Chapter 5. The Slovak Republic’s delivery modalities and partnerships

Partnering

Peer review indicator: The member has effective partnerships in support of development goals with a range of actors, recognising the different and complementary roles of all actors

The Slovak Republic has a broad network of partners and uses strategic partnerships to share its public reform experience effectively in the Eastern partnership and Western Balkans region. Further afield, the development portfolio is composed of fragmented projects with less emphasis on bilateral partnerships with host governments. Instead, the Slovak Republic relies significantly on Slovak NGOs, though is exploring opportunities for strengthening its private sector engagement. The Slovak Republic has some capacity to direct an increased proportion of its development co-operation to preventing conflict and promoting peace in those fragile situations where it has a good understanding of the context.

Multilateral aid is a pragmatic choice

The Slovak Republic sees great value in using multilateral channels to deliver its ODA because it allows it to make the most of its limited resources. It has good dialogue with the multilateral organisations to which it belongs, and is able to strengthen its voice within the European Union’s institutions by participating in joint positions, such as through the Višegrad Group (Box 5.1). The Slovak Republic interacts with 50 multilateral organisations through 10 ministries (MFEA, 2017), making it difficult to design a comprehensive multilateral strategy, and stretching its limited resources. Conscious of this, the Slovak Republic is becoming more selective and has started to review its partnerships with multilateral organisation biennially, assessing the alignment of the multilateral organisation’s work with its own priorities. This is good practice, and resulted in the Slovak Republic leaving the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) in December 2017. The Slovak Republic will now need to clarify further the criteria it uses to select its multilateral partners, and could usefully draw on existing shared assessments such as the Multilateral Organization Performance Assessment Network (MOPAN) to review its multilateral partners’ performance.

The UNDP has been a long-term strategic partner for the Slovak Republic

The country’s partnership with the UNDP is a good example of a strategic partnership which draws on the Slovak Republic’s comparative advantage. The UNDP has co-operated with the Slovak Republic since 2002 through the Slovak-UNDP Trust Fund, and played a key role in creating the Slovak Agency for International Development Co-operation (SAIDC). The Slovak Republic’s long-term partnership with the UNDP is a strength, helping it to build capacity and share knowledge. The establishment of the UNDP Regional Centre for Europe and Central Asia in 1997 in Bratislava also gave the Slovak Republic a central role in the region during the economic transition period, until the centre’s relocation to Istanbul in 2015. The partnership with the UNDP is continuing,1 allowing the Slovak Republic to share its experience in public finance management with partners in Montenegro and Moldova to contribute to their public finance reforms, to help them become more efficient and move closer to the European Union (UNDP, 2018). While the partnership with UNDP on public sector reform is split between the MFEA and the Ministry of Finance, the synergies between the two ministries have been strengthened.

Slovak civil society is a key implementing partner

The Slovak Republic has a long-term relationship with its civil society, which represents an important channel for delivering aid and makes regular contributions to the Slovak Republic’s strategies. The Slovak NGOs are co-ordinated through the Slovak Non-governmental Development Organisations Platform (MVRO), which brings together 27 members, including 3 universities. The MFEA signed a memorandum of understanding with the platform in 2012, which recognised MVRO as an official partner of the MFEA (MVRO, 2018). While civil society organisations (CSOs) praise the quality of the dialogue with the Slovak Government, and the positive changes in the administrative workload, they believe the partnership can still be strengthened, and that the small budget available to them does not reflect their real capacity to deliver. The Slovak Republic provides support to its civil society through more than 10 calls for proposals per year. As well as resulting in fragmentation, this high number of annual calls for proposals has considerable transaction costs for the MFEA, the agency and the implementing partners. Plans to introduce framework agreements will allow the Slovak Republic to develop a select number of longer-term partnerships in order to deliver sustainable results and adhere to development effectiveness principles. Moreover, some partners met by the peer review team mentioned tedious bureaucratic procedures as a concern, as they may hinder rapid project implementation.

The Slovak private sector has a particular role

The Slovak Republic is committed to engaging the private sector in development co-operation and has already achieved some successes on which to build. After the 2011 DAC Special Review of the Slovak Republic (OECD, 2011), the MFEA published its first policy on engaging with the private sector (MFEA, 2012). This clearly states the development objective of the government’s support to the private sector in developing countries, and is explicit about the main sectors to support.2 Like CSOs, Slovak companies are grouped into a Platform for Entrepreneurs for Foreign Development Cooperation. To support private sector involvement in development co-operation, the “Development Masters” (Rozvojmajstri)3 were created through a partnership with the UNDP to help Slovak private entities compete for international organisations’ call for tenders.

EXIMBANKA SR – the state-owned ECA – has developed a concessional loans scheme in order to support Slovak exporters involvement in development co-operation. The scheme is regulated by the OECD Recommendation of the Council on Sustainable Lending Practices and Officially Supported Export Credits. In designing these instruments, the Slovak Republic should ensure that the focus remains on development outcomes rather than trade objectives and that every effort is made to untie ODA to the maximum extent possible. The Slovak Republic could learn from other DAC members’ experience with the private sector, for example through the DAC peer learning exercise on private sector engagement for sustainable development (OECD, 2016).

The Slovak Republic co-ordinates well with other donors

The Slovak Republic engages in policy dialogue and co-ordination with other providers in order to leverage its aid and increase effectiveness. Notably, it contributes to the EU dialogue and to joint programming exercises in partner countries. In supporting and engaging with EU Trust Funds, it aligns its aid with the EU’s broader common strategic objectives. The Slovak Republic has developed solid partnerships within the Višegrad Group to increase its influence within the EU, as well as to develop joint programmes. This partnership also includes trilateral co-operation and joint projects, for example in Kenya (Box 5.1). The Slovak Republic is also building other partnerships on specific issues or projects, such as with Israel’s Agency for International Development (MASHAV) for women’s empowerment, with the German GIZ and Austrian ADRA for business sector involvement to increase policy learning, as well as with USAID for implementing joint projects on good governance. These efforts reflect the country’s laudable efforts to increase aid effectiveness through partnerships. As noted in Chapter 2, several EU countries have similar transition experience and see sharing this experience as one of their main routes for adding value through development co-operation. Co-ordination amongst these donors could help the Slovak Republic to identify its specific niche in this domain.

Box 5.1. Working on joint projects through the Višegrad Group

The Višegrad Group (also known as the "Višegrad Four" or simply "V4") reflects the efforts of the countries of the Central European region to work together in a number of fields of common interest within the all-European integration. It is composed of the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and the Slovak Republic. The Višegrad Group aims to strengthen stability in the Central European region through co-operation, notably within the European Union structure.

The Slovak Republic amplifies its development co-operation impact within the political framework of the Višegrad Group, which implements a number of joint projects. For example, in 2017 the Slovak Republic was granted a EUR 2 million allocation from the EU Emergency Trust Fund for Africa for a Višegrad Group pilot project to improve the livelihoods of 15,000 small farmers and to create new jobs in north-eastern Kenya. The Slovak Republic is both a leading member and implementer of the project, which is managed by SAIDC (MFEA, 2017).

Source: http://www.visegradgroup.eu/about; MFEA (2017); V4 (2018).

The migration crisis is shaping a new regional approach

The crises in the Middle East and the subsequent migration flows to Europe have brought about a new regional approach to development co-operation. The Slovak Republic has aligned with the European Union’s approach and was an early supporter of the EU tools that were created to bring a more flexible response to a complex crisis, such as the EU Regional Trust Fund in response to the Syrian crisis (EU, 2018a) and the EU Facility for Refugees in Turkey (EU, 2018b). By allocating additional humanitarian aid to affected countries all along the migration route to Europe, the Slovak Republic has started to look at the crisis in a regional way, and to strengthen its regional partnerships, for example with the International Organisation for Migration (IOM). Beyond the crises in the Middle East, addressing development and humanitarian needs through a regional outlook can help the Slovak Republic focus its aid and be more coherent, integrating migration into its sectoral priorities, such as water and education, in countries affected by crises or hosting refugees. This will require the Slovak Republic to build regional strategies and align its current bilateral projects with those strategies.

Local partnerships are an opportunity for the Slovak Republic in fragile contexts

In countries where it has an embassy, the Slovak Republic can nurture a network of local NGOs through one of its instruments – direct financial contributions, or micro-grants. The micro-grant instrument is used to highlight the Slovak Republic’s presence in its partner countries (MFEA, 2013). In fragile contexts, the ability to provide limited but swift support to local actors can prove exceptionally useful for easing tensions at community level, and can be a notable comparative advantage as many bigger donors do not have the flexibility to provide this rapid support to those local actors who can prevent local tensions from escalating. Achieving this will require the Slovak Republic to review how its micro-grant functions and to strengthen its sensitivity to fragility and conflict prevention, both in headquarters and in the field, thus aligning its policy priority on peace and security with concrete programming (Chapter 1). The Slovak Republic can build on its experience in Kenya, where micro-grants were deliberately allocated in the coastal region of Mombasa where there was a high incidence of radicalisation and heightened potential for violence.

Country-level engagement

Peer review indicator: The member’s engagement in partner countries is consistent with its domestic and international commitments, including those specific to fragile states

The Slovak Republic has designed comprehensive strategies in its three programme countries that take into consideration its partners’ priorities and other donors’ programming. However, individual projects are not always connected in a coherent way, and thereby fail to support government-to-government relations between the Slovak Republic and its partner country. A clearer sense of what kind of development partner the Slovak Republic wishes to become could help shape its plans and allow limited resources to be directed to fewer, more strategic partnerships, including with the private sector.

Strategic and longer-term partnerships can maximise impact

The Slovak Republic is a member of the Global Partnership for Effective Development Co-operation and takes steps to ensure that it works in co-ordination with other donors and discusses its country strategies with host governments. This is reflected in its three partner countries’ strategies: Afghanistan, Moldova and Kenya (MFEA, 2018). The country strategies clearly express the objectives of the Slovak Republic’s engagement and detail how activities link with national development frameworks and how they will be monitored. However, because the Slovak Republic’s objectives are broad, engagement in countries like Afghanistan and Kenya involves individual projects that are not connected in a way that maximises their impact. Most of the interventions in these countries mobilise civil society, which limits opportunities for dialogue with the partner country’s government. And as NGO projects are selected through a call for proposal, the predictability of their action is also limited. In future, the Slovak Republic could identify in which countries it wants a bilateral government-government relationship, and develop country strategies to deliver a set of measurable, time-bound results based on national priorities and the Slovak Republic’s comparative advantage through a small number of strategic, longer-term partnerships.

The Slovak Republic needs to define its comparative advantage in countries outside Europe

As noted in Chapter 3, the Slovak Republic’s bilateral ODA is directed primarily to the ten priority countries set out in the mid-term strategy, and to the Middle East in response to migration flows. Sectoral priorities are very broad: while this gives the Slovak Republic some leeway in its engagement in each country, individual projects are spread too thinly to enable the Slovak Republic to identify its unique contribution in most countries.

When the SAIDC was created in 2003, the Slovak Republic’s development co-operation outside Europe was built on historical ties, notably emerging from its civil society’s work in developing countries. This work favoured partnerships based on individual projects, such as in Kenya or in South Sudan. In such contexts, even though projects fall into the country’s broad development priorities, they are not connected in a way that can steer change at a large scale.

The Slovak Republic’s development co-operation in Europe is built along strategic partnerships and a clear objective to support partner countries in their own transition political and economic model. However, in its non-European priority countries, including in fragile states, a clearer sense of its comparative advantage and what kind of development partner it wishes to become will help shape its plans and allow limited resources to be directed to fewer, more strategic partnerships, including with the private sector.

References

Government sources

MFEA (2018), Various strategy documents, website of the Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs of the Slovak Republic, Bratislava, consulted 04 May 2018, https://www.mzv.sk/web/en/foreign_policy/documents

MFEA (2017), “OECD DAC Peer Review 2018: Memorandum of the Slovak Republic”, unpublished, Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs of the Slovak Republic, Bratislava.

MFEA (2013), “Mid-term strategy for development cooperation of the Slovak Republic for 2014-2018”, Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs of the Slovak Republic, Bratislava, https://www.mzv.sk/web/en/foreign_policy/slovak_aid.

MFEA (2012) “The concept of engaging business entities in development cooperation of the Slovak Republic” (in Slovak), Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs of the Slovak Republic, Bratislava, https://www.mzv.sk/documents/30297/2649510/Concept+for+Involving+Business+Entities+in+Development+Cooperation+of+the+Slovak+Republic.

Other sources

EU (2018a), “Europe’s support to refugees and their host countries: EU regional trust fund in response to the Syrian crisis”, factsheet, DG European Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations, EU, Brussels, https://ec.europa.eu/neighbourhood-enlargement/sites/near/files/eutf_syria_factsheet-english.pdf.

EU (2018b), “The EU Facility for refugees in Turkey”, factsheet, DG European Neighbourhood Policy And Enlargement Negotiations, Brussels, https://ec.europa.eu/neighbourhood-enlargement/sites/near/files/frit_factsheet.pdf.

MFSR/UNDP (2017), “Public and private finance for development”, UNDP programme document, United Nations Development Programme, Bratislava, http://publicfinance.undp.sk/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/PUBLIC_AND_PRIVATE_FINANCE_FOR_DEVELOPMENT-New_project_document-December_2016.pdf.

MVRO (2018), “What is the Slovak NGDO platform?”, webpage, MVRO, http://www.mvro.sk/en/ about-us?showall=&start=1, accessed 4 May 2018.

OECD (2016), Private Sector Engagement for Sustainable Development: Lessons from the DAC, OECD Publishing, Paris, http://dx.doi.org/10.1787/9789264266889-en.

OECD (2015), “DAC mid-term review of the Slovak Republic, unpublished, 7 October 2015, OECD, Paris.

OECD (2011) “DAC special review of the Slovak Republic”, OECD, Paris, https://www.oecd.org/dac/peer-reviews/49512222.pdf.

UNDP (2018), “New partnerships in development co-operation”, webpage, UNDP Europe and Central Asia, accessed 01 April 2018, http://www.eurasia.undp.org/content/rbec/en/home/about_us /partners.html.

V4 (2018) “V4 to contribute to Libya border control”, webpage, V4, accessed 13 April 2018 http://www.visegradgroup.eu/news/v4-to-contribute-to Libya border control.

Notes

← 1. In December 2016 a new programme document on public and private finance for development was signed by the MFSR and UNDP, and extends until the end of 2019 (MFSR/UNDP, 2017).

← 2. The priorities are (1) energy: production and distribution of energy, promotion of sustainable energy sources, energy efficiency of buildings; (2) infrastructure: building transport, logistics and communication infrastructure; (3) environment: supply, treatment and distribution of drinking water, management of waste management, ecological technologies, protection against natural disasters, hydrogeology and drinking water supply; (4) agriculture: forestry, management of agricultural production, increasing the profitability of agricultural production, construction of irrigation systems, food safety; (5) social infrastructure: activities in the field of education and delivering medical facilities (MFEA, 2012).

← 3. Rozvojmajstri is a virtual platform helping the business sector engage with development institutions. It is implemented by a consultancy company with the support of the UNDP and the Ministry of Finance of the Slovak Republic. For more information about the project, see https://rozvojmajstri.com//.

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