International Consultant for the Midterm Review (MTR) of full-sized UNDP-GEF project
This is the Terms of Reference (ToR) for the UNDP-GEF Midterm Review (MTR) of the full-sized project titled Supporting Climate Resilient Livelihoods in Agricultural Communities in Drought-Prone Areas of Turkmenistan (PIMS#5459) implemented through the Ministry of Agriculture and Environment Protection of Turkmenistan, which is to be undertaken over a three months period in 2019. The project started on 15 June 2016 and is in its third year of implementation. In line with the UNDP-GEF Guidance on MTRs, this MTR process was initiated before the submission of the second Project Implementation Report (PIR). This ToR sets out the expectations for this MTR. The MTR process must follow the guidance outlined in the document Guidance For Conducting Midterm Reviews of UNDP-Supported, GEF-Financed Projects .
The project, ‘Supporting climate resilient livelihoods in agricultural communities in drought-prone areas of Turkmenistan’ started in June 2016 and is scheduled to finish in June 2021. The project is financed by the Special Climate change Fund (SCCF), managed by the Global Environment Facility, and implemented through the United Nations Development Programme.
Through knowledge management, investment, and policy reform, this project seeks to promote an integrated approach to efficient water management and climate resilient practices, reduces root causes of land degradation, and enhances local livelihoods. Grant financing from the SCCF amounts of US$ 3.046 million. Co-financing of US$20.0 million has been committed from various sources. Through various interventions, the project aims to directly strengthen the adaptive capacity and reduce the vulnerability of around 40,000 to 50,000 persons (of which around 51.2% would be women) in the Lebap and Dashoguz velayats (provinces). Improved water efficiency and crop production systems will bring approximately 20,000 ha of agricultural and 500,000 ha of pastoral lands under climate resilient technologies resulting in a real net household income increase of at least 15% for participating households.
The project’s activities are organized into three components.
- Component 1 will improve climate related socio-economic outcomes in targeted agricultural communities in Lebap and Dashoguz velayats through the implementation of community-based adaptation solutions;
- Component 2 will mainstream climate adaptation measures in agricultural and water sector development strategy and policy;
- Component 3 will strengthen national capacity for iterative climate change adaptation planning, implementation and monitoring in the country.
The first component of the project is aimed at preparing the communities and the responsible government organizations to be able to identify and respond to climate change threats. The intent is to complement existing baseline activities, by facilitating the mainstreaming of climate risks considerations into the design and management of water, land and pasture development efforts, in particular at the ground level, so as to enhance community resilience and adaptive capacity.
While the first component defines the technical opportunity and priorities for replication, the second component support more directly the integration of climate resilient policies and measures into the water and agriculture sectors as well as local level planning systems.
The third component initially designed for operationalization of NEPAAM, including the identified priority adaptation programs, was replaced with more targetable one, i.e. support to the Government of Turkmenistan to update the current National Climate Change Strategy adopted in 2012 taking into account the recent national reforms, acceptance of Sustainable Development Goals and Paris Agreement as well as recent climate change observations.
Objectives of the MTR:
The MTR will assess progress towards the achievement of the project objectives and outcomes as specified in the Project Document, and assess early signs of project success or failure with the goal of identifying the necessary changes to be made in order to set the project on-track to achieve its intended results. The MTR will also review the project’s strategy, its risks to sustainability and propose adaptive management to better increase the chances of the project being successful.
MTR approach & methodology:
The MTR must provide evidence-based information that is credible, reliable and useful. The MTR consultant will review all relevant sources of information including documents prepared during the preparation phase (i.e. PIF, UNDP Initiation Plan, UNDP Environmental & Social Safeguard Policy, the Project Document, project reports including Annual Project Review/PIRs, project budget revisions, lesson learned reports, national strategic and legal documents, and any other materials that the consultant considers useful for this evidence-based review). The MTR consultant will review the baseline GEF focal area Tracking Tool submitted to the GEF at CEO endorsement, and the midterm GEF focal area Tracking Tool that must be completed before the MTR field mission begins.
The MTR consultant is expected to follow a collaborative and participatory approach ensuring close engagement with the Project Team, government counterparts (the GEF Operational Focal Point), the UNDP Country Office(s), UNDP-GEF Regional Technical Adviser on Climate Change Adaptation, and other key stakeholders.
Engagement of stakeholders is vital to a successful MTR. For this reason, it is absolutely essential that shortly after the start of the assignment the international consultant travels to Turkmenistan for a period of 2 weeks (10 working days, not including weekends) to meet with all relevant stakeholders.
Stakeholder involvement should include interviews with stakeholders who have project responsibilities, including but not limited to (Ministry of Agriculture and Environment Protection, State Committee on Water Economy, Parliament of Turkmenistan, Turkmen State Agriculture Institute, Hyakimliks of Danew and Gorogly districts of Lebap and Dashoguz provinces); executing agencies, senior officials and task team/ component leaders, key experts and consultants in the subject area, Project Board, project stakeholders, academia, local government and CSOs, etc.
Additionally, the MTR consultant is expected to conduct field missions to Lebap and Dashoguz project sites.
 For ideas on innovative and participatory Monitoring and Evaluation strategies and techniques, see UNDP Discussion Paper: Innovations in Monitoring & Evaluating Results, 05 Nov 2013.
 For more stakeholder engagement in the M&E process, see the UNDP Handbook on Planning, Monitoring and Evaluating for Development Results, Chapter 3, pg. 93.
The final MTR report should describe the full MTR approach taken and the rationale for the approach making explicit the underlying assumptions, challenges, strengths and weaknesses about the methods and approach of the review.
Detailed scope of the MTR:
The MTR consultant will assess the following four categories of project progress. See the Guidance For Conducting Midterm Reviews of UNDP-Supported, GEF-Financed Projects for extended descriptions.
- Project Strategy
- Review the problem addressed by the project and the underlying assumptions. Review the effect of any incorrect assumptions or changes to the context to achieving the project results as outlined in the Project Document;
- Review the relevance of the project strategy and assess whether it provides the most effective route towards expected/intended results. Were lessons from other relevant projects properly incorporated into the project design;
- Review how the project addresses country priorities. Review country ownership. Was the project concept in line with the national sector development priorities and plans of the country (or of participating countries in the case of multi-country projects);
- Review decision-making processes: were perspectives of those who would be affected by project decisions, those who could affect the outcomes, and those who could contribute information or other resources to the process, taken into account during project design processes;
- Review the extent to which relevant gender issues were raised in the project design. See Annex 9 of Guidance For Conducting Midterm Reviews of UNDP-Supported, GEF-Financed Projects for further guidelines;
- If there are major areas of concern, recommend areas for improvement;
- Undertake a critical analysis of the project’s logframe indicators and targets, assess how “SMART” the midterm and end-of-project targets are (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, Time-bound), and suggest specific amendments/revisions to the targets and indicators as necessary;
- Are the project’s objectives and outcomes or components clear, practical, and feasible within its time frame;
- Examine if progress so far has led to, or could in the future catalyse beneficial development effects (i.e. income generation, gender equality and women’s empowerment, improved governance etc...) that should be included in the project results framework and monitored on an annual basis;
- Ensure broader development and gender aspects of the project are being monitored effectively. Develop and recommend SMART ‘development’ indicators, including sex-disaggregated indicators and indicators that capture development benefits;
2. Progress Towards Results
Progress Towards Outcomes Analysis:
Review the logframe indicators against progress made towards the end-of-project targets using the Progress Towards Results Matrix and following the Guidance For Conducting Midterm Reviews of UNDP-Supported, GEF-Financed Projects; colour code progress in a “traffic light system” based on the level of progress achieved; assign a rating on progress for each outcome; make recommendations from the areas marked as “Not on target to be achieved” (red);
Table. Progress Towards Results Matrix (Achievement of outcomes against End-of-project Targets) available at following link: https://drive.google.com/file/d/12mtZCvIeEQKSJm-d_VBVVZpE-o-GMb6q/view?usp=sharing .
In addition to the progress towards outcomes analysis:
- Compare and analyse the GEF Tracking Tool at the Baseline with the one completed right before the Midterm Review;
- Identify remaining barriers to achieving the project objective in the remainder of the project;
- By reviewing the aspects of the project that have already been successful, identify ways in which the project can further expand these benefits;
3. Project Implementation and Adaptive Management:
- Review overall effectiveness of project management as outlined in the Project Document. Have changes been made and are they effective? Are responsibilities and reporting lines clear? Is decision-making transparent and undertaken in a timely manner? Recommend areas for improvement;
- Review the quality of execution of the Executing Agency/Implementing Partner(s) and recommend areas for improvement;
- Review the quality of support provided by the GEF Partner Agency (UNDP) and recommend areas for improvement;
- Review any delays in project start-up and implementation, identify the causes and examine if they have been resolved;
- Are work-planning processes results-based? If not, suggest ways to re-orientate work planning to focus on results;
- Examine the use of the project’s results framework/ logframe as a management tool and review any changes made to it since project start;
Finance and co-finance:
- Consider the financial management of the project, with specific reference to the cost-effectiveness of interventions;
- Review the changes to fund allocations as a result of budget revisions and assess the appropriateness and relevance of such revisions;
- Does the project have the appropriate financial controls, including reporting and planning, that allow management to make informed decisions regarding the budget and allow for timely flow of funds;
- Informed by the co-financing monitoring table to be filled out, provide commentary on co-financing: is co-financing being used strategically to help the objectives of the project? Is the Project Team meeting with all co-financing partners regularly in order to align financing priorities and annual work plans;
Project-level Monitoring and Evaluation Systems:
- Review the monitoring tools currently being used: Do they provide the necessary information? Do they involve key partners? Are they aligned or mainstreamed with national systems? Do they use existing information? Are they efficient? Are they cost-effective? Are additional tools required? How could they be made more participatory and inclusive;
- Examine the financial management of the project monitoring and evaluation budget. Are sufficient resources being allocated to monitoring and evaluation? Are these resources being allocated effectively;
- Project management: Has the project developed and leveraged the necessary and appropriate partnerships with direct and tangential stakeholders;
- Participation and country-driven processes: Do local and national government stakeholders support the objectives of the project? Do they continue to have an active role in project decision-making that supports efficient and effective project implementation;
- Participation and public awareness: To what extent has stakeholder involvement and public awareness contributed to the progress towards achievement of project objectives;
- Assess how adaptive management changes have been reported by the project management and shared with the Project Board;
- Assess how well the Project Team and partners undertake and fulfil GEF reporting requirements (i.e. how have they addressed poorly-rated PIRs, if applicable?);
- Assess how lessons derived from the adaptive management process have been documented, shared with key partners and internalized by partners;
- Review internal project communication with stakeholders: Is communication regular and effective? Are there key stakeholders left out of communication? Are there feedback mechanisms when communication is received? Does this communication with stakeholders contribute to their awareness of project outcomes and activities and investment in the sustainability of project results;
- Review external project communication: Are proper means of communication established or being established to express the project progress and intended impact to the public (is there a web presence, for example? Or did the project implement appropriate outreach and public awareness campaigns?);
- For reporting purposes, write one half-page paragraph that summarizes the project’s progress towards results in terms of contribution to sustainable development benefits, as well as global environmental benefits;
- Discuss the advantages and disadvantages of extending the project;
- Validate whether the risks identified in the Project Document, Annual Project Review/PIRs and the ATLAS Risk Management Module are the most important and whether the risk ratings applied are appropriate and up to date. If not, explain why;
- Discuss what needs to be done to ensure the sustainability of the project;
- In addition, assess the following risks to sustainability:
Financial risks to sustainability:
- What is the likelihood of financial and economic resources not being available once the GEF assistance ends (consider potential resources can be from multiple sources, such as the public and private sectors, income generating activities, and other funding that will be adequate financial resources for sustaining project’s outcomes);
Socio-economic risks to sustainability:
Are there any social or political risks that may jeopardize sustainability of project outcomes? What is the risk that the level of stakeholder ownership (including ownership by governments and other key stakeholders) will be insufficient to allow for the project outcomes/benefits to be sustained? Do the various key stakeholders see that it is in their interest that the project benefits continue to flow? Is there sufficient public / stakeholder awareness in support of the long-term objectives of the project? Are lessons learned being documented by the Project Team on a continual basis and shared/ transferred to appropriate parties who could learn from the project and potentially replicate and/or scale it in the future;
Institutional Framework and Governance risks to sustainability:
- Do the legal frameworks, policies, governance structures and processes pose risks that may jeopardize sustenance of project benefits? While assessing this parameter, also consider if the required systems/ mechanisms for accountability, transparency, and technical knowledge transfer are in place;
Environmental risks to sustainability:
- Are there any environmental risks that may jeopardize sustenance of project outcomes;
Conclusions and recommendations:
The MTR consultant will include a section of the report setting out the MTR’s evidence-based conclusions, in light of the findings.
Recommendations should be succinct suggestions for critical intervention that are specific, measurable, achievable, and relevant. A recommendation table should be put in the report’s executive summary. See the Guidance For Conducting Midterm Reviews of UNDP-Supported, GEF-Financed Projects for guidance on a recommendation table. The MTR consultant should make no more than 15 recommendations total.
 Alternatively, MTR conclusions may be integrated into the body of the report.
The MTR consultant will include his/her ratings of the project’s results and brief descriptions of the associated achievements in a MTR Ratings & Achievement Summary Table in the Executive Summary of the MTR report. See Annex E for ratings scales. No rating on Project Strategy and no overall project rating is required.
Table: “MTR Ratings & Achievement Summary Table for Supporting Climate resilient livelihoods in agricultural communities in drought-prone areas of Turkmenistan project” can be found at link: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1Dh2rDw9cLod0h0MoC47cVHP2g4UZs-KT/view?usp=sharing.