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Evaluation database

Evaluation report

2012 Bhutan: Capacity Development in the United Nations Development Assistance Framework (UNDAF) in Bhutan

Author: Anne-Marie Schreven; Dil Maya Rai (Bhutan Environs)

Executive summary


Capacity Development (CD) is core in the Country Team (CT) outcome areas of the United Nations Development Assistance Framework (UNDAF) support in Bhutan; it includes most of the support initiatives for (1) poverty reduction, (2) access and quality health care, (3) quality education, (4) good governance and (5) environmental sustainability and disaster management. At the start of the current UNDAF/cCPAP cycle (2008 – 2013) a CD framework didn’t exist and capacity development wasn’t looked into systematically. This evaluation looks with a capacity development lens at the current UNDAF support in Bhutan and uses key concepts of the CD framework, recently developed by UNDP. It reviews achievements, gaps and challenges in capacity development and has recommendations for future CD support. The CD evaluation is timely as UNDAF is planning and designing its new support cycle, aligned with Royal Government of Bhutan’s (RGoB) 11th Five Year Plan (FYP). As CD is core, it is considered an opportunity for UNDAF to plan CD support more consistently and structured and subsequently monitor and measure it more effectively.


This evaluation of capacity development within the UNDAF 2008-2012 has been undertaken to look at how CD support has contributed to strengthening capacities at organizational and institutional levels in Bhutan. Though capacity development is a core contribution within this overall framework of the UN system in Bhutan, so far no specific CD evaluation had been carried out; e.g. it wasn’t included in the evaluation plan for the present UNDAF cycle. This CD evaluation looks with a capacity development lens across the Country Team (CT) outcome areas and assesses its achievements, gaps and challenges and lessons learned. It has recommendations for UNDAF how it can ensure effective, sustainable, country/context specific, relevant and nationally owned CD support for the upcoming UNDAF cycle under the 11th FYP and Bhutan’s development vision of Gross National Happiness (GNH).
As per the Terms of Reference (TOR) (annex 1), the objectives of this capacity development evaluation are:
(1) To systematically gather and analyze evidence of the extent to which the UN has been able to deliver capacity development support to strengthen institutions that contribute to the fulfillment of the national development goals of Bhutan (10th FYP).
(2) Looking forward, based on the evidence of what has and has not worked, to present recommendations for improving the quality of the UNDAF support to develop national capacities, in terms of relevance and strategic positioning, basic principles of CD support, coordination and partnerships and sustainability.


The evaluation methodology is based on primary and secondary data gathering (annex 2). To avoid duplication of efforts, the evaluation built on key documents such as the UNDAF Mid Term Review 2010 (MTR) and outcome and project evaluations of the 5 CT outcome areas in the current UNDAF cycle (annex 5). Together with the Annual Work Plans (AWPs) of these outcome areas, these documents were also used for an inventory of CD outputs of the UNDAF support of 2009-2011.

Findings and Conclusions:

Findings from the MTR 2010 show that capacity needs in the outcome areas are identified during the prioritization workshop for the overall UNDAF design. Capacities needs assessments however, are not integral part of the design and are not mentioned in the Annual Work Plans (AWPs). The M&E framework has baseline figures and indicators for monitoring and measuring; however, the information from the AWPs and the M&E framework is not identical and clearly aligned.

Desk study of CD initiatives undertaken so far shows that the types of capacity development inputs in the AWPs, the M&E framework and annual reports are mainly (in- and ex-country) training and training-of-trainers (ToTs), exposure visits, conferences, study tours, workshops and Technical Assistance. Substantial UNDAF CD support is invested in training and in training-of-trainers, the latter to assure multiplier effect in transferring knowledge and skills, mainly at the decentralized levels.

An inventory of the capacity outputs in the CT outcomes areas is compiled from the cCPAP, AWPs and M&E framework documents (annex 6). At the time of the planning of the UNDAF support, no specific CD concepts or CD framework were applied. The CD information in these documents is not consistent or sufficiently detailed; outputs in terms of numbers, specific target groups and expertise areas or topics including base lines are missing.

The UNDAF/cCPAP has formulated one overall outcome for each CT outcome area. These 5 overall outcomes in turn have 4 or 5 specific outcomes. Many of these specific outcomes are formulated in terms of capacities strengthened, mainly at national / institutional levels and also organizational levels. These outcomes are formulated within the specific outcome areas but due to the increased focus on mainstreaming some outcomes cover (parts of) different outcome areas. E.g. entrepreneurial capacities cover poverty and environment; research and data collection capacities and gender mainstreaming cut across all 5 CT outcome areas; and resilience in schools addresses health, education and environmental aspects.


An important recommendation of this CD evaluation is a more systematic and structured planning of Capacity Development in the next UNDAF cycle, for which the key concepts of the (UNDP) CD framework can be used. It offers a structure, both in terms of (project cycle) steps and content, and starts with a multi-stakeholder needs assessment, identifying:
1. the anticipated outcomes of CD support (in terms of performance, stability and adaptability).
2. the entry levels where support is needed (individual, organizational and enabling environment)
3. the types of capacities needed (functional or technical)
4. the outputs where CD products/produced services will show results (institutional arrangement, leadership, accountability, knowledge).

Read more: Chapter 9. Overview of the Capacity Development recommendations

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