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Programme Transition

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Programme Transition

The sustainable handover or ‘transition’ of programmes being managed by UNDP to national entities can be one of the results of capacity development processes.

Capacity development activities are given top priority in all countries where UNDP is acting as a channel for donor funding to reach the implementation level, onward granting to both government bodies and civil society organisations. The aim is to transition management and implementation of these programmes to national entities once capacity in the national organisation is strong.

Programme Transition Planning

The objective of a transition plan is to design a staggered process to allow for grant management responsibilities to increasingly move from UNDP to the national entities, developing capacity where required during this time.
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In this way, the grant management role is transitioned in a planned manner, with national entities gradually taking over the responsibilities as their capacity is strengthened. A transition plan usually has a clearly defined scope, as it addresses the specific functions required to manage the grant. It is vital that any handover of health programmes must be managed well in order to avoid disruptions to service delivery and essential treatment to patients.
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Working in Partnership

While a capacity development plan is owned by the national entity, a transition plan is jointly owned and managed by both the national entity and UNDP. Both organisations have important responsibilities to ensure a successful and sustainable handover of the grant management role.

Capacity Development and Transition

There are linkages between the capacity development plan and a transition plan, in that some transition activities may not be completed until capacity is strengthened.
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The completion of a transition is sometimes dependent on capacity being developed and following this, agreement from the donor that the national entity now has the required capacity to manage the grant. As with all capacity development the focus should be on the development of national systems as opposed to stand alone systems to manage a single grant.
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Timing of Transition Planning

Where possible planning for transition should be done at the same time as capacity development planning, to define the desired capacity in each area, and to define measurable milestones for when responsibilities can be transferred.
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This may not always be possible, and if not, a schedule for developing a transition plan should be included in the capacity development plan. Implementation of the transition plan can start when capacity is strengthened.
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Managing Risk

A programme transition or transfer plan should also include a risk assessment, identifying possible risks associated with moving responsibility for essential health services from one grant manager to another, and finding strategies to deal with these risks.
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The management of these risks should be monitored and controlled by the group overseeing the implementation of the capacity development and transition programme to ensure no gap in service delivery.
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After Transition

UNDP is committed to support capacity development of national organisations and so aims to provide on-going support beyond any handover to continue to develop the capacity of national entities.
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In many countries UNDP does this through a crucial advisory role, through health coordinating mechanisms such as Global Fund Country Coordinating Mechanisms or directly to implementing partners. UNDP also provides substantial health procurement support to national governments and strengthening supply chain to ensure uninterrupted access to quality assured medicines, continuing to procure health products after transition of other functions.

In addition UNDP supports countries in planning and transitioning from donor support to domestic funded health programmes through support to developing investment cases, analysing domestic funding options and revenue generation, and support to social contracting mechanisms.

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As part of its capacity development support for prospective Global Fund Principal Recipients (PRs), UNDP assists in defining plans to transition the PR role from UNDP to the prospective PR(s) when the circumstances permit. To date, UNDP has experience of transitioning out of 25 countries. In 2015 alone, UNDP transitioned out of seven grants in two countries.
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The country context is an important element in transitioning to national PRs. A phased transition approach may be more appropriate over a longer period in fragile countries that have been impacted by conflict or natural disasters, or those with challenging operating environments. Where the Global Fund has an Additional Additional Safeguard Policy in place extra strengthening of oversight and accountability systems and programme governance might be needed before the transition can take place.

Dual PR models - Transitioning from a PR role to a joint PR role. This allows the gradual transfer of implementation responsibility and capacity rather than moving all responsibilities at once.

A staggered approach – Where UNDP manages multiple Global Fund grants UNDP can transition the PR role for one grant, but remain as the PR for the other grants to be transitioned at a later time. This allows the new PR to benefit from UNDP mentoring and support and ensures a smooth transition and gradual transfer of responsibilities while maintaining high grant performance.

Phased Transition – The transition can be divided into two phases, to ensure that those areas that require more time to develop the necessary capacity are transitioned later.

The Global Fund has developed Transition Readiness Assessment Tools to support the process. For more information visit:

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Country Example of Phased Transition
In Belarus it was agreed that it would take longer to develop the necessary capacity in the area of Procurement and Supply Chain Management, and so UNDP would continue to carry out all procurement during the first year of the new arrangements.
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Phase 1 of the transition focused on learning and set up activities for the new PR in recruiting staff; managing and reporting on GF funds; carrying out monitoring and evaluation; and developing operations manuals. Phase 2 focused on developing the new PR’s capacity to carry out PSM and ensured continued support from UNDP to the new PR, along with the guarantee during the transition phase that there would be no interruption in the supply of essential drugs.

Key Resources