Office of Development Effectiveness May 2015



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Conclusions


As a country undergoing major transition, Vietnam has numerous opportunities for sustainable, inclusive growth. Concurrently, Vietnam is faced with several social, economic and environmental challenges which, if left unaddressed, may threaten many of the remarkable gains of the past two decades. Overcoming these challenges will require effective collaboration between the country’s different levels of government (commune, district, province and national).

Australia’s long-standing engagement in Quang Ngai and An Giang provinces has the potential to shed light on the challenges associated with working effectively across these different levels of government. It is suggested that DFAT commissions a joint study with Vietnamese counterparts to identify lessons learned about effective collaboration at commune, district, provincial and national levels.

Building on the experience up to 2013, the future context and an indication of where and how the current country program is positioned and equipped to support change processes led by the Vietnamese Government, the evaluation suggests that in looking beyond 2015 Australia should consider the following:

Assisting Vietnam to play a more engaged and influential role on regional issues and as a positive force on development issues (south-south cooperation) in the ASEAN region

Improving the lives of the poorest and most marginalised by focusing on equitable access to high quality public services and social protection measures

Combining the above with distinct and complementary aspects of building prosperity (working on aspects of economic development) and on scientific cooperation

Pushing innovation (as well as risk) in the aid program so that Australia plays the role of a ‘reliable and critical friend’. This would continue the progression beyond a traditional donorrecipient relationship and build upon a rich understanding of the workings of a particular sector and the strength of the relationships already developed

Actively applying lessons learned from the ‘aid’ program to the political and trading relationship, reflecting an integrated development approach.

In terms of style of engagement it is felt that an increasingly important aspect for Australian assistance will be to take a ‘brokering role’, bringing different actors, capabilities and resources together around specific agendas within the Vietnamese operating system.

Recommendations


The evaluation makes four recommendations to the DFAT Vietnam program relating to program management, gender equality, targeting the poor, and approaches to the critical area of private sector role in development.

Recommendation 1


Consistent with DFAT’s review of guidance on Performance Assessment Frameworks (PAFs) and their role in Aid Investment Plans (AIPs) and Aid Program Performance Reports (APPRs), the DFAT Vietnam program should review the way it captures and reflects on outcome-level data for all sectors of engagement to ensure data is used to guide future programming.

Recommendation 2


In the next AIP, DFAT Vietnam program should include a framework for implementing gender equality measures. This should include clear accountabilities for ensuring gender equality is addressed in program implementation; objectives and targets related to gender equality that are linked to Vietnam Government norms and indicators; and systems for measuring progress towards gender targets.

Recommendation 3


DFAT Vietnam program should clearly articulate how Australia’s aid will promote inclusive economic growth in ways that reach the most poor and vulnerable and support pathways to lift people out of poverty.

Recommendation 4


DFAT Vietnam program should consider the opportunities for effective private-sector engagement in the aid program that leverages off learning from previous aid programs, leveraging public resources to mobilise additional private financing (e.g. public–private partnerships), improving the business enabling environment, and addressing priority institutional constraints to business growth.

Management response


DFAT welcomes the findings of this evaluation of the Australia-Vietnam country strategy 2010-15. The evaluation concluded that the country strategy maintained relevance according to the evolving policy priorities of the Australian Government during the period 2010-15.

DFAT accepts all four of the recommendations of the evaluation report and has already made some progress in addressing key findings. The evaluation will be used to inform development of the Vietnam programs new Aid Investment Plan 2016-20. The recommendation and lessons learned from the previous country strategy will be applied accordingly through that process.

DFAT’s management response to recommendations

Recommendation

Response

Details

Recommendation 1

Consistent with DFAT’s review of guidance on Performance Assessment Frameworks (PAFs) and their role in Aid Investment Plans (AIPs) and Aid Program Performance Reports (APPRs), the DFAT Vietnam program should review the way it captures and reflects on outcome-level data for all sectors of engagement to ensure data is used to guide future programming.




Agree

DFAT is committed to ensuring an outcome level perspective is applied to the Vietnam aid program. To achieve this the new Aid Investment Plan (2016-2020) will set intended outcomes for the areas of Australian engagement and provide a clear set of projected results for the aid program in Vietnam. Future programming decisions will be informed by assessed progress towards these targets.

Recommendation 2

In the next AIP, DFAT Vietnam program should include a framework for implementing gender equality measures. This should include clear accountabilities for ensuring gender is addressed in program implementation; objectives and targets to gender equality that are linked to Vietnam Government norms and indicators; and systems for measuring progress towards gender targets.



Agree

DFAT is currently in the process of completing a gender stocktake for the Vietnam program. This gender stocktake will be used as a basis for developing a gender strategy which will provide the overarching framework for implementing gender equality measures. DFAT recognises that a twin-track approach of mainstreaming gender equality is required while also targeting investments specifically at closing gender gaps where women face binding constraints. In the new Aid Investment Plan dedicated investments on gender will be prioritised.


Recommendation 3

DFAT Vietnam program should clearly articulate how Australia’s aid will promote inclusive economic growth in ways that reach the most poor and vulnerable and support pathways to lift people out of poverty.




Agree

The new Aid Investment Plan (2016-2020) for the Vietnam program will specifically address this recommendation.

Recommendation 4

DFAT Vietnam program should consider the opportunities for effective private-sector engagement in the aid program that leverages off learning from previous aid programs, leveraging public resources to mobilise additional private financing, improving the business enabling environment, and addressing priority constraints to business growth.



Agree

In 2014 the Vietnam program commenced a new aid investment called Restructuring for a more Competitive Vietnam. This program is targeted at improving the business enabling environment and addressing priority institutional constraints to business growth.

In preparation for the new Aid Investment Plan (2016-2020) a scoping study on private sector engagement is currently underway. This study will draw lessons from previous aid investments whilst identifying where opportunities exist to leverage public resources to mobilise private financing.





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