Between June and November 2019, an external independent evaluation has assessed the main impacts, strengths and challenges of five actions granted under the first phase of the Mobility Partnership Facility (MPF) and selected to ensure a balanced approach in terms of geographical coverage and specific fields of intervention. In particular, through a solid methodology and triangulation of information collected via desk research, fieldwork, review of action materials, interviews with the involved stakeholders and final beneficiaries as well as a survey, the assignment has analysed each action with specific reference to institutional cooperation, operational aspects, and sustainability of results with the aim to formulate lessons learnt and recommendations on future implementation modalities. Moreover, some aspects unveiled interesting horizontal and crosscutting aspects summarised hereafter.
By design, actions require significant operational planning to bring together participants from across institutions, sectors and countries. A realistic timeframe is instrumental in taking into account the challenges of cross-country coordination and accommodating potential obstacles on all sides. Several of the actions reviewed would have benefitted from longer project timeframes and a better knowledge of the rhythm of the working year, thus avoiding planning and effectiveness issues due simply to staff being unavailable.
Whilst strategic and ambitious project ideas can help to drive change, better needs assessment, research and analysis of the operating environment at the pre-application stage would assist in understanding the feasibility of a project at implementation stage. Interventions based on sound verification of the needs of beneficiaries and target audiences permit more tailored and effective initiatives, and are likely to be more successful in attracting and retaining beneficiaries, while having a better chance to address known needs and knowledge gaps.
Projects coherent with EU and national policies and priorities act as building blocks for change, and are more likely to be effective than projects that trial more isolated innovations: this assessment holds particularly true in partner countries where required (yet less conventional) practices can rely on the well-equipped institutional capacities of targeted authorities or prepared communities. In this respect, articulating exit strategies can represent a useful approach at both project design and/or needs assessment phase, in particular for how to sustain expected outputs and results while embedding foreseen activities and practices in mainstream services.