Joint Programmes

Joint Programmes

Rationale for Joint Programming

The United Nations System supports national priorities and needs, including Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers (PRSPs) and equivalent national strategies. These are supported within the framework of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), commitments, goals and targets of the Millennium Declaration and international conferences, summits, conventions and human rights instruments of the UN system, as well as the achievement of sector-wide priorities as expressed in Sector-Wide Approaches, where applicable.

In recent years a number of reforms have been introduced to improve UN coordination, effectiveness and efficiency in supporting national goals and to reduce the transaction costs for government. Within this context, UN procedures for operational activities are being simplified and harmonized (S&H), while maintaining and building on the effectiveness and value added that each agency brings within the diversity of the UN.  Principal among these reforms have been the harmonization of country programme cycles and the introduction of the Common Country Assessment (CCA), and the United Nations Development Assistance Framework (UNDAF), including the UNDAF Results Matrix and the joint UNDAF evaluation as integral parts in the preparation, implementation and evaluation of country programmes of cooperation and country level projects.

To ensure that a clear link exists between the UNDAF priorities and country programmes and projects, as well as between preparation and implementation of country programmes, UN funds and programmes have further harmonized steps for country programme preparation, approval, implementation, and monitoring and evaluation. They have introduced Results Based Management (RBM) terminology, Country Programme Action Plans (CPAPs), and the Annual Work plans (AWPs).

The Secretary-General’s 2002 agenda for further UN reform calls for increased joint programming and pooling of resources to further enhance the effectiveness of the United Nation’s system in developing countries, and to ensure the system’s combined resources are put to best use. These measures are intended to maximize UN’s effectiveness, reduce transaction costs for governments, donors, and the UN, and strengthen how the UN organizations programme jointly with governments. They also seek to respond to donors’ and programme countries’ concerns to enhance the UN contribution in the current context of international development assistance, with a focus on self-reliance and capacity building.  

 What is joint programming?

Joint programming is the collective effort through which the UN organizations and national partners work together to prepare, implement, monitor and evaluate the activities aimed at effectively and efficiently achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and other international commitments arising from UN conferences, summits, conventions and human rights instruments. Through joint programming, common results and the modalities for supporting programme implementation are identified.

Joint programming contributes to making the UN support to reaching the national goals more coherent, effective, and efficient. It is meant to avoid duplication, reduce transaction costs and maximize synergies among the national partners and the differing contributions of UN system organizations – be it in terms of the normative framework and technical expertise, or of expertise in programme areas and strategies. 

Planning starts with a joint assessment and analysis of the country situation by the government and the UN system organizations.  This assessment/analysis normally culminates in the Common Country Assessment (CCA). The CCA provides the government, other national partners and the UN organizations with the analytical basis to identify priorities for the UN’s contribution to the achievement of national goals. This prioritization is expressed in the United Nations Development Assistance Framework (UNDAF).

A key programming tool of the UNDAF is the Results Matrix, which sets out (in a logical framework) the contribution of each UN organization to each of the UNDAF outcomes. The Results Matrix is updated through an iterative process, from the completion of the UNDAF through the finalization of country programmes and projects.

Following the completion of the UNDAF, programme and project preparation processes of UN specialized agencies will provide opportunities for participation in joint programming. In the case of the ExCom agencies (UNDP, UNFPA, WFP, and UNICEF) the preparation of the Country Programme Documents (CPDs) and the Country Programme Action Plans (CPAPs) provide the opportunity for each agency to work closely together and with government to ensure that their respective programmes of cooperation are coordinated and that they jointly contribute to the UNDAF outcomes.

Implementation: The next step in joint programming is implementation. Joint programming involves each of the UN programmes, funds, and specialized agencies working closely together and with national partners to coordinate their interventions in support of results which will lead to the achievement of the UNDAF outcomes, as set out in the UNDAF Results Matrix.

Monitoring, evaluation and reporting takes place throughout the duration of the UNDAF cycle and are based on the UNDAF M&E plan. Monitoring of the interventions of the UN programmes, funds and specialized agencies, together with exchange of information and progress updates, occurs throughout the year and culminates in Annual Reviews against work plans (for some UN Organizations this takes place every other year).  Joint monitoring and evaluation activities will be identified and undertaken as part of the UNDAF M&E plan.  The UNDAF evaluation includes an assessment of UN system collaboration, which encompasses joint programming.

What is a joint programme?

A joint programme is a set of activities contained in a common work plan and related budget, involving two or more UN organizations and (sub)-national partners. The work plan and budget will form part of a joint programme document, which will also detail roles and responsibilities of partners in coordinating and managing the joint activities. The joint programme document is signed by all participating organizations and (sub)-national partners.