Lao PDR aims to graduate from Least Developed Country (LDC) status by 2020. At the same time, progress will be made towards meeting the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Implementation of the SDGs is embedded in the country’s National Socio-Economic Development Plan (NSEDP) which reflects the three dimensions of sustainable development: economic, social and environmental. A recent mid-term review of the NSEDP shows that the graduation process will have a slowing effect on the level of ODA financing in the country. Furthermore, traditional ODA will decline even without LDC graduation as the country’s income continues to grow. Therefore, there will be increasing pressure to adapt to this new reality and use ODA resources effectively.
LAO/033 is a capacity strengthening project that aims to address ODA management needs of the Ministry of Planning and Investment’s Department of International Cooperation (DIC) and six provincial Sections for International Cooperation (SICs). The project will also provide capacity strengthening for the Department of Inspection (DOI) at MPI, particularly in relation to anti-corruption measures as well as the SDG Secretariat housed in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
The project’s overall objective is that ODA effectively supports implementation of NSEDP whilst the specific objective is that key Lao agencies can effectively manage and coordinate ODA.
The project focuses on two results:
- DIC has the capacity to effectively manage and coordinate ODA through provincial SICs and line ministries and report timely on ODA; and
- the cross-cutting issues reflected in SDGs are appropriately taken into account in ODA interventions and support NSEDP.
LAOS - Officials from the Ministry of Justice and Ministry of Planning and Investment learn results-based Monitoring and Evaluation
Between July and August 2020, LuxDev Regional Office in Vientiane Laos, jointly with the Support Programme for Legal Teaching and Training and to the Promotion of the Rule of Law Concept in Laos, LAO/031 and the Strengthening the Effectiveness of Official Development Assistance (ODA) Management in LAO PDR programme, LAO /033, conducted a set of Monitoring and Evaluation (M&E) workshops for the Department of International Cooperation (DIC), Ministry of Planning and Investment (MPI) and the Ministry of Justice (MoJ). These governmental agencies are the key national partners for the above-mentioned projects.
Group work on the results chain quiz of project LAO/033, © LuxDev
The workshop focused on:
- basic understanding of Monitoring and Evaluation (concepts and the relationship);
- Monitoring and Evaluation within LuxDev (including guides and result-based reporting).
The workshop was chaired by the Vice Minister of Justice and attended by Director Generals, Deputy Director Generals, representatives from line departments, divisions, cabinet office, District Justice Office and Provincial Justice Department in Bolikhamxay and Khammouan provinces.
Participant’s reflection after the workshop, © LuxDev
During and after the workshop we spoke with Mr. Sysomphorn Phetdaoheuang, Deputy Director General of DIC/MPI and Ms. Saikit Visisomebath, Deputy Director General of DIC/MoJ:
Question: Why does this M&E workshop matter for your departments?
"We are really keen to understand and learn the basic and principles of M&E for results. We, as a key coordinating agency on behalf of the government in mobilizing Official Development Assistance (ODA), should know what are we focusing on and what we aim to deliver. What exactly are we trying to achieve? The most important thing is how we will tell whether our support is working.
Lack of monitoring tools and reliable data are ongoing challenges in our legal sector and so is ODA, when it comes to annual reviews and reporting to the government and the National Assembly.
As you might know, our country has signed up for many international treaties and development agendas, including the 2030 Agenda and more importantly, the Global Partnership for Effective Development Co-operation (GPEDC). As a part of our international commitment, having proper monitoring tools help us to systematically track progress and demonstrate the impact of our activities.
This M&E workshop allows us to gain some basic understanding and answers to the above-mentioned questions. Furthermore, while in the past we have read many project design documents, terms of reference of project evaluations, we did not fully know what to look for in those documents and how to provide good advice to our senior managers and constructive feedback to our development partners.
Question: Could you tell us three things that you’ve learned from this workshop?
The three key take away from this M&E workshop are:
- understanding what is the result chain or intervention logic;
- understanding what is M&E and its relationship; and
- understanding the concept of indicators in terms of what we should consider as a good project indicator.
Question: Could you tell us one specific tool or strategy that you will use right away after the workshop when you come back to your office?
The specific tool that I will use right after this workshop is the result chain concept which I think is particularly important for the project planning. If we understand it well and get the logic right, it would be easy for us to monitor the progress and meaningfully assess to what extent we are moving towards our project objectives.
The workshop facilitator elaborates the results chain concept, © LuxDev
Ms. Saikit Visisomebath, Deputy Director General, Department of International Cooperation, MoJ explains the different stages of the project LAO/031 results chain, © LuxDev
Participants from Department of International Cooperation, Department of Inspection-MPI, Department of International Organisation - Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Lao Securities Commission Office, © LuxDev
M&E is increasingly perceived as important for key line ministries who are responsible for Official Development Assistance projects in Laos, as the country has signed up for many international treaties and development agendas, including Global Partnership for Effectiveness Development Co-operation and the Sustainable Development Goals. Lao PDR was among the earliest countries to localize the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and integrate them into its Eighth National Socio-Economic Development Plan (NSEDP) in 2016, with around 60 % of the 160 NSEDP indicators linked to the SDGs.
LAOS - Ministry of Planning and Investment launches Website
The Ministry of Planning and Investment (MPI) has launched a new website on 14th August 2020. The launching ceremony was chaired by Mr. Sonsai Siphandone, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Planning and Investment, accompanied by Vice Minsters, former leaders, Director Generals, and other relevant parties.
The opening of the ministry’s official website (www.mpi.gov.la) provides a platform for official planning and investment related information for the public
The website was created based on the government’s common G-web platform with the technical support from the E-government Department, Ministry of Post and Telecommunications and with financial support from Project LAO/033, titled ‘Strengthening the Effectiveness of ODA Management in Lao PDR’.
Previously, MPI did not have a modern website that highlighted the Department of International Cooperation and its function. A web-page is a necessary channel for communicating on the country’s development plans and for circulating national policies, strategic documents including the National Socio-Economic Development Plan (NSEDP) and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to various actors, including civil society, the private sector as well as the general public. The website is a part of the process of enhancing transparency surrounding the NSEDP and Official Development Assistance.
Workshop Strengthens Ministry of Planning and Investment’s Anti-Corruption Efforts
Through Project LAO/033, the Lao government is continuing to develop capacity among officials from the Ministry of Planning and Investment (MPI) through a two-day anti-corruption workshop, with a focus on the dangers of unethical practices and criminal behaviour in the country.
Deputy Director General of the Department of Inspection of MPI, Mr Phouxay Phetsikham, who is also Vice President of the Ministry’s Inspection Committee, attended the anti-corruption workshop held in Vientiane from 21-22 July 2020. During the training, participants shared national and regional experiences in tackling corruption complaints. The meeting helped MPI officials to acknowledge their role and responsibilities towards fighting corruption.
The workshop took place under the framework of the cooperation programme between the Lao and Luxembourgish governments to build the capacity of the country’s planning and investment officials. Specifically, the project is titled LAO/033 - Strengthening the Effectiveness of Official Development Assistance (ODA) Management in Lao PDR.
Speaking at the opening ceremony, Mr Phouxay stated that the government was placing utmost importance on carrying out inspections and monitoring expenditure, which is a key part of its anti-corruption operations.
“The meeting is important for improving the knowledge and experience of the officials who undertake inspections, namely those from the Ministry of Planning and Investment,” he said. Corruption causes great loss to the state and individuals while hindering and delaying the socio-economic development of a country, according to the Ministry’s Inspection Committee. Corruption means the act of an official who opportunistically misuses their position, powers, or duties to embezzle, swindle or receive bribes or any other type of reward. The Lao government is aiming to improve its capacities, both in terms of legislation and human resources, to continue its fight against corruption.
The government is continuing to improve the legislation to combat corruption, via the Law on Anti-Corruption and the establishment of state inspection authorities at all administrative levels and sectors, while enacting the Law on Anti-Money Laundering and Terrorism Financing, the Law on Extradition, and the amended Penal Code.
Laos signed the United Nations Convention against Corruption on December 10, 2003, and ratified it on September 25, 2009, alongside 186 State Parties, according to the State Inspection and Anti-Corruption Authority.
LAOS - Rendering Official development assistance (ODA) coordination and management more effective
On 23 June 2020, the Ministry of Planning and Investment (MPI) officially launched the new ODA mobilisation strategy 2030. The promulgation ceremony took place in Vientiane Capital and was chaired by Dr. Kikeo Chanthaboury, Deputy Minister of MPI and co-chaired by Mr. Sam Schreiner, Chargé d´Affaires of the Embassy of the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg in Vientiane. The development of the ODA Strategy is part of the ongoing support provided by the Government of Luxembourg under the project LAO/033 - Strengthening the Effectiveness of ODA Management in the LAO PDR, which aims to increase the effectiveness of Lao key agencies in managing and coordinating ODA.
While there have been many achievements over the last years, there is still a need to continue improving development cooperation effectiveness in Lao PDR, to improve the effectiveness of the national Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) Secretariat and strengthening MPI’s Department of International Cooperation’s capacity to manage ODA effectively as well as to further improve working practices with national and international stakeholders.
In order to manage ODA more effectively, there is a need to clarify the regulatory framework around ODA and to develop a comprehensive ODA mobilization strategy. Coordination with other actors, particularly the line ministries, provinces and the development partners needs to be strengthened.
The recent Mid-Term Review of the Lao PDR’s 8th National Socio-economic Development Plan (NSEDP) showed that, with the least-developed country (LDC) graduation expected by 2024, ODA will likely be declining in the next years. Therefore, it is even more important to adapt this new development context and to use ODA resources effectively.
For ODA to be a more effective resource for the implementation of the NSEDP and the SDGs, the key Lao agencies in charge of managing and coordinating ODA in the Lao PDR need to be able to carry out that role effectively.
Having more effective ODA financing for the implementation of the national development plan and the achievement of SDGs will naturally benefit the entire population of Laos, and in particular the poor.
The Lao government recognises the past difficulties of aligning development planning and financing. In the next cycle of the NSEDP, the government is committed to ensure that funding allocation is timely and aligned with the country’s overall development priorities.
Reflecting all ODA financed interventions in the national budgets is not only contributing to enhanced transparency, but also supports harmonisation of planning and financing. Ensuring public funding contribution provided by the government in ODA interventions will in turn cater for greater commitment of the Government and improved sustainability.
Developing an ODA Strategy will provide a vision and priorities for Department of International Cooperation (DIC) in terms of ODA management and coordination. Additionally, it will provide clarity on aspects such as ODA mobilisation, harmonisation of planning and financing, reflecting ODA in the budget, national funding for ODA interventions, among others.
At the event, Mr. Sam Schreiner also informed the participants, that the Embassy of Luxembourg to Lao PDR has officially launched the identification mission for the next Lao-Luxembourg medium-term development cooperation strategy, the Indicative Cooperation Programme V (ICP V). The next ICP seeks to deepen and strengthen the existing priorities of the Laos-Luxembourg development cooperation by further strengthening alignment with the SDGs and the Agenda 2030, as well as with the next NSEDP, in order to contribute to the overall goal of alleviating extreme poverty.
LAOS - The upgrading of IT capacity and equipment reduces downtime and enhances productivity
On 10th June 2020, Project LAO/033 – Strengthening the Effectiveness of ODA Management in Laos, handed over IT equipment to the Department of International Cooperation (DIC) and the Department of Inspection (DOI) of the Ministry of Planning and Investment as well as to the Department of International Organization (DIO) and the National Sustainable Development Goals Secretariat of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
The upgrading of the IT systems and equipment is one of the priorities set out in the 2020 annual operational plan. This support is based on the findings and recommendations of the IT capacity assessment carried out jointly by LuxDev, DIC, DOI and SDG Secretariat in late 2019. The new IT equipment will enable DIC and the two other departments to better maintain their IT systems and to ensure the effective running of the iOffice system.
The IT equipment handover ceremony is the culmination of a joint initiative from the end of 2019 and was attended by Sisomboun Ounavong, Director General Director of DIC, MPI, and various Director Generals and Deputy Director Generals from DIO and the SDG secretariat. Quentin Bourdeaux, LuxDev Resident Representative, had the honour of handing over the equipment.