User-friendly search functions make The Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation website worth visiting. The interactive Norwegian Aid Statistics section of the website provides some interesting and attractively presented information on the geographic distribution of Norwegian aid, by sector and mechanism, and the user-friendly search function for Norad documents makes it relatively easy to find handbooks, evaluations and reports on specific sectors, and countries. Among the 9 documents on quality assurance, however, there is only one, from 1999, which provides any hands-on guidance to the practical steps in defining problems and results.
Primarily useful for: Project managers & aid agency staff interested in working with Norad, anyone interested in aid data visualization
Most useful: Norwegian Aid Statistics interactive graphics, flexible aid document search
Limitations: Most of the RBM resources on the site are overviews for embassy staff, not hands-on guides for implementing agencies
Norad’s presence in international development aid
In 2010 I reviewed the donor agency RBM frameworks and guides provided by SIDA, AusAid, Danida, USAID, DFID, CIDA, Europeaid and some UN agencies. Recently a colleague, interested in the professional opportunities presented by recent development projects funded by the Norwegian aid agency, asked me what I knew about Norad’s results based management. This is interesting, because while some aid agencies such as CIDA appear go have been cutting back on new projects, and requests for consulting services, a brief scan of the Devex database on tenders shows that in the past year (December 2011-December 2012) there were 38 tenders, for project implementation, individual evaluations or other work issued by NORAD, almost as many as for USAID, and far exceeding other major donors such as AusAid and CIDA.
And while it might be argued that agencies such as AusAid and CIDA use other mechanisms for recruitment, (although in CIDA’s case that too has been declining) there is no doubt that Norad is a significant factor in international development, and obviously one of interest to development partners and implementing agencies.
Norad on the web
Norad “Tools and Publications"
|Norad's tools and publications start page|
Norad RBM Guides
- The 36-page Results Management in Norwegian Development Cooperation : A practical guide, produced in 2008 is, despite the name, less a hands-on practical guide of the kind produced by, for example, the University of Wolverhampton, or those listed by the UN on its websites, and more a summary of the broad strokes of how the development community conceives of results chains, risk, and monitoring, with references to (and diagrams from) documents such as tthose produced by OECD, Kusyk and Rist’s much more detailed Ten Steps to A Results Based Monitoring and Evaluation System, Unicef Egypt’s Toolkit on Evaluation and others. For those who want to get into the details of how to actually define results, select workable indicators, report or evaluate effectively, those original documents are more useful. But if you want to know what Norad expects of implementing agencies then this 2008 document might be useful.
- Of more immediate use as a practical handbook for those trying to work their way through the RBM issues during project inception, is, in my opinion the 103 page The Logical Framework Approach (LFA): Handbook for Objectives-Oriented Planning, published in 1999, which gets into the details of how to run a workshop to bring participants together to define problems, explore possible results, design the activities to reach the results, select indicators and collect data. Readers should not be put off by the fact that this discussion is framed within the context of developing a Logical Framework – because the questions and processes outlined in this document are relevant whether we are using the LFA or a Logic Model, or any other framework to help us clarify results. This handbook includes an appendix with an example of different steps for a hypothetical project, on pages 91-101. Although it is longer, this handbook reminds me somewhat of SIDA’s The Logical Framework Approach: A Summary of the Theory Behind the LFA method, which I reviewed earlier. Overall, however I think the University of Wolverhampton’s Introduction to Multi-Agency Planning using the Logical Framework Approach, remains the most user-friendly of the LFA guides.
Norad's sustainability assessment handbook
- environment and climate change risk management,
- HIV AIDS,
- institutional capacity development, (although the 2000 Handbook in Assessment of Institutional Sustainability, found elsewhere on the site is, at 30 pages, more useful),
- conflict sensitivity,
- financial management and corruption, and
- human rights and equality.
2. Other publications on Norwegian Development Aid
The second choice under “tools and publications” is Publications on Norwegian Development Aid.
- 22 Norad action plans (although these seem to have been ended in 2009).
- 47 Norad annual reports, 26 of which are in English. Some of these, such as the Evaluation of Norwegian Development Cooperation Lessons Learned in 2011 do not appear under the evaluation category, and they have some interesting, and sometimes critical observations on issues of potential interest to many aid agencies, such as problems funding projects through multilateral agencies.
- 298 evaluations of Norad's programmes, policy options, its partner organizations, more documents on lessons learned, and 5 short documents outlining Norad's evaluation programme. The most recent of these, the Norad Evaluation Programme for 2013-2015, lists 26 planned evaluations over the next two years, in six different programmes, something that might be of interest to evaluators interested in the prospect of working with Norad.
- 9 Norad handbooks - of use primarily to aid agency managers, but some, like the Handbook in Assessment of Institutional Sustainability, have some useful checklists which could be used by anybody.
- 22 Norad fact sheets of 2-4 pages in length, some in English, some in Norwegian, and many in both languages.
- 166 "Norad Reports" which include some evaluations of country programmes, some policy papers, and lessons learned documents.
- 32 Norad strategy papers, 13 in English.
- 606 Reports from Norad partner organizations - a valuable resource for development professionals interested in how potential partners work.
- The 9 Norad Guidelines for Quality Assurance three of which I reviewed here earlier in this post.
If the lists above prove daunting, the search function allows readers to specify subsets, by country, by one of 31 programme themes, by year, or type of document. Thus, a search which started with well over a thousand possible documents, could be narrowed down, into a workable number.
|Norad document search functions narrow down the range of relevant reports|
3. Interactive Data Visualization on Norwegian Aid
The third of the choices under “tools and publications” is Norwegian Aid Statistics
This is a useful interactive tool allowing users to find Norwegian assistance not just by geographic distribution, but also sorted geographically by sector (Good governance, economic development and trade, education, health and social services, environment and energy, emergency assistance, multilateral, and by something called “donor costs”. Readers can also sort the programmes by partner type - NGO's in Norway, in other countries, multilateral agencies, public agencies, private agencies and public-private partnerships.
|All Norwegian aid displayed visually|
Sectors are also disaggregated, so, for example, readers can see not only in which countries Norway provided assistance on education, for example, but, for example, to which countries Norad provided aid on basic education, in 2010-2011 - and if desired, through the partner type.
|Users can narrow the focus in the aid statistics search|
The bottom line
The document search function and interactive data presentations on Norwegian aid are both worth looking at. The interactive aid map shows more imagination in the presentation of data than many donor agencies display, and together with the documents on the site, may help those interested in learning more about opportunities to work with Norad, or to collaborate with it on multi-donor projects, to find specific countries in which specific sectors are targeted by Norwegian assistance.
In terms of results based management, however most of the documents on file here will be useful primarily as summaries of Norad policies, and with one exception, not practical guides for field workers or project managers.