Islamic Republic of Afghanistan
Ministry of Finance (MoF)

Civilian Technical Assistance Program (CTAP)
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The CTAP Overview:

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The Civilian Technical Assistance Program (CTAP) is a National Capacity Development program of the government of Afghanistan, designed to strengthen the capacity of Tashkeel staff and key ministries within the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, whereby assisting public agencies to effectively deliver services to the public while supporting towards the successful implementation of the Afghanistan National Development Strategy (ANDS) and their prioritized programs.

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CTAP Secretariat Conducts Consultation Meetings

 

CTAP Secretariat Conducts Consultation MeetingsThe CTAP Technical Advisors Coordination Meeting was held on February 02, 2014 in Kabul. The meeting was concluded with some specific action points which required both the Secretariat and the TAs to follow up so as to bring more coordination and efficiency into the program. The first action point recommended the CTAP M&E and Capacity Development Departments (CDD) “To invite TAs in smaller groups and provide them an opportunity to better understand the new reporting systems & templates.” 

The CTAP Secretariat conducted a series of Focused Consultation Meetings in order to better introduce the revised reporting template and thus, improve the reporting process from an activity based into an output based process. The meeting started on 1st March, 2014 at sharp 10:00 AM in the CTAP secretariat and continued until Wednesday 5th March, 2014. As planned, each day a number of the TAs was invited and each session started with an introduction and followed presentations by the CDD and M&E Departments. In addition, the TAs was provided with enough time to share their questions, concerns and problems so as to receive clear explanations.

 In one of his opening remarks, Mr. Abdur-Rahman Tokhi, the CDD Manager articulated the objectives of the meetings saying that: “These Meetings are held to Introduce CTAP TAs to the new reporting system. This new reporting system is designed to be more result-based rather than activities based. It is linked to our new M&E system and our revised Program document.”

Elaborating on the differences of the new system with previous one, he explained: “In the previous system, the TAs were only being asked  to report but their reports were not properly and timely reviewed and thus, they did not receive regular feedback. By the new reporting system, you will not face such problems any more. Another difference could be that in the past the TAs used to focus more on activities and irrelevant stories but now, now you will be requested to only report on the outcomes and the achievements in your specific Capacity Building Projects.”

In response to questions TAs raised about whether CTAP M&E Department has reviewed old reports or have just come up with the new one by reviewing the reporting template, Mr. Frank Kabudula, the M&E Advisor, explained: “Of course. We, the M&E Team have thoroughly gone through both the old formats and reports. In those TAs’ reports, you can hardly extract things for drafting result based reports for donor and other stakeholders. Even sometimes, it has happened that a TA has only changed the date and used the same reports for different quarters.”

He added that the M&E Department has designed its new reporting systems to address the mentioned problems and therefore, the new reporting system has been designed to be only results oriented. As worded by Mr. Frank, the new M&E and reporting system will be mainly focusing on three major issues: Establishing the system, the transfer of knowledge and operationalization of the TAs.  Therefore, “ by the new reporting system, we will try to measure each individual’s achievement, not their activities and stories.”- explained Mr. Frank.

Each consultation session started by a quick introduction and presentations by the CTAP secretariat and followed up with open discussions about newly developed M&E tools; like the Inception Report, Quarterly Report and the Exit Report. The TAs asked their specific questions, and the CDD and M&E staff provided necessary clarifications. It was explained that one of the main objectives of introducing the new reporting system was to receive specific, realistic and measurable data through reports shared by the TAs. Based on clarifications provided by Mr. Bismarck Sakunda, the new M&E and Reporting Systems will help the CTAP Secretariat to accurately track each individual TAs’ achievements against their objectives and understand the function and the roles of the counterparts in the process. He emphasized: “The new reporting system is not a tool against the TAs but a tool that will help them understand that they are as inputs in the process. This approach will enable us to produce measureable results and communicate with the developing partners and relevant stakeholders which will be a key requirement of CTAP in Phase II of the Program Implementation.”

In addition to the technical issues, the TAs and the Secretariat team discussed in detail regarding challenges they are facing within their relevant host agencies. Talking about how to effectively establish and operationalize the new systems, the participants strongly emphasized on strategic engagement of the key stakeholders at the client agencies. Some of the TAs expressed their concerns saying that some of the key decision makers in the client agencies show very week intention or will to process and operationalize the systems.  To address the issue,   Mr. Abdur-Rahman Tokhi, the CDD Manager suggested that “In order to avoid such trends to happen, we need to strongly involve higher strategic level people. The purpose here is to engage and attract the full participation of the client agencies; for example: for the skills transfer, there should be sample of Training Needs Assessment (TNA) and an approved Training Plans which need to be communicated with and endorsed by the principal Counterparts. This, on one hand will help us to get them involved and on the other hand, the skill transfer process will be implemented more successfully.  As a result, the counterparts will be enabled to implement or operate the systems, procedures and standards independently.”

Another problem raised by the TAs was the problem of Nepotism regarding selection and introduction of the Counterparts; for example Mr. Kenneth Gay raised the issue and asked what to do to avoid such politics? The participants of the consultation team exchanged their ideas but finally agreed there is not a solid and unique solution for that. It differs from one government agency to another considering the needs, structures and the context. The Secretariat team explained that one solution would be to help the client agencies better understand whom to introduce and why during our pre-deployment visits. We need to meet them and use our personal tact and logic to convince them so that they introduce the right candidates. In some cases, we need to compromise and agree about the counterparts.

Finally, Mr. Frank’s suggestion was quite different. He explained: “The new M&E tools once enforced will help us monitor both the process and the work environment. If the result shows a hostile environment, we will share our findings with the management to follow up and strongly communicate about them so as to address the problem.” He added: “The new suggested and recruited staff provide us with additional opportunity to better track and address the issues timely.”  

The five days consultation meeting ended successfully on 5th March, 2014. The participants were happy about the result, and assessed the meetings very useful. For instance, one of the TAs mentioned that such focused meetings are very useful and certainly help us build common understanding about our capacity building approach and understand how the process works.