UN anti-poverty agency chases cash rather than results, study finds

Fox News 15 May 2013
The $5.7 billion United Nations Development Program, the U.N.’s flagship anti-poverty agency,  is poor at producing lasting results, sets unrealistic or unfocused priorities and often seems more interested in getting funding than in setting up programs that make the best sense, according to an internal assessment that will be discussed at a top-level meeting next month.

Moreover, in a sweeping examination of some $19.7 billion worth of UNDP programs between 2008 and 2012, the report says that only in “just about half” of the country-by-country efforts was the agency “likely to have made, or make, a significant contribution to the intended outcome.”

Nor is the agency very good at judging where it is going wrong, the report adds, meaning that “strengthening the efficiency of projects and programs is a major challenge.”

The sobering evaluation of UNDP’s usefulness was carried out by UNDP’s own Evaluation Office, whose director is appointed by UNDP’s top official, Helen Clark. So far, only an executive summary of the evaluation is available to members of UNDP’s 36-nation supervisory Executive Board, which holds its semi-annual meeting in New York City starting on June 3. According to a UNDP spokesman, a full version of the report will be made public next week.

The 16-page document is tough, but it is only the latest internal analysis of UNDP’s performance to give the agency — it operates in 177 countries and territories around the world, where its efforts are tailored to “national ownership” — lousy marks for its far-flung efforts at improving the lot of the world’s worst-off people.