Appendix A4 Mid-term Evaluation Report (February 2003)
This report presents the results of the Mid-term Review (MTR) of the GEF project on Wetlands Biodiversity Conservation and Sustainable Use in China. The MTR was asked to provide a “forward looking review” of the wetlands biodiversity project that would answer three key questions, with most emphasis placed on the last question:
What has been accomplished to date?
What are the design and implementation problems that are affecting project success?
What does the MTR team recommend be done to fix these problems and improve project performance?
The report, though it will be broadly shared with all stakeholders, is mainly directed to members of the Tripartite Review (TPR) to assist them in management and planning roles. In particular, it will assist them in reviewing the progress of the project to date and deciding whether the project should continue as it is, should be terminated or should be redesigned.
A six-member team composed of the following individuals did the MTR:
Joan Freeman: Team Leader and Institutional Specialist
XIE Yan: National Team Leader and Biodiversity/Institutional Specialist
John MacKinnon: International Biodiversity Specialist
ZHANG Liquan: National Biodiversity Specialist
Gerard Fitzgerald: Inernational socio-economic Specialist
LAI Qingqui: Naional socio-economic Specialist
The scope of the MTR was broad; it investigated both evaluation issues (results and performance) and redesign issues. This was an enormous scope of work to accomplish within the budget and time given1, consequently the team leader proposed that the MTR use a strategic, team consensus and rapid appraisal approach to do the work. This approach was approved by UNDP, and it was agreed that the detailed TORs and report contents prepared by UNDP (see Appendix A) would not be followed by the MTR. Instead the MTR would focus on the three questions listed above, would only provide information significant for these three questions and only to the level of detail needed for TPR decision-making (i.e. not detailed). The emphasis would be on logic and clarity of analysis rather than detail. Finally, team member inputs would be coordinated and consensus approaches would be used to develop the findings and recommendations.
The rapid appraisal and team approach used by the MTR involved:
Initial scoping of the issues by reviewing background documents, holding discussions with senior officials (TPR members) and meeting as a team to discuss and agree on the MTR focus, report contents and team assignments;
Fact-finding and initial analysis, which involved visits to all four areas and team discussion and sharing of perspectives as the facts emerged. The team traveled extensively and held numerous meetings with stakeholders, project staff and beneficiaries in all areas (see itinerary in Appendix B for details).
Consolidation of the findings and team agreement regarding the main findings and recommendations
Unfortunately, it was impossible to fully coordinate the MTR or arrive at the team consensus expected of this approach due to contractual constraints (the six MTR team members were contracted through three different agencies – UNDP, UNOPS and CPMU – and the TORs of the team members were not coordinated). Consequently, the team did not reach proper consensus on either the findings or recommendations – there was not enough time to do so before team members began to leave (three people left earlier than the planned end date for team work of Dec. 5).
Therefore, the MTR report was synthesized and prepared by the team leader from inputs received by the team, but it is not a consensus report. That being said, the MTR team generally agreed with the redesign recommendations, but there is disagreement about the details. Finally, it should be pointed out that the technical team members (i.e., biodiversity and socio-economic specialists) all prepared mission reports. These provide additional analysis and detail, but are lengthy and not appended to this report. The mission reports are available from UNDP and are recommended to readers wishing more detail, in particular about the threats to and opportunities for wetlands.
The main methods used were file and document review, individual and group meetings, informal workshops, site visits and observation, phone and email connections with people we were unable to meet in person and cross-checking/analysis of various budget and input items. We also sent out an email questionnaire to most of the international consultants who had worked on the project (names and emails supplied by the Chief Technical Advisor – CTA). The results of this survey are provided in Appendix C. Finally, we found the briefing reports prepared by CMPU and the four PPMUs that we visited most helpful.
The MTR mission occurred between November 6 and December 12, 20022. At the end of the mission, the International and National Team Leaders provided a debriefing and mission report to UNDP and other key partners (NPD/CPMU and AusAID). This MTR report expands upon the summary analysis and conclusions presented in the mission report. The report is divided into two parts: Chapters 2 and 3 present the evaluation part of the MTR and chapters 4-6 the forward-looking part of the MTR.
The report begins with a description of the context and background to the project (Chapter 2). It then goes on to identify the results of the project to date and those likely to be achieved by the end of the project. (Chapter 3). To predict results to the end of the project, we assumed that the project design and implementation practices would not change. Because the thrust of the report is forward-looking, the design and implementation changes that need to be made to improve performance are identified next (Chapter 4). Finally, our recommendations regarding the sub-contracts (Chapter 5) and redesign of the project are provided (Chapter 6).
We would like to thank all the people who have contributed to the MTR, providing information, meeting with us and openly discussing the project’s problems and solutions. In particular the NPD has made himself very available to the MTR team, the CPMU and PPMUs worked very hard arranging logistics, documents and meetings. Nature reserve staff from the Ruoergai and Sanjiang Plains areas traveled great distances to meet us when we lacked the time and favourable weather conditions to visit their nature reserves. Also, key people and organizations in Beijing made themselves available to us, often at very short notice. We thank you all, and believe that the time people gave to the MTR indicates the amount of interest in this project – and this bodes well for the project.