Governments are always under pressure to deliver, and rightly so. However, since the merger of Pakistan’s former Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) with the province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa in May 2018, the Government of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa has faced the additional imperative of delivering to address and begin to rectify the legacy of ex-FATA’s unequal development. Confronted with this challenge, the careful selection and prioritization of development projects in which the government will invest resources has only become more important.
Pakistan’s traditional planning process for development projects focuses primarily at the level of individual projects. To strengthen the linkages between individual projects and desired sector-wide outcomes, and to support a more rigorous approach to key decisions about which projects to fund, the Government of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa is implementing a new planning tool – the Programming Approaches/Analytics and Measures Framework (PAMframe).
The PAMframe is a one-page framework with similarities to a Logical Framework (logframe). But while logframes are project-focused, the focus of PAMframes is sector-wide. PAMframes are meant to create a platform for discussion and analysis of sector-wide objectives, results and allocative priorities between the Line Departments and the Planning and Development Department at the provincial level.
In spring 2020, UNDP’s Sector Specialists provided the relevant Line Departments with technical assistance on PAMframe development. In a series of workshops between February and March 2020, 18 PAMframes for fourteen departments – including Education, Industries, Local Government, Agriculture, Home and Tribal Affairs - were developed. In April 2020, the Secretary, Planning and Development Department of the Government of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa notified all the concerned officials that the PAMframes would be used for project appraisal purposes for the Accelerated Implementation Programme (AIP) 2020-21.
UNDP staff and consultants involved in the PAMframe process agree that they have seen value in the discussions it has made space for. The PAMframe creates a platform for the Line Departments to have conversations internally that they were not having previously, and a means through which the Planning and Development Department and Line Departments can connect on objectives at the sectoral level.
However, there is a potential risk of the PAMframes becoming another paper-based requirement, without much practical impact. The PAMframe is, even if by design, very top-level and does not offer solutions for some of the problems it identifies. For example, a Line Department may identify areas in which it lacks institutional readiness, but the PAMframe does not offer a guide on how to address those gaps. It does, however, create a process for the Line Departments to clearly identify and articulate them.
Another potential drawback is the absence of a clear accountability measure. Who is ultimately responsible for the achievement of the outcomes specified in the PAMframe? And what happens if those fail to be met? These questions do not have clear answers. However, by developing, clearly articulating, and continually referring back to the sector priorities and desired outcomes, progress and accountability may still be spurred.
Learning is ongoing - last year the PAMframe development process came relatively late in the planning cycle, when many project proposals for AIP 2020-21 were already developed. This year, the engagement has started much earlier to ensure that the PAMframe could be incorporated into key steps of the development planning process for 2021-22. In a significant step towards institutionalization of the PAMframe approach within the provincial government’s planning systems, reference to the PAMframes has been included in the Annual Development Programme preparation guidelines for 2021-22 recently issued by the Planning and Development Department.
Furthermore, there will be broader province-wide engagement within the Line Departments this year on the PAMframe process, fostering ownership of the process and framework. And data from a recently completed baseline survey in the Merged Areas will inform one-page briefs for each sector, to support the creation of more logical and quality schemes aligned with pre-defined output and outcome results.
Chief architect of the PAM’s conceptual framework, the Additional Chief Secretary of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Mr. Shakeel Qadir Khan says, ‘With the PAMframe approach, the Provincial Government provided opportunity to the Line Departments to frame development outcomes, key measurable outputs and the list of inputs that their sector development plans would contribute to. We piloted the PAMframe approach for the Accelerated Implementation Programme during 2020-21 and we are looking forward to scaling it up for the Annual Development Programme 2021-22.’
Note: The authors would like to acknowledge and thank Musharraf Rasool Cyan, Lead Economic Advisor, UNDP Merged Areas Governance Project for leading and contributing at the strategic level to the PAMframes, and Mustafa Hameed and Omair Khan Tareen, Senior Associates, UNDP Merged Areas Governance Project for carrying the implementation process forward.