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ACT Project – fourth phase (2003-2005)

In May 2003, OHCHR and UNDP decided to launch the fourth phase of the ACT Project, using the strategy designed in the previous phase to involve UNDP Country Offices. Accordingly, a letter was sent in June 2003 to all UNDP Resident Representatives asking them about their interest in the ACT Project and about possible funding on their part. Based on the feedback to this appeal, 32 countries (see list attached in Annex 1) have been selected to participate in ACT 4.

Out of the selected countries, roughly 80 % have already implemented the ACT Project under previous phases (see table in Annex 2). 12 countries are participating for the first time, among which Mali, Chad, Niger, Yemen, Romania and Sudan. It is interesting to note an increased financial participation of UNDP Country Offices with 20 countries (according to data available as of March 2005) compared to the previous phase in which 18 Country Offices participated.

As in the case of ACT 3, the selection of activities has been done by local "ACT Task Forces". A total number of 184 activities (as of data available at this time) have been selected for funding; out of those, 23 projects have benefited from a financial contribution received from the Ford Foundation aimed at supporting local initiatives in the fight against racism and at raising public awareness about the outcome of the Durban Conference. Similar criteria for eligibility as under ACT 3 have been used for the selection of activities; priority has been given to projects focusing on women’s human rights and on children’s rights, as well as to those aimed at preventing racism, xenophobia and related forms of intolerance.

As of March 2005, the total budget allocated to the fourth phase by OHCHR amounted to US$515,066, and the one allocated by UNDP- COs to US$ 330,224 (according to data available; some were still missing when preparing the present note).

It is worth mentioning that UNDP Country Offices which implemented the ACT Project for the first time reported a positive feedback. For instance, the project raised major interest among Non Governmental Organizations in Tajikistan; the UNDP Country Office in that country reported that 123 applications were submitted following the call for proposals. In Kyrgyzstan, further to the positive impact of a project implemented in a psychiatric hospital, the Advisor to the Minister of Health reportedly stated that "This experience as a pilot project will be replicated in the other large psychiatric hospitals in the Kyrgyz Republic".

It is also interesting to note that some UNDP Country Offices went beyond their first commitments and funded more activities. The UNDP Office in Tajikistan allocated US$ 35,579 for the funding of nine activities instead of three projects as initially envisaged. Similarly, the UNDP Office in Burkina Faso allocated USD$ 35,124 for the funding of seven projects, exceeding the US$15,000 required in the joint UNDP-OHCHR appeal. Lastly, the UNDP Office in Chad announced the allocation of USD$ 60,000 for the funding of projects in 2005.

An overview on the focus, scope and impact of the activities carried out under the fourth phase will be provided upon receipt of the final reports and evaluation forms.

Lessons Learned

A preliminary review of the challenges encountered in the implementation of projects since October 2003 is prompting the following considerations:

1. Awarded NGOs have often complained about the length of time passing between the decision about their selection and the receipt of the first installment of the grant from the UNDP Office in their country; those delays impacted on the timing and effective implementation of projects. One of the major factors causing this delay is the difficult information flow between OHCHR Headquarters and UNDP Field Offices. Closer coordination and cooperation throughout all the stages of the implementation of the projects would be required to facilitate the entire process. Over the past months, OHCHR Headquarters forwarded scanned copies of approved financial cable in respect to grant payments so as to ensure adequate information is communicated effectively and in a timely manner.

    2. Many OHCHR/UNDP Country Offices seem not to know how to monitor and review reports submitted by the recipients (in particular, mid-term f inancial reports have often been found incomplete); and lack of adequate and accurate information in those reports has caused delays in processing the release of the second installment of the grant . In this regard, reporting guidelines should be developed and disseminated, in order to provide further guidance on the correct modalities for project reporting.

    3. In some countries, political instability caused project operational performance to be below expectations. For instance, political instability in the Democratic Republic of Congo and Haiti has had a negative impact on the projects; many of them have not been implemented yet. More attention should be paid to ensure that selected countries can offer effective coordination and monitoring in implementing the projects.

    4. More attention should also be paid to ensure a balanced distribution of grants by region. The previous phases showed an unbalanced distribution of grants among the regions, the Arab region being the less granted .

    5. Lastly, a brochure presenting the ACT Project and highlighting some of the supported activities was produced by OHCHR in 2002 in English, French and Spanish. Approximately 130 copies in English have been disseminated in the UNDP Country Offices of Barbados, Guyana, Iran, Kyrgyzstan, Mauritius and Swaziland. UNDP Country Offices in Burundi and Mauritius received 145 copies in French. No Spanish version of the brochure has been disseminated. Therefore, a strategy should be designed to ensure proper dissemination of the brochure to all UNDP Country Offices in the appropriate language.

    Annex 1  

    Countries selected for the ACT Project, Phase 4 - (32, listed by region)

    Africa
    Arab region
    Asia-Pacific
    Europe, North America and Central Asia
    Latin America and Caribbean
    Burkina Faso
    Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem
    Cambodia
    Bosnia & Herzegovina
    Colombia
    Burundi
    Yemen
    Fiji Kyrgyzstan Haiti
    Cameroon
    Georgia
    Republic of Moldova
    Nicaragua
    Chad
    Mongolia
    Romania
    Trinidad and Tobago
    Democratic Republic of the Congo   Samoa Serbia and Montenegro Uruguay
    Guinea     Tajikistan  
    Kenya     Uzbekistan  
    Malawi        
    Mali        
    Mauritania        
    Niger        
    Sudan        
    Togo        

    The selection of grantees is made in each participating country by the OHCHR/UNDP Country offices. The projects are currently under implementation and no new grants will be given during the fifth phase. Please contact the OHCHR ACT Coordinator at the address below should you wish contact information the focal point in any of the participating countries:

    For general information, please contact:

    ACT Project
    OHCHR
    Palais des Nations
    8-14 Avenue de la Paix
    CH - 1211 Geneva 10
    Switzerland
    Fax: +41 22 928 90 10
    E-mail: ACTProject@ohchr.org