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Resilient health systems are implemented through a variety of partners to ensure comprehensive service delivery. National health plans involve both government and civil society implementing in partnership to deliver on planned results.

Implementing partners working with key populations

National implementing partners often provide the crucial knowledge and access to hard-to-reach beneficiaries and key populations. However, they may have capacity gaps or may have limited experience in working at scale, and therefore may require significant support to implement their assigned role effectively.

UNDP's offer

As part of its HIV, Health and Development Strategy 2016-2021 UNDP develops the capacities of national entities to sustainably manage domestic and international health financing and to deliver health programmes. UNDP focuses on building capacity to select, assess and provide oversight for implementing partners to minimize risk and ensure a sustainable and integrated national response.

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  1. support the development of standard operating procedures to select, contract, manage, monitor and provide oversight to implementing partners
  2. provide technical support to orientation workshops
  3. provide capacity assessment and plan development tools

Managing implementing partners

The selection process should outline the minimum criteria required to ensure a transparent selection process (such as ability to carry out specific project activities and carry out financial management and reporting, etc.).
Template contracts should be developed outlining what happens if implementing partners are not performing as required, and what support will be given to them. Before signing the contract, the nominated partner should have a detailed work plan and budget attached to the contract.
The capacity of all implementing partners should be assessed before a contract is signed and before any funds are disbursed to the new partner. If the implementing partner does not possess the required capacity to carry out the planned activities, then a capacity development plan should be developed and budgeted. The results of the capacity assessment should be compiled in a report for review to assess progress later.
Financial management systems that:
  • correctly record all transactions and balances
  • support the preparation of regular, reliable financial reports
  • safeguard any assets purchased for the partner
  • are subject to acceptable auditing arrangements
Institutional and programmatic arrangements:
  • legal status to enter into the contract
  • effective organizational leadership, management, transparent decision-making and accountability systems
  • infrastructure (e.g. transport) to enable programmatic monitoring in a timely and accountable manner
  • adequate health care expertise and cross-functional expertise (finance, M&E)
Monitoring and evaluation systems:
  • M&E systems that have M&E frameworks with indicators, baselines, and target
  • monitoring of activities: the organization regularly monitors project activities and records finding
  • data analysis: the organization is monitoring data analysed and used to inform programme decision-making
  • expertise: level of monitoring and evaluation expertise in the organization
  • monitoring of partners: the organization has systems in place to track activities implemented by sub-partners
There should be an induction workshop for implementing partners, to outline the requirements and processes for financial and programmatic reporting, and provide partners with reporting forms and templates, and details on any supporting documentation required. The capacity development activities should be implemented as soon as possible at the beginning of implementation, but ongoing mentoring may carry on during the life cycle of the programme.

There should be a documented programme for each year outlining all oversight visits to verify financial and programmatic data reported.

There should be standard operating procedures with supporting templates for monitoring the programme implementation, and for reviewing financial and programmatic reports for completeness and technical soundness. Oversight mechanisms should include processes for problem identification and mitigation, as well as action to solve any issues identified.

Risk management of implementing partners is a continual process—risks should be assessed and plans should be carefully documented, with responsibilities for follow-up properly assigned and monitored. For example, one way of managing risk is where implementing partners that have been assessed as having weak financial management capacity should be given smaller instalments of funds more frequently to carry out specific activities.

Suggested capacity development indicators

  • documented policies and procedures for selection of implementing partners in place
  • up-to-date implementing partners’ agreement forms and contracts
  • % of implementing partners where a capacity assessment has been conducted
  • processes and procedures for defining capacity development plans and providing capacity development support
  • documented policies and procedures for managing and coordinating implementing partners
  • frequency of implementing partners’ plan reviews and updates
  • ability to capture and integrate implementing partners’ reports into management reporting
  • number of internal and external audits of implementing partners conducted

UNDP acts as the Principal Recipient (PR) for Global Fund grants in countries with challenging operating environments. As PR, UNDP engages national and local counterparts, known as sub-recipients (SRs), to implement grant activities. UNDP selects, contracts and manages SRs during the life cycle of the grant.

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UNDP also assists SRs in developing the capacity and expertise to effectively manage and implement prevention, care and treatment services for AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria. UNDP is also involved in specific Health System Strengthening grants financed by the Global Fund.

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Key resources

Link to our new capacity assessment section and to tools in these sections.

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