Post-project sustainability of funded development projects after donors' withdrawals : understanding the contribution of recipients and donors in relation to post-project sustainability institutionally and financially

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Massey University
At the present time, sustainable development activities seem to be the overarching goal of many development actors as the United Nations (UN) has, successively, introduced the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as a universal agenda to guide development related activities. The sustainability of effective outcomes from development projects has been of concern to the donor community for decades, which resulted in the introduction of sets of declarations in measuring aid effectiveness. This research assumes that the effectiveness of development assistance crucially links to the sustainability of the project activities or benefits after their ending points. This research report explores the contribution of development actors (recipients and donors) in the light of two principles of country ownership and donor alignment from the Paris Declaration (2005). The two principles were used to identify the contributions of donors and recipients in development projects in relation to institutional and financial sustainability. In aiming to study the above-mentioned aspects, the Basic Education Sector Development Programme (BESDP) which was operating in Laos during 2006-2014 was chosen. The project was co-funded by the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the Lao Government. To ensure the rigour of this research, document analysis and semi-structured interviews from the qualitative methodology were used. This research found that country ownership and donor alignment have been considered fully by the Lao government and donors, as national priority tasks included in national development plans had been used as blueprints for development projects operating in Laos. Furthermore, the country system has been strengthened by capacity-building activities provided by development partners. These actions together support countries to exercise their leadership roles over their national development. While aligning assistance to facilitate recipient countries’ strategies, there was limited evidence showing that the country system had been used in implementing development activities. It is suggested that the sustainability of development activities does not only depend on the government or the donors. Also, different projects define their sustainability differently; for the ADB in particular, its primary purpose is to build government capacity in order to ensure that they can continue the activities piloted during a project’s operating period. For financial sustainability, since Laos still lack in funding, the ADB ensures project sustainability by providing additional funding as it introduces new projects to expand the success of previous projects.