Global Report on Results


6. Organisational Learning and Development

6. Organisational Learning and Development

NCA is a learning, listening and responsive organisation committed to increasing its accountability to rights-holders. Our programmes, methods and routines are evaluated regularly in cooperation with partners and rights-holders to ensure quality programming. We emphasise transparency in the fight against corruption and focus on ethics and sound financial management. More stringent priorities concerning geography, partners and programmes contribute to improvements in quality, relevance and use of resources.




NCA’s new Global Strategy presents criteria for prioritising countries and programmes, and acknowledges the importance of sound exit strategies in cases where NCA phases out operations. Attention to geographic and programme focus will ensure that NCA contributes to change through quality programming in addition to being more cost efficient and innovative - key to meeting future challenges and needs.

Based on an assessment of NCA’s geographic priorities and presence, NCA’s management concluded in early 2015 to phase out country programmes in Brazil, Kenya, Laos and Vietnam; and scale down the regional programme in Southern Africa. This list of programmes was determined based on a set of criteria which included relevance to NCA’s new Global Strategy, funding opportunities, NCA’s track record, and FBO partners’ potential to play a constructive role in social development. The Norwegian Government’s priorities and aid policy direction were also taken into account, and informed the decision. It is important for NCA to ensure that programme interventions are sustained after NCA’s exit, and that the closure of partnerships and country offices is done in a proper manner.

An example of how NCA facilitates such sound exit strategies is providing increased capacity development, especially in areas such as fundraising, to partner organisations which will no longer be receiving support from NCA (Cases from Brazil and Laos). A further example is supporting NCA staff to establish local civil society organisations to carry on NCA’s work (Cases of this from Laos and Thailand). A cross-sectoral technical support group at HO provides the country offices with guidance, monitors the implementation of exit plans, and documents key experiences for learning and development purposes.

At the same time as phasing out programmes, NCA has entered into agreements with DanChurchAid (DCA) to develop joint programmes and presence in Palestine and Myanmar. These are examples of models for closer collaboration with NCA’s sister agencies in ACT Alliance, which NCA is currently assessing for possible duplication. Joint programming and merging offices has potential for greater impact and coordination through the sharing of resources and new models for collaboration.


As part of NCA’s commitment to continuous learning and improvement, NCA country offices commissioned 15 external evaluations in 2015, along with five internal reviews, evaluations and assessments (ref. Annex 2). An ACT commissioned evaluation of NCA and ACT partners’ response to the 2013 Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines was also conducted. Just over 50% of the external evaluations were reviewed by HO advisors as part of NCA’s annual meta-evaluation process conducted to quality-assure and further develop our evaluation practice. The main finding was that when NCA’s Evaluation Policy has been used in full, especially if a steering group was established, evaluation reports are of a higher quality. Whilst all but one of the reviewed evaluations largely followed the policy’s guidelines, there is still room for improvement to ensure 100% adherence. In 2016, NCA will continue to strengthen institutional learning and evidence-based programming through the systematic follow-up of recommendations from evaluations. Some examples of this practice from 2015 are included below.

In Sudan, the Darfur programme has narrowed its geographical focus as a result of recommendations from an evaluation of the programme carried out in 2014. The reason for scaling down the scope of operations is largely due to reduced opportunities for funding in light of the protracted nature of the humanitarian crisis. NCA has therefore discontinued interventions in the East Darfur, and closed its office in Garsila in September 2015. In Guatemala, a comprehensive partner capacity development plan has been developed as a follow-up to a 2015 evaluation of NCA clean energy programme.

Findings of the evaluation pointed to a weakness in one of the partner’s capacity to deliver, and recommended NCA to facilitate systematic capacity development of the partner. Capacity development plans are now developed and will be implemented from 2016.

In 2015 NCA commissioned an external evaluation of its global WASH kits which are prepositioned in strategic parts of the world to facilitate rapid response to emergencies. The content of each kit is based on experience and lessons learned from Global WASH Cluster member organisations and each can serve up to 5,000 people. NCA has deployed 24.5 kits to NCA, UNHCR and UNICEF operations. The evaluation confirmed the relevance, quality the professional handling of the kits.

It also recommended improved end-user agreements, even closer tracking of the deployment of the kits, improved reporting routines for all parties and some technical aspects of the kits be changed. To contribute to organisational learning, a management response to the recommendations has been developed and shared across the organisation. A plan with clearly defined responsibilities for each of the evaluation’s recommendations, including a revision of relevant sections of NCA’s Routines and Guidelines handbook, has been developed and will be implemented from 2016.


Recommendations from a 2014 evaluation have led to very good results in NCA’s Resources and Finance Programme in 2015. The evaluation highlighted the lack of knowledge and capacity amongst government officials about Public Expenditure Tracking System (PETS). In response, the programme started involving relevant government officials in PETS committee trainings. Partners report that the mixed training has improved communication and relations between villagers and government officials. It has also provided a platform for discussions and clarification on issues affecting the communities and outcomes from the training were later included in district development plans. There is more commitment from government officials to support the work of the PETS committees, admitting that training with the committees has enabled them to plan better, and resolve some of the chronic development challenges. Community members are now able to meet to identify opportunities and obstacles to development in their area, list priorities and make clear plans.


NCA was certified against the Humanitarian Accountability Partnership (HAP) standard in 2011, and is committed to meeting the highest standards of accountability and quality management. With the 2015 finalisation of the Core Humanitarian Standard on Quality and Accountability (CHS) to replace HAP, NCA plans to initiate a certification process in 2017. NCA’s accountability work has focused on developing contextualised complaints and response mechanisms (CRM) for humanitarian and development programmes. This systematic focus on downward accountability has improved the quality of NCA’s work and given rightsholders a greater say in project planning, implementation, monitoring and evaluation.

CRM for humanitarian responses in Nepal and Iraq and for NCA’s WASH programme in Pakistan were developed in 2012. Rights-holders and other stakeholders are now able to register sensitive and non-sensitive complaints and feedback through public complaints boxes, and by contacting staff directly or via telephone (including text messaging). This allows NCA to adjust interventions accordingly. For example, the WASH programme in Pakistan received a complaint that latrines built by NCA were difficult for the physically disabled to use. NCA and partners responded by designing a commode chair to be placed on top of the latrine – an adjustment which has been integrated into NCA’s WASH programme in Pakistan.

Project manager Asif showing the complaints and response mechanisms (CRM) in RDF Project Office Khipro, Sanghar, Pakistan. Photo: Margrethe Volden/Norwegian Church Aid

In Palestine, several NCA partners developed and rolled out contextualised CRMs in 2015, as a direct result of attending training for ACT Alliance members and partners in 2014. Several programmes have already been modified based on feedback received through the system. Partners also report that rights-holders are more confident and actively involved in the projects.

Accountability towards rights-holders includes assuring that human rights are upheld and programming is responding to their needs and capacities. For more than 20 years, NCA has responded to the needs and rights of indigenous peoples. In 2015 NCA developed and launched the Toolkit for work with indigenous peoples. It provides basic information about this target group and their rights, along with checklists, sector specific challenges, and special indicators for working with indigenous peoples. The toolkit will be used for developing the capacity of NCA and partners.

Being accountable to rights-holders is about being transparent. NCA believes that financial malpractice and its consequences undermine individuals’ opportunities to improve their lives. This is why a zero tolerance of corruption is one of NCA’s core principles. Given that NCA works in areas with high risk of corruption, it puts great emphasis on mitigation through an established risk management system. With this, NCA is able to prevent, detect and handle corruption in a professional manner. NCA’s zero tolerance of corruption is reflected in its policies (code of conduct, anti-fraud and corruption policies), anti-corruption training for staff, complaint handling systems, partner and project monitoring visits, partner capacity development and investigations. An annual anti-corruption report is published on our website , documenting cases of financial mismanagement and fraud within NCA and its partners. Lessons from these cases are used to further strengthen NCA’s risk management system.

In 2015, attention was given to strengthening NCA’s internal investigation capacity through training of seven staff members. A new and improved partnership assessment tool was developed, allowing for a more systematic assessment of capacity development needs, including financial management and anti-corruption. It also provides for the planning of capacity development initiatives and monitoring their effects. Capacity development of partners on financial management exemplifies an added value NCA brings through its accompaniment and presence. Some highlights from this work in 2015 are presented below.

Through transferring management of programmes to partners in Vietnam, NCA has developed their capacity to set up proper systems for authorisation and segregation of duties. Managers have been trained in internal control systems, and accounting staff provided with training and mentoring. In Afghanistan partners have been trained in financial management and reporting; whilst in Burundi all partners have been provided with accounting software packages and financial training. An improvement in partners’ financial management has been observed as a result.

Through NCA’s Resources and Finance programme, direct efforts are made to reduce corruption in project implementation areas. PETS committees in Tanzania not only highlight the use and abuse of public funds, but also analyse and advocate on issues related to cost-efficiency, decentralisation and accountability. An impressive 200 former committee members were elected to local village governments during the 2015 elections. The knowledge they bring with them into these new roles will greatly benefit and strengthen public transparency.

Next Chapter: 7. Looking Forward - Faith in Action