MCA Namibia Achievements after two years into Compact

THE Millennium Challenge Account Namibia (MCA-N) marked the end of the second year in the implementation of its five-year programme on 16 September 2011.

The mission of MCA-N, a development programme funded by the US Government through its Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC), is to reduce poverty through economic growth. Ambitious goals for a five-year intervention, one might say, but while the ultimate outcomes and objectives of the programme cannot yet be assessed, at the end of year two (Y2), there are many results that indicate the programme is heading in the right direction.

What is MCA-N?

In July 2008, the Government of the Republic of Namibia signed a US$304.5 million agreement (or “Compact”) with MCC to address barriers to economic growth, including workforce quality constraints, unrealized tourism potential and low agricultural productivity. The MCA Namibia Compact came into effect on 16 September 2009, with a primary goal of reducing poverty by focusing on three key sectors: Education, Tourism and Agriculture.

EDUCATION PROJECT

The Education Project is the largest component under the MCA-N Programme and seeks to bring the quality of the work force closer to the requirements of industry and the labour market at large by supporting new and innovative methods of learning in addition to the more traditional approaches to education and improving physical infrastructure for learning and teaching in up to 47 schools, regional study and resource centres and Community Based Skills Development Centres.

TOURISM PROJECT

MCA-N’s Tourism Project is the first for MCC that has an explicit focus on tourism, acknowledging the sector’s tremendous poverty-alleviating potential in rural areas of Namibia. The Tourism Project seeks to bring conservancies in high potential tourism areas into the mainstream of the tourism business, increasing the financial and in-kind benefits to rural conservancy members. The MCA Namibia Tourism Project will also enhance regional and international marketing of Namibia as a tourism destination and support the improved management of and infrastructure for Etosha National Park.

AGRICULTURE PROJECT

The Agriculture Project seeks to increase the farmers’ income derived from livestock farming in the Northern Communal Areas (NCAs) through improved veterinary services, traceability, and rangeland management. It also seeks to empower Communal Land Boards, traditional authorities and other key stakeholders to better manage the available resources; and increase direct participation of the primary producers in the processes of value-addition to raw, natural products such as Marula nuts, Kalahari Melon Seed, Devil’s Claw and Ximenia.

What makes MCA-N different?

MCA-N is a unit housed under the National Planning Commission and works hand-in-hand with the relevant Government ministries and state-owned enterprises, collectively referred to as “Implementing Partners”. The MCA-N’s Implementing Partners are the Ministry of Education, the Ministry of Environment and Tourism, the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry, the Ministry of Lands and Resettlement, the Namibia Tourism Board and the Namibia Training Authority.

Each Implementing Partner has entered an agreement with MCA-N that outlines the common objectives and the modalities for working together. MCA-N-funded coordinators and/or technical experts are based at the offices of each Implementing Partner.

The Ministers of each beneficiary Ministry serves on MCA-N’s Board, along with four private sector representatives and the Director-General of the National Planning Commission serves as the Chairperson of the Board.

MCA-N is committed to consulting and sharing of information with all its partners and stakeholders through to the end of Compact implementation. Since the beginning of Compact implementation, the CEO of MCA-N has been interacting on an ongoing basis with both national and regional structures focusing on sharing information with decision makers and beneficiaries in order to cement relationships and demonstrate transparency.

MCA-N aims to communicate the Compact to communities as the Government Programme that it is and to ensure that it is well-received and clearly understood. Also important to MCA-N’s leadership is to encourage beneficiary communities to willingly participate in MCA-N activities and to remain informed on the progress of implementation, with a strong emphasis on results.

MCA-N also collaborates with other donors to ensure that common objectives are met in a coordinated fashion.

How does MCA-N measure results?

MCA-N views its beneficiaries as the most important group of people to consider in the implementation of the five-year Compact, and focuses not only on immediate results that serve as a measure of impact but also on the sustainability thereof, thus maximizing the potential that impacts will continue to be felt long after the unit has closed its doors in 2014.

The process
• Activities undertaken and milestones achieved, e.g. the value of signed contracts or percentage of contract value disbursed.
Output
• Products and services produced, e.g. the number of facilities constructed or number of farmers trained.
Outcome
• Immediate effects of outputs on beneficiaries, e.g. the number of farmers adopting new techniques or additional female students participating in MCA-N-funded activities
Objective
• Higher order effects of outputs on beneficiaries, e.g. The improved quality of education or improved income of conservancy members.

Results were taken into account during Compact development and continue to be emphasized through all phases of implementation.

In order to track progress and performance through all phases of implementation, MCA-N’s Monitoring and Evaluation (M and E) Plan includes indicators at multiple levels, including: Process, Output, Outcome, Objective, and Goal. Each of these indicator types, and their typical progression, is defined as the following:

The Goal indicators include the poverty rate, unemployment rate, and household income.
To gauge progress toward the achievement of the results expected from the programme, MCA-N’s monitoring activities track performance against indicators and targets (i.e. the expected result and the time frame for achieving it). This monitoring work covers all of the Compact’s sub-activities. At Year Two, the most relevant indicators are the process and output indicators but, as implementation progresses, outcome and objective level indicators will start to come into play.

What has MCA-N achieved to date?
Successful implementation is evident in progress on the ground under the Education, Tourism and Agriculture Projects as well as the cross-cutting directorates of Infrastructure, Environment and Social Assessment (ESA) and Monitoring and Evaluation (M and E).

Achievements under the Education Project A total of 695,164 English, Mathematics and Science textbooks, learning and support materials for Grade 5 to 12 were procured and delivered to 1,195 schools and 97 educational institutions country-wide.

Since the start of Compact implementation, significant progress was made at the MCA-N intervention schools in the Omusati, Oshana and Ohangwena regions, through the “47 schools” sub-activity. Out of the schools that were to be renovated or upgraded, 13 are nearing completion. The schools will be fully furnished and will have necessary facilities such as toilets, administration blocks and adequate houses for teachers.

The official handover of the schools is scheduled to take place in October/November 2011 (initially scheduled for September 2011, but completion was delayed due to flooding in some areas), paving the way for students to find themselves in an improved learning environment when schools reopen in 2012.

The Government of the Republic of Namibia (GRN) has agreed to discontinue the standard ventilated Improved Pit Latrine Toilets, used by the Ministry of Education (MoE), at identified schools due to their high risk from flooding and underground water pollution. Instead, the environmentally-friendly Enviroloo Toilet System will be installed at the designated sites, and these have been procured and delivered.

MCA-N and UNICEF are teaming up to expand the hygiene initiatives (in which UNICEF has already been engaged with some primary schools in the Northern Communal Areas) to some of MCA-N’s 47 schools as an initiative to complement the installation of the Enviroloo Toilet System.

In addition, contracts for the construction of Regional Study and Resource Centres (RSRCs) in Oshakati and Helao Nafidi have been concluded and the sites were handed over to the contractors in June 2011.

Two Grants within the Education Project have been signed and are being implemented.

These are:
• The Continuous Professional Development (CPD) Management Unit Grant, which is aimed at supporting the ongoing upgrading of teachers’ skills and competencies, was signed with the University of Namibia (in consortium agreement with Ministry of Education and Namibia Institute for Educational Development (NIED)). The CPD Unit will be fully staffed by October 2011.
• The Vocational Training Grant Facility, which is a fund earmarked to procure training while the National Training Fund (NTF) is being established, has supported 120 trainees to date in the Tourism and Hospitality sectors. The fund serves as a pilot for the NTF, the set-up of which MCA-N is facilitating.

One of the outcomes of this support has been the building of sustainable relationships with employers as they are involved in the consultative process to come to an agreement on the rate of the NTF levy, which is expected to be in place by 2012.

Below are highlights achievements on some key process and output indicators under MCA-N’s Education Project.

Education
• Construction and Rehabilitation of up to 47 schools: 45% of funds disbursed against design/supervisory contracts for 47 schools (target for Y2: 52%). 20% of funds disbursed against construction, rehabilitation and equipment contracts for 47 schools (target for Y2: 45%). The percentage of learners who are new entrants in grade is 72%. The number students participating in the 47 schools activity (target for Y2: 27,936) is 24,570.

• Vocational Training: Contract signed for NTA Advisor on 6 July 2010 (target for Y2: 1 February 2011). Value of vocational training grant funds awarded through the MCA-N grant facility: US$730,644 (target for Y2: US$900,000).

• Textbooks: 669,751 textbooks were delivered to schools. Complete: textbook baseline study; textbook storage plan; and procurement contract.

• Regional Study Resource Centers: 60% of funds disbursed against design/supervisory contracts for RSRCs (target for Y2: 57%)

ACHIEVEMENTS UNDER THE TOURISM PROJECT

Considerable progress has also been made in the implementation of the Tourism Project since inception.

The capacity of the Ministry of Environment and Tourism to maintain its extensive road network in Etosha National Park (ENP) and to assist adjacent conservancies with the construction of firebreaks and tracks for tourism use was boosted through the donation by MCA-N of road maintenance equipment.

ENP’s road and track network alone accounts for more than 2,000 km, of which 1,100 km is graveled and 29 km tarred. The related ENP Equipment and Infrastructure Database and Maintenance Plan is near-complete, with training having been provided to the Ministry of Environment and Tourism staff in the Maintenance Division.

The translocation programme of the Ministry of Environment and Tourism received a boost through various game translocation equipment donated by MCC under the MCA Namibia Compact. These included custom crates to transport rhino and giraffe, trucks, cranes and trailers. Higher value tourism will be the result of the ongoing restocking by the Ministry of Environment and Tourism (in cooperation with local NGOs) of the communal conservancies with high value game species, and MCA-N has supported the translocation of 476 such animals. These conservancies can now offer activities such as rhino tracking as an additional tourism product and attract tourists with a broader range of antelope species.

Communal conservancies are also supported through the Conservancy Development Support Services (CDSS) sub-activities, which seeks to maximize benefits for conservancy members by providing training and technical assistance in governance, natural resources management and tourism enterprise development. They are also benefiting from the agreements entered into under the Conservancy Development Support Grant Fund (CDSGF), which aims to strengthen the capacity of conservancies to protect their natural resources, attract investment and achieve financial sustainability.

Additional achievements under the Tourism Project include the procurement of a contractor to implement online marketing and approval of the final version of the campaign strategy for the North America Destination Marketing Campaign (NADM), both of which are aimed at increasing Namibia’s visibility to potential tourists. Roll-out of the NADM campaign has begun and MCA-N is working with Government partners to mitigate the potential negative effect that the anti-seal harvesting campaign might have on marketing efforts.

The revamp of the Namibia Tourism Board (NTB) website by MCA-N was acknowledged when NTB won the Best Tourism Board and Best Website at the Tourism Indaba held in Durban on 6 May 2011. MCA-N, in consultation with NTB, contracted a multimedia and website developing company to market Namibia to the rest of the world. The revamped website has been in use since October 2010.

Below are highlights of achievements on some key process and output indicators under MCA-N’s Tourism Project.

Tourism
• Etosha National Park: Complete: Road maintenance equipment handover is 6,291kilometres of roads and fire breaks within ENP maintained by MET.
• Marketing in Tourism: 18,778 unique visits on NTB’s award-winning website in the last completed quarter

• Conservancy Support:
Complete: Conservancy Needs Assessment (31 March 2010, two months ahead of target). 476 game species translocated to conservancies with MCA-N support (target for Y2: 445). Value of grants signed under the Conservancy Development Grant Fund: US$1,579,785.

ACHIEVEMENTS UNDER THE AGRICULTURE PROJECT

Turning to the Agriculture Project, MCA-N is working with the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry (MAWF) to achieve the goal of healthy and productive livestock and effective livestock marketing in the Northern Communal Areas (NCAs).

The Community-Based Rangeland and Livestock Management (CBRLM) sub-activity is on schedule and has successfully engaged communities to start improving animal husbandry, practicing coordinated grazing and participate in auctions. The sub-activity is eliciting a great deal of positive interest among communities.

MCA-N has also supported MAWF with the tagging exercise that will bring Namibia up to global standards in terms of food supply chain monitoring (or “traceability”) and, ultimately, open the door to international marketing opportunities for farmers in the NCAs. Traceability is a requirement for access to international markets. The exercise has succeeded in tagging almost 500,000 cattle with the Radio Frequency Identification Tags. Most of the support equipment has been procured and the outstanding items (rugged notebooks) are expected early in the third Compact year.

The design of State Veterinary Offices (SVOs) is nearing completion, with construction due to get underway in 2012. The SVOs, jointly funded by MCA-N and the Namibian Government, will provide further support to MAWF in its efforts to ensure healthy and productive livestock among communal farmers.

The Communal Land Support (CLS) sub-activity has reached a stage where leadership in the NCAs is well informed through outreach and training sessions all over the regions, with very positive feedback received. In the North Central Regions, 20 outreach events have been held and 479 Communal Land Board and Traditional Authority members have been trained in 7 training events; training recently began in the Kavango Region, and planning and preparatory measures for training activities in the Kunene Region commenced in August 2011. Almost 2,500 land parcels have been mapped and verified for registration.

The Indigenous Natural Products (INP) activity is making good progress with the training of INP producers and the provision of Primary Production Improvement Grants for small equipment to improve the harvesting and processing of INPs by Producer and Processor Organisations (PPOs). Service agreements have been signed with 48 PPOs (and counting) and, by the end of August 2011, 3,434 individuals had been selected and mobilized and had received at least one training session.

Below are highlights of achievements on some key process and output indicators under MCA-N’s Agriculture Project.

Agriculture
• Livestock: Number of cattle tagged with RFID tags: 497,630. Value of grant agreements signed under the Livestock Efficiency Fund: US$2,334,351 (target for Y2: US$1,500,000).

• Community-Based Rangeland and Livestock Management: Community exchange visits: 5 (target for Y2: 0)

• Communal Land Support: Number of communal land board members and traditional authority members trained: 479 (target for Y2: 500)

• Indigenous Natural Products: Value of grant agreements signed under the INP Innovation Fund: US$924,134 (target for Y2: US$ 610,000). Number of PPOs with signed service contract: 48 (target for Y2: 15)

Achievements in cross-cutting activities (Other than infrastructure, which is included under the three projects)

Environment and Social Assessment (ESA)
The implementation of Gender and Social Integration Strategy (GSIS) is going well across all three Projects, with all sub-activities reporting on Environment and Social Assessment (ESA) related issues, considerations and activities.

Adherence has been good to date, though there were a few ESA compliance challenges at construction sites. Therefore, MCA-N is intensifying its monitoring of Environmental Management Plan (EMP) and Public Health and Public Safety Awareness Plan (PHPSAP) implementation and holding not only contractors but also supervising consultants accountable to make sure that they live up to their contractual obligations.

MCA-N’s ESA team recently conducted a training workshop for all contractors, sub contractors, supervising consultants to discuss EMP, PHPSAP and HIV AIDS Awareness Prevention Plan (HAAPP) implementation and requirements in detail. This training workshop was aimed at raising awareness, discussing contractors’ obligations and addressing any misunderstanding and to improve and enhance the implementation of those plans.

Significant improvement with regard to the implementation of and compliance with EMPs, PHPSAPs and HAAPPs has been noted.

Monitoring and Evaluation (M and E)

Fieldwork for the baseline rounds of MCA-N’s two major household income and expenditure surveys, namely the Community Based Rangeland and Livestock Management (CBRLM) survey and the Conservancy Support and Indigenous Natural Products (CS/INP) survey, was completed in June and August 2011, respectively. The survey data will inform the related evaluations and will provide stakeholders with important information about the status of beneficiary households at baseline. In the interests of transparency and accessibility, MCA-N will make a practice of posting the anonymised datasets and related documentation on its website.

Among its many activities, MCA-N’s M&E directorate is working to support quality data and M&E capacity among its implementing partners and other stakeholders. Ensuring that all data collected from implementers, surveys, government agencies or other sources is reliable, accurate, and consistent is critical in order to use the data for decision-making, drawing conclusions about programme outcomes and impacts, and conducting final evaluations of activities.

In that respect, MCA-N has hired a Data Quality Review (DQR) Consultant who is conducting regular quality reviews on all data, including ex-ante and ex-post reviews of all surveys and all indicators in the monitoring component. One of the DQR team’s major deliverables, the report on Government data quality, was approved in May 2011 and is available for download on MCA-N’s website (click on “MCA-N Achievements” on the home page and then “Supporting Data Quality and Building M&E Capacity”).

MCA-N staff has started following up on the general and specific recommendations made in the Government Data Quality Review (GDQR) report (as well as other DQR reports) in order to support the improvement of data quality in the country.

As part of the follow-up on the DQR team’s recommendations in the GDQR – and as an exercise in its own right – the M&E directorate continues to build M&E capacity among MCA-N’s Implementing Partners and other Government agencies as well as among contractors and grantees through the provision of training and technical assistance sessions, software and assistance with actual data collection processes.