Finance Development Programme – A Five-Year Review of Progress
About the publication
- Published: 2011
- Series: --
- Type: NGO reviews
- Carried out by: HCS Consulting
- Commissioned by: Norwegian Red Cross (NorCross)
- Country: South Africa, Liberia, Burundi, Rwanda
- Pages: --
- Serial number: --
- ISBN: --
- ISSN: --
- Organization: Norwegian Red Cross (NorCross)
- Local partner: African RC/RC National Societies, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies
- Project number: GLO-08/418-24
The finance development programme comprises a comprehensive set of activities designed to support the development of sustainable and credible Red Cross/Red Crescent National Societies. It focuses on critical areas of increasing self-reliance, optimizing available expertise, increasing stakeholder confidence and strengthening capacities of human resources, all critical elements of a well-functioning National Society.
This review comes after a five-year period of systematic implementation thorugh the Federation in ten National Societies in the Southern Africa Region, while NorCross ahs also provided bilateral support for the programme in Burundi, Liberia and Rwanda.
The primary aim of the evaluation was to establish to what extent the set of objectives within the programme have been achieved and to determine the programme relevance in terms of its effectiveness, efficiency, impact, management and partnership and sustainability.
A team comprising a total of eight reviewers working in pairs conducted two-day reviews of 12 of the 13 National Societies engaged in the finance development programme. A logical framework approach was used to identify an overall objective of the programme, programme outcomes, activities to support the outcomes and outputs to measure progress. The logical framework was validated during a two-day plenary session held in Johannesburg. The logical framework was integrated into Country report Templates, a tool designed to facilitate the review process during two-day visits to National Societies. The results of the reviews were then discussed in a debriefing session in Johannesburg.
Overall, the review has found the finance development programme to have made significant contributions to those National Societies who have been part of the programme. In particular, the review found that the programme has resulted in:
• Improved financial planning, budgeting and monitoring process;
• Increased awareness within National Societies of the critical importance of sound financial management and its overall impact on sustainability of the organisation; and
• Enhanced cooperation within their organisation and with their partners
Despite such important advancements, National Societies still struggle to implement many of the deep and lasting organisational changes needed for the finance development programme to achieve its overall aims.
To ensure a more systematic and thorough approach to programme assessment, implementation, monitoring and review, the following key actions was recommended by the review:
• Review the logical framework for the programme
• Ensure that a common assessment is developed and used for all partners to establish clearly documented baselines that can be sued to measure progress
• Develop a practical Finance Development Handbook
• Develop centralised and decentralised financial management models that assist National Societies to determine which model is most appropriate for their organisations
• Ensure that gender aspects are included in all Terms of Reference for programme reviews
Comments from the organisation, if any:
The Finance Development programme was originally initiated in 1996 as a cooperation between the Norwegian Red Cross (NorCross) and the Mozambique Red Cross (CVM), with the objective of strengthening the financial management systems and procedures of the CVM. Over time, the programme focus evolved from one of financial management towards a more comprehensive programme that would address the needs of National RC/RC Societies for overall financial sustainability and growth. In 2006, in partnership with the Federation, the programme was extended to involve the 10 National Societies (National Societies) of the Southern Africa Region. NorCross also supported some of its bilateral partners outside Southern Africa on Finance Development. In light of plans to extend the support to additional National Societies in Africa and in other regions, NorCross commissioned a comprehensive review to determine the programme relevance, efficiency, effectiveness and impact during the period of 2006 – 2011.
Overall, NorCross is of the opinion that the report generally provides a true reflection of the situation for most of the NSs and the status of the programme. However, NorCross would like to comment on a few of the issues raised in the report:
• The issues surrounding the use of the accounting software Navision were not fully explored. Many National Societies in Europe and Africa are using Navision for their accounting systems. Navision was introduced in 2002 through a Federation project called LISN. Comprehensive and regular assessments were done throughout the National Societies by KPMG. The system was, therefore, accepted by most National Societies in the region. In 2005, when the Federation requested that Norcross run the Finance development programme through the Federation, training workshops were conducted to improve understanding of the system and its operation. The outcome of the workshop was shared by the Federation Southern Africa regional office to National Societies, Partner National Societies, the Federation Regional Reporting Unit and Regional Finance Unit in Nairobi. The review team was made aware that documentation to support this is available upon request. The document looked comprehensively at the challenges and drafted the way forward. A pilot was conducted in Zimbabwe RC before the Navision system was rolled out to other National Societies in Southern Africa.
• NorCross is of the opinion that the Country Reports/Case Studies should be exempt from public distribution. The language in some of these case studies is of a sensitive nature and they do therefore not lend themselves for public consumption. We have therefore not uploaded the case studies to the evaluation database; however they are available for Norad upon request.
• On the issue raised in the evaluation concerning the lack of documentary evidence regarding number of unqualified audit reports, NorCross regrets that the issue of project audits on the one hand and consolidated audits on the other hand was not fully understood by the review team. NorCross has also been advised by several National Societies that they offered to provide the relevant reports while being visited by the review team; however the offers were not followed up on by the team.
• Financial overviews: the report refers to NorCross and Federation inability to document how much funding has been spent per country. Because the review was carried out over a short period of time some information may not have been immediately available to the team. However documentation on the funding per country is available, and can be forwarded upon request.
• NorCross also notes the fact that the Review team did not choose to interview widely. In our opinion the review would have benefited from interviewing additional people, some of who played key roles in the implementation of the programme.
• With regards to data collection, the review team was in our opinion not thorough enough in gathering and reading the data. As an example the report indicates that the amounts transferred through Federation from NorCross was not available, however this is not the case. During the first 3 years the programme was managed regionally and for that reason funds were transferred from NorCross to the Federation Regional Office. In the last two years the funds were transferred from NorCross to the Federation and then onwards to the National Societies based on their priorities and identified needs. NorCross regrets that this information was not captured from the Federation/NorCross for the purposes of the review.
• Page 11, paragraph 3 reads “(…) it was not clear whether baselines were established against which to measure (…)” – Almost all of the National Societies had a baseline/assessment done, both quantitative and qualitative. During the first presentation prior to the commencement of the review, samples of these were shared with the team and were available had further request been made. These assessments brought about the “Regional Internal Financial Control Supervision Guide” for Southern Africa – a comprehensive guide for the National Societies in the region to ensure adherence and compliance within the required Red Cross finance parameters. A Finance Development Update was also produced for the 10 National Societies in the region. These documents were listed under the documentary review part of the report, page 35.
• Finally, the report indicates that the National Societies in Southern Africa did not get proper support and felt abandoned by the Federation especially after the Federation Africa Zone was created and located to Johannesburg. Based on NorCross perception of how the programme has been run through the Federation in 2010 and 2011, NorCross has in 2012 taken steps to improve this situation by running the programme bilaterally in direct partnership with the interested National Societies.
With these comments, NorCross overall considers the report as useful for the future implementation of the Finance Development programme. Many of the recommendations within the report are already in the process of being implemented and will be taken into account in the further development of the programme.