The National Development Plan III (NDP III) is the third in a series of six development plans whose primary goal is “To increase average household incomes and improve the quality of life of Ugandans” in the period 2020/21 to 2024/25. To achieve its goal, the plan identifies several targets to sustainably transform the country based on the achievements of the previous NDPs. It further states key strategic level objectives and Key Results Areas (KRAs) for tracking progress during its implementation.
Currently, NDP III is mid-way through its implementation period, and plans are underway to kick off the drafting of the fourth National Development Plan (NDP IV). However, it is worth noting that the progress made in achieving NDP III objectives at its mid-point has implications for NDP IV. According to the recently concluded Mid-Term Review (MTR), minimal success has been registered by NDP III so far. Notably, the overall NDP III progress performance indicates that only 646 (14%) out of the total 4,619 indicators have so far been achieved. While 1,002 indicators (22%) have not been achieved yet, more than half (64%) of the indicators have no data to assess their progress (See table 1 below).
Regarding the NDP III goal and objectives, 64% and 78% have not yet been achieved respectively. Table 1 also shows that less than a quarter of the project programme outcomes, intermediate outcomes and outputs have been achieved so far (18%, 19% and 12%, respectively), while more than half of their indicators have no data to track what has been accomplished mid-way the development plan period.
Table 1: Overall NDP III progress performance
|Achieved||Not Achieved||No Data||Total|
|Key Result Areas||Indicators||%||Indicators||%||Indicators||%||Total Indicators|
|NDP III Goal||4||36%||7||64%||0||0%||11|
|NDP III Objectives||13||16%||62||78%||4||5%||79|
|Programme Intermediate Outcomes||102||19%||149||27%||294||54%||545|
Furthermore, the MTR report notes that only 20 projects (29%) out of the 69 NDP III core projects under different programmes are under implementation, while others are still under either preparation or at the concepts stage (28 projects). The report also notes that 21 projects are still at the project idea stage, awaiting approval from the Development Committee. While NDP III still has about two more years of implementation, the MTR findings reveal possible delays in achieving its targets by 2024/25. The highlighted delays and minimal achievements have been mainly attributed to the impact of COVID-19 and the ineffective coordination role played by the Office of the Prime Minister due to, among other reasons, understaffing and underfunding.
As earlier indicated, the delayed implementation of the NDP III projects could have adverse implications for NDP IV. First, the delays could cause many carry-overs of projects in the new development plan, which could crowd out new projects. Since more than half of the NDP III core projects have not been implemented, the government will most likely be extended beyond 2024/25, which will be NDP IV period. Additionally, a low rate of successful project implementation within the NDP III period has a cost implication. The general increase in prices of goods and services makes project implementation more costly in the future. This is worse for projects funded using borrowed resources and will imply higher budget requirements for NDP IV.
Furthermore, the lack of data to assess the progress made on more than half of the indicators could fail to track project achievements. This creates a breeding ground for corruption tendencies and hinders project evaluation. Lack of data on project performance is also an obstacle to understanding and addressing the challenges faced during project implementation. As such, NDP IV may not be able to learn from the mistakes made during the NDP III period.
Therefore, it is necessary to fast-track the implementation of NDP III projects to achieve its goal and objectives by 2024/25 and avoid the highlighted implications of the delays. Stakeholders such as the Office of the Prime Minister (OPM) should be strengthened with more resources (both financial and human) to ease strategic coordination, monitoring and evaluation of the plan in the remaining implementation period. Available digital systems and innovations should be leveraged to produce statistical data on every project. In addition, there is a need to have more measurable indicators to ease the tracking of the performance of different projects. This will be key in informing the drafting of the NDP IV.
This article was co-authored with Ronald Kasaijja