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12 Recommendations

Given the findings of the evaluation, the evaluation recommends (1) that Denmark continues to fund African institutions that contribute to peace and stability in Africa. In order to meet these ultimate objectives, the evaluation recommends that Denmark take the following actions.

A. Strengthen the analytical foundations

Institutional capacity building is inherently difficult, and a future APP must be clear on the challenges this involves. The APP is built on the assumption that peace and security in Africa is best ensured if there is a strong continental architecture of organisations and capabilities preventing and reacting to conflicts and building peace.[199] Furthermore, Denmark has employed an open, flexible, eye-to-eye approach with its partner institutions. This approach is aligned with the AU’s own ‘African solutions to African problems’ and is additionally sustained by the literature on international institution-building: effective interventions are locally driven and allow for learning (making mistakes) and growing (adjusting to increasing levels of capacity).[200] Denmark, however, could be clearer on the conscious choice of approach and the consequent lack of intermediate, measurable results. Whereas the approach encourages flexibility in outcomes, the APP reviews note dissatisfaction with the paucity of results. As a first step, the evaluation recommends (2) that Denmark expounds the programme logic to specify how transmission effects occur or do not occur.

This can be achieved through two interlinked exercises. Firstly, the APP could helpfully combine the explicit (as listed in the Programme Documents) and the implicit (Danish officials’ verbal accounts) theories of change. If access to African officials and the furthering of Danish national interest on trade and security are commonly agreed objectives, the APP would benefit from a clear description of these elements. This would facilitate (a) a clearer understanding of Denmark’s interest among APP partners, and (b) a more adequate assessment of Denmark’s overall objectives. Secondly, the expanded programme logic would help clarify the apparent mismatch between the Danish flexible approach and the results expected. Researchers have long advocated that the Danish partner approach is indeed the solution for avoiding capability traps: by creating an authorising environment, Denmark allows its partners to grow at an adequate pace. Yet, to be effective, this approach must be combined with a programme logic that allows the expected outcome-level results to be limited for a considerable time period while the institutions learn and grow. In other words, there is a need to manage expectations in terms of the actual results of institutional capacity building.

B. Innovate monitoring methods

A critical challenge in designing and evaluating the APP is how to measure institutional success. What are the key indicators that would demonstrate progress towards a more capable institution? Is there a path of organisational development, which is suitable to particular institutions in specific circumstances? Can the progress of an organisation be benchmarked to help set target timelines and assess its performance? Given that the APP is broadly defined as an institution-building programme, such an institutional success measure is strangely absent. This evaluation has assessed the APP against the traditional OECD-DAC criteria, as required by the ToR. The evaluation recommends (3) that the ongoing monitoring and future assessments view the programme through an organisational development lens. The box below presents a model that the evaluation has developed over the course of the APP evaluation for this purpose.

Box 1 Measuring Institutional Performance

To better assess progress on institution-building, the evaluation expanded on a model developed by the World Bank.* At its core, for an institution to be considered successful it must it satisfy three criteria: ‘(i) it is able to deliver positive results with respect to its core mandate; (ii) it possesses broad legitimacy within the country of operation; and (iii) its operation is durable and resilient.’ These success dimensions of results, legitimacy and resilience are interdependent. The World Bank has proceeded to assess institutional success across a range of domestic institutions in fragile and conflict affected states. For multilateral institutions, however, the evaluation proposes a model that places stronger emphasis on norms development, as this is a critical measure in generating international acceptance and engagement.

In order to build a comprehensive institutional structure to address policy and operational issues, the evaluation proposes that any organisation must develop legitimate capability. This implies a capacity to engage effectively within its geographic and thematic domain in a manner that is deemed credible and acceptable to its stakeholders. Such capability relies on two aspects. Firstly, the institution must act as the arbiter of a set of norms that specify its range of acceptable actions. This relates to both legal frameworks that create more reified institutional boundaries and to the dynamics of day-to-day politics that keep those boundaries flexible. Secondly, the institution should be a capable operational actor delivering results on its mandate. The primary operational conditions are the institution’s financial management and civil service capacity.

Figure 14 Measure of legitimate capability
Legitimate Capability
Normative arbiter Operational actor
Legal frameworks Financial management
Day-to-day politics Civil service capacity

Given such definitions of institutional capacity, Danida could make an initial assessment of the partner organisation and agree on targets for organisational developments. This would enable the APP Programme Manager to have more informed conversations about outcomes, instead of considering only the activities undertaken by the relevant organisation. At the time of reviews and evaluations, the initial assessment could be revisited, and the capacity could be measured anew, revealing changes over time. Finally, such a capacity measure would fill the missing link in the results chain between APP inputs and the impact of partner organisations.

*Barma, Naazneen H., Huybens, Elisabeth; Vinuela, Lorena. 2014. Institutions Taking Root: Building State Capacity in Challenging Contexts. New Frontiers of Social Policy. World Bank Group, Washington, DC.

C. Invest in people and relationships

The evaluation found that Denmark’s moment as a ‘pioneering and special friend’ of the APSA and AGA institutions has passed. This development is partly due to the greater maturity of the organisations, and partially to the increasing number of donors who support the institutions. These are positive developments and Denmark should take credit for being a frontrunner and accepting the risks that this entailed. Yet Denmark has not fully leveraged the opportunities that risky investments generally offer: in this case, turning access into influence. Danish officials continue to have good access to African officials but seem to pursue few strategic ambitions. The access is also not utilised to advance broader donor community interests, e.g., facilitating stronger IGAD member state engagement. Now is the time to redefine Denmark as a wise and experienced friend, building on the pioneering and special status it has acquired in years past.

The evaluation thus recommends (4) that Danish officials reengage with a more proactive approach, particularly in light of the need to accompany institutional capacity building with strategic dialogue and technical assistance. Such a reengagement does not require greater control over programming or processes but a more energetic focus on making tangible progress. In order to ensure the strategic success of the programme, and to ensure the sustainability of its institution-building efforts, Denmark should exert more influence and ensure that the partner organisations co-fund APP activities, e.g. in the case of staff positions that have been created with APP support.

The evaluation also recommends (5) that Denmark strengthens coordination with other donors to help monitor and strengthen the partner organisations’ administrative and financial capacity and to build coalitions to jointly advance political-level collaboration within and among partner institutions. This is particularly likely to lead to results on ECOWAS, but also on IGAD where Nordic donors could increase coordination, and on the AU where Denmark could help advance some of the conversations that the EU is finding difficult to make progress on.

Finally, the evaluation recommends (6) that the Africa Department more actively engages in regional Africa programmes by facilitating regular communication among embassies and Copenhagen and by effectively advocating that African conflict prevention is in Denmark’s strategic interest.

D. Consolidate programme focus and adjust programme management set-up

The evaluation found that the various APP components have been managed as individual projects rather than as elements of an overarching programme, possibly as a result of different interpretations of the need for cohesion and coherence within the overall programme. As such, Denmark purposely did not stimulate or facilitate cooperation between the APP organisations in relation to their roles and responsibilities in implementing the APSA and the AGA. While external observers and Danish officials agree that the AU and the RECs need to establish a more solid division of labour, Denmark maintains that this is a matter internal to the APSA and AGA organisations.

Consequently, as the various APP elements do not form a unified whole and are not intended to, the choice of managing all components from one location is not effective. While the decision can be defended from a cost-efficiency perspective, the result is that the current programme management setup reduces the effectiveness of the APP. It also means that the APP, with its relatively limited resources given the broad objectives of the programme and the wide variety of partner organisations, requires continuous strategic decision-making. The evaluation thus recommends (7) to strengthen the strategic focus of the APP, including in its choice of partner organisations. This should follow not only an overarching and coherent theory of change for the APP, but also a renewed political analysis of the organisations and their capacity to deal with new threats to stability, including violent extremism and migration.

Finally, if Denmark decides to continue to support both the AU and the RECs relevant to the Danish priority regions in Africa (i.e. ECOWAS and IGAD), then the evaluation recommends (8) to place the management responsibility, including the responsibility for political dialogue, with the embassies located in physical proximity to the relevant organisations. The embassy in Addis Ababa could act as the overall programme manager for the APP.


[199] Danida, Africa Programme for Peace, Phase III (APP III) – 2014-2017 – Programme Document, June 2013, p. 9.

[200] Andrews, M., Pritchett, L., Samji, S., and Woolcok, M. (2015) Building capability by delivering results: putting problem-driven iterative adaption (PDIA) principles into practice, In: OECD (2015) A Governance Practitioner’s Notebook: Alternative Ideas and Approaches. p. 123-133.

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This page forms part of the publication "Evaluation of the Africa Programme for Peace 2004-2017 – November 2018" as chapter 12 of 12
Version no. 1.0, 2018-12-13
Publication may be found at the address http://www.netpublikationer.dk/um/evaluation_africa_programme_for_peace_2004-2017/index.html