Development cooperation is monitored

Development cooperation is a closely monitored activity: work is subject to various types of monitoring performed by both the Ministry for Foreign Affairs (MFA) and external operators. 

African children studying at school.
The class of five-year-olds at the ESACS School, Dar es Salaam. Photo: Tiina Kirkas / Kehityslehti

Development cooperation helps to improve the living conditions in poor countries where administrative structures are often weak. This generates risks that may make results more difficult to achieve. Anticipating and managing them is essential to the implementation of development cooperation.

Development cooperation projects and programmes are monitored throughout the project cycle.

In the planning phase, each project or programme is given defined goals and modalities. At the same time, any risks that may be encountered while pursuing the goals and associated means to manage them are assessed. The risks are typically related to stability in society, local partner organisation's skills and capacities or corruption.

In the implementation phase, all those who are engaged in a development cooperation project or programme report on the use of their funding and the results of their work to the Ministry. Officials in the Ministry and embassies follow the progress, the use of funds, the risks involved and the reliability of reporting through steering groups, field visits and mid-term reviews and regular communication. Additionally, the Ministry commissions external auditing companies to perform regular audits and performance audits. This means that experts examine not only bookkeeping but also internal control practices and the quality of the activities.

When a project or programme ends, the implementing agency compiles a final report of the results and submits it to the Ministry for Foreign Affairs. Any unused funds will be refunded to the Ministry. The results can be assessed also in ex-post evaluations.

Monitoring of multilateral cooperation

UN funds and programmes and international development finance institutions have established their own comprehensive control and monitoring mechanisms  in order to ensure that the financial and administrative activities are managed appropriately also in high-risk working environments.  These mechanisms include, among other things, systems (hotlines) for reporting misuse of funds and protecting whistleblowers as well as risk-based audit planning and training of staff to prevent corruption and misuse. The use of funds is controlled by both internal and external audit and investigation units and auditors. The efficiency and effectiveness of the activities is assessed in reports and evaluations issued annually.

Internal audit and investigation units are responsible for the organisation's auditing and internal control and report directly to the Executive Board of the agency. The UN Member States, including Finland, monitor the use of funds by participating in the work of each of these supreme decision-making bodies. The internal audit reports have been publicly available on the organisations' websites since September 2012. 

In international development finance institutions, the integrity of spending is supervised by special units focusing on anti-corruption work and misuse of project funds.  They investigate reported cases of misuse, monitor procurement processes and issue recommendations for improvement of practices. Development banks cooperate to prevent cases of misuse, among other things, by exchanging information about companies guilty of misuse of funds and by issuing joint sanctions.