Below we outline Deloitte’s experience and lessons learnt during the extension period which includes a pilot phase for implementing the FAR approach.
• Contrary to our expectations, most of the councils accepted FAR as a grant management system. From Deloitte’s assessment of the FAR sites, 4 out of x sites were reluctant to accept this method for various reasons specific to their circumstances. However, after subsequent engagement by the team, some of them accepted the approach and we anticipate that this will be the case for the other agencies.
• We introduced the FAR method after the start of the councils’ financial year (starting in July) which did not give them adequate time to plan for resources. This may have been part of the reason for the lack of alternative sources of working capital for most of the district councils and CSOs that we selected to pilot FAR. In cases where sub grantees have limited initial working capital we have provided some advances to cater for the initial milestones. The advances given will be recovered on a pro-rata basis for each claim amount submitted for reimbursement, and against completed milestones, until when we have recovered the full amount in the last milestone.
• Most sites lack the confidence to implement planned activities and meet the required standards. In addressing this, we mutually agreed to group the planned activities into milestones from which the implementers would be given flexibility to choose any milestones to implement according to their priorities. We have also indicated the deliverables required per milestone and agreed means of verification.
• Most councils have other sources of funds like CHF which could be used for implementation of FAR milestones. The only challenge has been reluctance of the councils to use these funds for TUNAJALI activities because it is a new concept, and as a result they are uncertain of the effectiveness of the reimbursement mechanism.
• A challenge that remains is the reasonability of the amount to be refunded after activity implementation/milestones have been completed and results achieved.
• The FAR method has proved to burn funds at a faster rate than the normal advance and liquidation method where burn rates for most district councils was a big challenge.