Asia is rapidly evolving its development needs. To keep pace with these changing needs and to ensure that solutions multilateral development banks like the Asian Development Bank (ADB) bring are effective, thorough assessment of their operations is crucial.
In its 2018 Annual Evaluation Review (AER), Independent Evaluation at ADB draws out an overall picture of ADB’s performance.
“Delivering results is critical to ADB’s existence. Evaluation is a central piece for ensuring that the solutions ADB brings to development problems are fit for purpose, and as effective as possible,” said Director General of Independent Evaluation at ADB Marvin Taylor-Dormond in a statement issued by ADB here on Tuesday.
The AER identifies areas in which ADB has been successful, where it has not, and what were the reasons behind this.
A review of its overall performance reveals that over the past 3 years, there has been a marginal decline in the success rate of public sector projects.
In 2015 to 2017, 74 percent of public sector projects were successful, down from 76 percent in 2014 to 2016.
A sector-wise look shows that four sectors—education, health, public sector management, and transport—dropped in performance.
These four sectors account for 58 percent of the portfolio that was evaluated.
If one looks at private sector-supported ADB projects, the decline is more apparent.
About 58 percent of projects were categorized successful in 2015 to 2017, compared to 67 percent in 2014 to 2016. This fall can be attributed to the disappointing performance in financial intermediary and private equity funds, which account for half of the projects evaluated.
Performance at the country-level was steady at 75 percent, although it was still below ADB’s 80 percent target.
AER notes that ADB achieved good results in its operations with middle-income countries. Also, when it came to promoting inclusive growth, middle-income countries were highly appreciative of ADB’s work. Other areas where ADB is doing well include environmentally sustainable growth, regional cooperation, and gender mainstreaming.
However, there are some areas where results can be improved. The Independent Evaluation Department (IED) assesses the relevance, effectiveness, efficiency, and sustainability of ADB projects and programs. One third of completed projects and programs were evaluated as less likely to be sustainable, well below the desired rate of four out of five.
“The sustainability problem is well illustrated by the inadequate financing for operations and maintenance of ADB-supported transport projects,” said IED Thematic and Country Division Director Mr. Walter Kolkma. “Other factors affecting the sustainability of ADB operations are often limited capacity of government agencies to run these projects and governance issues.”
For private sector operations, the AER recommends that to achieve better outcomes, ADB expand operations beyond infrastructure and help middle-income countries better adapt to new challenges.
With specific reference to the use and leverage of guarantees, loans, and other credit enhancement tools, the AER calls for the mobilization of much-needed private sector finance for development, particularly to help close Asia’s huge infrastructure gap, estimated at $1.7 trillion a year.
“Impartial evaluation is crucial for accountability and learning. ADB must capitalize its learning and use these lessons to design better, smarter, and stronger future projects to stay relevant because in today’s world, developing member countries are not short of options of development financing,” noted Mr. Taylor-Dormond.—APP