USAID’s RISE Program in the Sahel Aligned With Resilience Policies but Lacked Robust Monitoring

Audit Report
Report Number
4-000-21-003-P

Why We Did This Audit

USAID’s Resilience in the Sahel Enhanced (RISE) initiative has been a multidimensional effort to address the Sahel region’s extreme poverty and chronic food insecurity, specifically within Burkina Faso and Niger. RISE I was a 5-year effort initiated in 2014 that received $348 million in USAID funding. A follow-on project, RISE II, continues the same operational approach to assisting rural populations in Burkina Faso and Niger, with planned USAID funding of $446.3 million through fiscal year 2023.In recent years, USAID has focused on promoting resilience in vulnerable areas like the Sahel to respond to recurring crises year after year. In particular, its resilience policy outlines three main goals: increased adaptive capacity, improved ability to address and reduce risk, and improved social and economic conditions of vulnerable populations.    

USAID OIG conducted this audit to assess the extent to which USAID (1) designed RISE I activities to align with its resilience policy goals, (2) monitored the implementation of RISE I to ensure the accomplishment of its resilience goals, and (3) incorporated lessons learned from RISE I into RISE II

Key Findings

USAID designed its RISE I activities to align with its resilience policy goals. We examined four of the seven development activities included in the RISE I core program and verified that key resilience principles contained in USAID’s policy had been incorporated into the scopes of work for the selected activities.

However, USAID did not fully implement its monitoring and evaluation activities as planned to ensure that RISE I activities were on track to achieve their broad program indicator targets and, in turn, the Agency’s resilience goals. Specifically, USAID’s monitoring and evaluation contractor did not complete all of the required work on time or to the extent planned, and USAID did not take all appropriate steps to ensure that all RISE 1 performance indicators were useful and could be used to make appropriate course corrections. Although USAID supplemented its ongoing monitoring with additional performance evaluations, the recommendations from these studies were not always tracked to resolution as required by USAID policy.

While planning RISE II, USAID undertook a structured effort to ensure that lessons learned from RISE I implementation were collected and incorporated into the follow-on activities. However, while USAID addressed the lessons learned regarding implementation, the following monitoring weaknesses identified during RISE I were not addressed and may persist during RISE II:

  • evaluations were not always completed on time,
  • USAID did not establish targets for intermediate-results indicators, and
  • actions taken in response to evaluation recommendations were not always tracked and verified.

We are making two recommendations to better ensure that monitoring weaknesses identified in RISE I do not persist in RISE II.

Recommendations

Recommendation
1

Monitoring, Evaluation, and Learning Plan to (a) verify that any planned impact evaluations and surveys are conducted in a timely manner, and (b) establish targets for intermediate-results indicators to optimize the use of indicator data to make programmatic corrections.

Questioned Cost
0
Funds for Better Use
0
Recommendation
2

Implement procedures under Resilience in the Sahel Enhanced II to strengthen compliance with existing policies regarding the tracking of evaluation recommendations and the documentation of completed actions.

Questioned Cost
0
Funds for Better Use
0