• The Sub-National Governance programme is working to improve the quality of governance at the provincial and district levels in Pakistan. As part of the programme, the District Delivery Challenge Fund finances pilots that seek to reform the way public services in education and healthcare are delivered to communities.
  • The fund has been successful in part because of Coffey’s effective fund management structure and close collaboration with the Islamabad-based team.
  • The in-country team’s technical expertise in grant management is accompanied by its strong understanding of Pakistan’s government systems, existing networks and relationships within government and insight into citizens’ needs.
  • The fund manager and grantees have a clear understanding of what criteria must be met before the grant disbursement process can begin. 


Background: Implementing a challenge fund to improve governance

The Sub-National Governance Programme (SNG) in Pakistan supports the provincial governments of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and the Punjab to improve basic service delivery, to better meet the needs of citizens, especially the poor, women and girls. The District Delivery Challenge Fund (DDCF), a sub-component of the programme, supports this change through a combination of public sector support and the funding of innovative education and healthcare pilots. Successful pilots are to be scaled up within and across Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Punjab provinces.

This process aims to develop a practical framework and tools that will enable all districts throughout Pakistan to identify, pilot and evolve bespoke public service solutions after the programme has finished.

The Sub-National Governance programme is funded by the UK government. The District Delivery Challenge Fund component is managed by Coffey.

Effective fund management requires a mix of skills, contacts and expertise

The District Delivery Challenge Fund’s (DDCF’s) success can be partly attributed to Coffey’s effective fund management structure in which each team member has a particular set of skills that support the DDCF’s successful delivery. The team that manages and maintains consistent oversight on the Challenge Fund is split between London and Pakistan.

In London, the fund is managed by the Project Manager who has experience overseeing grant funds globally, including across Africa and Southeast Asia. The Project Manager has a clear understanding of how to maintain strong financial oversight and ensure that the appropriate controls are implemented throughout the fund management.

In Pakistan, the fund is managed by a National DDCF Coordinator who has a strong financial background in subjects such as audit and economics. In addition to the technical skills that are required to manage the fund, the in-country National DDCF Coordinator’s extensive network and relationships across government and non-government bodies enable him to effectively manoeuvre through the political environment. These networks provide him access to the right change agents within government who have the ability to advocate for the scale up and replication of the pilots that are receiving funding.

The National DDCF Coordinator is supported by a team with varied skills, including a Challenge Fund Manager, Challenge Fund Coordinators in both Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Punjab, and financial accountants. The in-country team’s technical expertise in supporting the fund’s management is complemented by its strong understanding of Pakistan’s government systems and insight into the basic service needs within the provinces.

Clear process for grantee disbursements

In addition to the clear team structure to support the effective management of the DDCF, there is a set process for making grantee disbursements. Upon receiving the grantee’s submission of its means of verification at any given milestone, the in-country National DDCF Coordinator reviews the grantee’s evidence and invoice for the grant disbursement. Once the Challenge Fund Coordinator has confirmed that the grantee has submitted all of the components of its means of verification, s/he sends the evidence to the Project Manager. The Project Manager ensures that the evidence is complete before instructing Coffey’s Finance department to make a disbursement to the grantee. Additionally, the Project Manager verifies that the amount invoiced by the grantee is equal or less than the amount due to the grantee as per the grantee’s agreed disbursement schedule.

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