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Outcome Evaluation - MDGs and Xiaokang (CPO-01 & CPO-02)
Commissioning Unit: China
Evaluation Plan: 2006-2010
Evaluation Type: Outcome
Completion Date: 03/2011
Unit Responsible for providing Management Response: China
Documents Related to overall Management Response:
1. Recommendation: The unique convergence of the UN?s MDG and the Chinese government?s Xiaokang visions provides a valuable platform for ongoing cooperation. UNDP China should make Xiaokang central to its core message. A critical mass of government officials and experts was drawn into the Xiaokang indicator and other Xiaokang projects, and is a key reason why 11th FYP results were successfully fed into the 12th FYP. The development of this ?community of Xiaokang practice? is a sustainable result of these programs, and an important asset that UNDP should continue to nurture. Many partners urged UNDP to expand its knowledge-sharing role. They hoped that non-program partnerships could expand. Some expressed the wish that they could participate in program activities where they felt they had something to contribute, even if they were not direct program partners. It was suggested that UNDP establish an ?alumni network? of people who had participated in past programs, and use this network as a platform for sharing the knowledge and experience of all. Partners reported that they often visited the UNDP website looking for information and new ideas, but found the documents available on the website limited and difficult to digest. Often the website was simply unavailable. Partners expressed concern that as UNDP core resources diminish and government capacity increases, it becomes more difficult to see the value added by UNDP through traditional program approaches. If ?making the good better?, in the words of the recent ADR, were simply to mean doing a little more of what government is already doing, UNDP?s value added risks become vanishingly small. This of course is a familiar challenge of national execution: how to contribute to government objectives while adding unique value? This challenge is especially acute in China, where UNDP resources are increasingly dwarfed by national resources. Focusing on outcomes is an important part of the answer to this question. While many of the programs reviewed in this evaluation exercise have done so successfully, some, especially programs that have gone through multiple reincarnations, continue to be driven by outputs. While it may be impractical to establish quantifiable metrics for outcomes in the case of programs that target ?upstream? policy impact, the lack of outcome-based metrics in ?downstream? projects is more problematic. Apart from helping to answer the question of to what extent the programs contributed to their stated outcomes, more quantifiable metrics would also be of value in improving design of programs that go through multiple cycles, such as the Human Resource Development and Advanced Leadership Development programs. UNDP China may wish to consider the use of randomized evaluation techniques , which have recently become increasingly popular in the evaluation of development programs. While not relevant to all UNDP China programs, randomized evaluation could potentially provide a more objective yardstick with which to evaluate achievement of outcomes. A second approach to the question of how to contribute to government objectives while adding unique value is to find new ways of helping constructive but mature programs more quickly become institutionalized within government and civil society while UNDP targets its resources on forward-looking policy ideas and pilot projects. UNDP China often faces a painful choice between terminating a once-innovative and still-useful program, or extending it for another cycle. How can we better plan and manage the sustainable spin-off of mature programs? This is a broad question that can be approached from different angles. Is it possible to create a mechanism to allow mature programs to continue under the CICETE umbrella with advisory but not financial support from UNDP? Another strategy could be to build UNDP?s knowledge-sharing community so that the community serves as a platform and halfway house supporting programs progressively more independent of UNDP. Finally, we share the view of the 2010 ADR, that UNDP can continue to add unique value by focusing more strongly at the sub-national level, especially the provincial level. China?s high overall growth tends to mask stark regional disparities in development, and a stronger case can be made for UNDP assistance to China?s least developed provinces than to its most developed ones. Many China?s provinces are as big or bigger than many of the countries to which UNDP provides assistance, but Chinese provincial governments, especially those in western and northeastern China, have limited opportunities to work directly with international organizations. UNDP?s network at the provincial level is already extensive, and it should be well positioned to expand its partnerships and programs at the sub-national level. Xiaokang indicators and policy is one of the areas that could be fruitfully pursued at the sub-national level.
Management Response: [Added: 2011/06/27]

The recommendations are well taken by the UNDP CO. In preparing the UNDP new CPD for China (2011-2015), the recommendations from the outcome evalaiton as well as those of the latest ADR report were taken into account. The UNDP CO, together with its partners, will monitor closely on the progress of the implementation.

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