Handover, transition and exit strategies
Planning programme handover, transition or exit with partners, in advance, ensures better programme outcomes and encourages commitment to programme sustainability.
A programme “exit” of “transition” refers to the withdrawal or handover of all externally provided resources. The decision to withdraw should be made in full consultation with programme stakeholders.
A Handover Plan or Exit Strategy will assist in clarifying when and how the programme intends to withdraw and the measures proposed to ensure achievement of the programme goals.
When should you plan the programme transition or exit?
- at the start of the programme. This is critical in short term emergency response programmes - don’t wait until the end is in sight!
- every individual project should incorporate a plan for transition or exit
Avoid starting projects or programmes that will require continuous funding to keep running. Donors may be unwilling to fund them after the end of the original project.
Three approaches to transition or exit
- Phasing down – Gradual reduction of programme activities utilising local organisations to sustain programme benefits. This is often a preliminary stage for the other two.
- Phasing out – This refers to an agency’s withdrawal of involvement in a programme without turning it over to another institution for continued implementation..
- Phasing over – In this case, the agency transfers programme activities to local institutions or communities. During programme design and implementation, emphasis is placed on institutional capacity building so that the services provided can continue through local organisations.
Exit criteria: What determines “when” to exit?
Criteria used to determine when to exit programmes vary. However, they can be grouped into four general categories.
- Time limit – All programmes have time limits dictated by availability of resources or funding cycles.
- Achievement of programme impacts – Indicators of programme impact. This can guide the exit strategy time line.
- Achievement of benchmarks – Measurable indicators or identified steps in the graduation process of an exit strategy. This should be linked to specific programme components that are to be phased out or over e.g. community take on responsibility of maintenance etc.
- Cancellation – when a project is no longer viable or sustainable.
This page was last updated on 4 November 2013