Initiated to help establish an Integrated National Financing Framework (INFF) for Sustainable Development, the INFF programme in Zambia was executed as a Joint UN Programme. The programme provided financial support and technical and strategic guidance to the Zambian government in aligning national priorities and processes of planning and budgeting with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) agenda. The programme built on SDG global objectives of ensuring that the SDG agenda is fully integrated into national policies and institutional frameworks, addressing gaps between budgeting and planning while mobilizing both domestic and international financing, including from private flows, to promote sustainable development and to unlock new and innovative financing for national development.
This brief provides a synopsis of the Joint Programme (JP) in Zambia and how it has positively influenced the country's sustainable development goals. It focuses on the five critical areas of Financing, Planning and Finance Integration, Systems Strengthening, Enhancing Data Systems, and Capacity Building for Planning, Monitoring, and Evaluation.
Financing Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)
Finance is central to the Sustainable Development Agenda. Given the limited fiscal space resulting from the debt situation, the JP played a pivotal role in creating a firm foundation for a framework for financing SDGs in Zambia. This framework aims to enhance macroeconomic stability, address risks to human development, and accelerate the achievement of SDGs by aligning national development priorities with the SDG agenda. The process began with the Development Financing Assessment to map the current financing landscape and flows. Building on this diagnostic tool and through improved prioritization and national planning, the integration of the Medium-Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) and the national budget has facilitated more coherent and efficient resource allocation towards SDG implementation.
Given the devastating effects of COVID–19 on national economies of the world, it was necessary to first, understand the impact of COVID–19 on the Zambian economy and use this evidence to provide a recovery plan. The COVID–19 Recovery Needs Assessment (CRNA) informed the development of the Economic Recovery Programme (ERP). The ERP then addressed key challenges such as macroeconomic stabilization, inflation, debt restructuring, financial sector development, fiscal consolidation, and economic diversification and taxation. This programme while responding to the effects of COVID – 19 also created the necessary conditions for negotiations with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for debt restructuring and engaging the private sector, increasing the opportunities for finance for sustainable development. Therefore, the ERP ensures sustainable growth by addressing fiscal and debt issues, boosting the economy, and safeguarding social investments.
Planning and Finance Integration and Systems Strengthening
The JP has significantly improved the integration of planning and finance policies in Zambia. It supported the evaluation of the 7th National Development Plan, identifying gaps in policy and financing and ensuring that they were addressed in the 8th National Development Plan. Through the national planning and budgeting bill, the JP facilitated alignment of planning, and budgeting to the SDGs agenda. Additionally, it supported the development of key policies and tools for planning and financial integration. These included the National Monitoring and Evaluation Policy, Budget Analysis Tool Kit, Output-Based Budgeting Manual, and Gender-Based Budgeting capacity building. These have strengthened the integration of SDGs into public budgeting processes and outcomes.
The JP also supported the development of a comprehensive training package, informational materials, and radio/TV programs to standardize and harmonize marriage registration processes in Zambia. By increasing awareness of legal identity and enhancing civil registration, the rights of women and other vulnerable groups have been protected. Reliable data generated through these systems will help Zambia to better monitor social protection programmes and improve overall management efficiency.
Enhancing National Data Systems
Lack of data constrains development planning in Zambia. In response, the JP supported the development of the National Statistical Development Strategy, which now guides the implementation of national statistical systems. It also contributed to the implementation of the Integrated Financial Management Information System (IFMIS), supported the 2022 Census of Population and Housing, the CRNA as well important economic surveys such as the Living Conditions Monitoring Survey (LCMS). These actions have enhanced the availability of critical economic information, empowering policymakers to make evidence-based decisions and monitor progress for sustainable development.
Capacity Building for Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation
Collaborating with the Ministry of Community Development and Social Services, the JP conducted M&E training for over 60 officials. This training equipped participants with essential skills in resource planning and tracking programme outcomes. The JP also supported all the 119 local councils in Zambia to transition from activity-based to result-oriented Output-Based Budgeting, a prerequisite for successful fiscal decentralisation in view of the revised Constituency Development Fund (CDF). It also supported gender-based budgeting training for principal government officers to foster equitable resource allocation that promotes the financial inclusion of women. As a result, the government has rolled out decentralisation of civil registration. By strengthening the M&E system for social protection programmes, and improving planning and budgeting capacity, the JP has improved the effectiveness and efficiency of these programmes, ensuring better targeting of resources and improved outcomes for vulnerable populations.
The Joint Programme has made significant contributions to the country's sustainable development agenda by enhancing finance, planning, and coordinating mechanisms as well as capacity building and systems strengthening. The JP has successfully spearheaded efforts to enhance macroeconomic stability, improve planning and finance integration, strengthen civil registration systems, enhance national data systems, and build capacity for M&E for social investment by strengthening social protection programmes. More importantly, its collaborative and unified approach along with strategic coordination from the UNDP ensured the efficient utilisation of JP resources while avoiding duplication of efforts. By providing targeted responsive support to the Zambia government's own priorities, the JP has contributed to long-term sustainability and systemic change. The JP has, therefore, set a concrete foundation for the development of the INFF.
In Zambia, under the leadership of Resident Coordinator Beatrice Mutali, the intervention through the Joint SDG Fund has achieved significant results including the development of a national financing mechanism to support the attainment of the Sustainable Development Goals. The programme, implemented through UNDP, UNICEF, UNECA, UNFPA and ILO, addressed risks to human development and macroeconomic stability and enhanced the government’s management and administrative capacity. In view of COVID-19, several assessments were conducted, which informed the Economic Recovery Programme that aimed to stabilize the economy, restructure debt, and boost key sectors. Furthermore, the programme supported the integration of the SDGs into public budgeting by developing policies and tools to enhance the process.
Additionally, the programme improved national data systems by supporting the development of the National Statistical Development Strategy and implementation of the Integrated Financial Management Information System, national census, and other surveys. The programme also enhanced capacity in the civil service through training in monitoring and evaluation, resource planning, and outcome tracking. More than 60 government officials were trained in gender and results-oriented budgeting, resulting in better project implementation.
The Joint SDG Fund's joint programmes are under the prestige leadership of the Resident Coordinator Office and implementing United Nations Agencies. With sincere appreciation for the contributions from the European Union and Governments of Denmark, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Monaco, The Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Republic of Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and our private sector funding partners, for a transformative movement towards achieving the SDGs by 2030.