DFID’s Electoral Support through UNDP

DFID spent £140 million in electoral assistance through UNDP between 2001-11. This is a review of DFID’s management and oversight of this funding.

This review assesses whether DFID funding for electoral support through the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) is being managed effectively and delivering value for money. It is a review of DFID’s management and oversight, not of UNDP itself. DFID has channelled £140 million in electoral assistance through UNDP managed projects between 2001 and 2011 (71% of DFID’s total support for electoral assistance of £197 million). This evaluation draws on lessons from that decade of experience, together with recent case studies of Malawi, Burundi, Bangladesh and Afghanistan. It also refers to Commissioners’ observations in respect of Sierra Leone.

DFID’s choice of UNDP as the primary channel for electoral assistance is credible. DFID should, however, make efforts to cultivate alternative or additional delivery partners to complement its work with UNDP. It should also strengthen management and oversight arrangements over UNDP electoral support programmes.

As a result of our findings this review has been marked Green-Amber.


Recommendation 1: DFID should actively cultivate alternative delivery channels suitable for implementing electoral support. This means seeking out alternative or additional implementing partners where feasible, in order to complement and compare with UNDP and to provide additional resources for capacity-building.

Recommendation 2: DFID should immediately engage with the UN at headquarters and local levels to improve performance. It should encourage the UN to resolve differences in approach to elections between UN agencies. This should form part of the 2013 update to the Multilateral Aid Review of UNDP by DFID.

Recommendation 3: DFID should place greater emphasis on ensuring value for money in electoral assistance. This means encouraging more realistic budget processes and advocating appropriate electoral systems and technologies. DFID also needs to improve its identification of the costs of different aspects of electoral systems in different countries, to enable better cost control.

Recommendation 4: DFID should strengthen governance arrangements over UNDP-managed programmes. This includes separating political dialogue from technical oversight and making more use of thirdparty monitoring that will act to challenge and hold UNDP better to account for performance. Risk management arrangements to cover these issues should be fully integrated into the design of assistance through UNDP. Where possible, programmes and basket fund arrangements should be maintained through the electoral cycle.

Recommendation 5: DFID should ensure that each example of electoral support is anchored in a strategy for democratic development. This should include how the elections assistance relates to governance objectives beyond the time frame of a specific election. It should also include active engagement with a wider range of national stakeholders and political institutions.