USAID Pakistan works to reverse project’s sluggish start

U.S. Agency for International Development Country Director for Pakistan Jonathan Conly. Photo by: USAID Pakistan

The U.S. Agency for International Development will identify in coming months the local organizations and government ministries it is likely to partner with on future development projects in Pakistan.

The identification of these potential partners will be part of an implementation plan USAID aims to develop by Dec. 31. The plan will be for an ongoing USAID project that aims to train local organizations on managing U.S.-funded development programs. It will include target dates for assessment studies and the development of individual training plans for local partners that currently lack the necessary capacity to work with USAID.

The development of the plan is in response to one of three recommendations of an internal audit published Sept. 30 by USAID’s Office of Inspector General. The report analyzed the status of the five-year Assessment and Strengthening Program the agency launched in October 2010. It found that the program did not meet its first year targets and lacked proper planning.

In its response to the report’s findings and recommendations, the USAID mission in Pakistan identified a number of reasons why the capacity development program was not implemented according to schedule. Among these were three “strategic shifts” within the agency — hinting at the effects of the agency’s reform process on ongoing projects.

The “dramatic shifts” such as the redesign of the mission strategy of the USAID office in Pakistan “made it very difficult to identify all the future partners for assistance funding,” USAID Pakistan Mission Director Jonathan Conly explained in the agency’s response to the audit. The agency added that it also did not anticipate the effects of the 2010 flooding in the country and reduction in the number of projects.

USAID Pakistan did stress it has started adjusting the program’s implementation based on lessons it learned now that the mission “has progressed into a more stable assistance environment.” These adjustments are also in line with the audit’s recommendation. They include a review of the program as part of an ongoing audit of the mission’s portfolio and conduct performance evaluations to track the progress of local organizations that have undergone training under the program.

USAID Pakistan, meanwhile, also defended some of the activities it funded under ASP that were not in the original design of the program. These activities — such as responding to the 2010 floods —showed the flexibility of USAID to respond to a host country’s immediate needs and contributed to the transparency and accountability of its projects, Conly argued.

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    Ivy Mungcal

    As senior staff writer, Ivy Mungcal contributes to several Devex publications. Her focus is on breaking news, and in particular on global aid reform and trends in the United States, Europe, the Caribbean and the Americas. Before joining Devex in 2009, Ivy produced specialized content for U.S. and U.K.-based business websites.