation of a Railway tracklayer, 1998-1999
8. Small scale reconstruction by the Finnish CIMIC Company, 2002-2003
9. Support to the Independent judicial commission, 2001-2002
In addition, recent evaluations of four other projects have been taken into consideration to broaden the basis for country level conclusions.
These projects are:
- Teacher Education and Professional Development Project (TEPD)
- Social Sector Support Project (SSSP)
- Gender Equity and Equality Project (GEEP)
- The ERNO News Exchange
Summary of evaluation results
- The programme has several strengths. Despite the lack of strategic guidance and genuine coherence it has a degree of internal consistency. It is generally relevant in terms of the needs assessments of BiH and WB, and the Dayton agreement implementation. It has also been adjusted continuously to stay relevant. Its relevance in relation to Finnish development policy goals is acceptable, with a clear emphasis on human rights and democratic governance.
- Finnish aid instruments have largely served well in BiH. NGOs and consultants have for the most part been efficient and professional. A novelty within development cooperation, the Finnish CIMIC company, has been found to be a very efficient and powerful instrument, and it can well be used for implementing small scale reconstruction and humanitarian projects in the right circumstances. It needs, however, to be guided by civilian agencies with a mandate to set priorities and coordinate the work.
- Goal fulfilment seems in general quite high, and there is no major problem related to overall efficiency of the programme. However, efficiency can be improved. A field presence could increase efficiency by yielding more and better information, improving monitoring, solving problems at source, and promoting synergies between projects.
- The programme has had the largest impact in the promotion of return as well as in some of the infrastructure projects. In the social and education sector a platform has been built and national level impact is within reach.
- The main weakness of the programme is sustainability. Projects are not designed with the long term effects sufficiently in focus. However, ownership seems rather good and getting stronger.
- The project management structure of the bilateral projects has been both effective and inclusive, and is one example of how Finland’s earlier development cooperation experience has come to use in BiH.
- The evaluation results confirm earlier evaluations’ observations regarding the weak administrative capacity of MFA. The ministry’s administrative structures are not suitable for development cooperation, and a chronic shortage of manpower compounds the problems, especially regarding monitoring and follow-up. Progress has been made in terms of organisation and procedures, but there is a need for a change of attitudes before development cooperation can be administered professionally.
- A positive characteristic is the responsiveness of the MFA which has been observed. Such responsiveness is important, especially in post-conflict situations and will hopefully be preserved in the continued integration of foreign policy instruments.
- Finland has not been widely noticed in BiH, and its programme is not known to many other donors. What is more, strategic and operational coordination has been weak, leading to inadequate knowledge of the development on the ground. This is particularly serious in some sectors where good coordination could make the difference between success and failure.
- The Finnish programme has been largely relevant also from a post conflict perspective. It has been well balanced between the Entities. It has however not fully utilised opportunities to play a more positive role in the peace-building process in project design and implementation.
- At present, Finland is looked upon as a credible actor in a few key sectors. The sectors, and the reforms of the same, are of central importance for the Stabilisation and Association process with the EU. The recommendations of this report include i.a. to concentrate the future programme on such key sectors, thereby intensifying the cooperation and improving the impact.