Two decades of war all but obliterated government infrastructure in Southern Sudan, leaving an estimated 10 million people without even the most basic services – healthcare, education, clean water or sanitation.
Non-governmental organisations (NGOs) played a major role in providing humanitarian relief during the war. Much of their recent work was financed by the the Basic Services Fund (BSF), a programme led by the UK Department for International Development (DFID) and supported by donations from the governments of Canada, the Netherlands, Norway and Sweden, and from the EU.
By bringing a performance-orientated culture to the NGO sector we were able to deliver better value for money to the Government of Southern Sudan as well as the sponsoring development partners.
Making funds go further
Mott MacDonald was appointed by DFID to manage the programme. We improved project delivery by setting up transparent selection processes for NGO projects, introducing effective monitoring and evaluation, and implementing robust financial administration. An external review found that access to basic services had been enhanced by up to 10%.
BSF projects were aimed at raising South Sudan's population out of chronic poverty by equipping them with the fundamentals of good health, safe water and education. Schools, clinics, water pumps and latrines were built. Classroom furniture, textbooks, drugs and medical equipment were provided. Training was given to teachers, nurses, midwives and doctors, and to government staff who would, in the longer term, be responsible for adopting and maintaining services.
Efficiencies were driven by bringing in competitive selection process for the allocation of grant funding - typically £1-£1.5 million per project. We drew up guidelines for NGOs applying for funding: they were required to set out in detail the project scope and objectives, costs, benefits and plans for long-term sustainability. Projects were selected by Mott MacDonald and a steering committee including Southern Sudan's newly created Ministries of Education, Health and Water Resources.
Rigorous budgeting was instituted, allowing NGOs to charge only for essential project costs. Project monitoring, carried out by eight staff members in the field, made clear which projects were progressing well and which were lagging behind. A monthly invoicing regime ensured rapidly advancing projects were not slowed by delays in the release of funding. Budgets were reallocated from NGOs that were not hitting their targets to those that were ahead, so demonstrating their ability to operate efficiently.
We organised calls for proposals and committed more than £75M in aid funding. In 2010 the firm was reappointed to manage the third phase of the BSF programme, which ran to the end of 2011, designed to continue improving living conditions for the people of Southern Sudan.