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The Contribution of
Partnerships to Sector Coordination
and Aid Effectiveness
The Case of Agriculture
and Rural Development Partnerships
Global Donor Platform
for Rural Development
Global Donor Platform studies are joint analyses of its members designed to close identiﬁed
information gaps and provide a global public good. Platform studies shall inform and guide
policy makers and practitioners in the delivery of assistance in agriculture and rural develop-
As such, Platform publications are not copyright protected. The Platform encourages dupli-
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owner of the information.
NOTE FROM THE AUTHORS
As indicated in the box on the previous page, the approach taken in this study has evolved over
time as we, the study team, gradually understood the issues that were important for under-
standing the evolution of the five sub-sector and sector partnerships supported by the Ministry
of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD) and its national and international partners.
Notably, in addition to reviewing conditioning factors at the national and MARD level, we ap-
proached this study as a comparative analysis, rather than as an individual analysis of each
partnership. We realised that a comparative approach would be more effective in helping us
identify “what works and what doesn’t work” across partnerships. Readers interested in a de-
tailed analysis of the individual partnerships are, therefore, referred to the (many) annual or
other reviews of each these partnerships.
Furthermore, the core objective of this study is to generate learning that is useful for de-
cision-makers in Vietnam when assessing whether the MARD partnerships have effectively
contributed to enhanced aid effectiveness and sector coordination. It will also be useful when
exploring options for using partnership structures as the means for aid management and
sector coordination in the context of the upcoming Rural Development Strategy for Vietnam.
The primary audience of this report is, therefore, these national decision-makers. However,
being jointly implemented by MARD and the Global Donor Platform for Rural Development
(Platform), the study also serves a global Agriculture and Rural Development (ARD) audience
interested in learning about the “Vietnamese experience”. Needless to say, the context knowl-
edge of these two audiences is radically different, as is their interest in whether the content of
this report provides a detailed analysis of “what works and what doesn’t work” as opposed to
a grand overview of the “big picture”. When drafting this report, we have tried to find a middle
way, striking a balance between the interests of these two audiences. We have also included a
fairly extensive executive summary for those who want the big picture quickly!
This study is an independent study. This report therefore represents the views and observa-
tions of the consultant team and does not necessarily reflect the official viewpoints of MARD,
the Global Donor Platform for Rural Development or agencies interviewed as part of the study.
Finally, the study team consulted extensively with a wide range of national and international
stakeholders at the level of individual partnerships, MARD, other GoV agencies and interna-
tional agencies and international non-governmental organisations (INGOs) operating in Viet-
nam. The team wishes to thank all the parties they met with for their willingness to engage
enthusiastically and open-mindedly in the exploration of issues and opportunities of relevance
to the study. A special note of appreciation goes to Dr. Le Van Minh, Director-General, ICD/
MARD, Ms. Nguyen Thi Phuong Nga, ISG Manager and Mr. Ngo Gia Trung, ISG Communications
and Information Officer for their never-ending support to the team.
Dao Thanh Huyen
Hanoi, January 2008
Table of contents
1. INTRODUCTION AND ANALYTICAL APPROACH . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 12
1.1. Background and study objectives 12
1.2. Analytical approach 13
2. AGRICULTURE AND RURAL DEVELOPMENT IN THE CONTEXT OF
SOCIO-ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT AND AID EFFECTIVENESS IN VIETNAM . . . . . . . . . . . . 16
2.1. Overall socio-economic trends 16
2.2. Agriculture and rural development 16
2.3. Public administrative reform and decentralisation 17
2.4. Main international partners in ARD development 18
2.5. Global aid effectiveness initiatives in Vietnam 19
3. THE MARD INSTITUTIONAL AND POLICY CONTEXT
CONDITIONING PARTNERSHIP EFFECTIVENESS . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 21
3.1. Overview of aid effectiveness, sector policy development and
coordination initiatives in MARD 21
3.2. Presenting the MARD partnerships: A summary 21
3.2.1. International Support Group (ISG) 22
3.2.2. Forest Sector Support Partnership (FSSP) and
Trust fund for Forests (TFF) 22
3.2.3. Natural Disaster Mitigation Partnership (NDMP) 23
3.2.4. Rural Water Supply and Sanitation Partnership (RWSSP) 23
3.2.5. Partnership for Avian and Human influenza (PAHI) 24
3.3. Presenting cross-cutting aid effectiveness, sector policy development and
coordination initiatives 24
3.3.1. Sector policy development 24
3.3.2. Good governance, decentralisation and administrative reform initiatives 25
3.3.3. Initiatives to strengthen sector and aid management capacities and tools 25
3.4. MARD level policy and institutional issues affecting partnership efficiency 26
3.4.1. Division of ODA management responsibilities
between MARD departments 26
3.4.2. Proliferation of partnership initiatives: Challenges to the division of work
between partnerships at the sector and sub-sector levels 26
3.4.3. Challenges to creating linkages between partnerships and
national/cross-sector aid effectiveness and coordination initiatives 27
3.4.4. Obstacles to the integration of sector strategies in
the mainstream planning framework 28
3.4.5. Challenges to lateral coordination between ministries, departments and
cross-sector policy initiatives 28
3.4.6. Aid effectiveness agenda still hampered by reluctance by stakeholders
within MARD and international partners 28
3.4.7. Administrative authority, resources, financial and managerial regulations,
and culture 29
4. COMPARATIVE ANALYSIS OF PARTNERSHIP EFFICIENCY:
WHAT WORKS WHERE, WHAT DOES NOT? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 30
4.1. The initiation of partnerships 30
4.1.1. Collective analysis 30
4.1.2. Presence of lead-agents with a mandate and desire to look beyond
narrow institutional interests 30
4.1.3. Careful definition of the sectoral scope of partnerships 30
4.1.4. Using prior experience 31
4.2. The machinery of partnerships 31
4.2.1. Basic rationale, objective and programme framework 31
4.2.2. Legal basis and membership 33
4.2.3. Management, steering and coordination 33
4.2.4. Organisational linkages and engagement of stakeholders in
partnership activities 36
4.2.5. Financing of partnership structures and activities 38
4.2.6 Coordination between partnerships: The special role of ISG 39
4.3. Partnership outcomes 40
4.3.1. Policy coordination and planning 40
4.3.2. Aid management, harmonisation and alignment 41
4.3.3. Ownership, leadership and institutional capacity
in the context of decentralisation 42
4.3.4. Public expenditure management and service delivery 43
4.3.5. Interface between public and non-state actors 44
5. OVERALL CONCLUSIONS, LESSONS LEARNED AND
FUTURE STRATEGIC DIRECTIONS . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 45
5.1. Value added and lessons learned 45
5.1.1. Contributions and shortcomings of MARD partnerships 45
5.1.2. Lessons learned 46
5.2. Strategic evolution of the MARD partnerships:
A range of partnership models reflecting the changing environment in ARD 50
5.2.1. Future orientation of the partnerships in different sectors depends on
sector development and investment trends,
and the institutional evolution of MARD 50
5.2.2. Differentiating between aid effectiveness, aid coordination and
sector coordination functions of partnerships 51
5.2.3. A framework for alternative partnership models 52
5.2.4. The use of partnership structures for consultation and coordination in
the context of the new Rural Development Strategy for Vietnam 54
5.3. Strengthening the institutional environment in which the partnerships operate 55
5.3.1. Establishment of a MARD team for partnership facilitation and support 55
5.3.2. Institutionalising partnerships as integral parts of the MARD structure 58
ANNEX . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 60
MARD Organisational Structure 60
5MHRP Five Million Hectare Reforestation Programme
ADB Asian Development Bank
AHI Avian and Human Influenza
AMG Aid Monitoring Working Group
AMT Aligned Management Tool
ARD Agriculture and Rural Development
AusAID Australian Agency for International Development
CARE Cooperative for Assistance and Relief Everywhere, Inc.
CPRGS Comprehensive Poverty Reduction and Growth Strategy
DAC Development Assistance Committee (of OECD)
DANIDA Danish International Development Agency
DDMSFC Department for Dyke Management and Storm and Flood Control
DWR Department of Water Resources
EC European Community
FAO Food and Agriculture Organisation
FD Forestry Department
FDI Foreign Direct Investment
FSSP Forest Sector Support Partnership
FSSP&P Forest Sector Support Programme and Partnerships
FYP Five year plan
GDP Gross domestic product
GoV Government of Vietnam
GTZ Deutsche Gesellschaft für Technische Zusammenarbeit GmbH (German
HCS Hanoi Core Statement on Aid Effectiveness, Harmonisation and Alignment
HIF Harmonisation of Implementation Frameworks
ICD/MARD International Cooperation Department, Ministry of Agriculture and Rural
ICN International Cooperation Network
INGO International Non-Governmental Organisation
INGO-RC International Non-Governmental Organisation Resource Centre
ISG International Support Group
IWG Inter-agency Working Group
JBIC Japan Bank for International Cooperation
JICA Japan International Cooperation Agency
KfW Kreditanstalt für Wiederaufbau (German Development Bank)
LMDG Like-Minded Donor Group
M&E Monitoring and evaluation
MARD Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development in Vietnam
MESMARD Monitoring and Evaluation in Support of Management in the Agriculture and
Rural Development Sector (SDC supported project)
MoA Memorandum of Agreement
MoC Ministry of Construction
MoF Ministry of Finance
MoH Ministry of Health
MoHA Ministry of Home Affairs
MoNRE Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment
MoPI Ministry of Planning and Investment
MSCP MARD-Sida Cooperation Programme
NDMP Natural Disaster Mitigation Partnership
NSCAI National Steering Committee for Avian and Human Influenza
ODA Official development assistance
ODI Overseas Development Institute
OECD/DAC Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development/Development As-
OPI Integrated National Operational Programme for Avian and Human Influenza
Oxfam Oxford Committee for Famine Relief
PAB Policy Advisory Briefings
PAG Policy Advisory Group
PAHI Partnership for Avian and Human Influenza
PAR Public Administrative Reform
PBA Programme-Based Approaches
PFM Public Finance Management
PGAE Partnership Group for Aid Effectiveness
Platform Global Donor Platform for Rural Development
PRG Provincial Reference Group
PRS Poverty Reduction Strategies
PRSC Poverty Reduction Support Credit
RD Strategy Rural Development Strategy for Vietnam
RNE The Royal Netherlands Embassy
RWSS NTP National Target Programme for Rural Water Supply and Sanitation Partner-
RWSS Rural Water Supply and Sanitation
RWSSP Rural Water Supply and Sanitation Partnership
SC Steering Committee
SDC Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation
SEDP Socio-economic Development Plan
Sida Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency
SNV Stichting Nederlandse Vrijwilligers (Netherlands Development Organisa-
SRV Socialist Republic of Vietnam
SWAp Sector Wide Approach
TA Technical assistance
TAG Thematic Ad-hoc Group
TBSP Targeted Budget Support Programme
TEC Technical/Executive Committee
TFF Trust Fund for Forests
ToR Terms of reference
UNDP United Nations Development Programme
UNICEF United Nations Children’s Fund
VFDS Vietnam Forestry Development Strategy
VND Vietnam Dong
WB World Bank
WTO World Trade Organisation
WWF World Wildlife Fund
The Essence of Tango
Conducting this study has been something of a roller-coaster ride for us, the study team; an
extended learning curve. We started out applying the working title “It Takes Two to Tango”.
We felt strongly about the need for both international and national partners to take owner-
ship of the partnerships as platforms for collective action, given the often-implied notion
among international agencies that the problems in this regard are mainly on the govern-
But then we realised that there is much more to it than that. Vietnam is moving ahead so
fast that the conceptual approach that made sense yesterday no longer applies today, let
alone tomorrow. We realised that now – at least in some sectors and sub-sectors – it actu-
ally “takes five to tango”. Vietnam decentralises, donors are considering a gradual pull-out
given Vietnam’s rapidly approaching middle-income country status and the role of the state
is changing with the advance of private enterprise. These three factors suggest that part-
nerships in their current form as mechanisms for coordination and dialogue mainly between
donors and central level government probably make less and less sense. In these settings
not only the central government and donors, but also business sector agents, provinces and
socio-economic organisations (civil society) need to join the dance.
So the question is, then, whether the partnerships in their current form are really geared
to take on this challenge? The answer is probably “maybe, maybe not”(!) At least, the answer
depends to a large extent on the sub-sector context in which each partnership operates and
the extent to which it succeeds in building upward and downward linkages to actors and
processes at the national and local levels. But this in turn implies that we need to re-con-
sider the meaning of tango. What is tango about if it is no longer a dance for two? Can tango
be transformed into a dance for five without everybody treading on each other’s toes? And
if not, what kind of dance should replace it? A square dance? How must the partnerships
evolve in order to stay relevant in this new context? Or should they be replaced by something
Helping to answer these questions is what this study is about.
The introduction of sector-wide coordination mechanisms in the Ministry of Agriculture and
Rural Development (MARD) in Vietnam is at an early stage. Experience has been gained from
five ministry-wide and sub-sector level partnership initiatives and the piloting of multi-donor
budget support to a core Government of Vietnam (GoV) sub-sector programme. In addition,
new initiatives are being contemplated, including the preparation of a comprehensive Rural
Development Strategy for Vietnam (RD Strategy). This study, jointly implemented by MARD
and the Global Donor Platform for Rural Development (Platform), supports consolidation of
these initiatives through analysis of the experiences gained to date, compilation of key lessons
learned and a synthesis of policy implications.
The following five MARD partnerships constitute the core focus of the study: 1) The minis-
try-wide International Support Group (ISG); 2) the Forest Sector Support Partnership (FSSP)
and the Trust Fund for Forests (TFF); 3) the Natural Disaster Mitigation Partnership (NDMP); 4)
the Rural Water Supply and Sanitation Partnership (RWSSP); and 5) the Partnership for Avian
and Human Influenza (PAHI).
The basic analytical question for the study is: “What are the (institutional) factors deter-
mining the extent to which individual partnerships effectively contribute to enhanced aid
effectiveness and the application of sector approaches in their respective sub-sectors?”
The study reviews this basic question through analysis at three levels: a) Introduction to the
overall socio-economic development in Vietnam and the “macro-level” framework for sector
coordination and aid effectiveness; b) review of the opportunities and barriers for partnership
effectiveness resulting from the immediate institutional context in which the partnerships op-
erate (MARD level analysis); and c) analysis of issues of importance for: i) partnership design,
ii) effectiveness of the partnership institutions and procedures, and iii) analysis of the extent to
which partnership “outcomes” have met critical sector-level “change dimensions” (Partner-
ship level analysis). The main emphasis of the study is to undertake a comparative analysis of
the partnerships, rather than an individual analysis of each partnership, as such a comparison
will enable learning about “what works and what does not work” across partnerships.
The following policy and institutional factors at the MARD level affect the programmatic and
operational efficiency of the partnerships:
Overlap in the distribution between MARD departments of institutional mandates, sector1.
coordination and aid management responsibilities;
Risks associated with the proliferation of partnership initiatives (programmatic overlap,2.
limitations on the amount of resources that stakeholders can allocate towards each
Challenges to creating linkages between the partnerships and national/cross-sector aid3.
effectiveness and coordination initiatives;
Obstacles to integration of the mainstream GoV five-year plan and sector-based strategies4.
and action plans;
Challenges to lateral coordination among MARD departments and between MARD and5.
Reluctance of GoV and international stakeholders to effectively pursue an effectiveness6.
agenda at the sector level;
Barriers resulting from existing administrative mandates, regulations and culture, and7.
resource constraints faced by national and international stakeholders.
Overall, the study finds that the MARD partnerships have emerged as relevant instruments
for Official Development Assistance (ODA) coordination, enhancement of aid effectiveness and
wider sector and sub-sector coordination. Critical partnership features contributing positively
in this regard include:
The partnerships have contributed to cross-sector coordination.•
The partnerships have contributed to policy coordination and development.•
The partnerships have enhanced sector-level information management.•
The partnerships have demonstrated an ability to evolve incrementally in response to•
changing sector conditions.
The partnerships have increased ownership of ODA management processes by the•
ministry and MARD departments.
The MARD partnerships are results oriented.•
However, the study also reveals that a range of programmatic, operational and institutional
issues needs to be addressed to enhance partnership performance and efficiency, ownership
of partnership constituencies and, hence, partnership viability. Critical issues to be addressed
by the partnerships include the following:
The partnerships have not yet contributed significantly to the mainstreaming of national•
level aid effectiveness, administrative reform and decentralisation efforts in the sector
context and at local levels.
The partnerships have, to a limited extent only, succeeded in engaging critical provincial•
and non-state constituencies.
Operationally, the partnerships still remain parallel structures to a great extent.•
Based on these findings, the study identifies the following issues as critical for maximising
programmatic and operational efficiency of the partnerships (lessons learned):
The programmatic focus and operational scope of each partnership should be based on a•
jointly defined and negotiated sector vision/strategy and analysis.
A sensible balance between “process” and “action” should be maintained.•
Ownership by, and representation of, sector level constituencies is critical.•
The evolution of partnership rationale, focus and structure should be incremental,•
reflecting their sector context and the readiness of stakeholders to engage.
Linking partnership action to the national aid effectiveness agenda and to sector-level•
application of wider, programme-based approaches is critical.
Financial and human resources allocated to the partnerships should be sufficient and well•
Partnership effectiveness should be monitored.•
Based on this analysis, the study proposes a conceptual framework for the future strategic
evolution of the MARD partnerships with the objective of defining a range of alternative mod-
els for MARD partnerships reflecting: a) the specific socio-economic characteristics and the
rapidly changing investment and stakeholder setting of individual rural sub-sectors; b) the
relative importance of ODA investments to investments by other stakeholders in sub-sectors
supported by partnerships; c) MARD’s transformation towards an institutional focus on policy
development and the establishment of overall regulatory frameworks for implementation and
monitoring of sector activities by provinces and non-state actors; and d) the desired rationale
for partnerships as mechanisms for aid coordination, aid effectiveness or sector coordination.
On the basis of this analytical framework, the following specific partnership models are
Partnership model 1: Forums for multi-stakeholder policy dialogue, planning and•
Partnership model 2: Operational partnerships for efficient service delivery in sub-•
sectors focused on public service delivery.
Partnership model 3: ODA coordination partnerships.•
Partnership model 4: Thematic partnerships addressing cross-cutting, recurrent or•
Partnership model 5: ISG.•
It is the view of this study that the use of partnership structures as platforms for the collabo-
rative engagement of national and international stakeholders in the preparation, roll-out and
implementation of the new Rural Development Strategy for Vietnam (RD Strategy) would con-
tribute to a wider buy-in to the strategy among relevant constituencies as well as better coor-
dination of the roll-out and actual implementation of the strategy at subsequent stages. The
report details a number of specific recommendations in this regard.
It follows from the report’s analysis that there is significant scope for enhancing the pro-
grammatic and operational efficiency of the MARD partnerships as well as the “partnership
steering” capacity of the departments hosting the partnerships. This in turn would contribute
to reducing the transaction costs associated with engagement in, and operation of, the part-
nerships. These objectives need to be achieved without losing the relative institutional au-
tonomy of the partnerships, i.e. the “freedom” of the partners and stakeholders in individual
partnerships to determine the programmatic focus and key institutional and operational char-
acteristics of each partnership - this autonomy is critical for ensuring the level of ownership
and buy-in needed for securing partnership relevance and sustainability.
In order to facilitate the efficiency and strategic evolution of the partnerships, the study
recommends the establishment of a MARD partnership support and facilitation team. This
“partnership service centre” should maintain a facilitating function and could be located in
an “innovated” ISG structure. The report provides specific recommendations in this regard.
Furthermore, the study recommends that MARD and its partners take concrete steps to insti-
tutionalise the partnerships as integral parts of the MARD organisational structure by a) es-
tablishing a time-bound strategy for full integration of partnership structures into MARD and/
or other national structures (including non-state structures), and b) systematically reviewing
and deciding on options as to where to locate current (and future) partnerships. The report
provides a number of specific recommendations in this regard.
1. INTRODUCTION AND ANALYTICAL APPROACH
1.1. Background and study objectives
The introduction of sector-wide coordination mechanisms and approaches in the Ministry of
Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD) in Vietnam is at an early stage. Experience has
been gained from a range of initial ministry-wide and sub-sector level partnership initiatives
and the piloting of multi-donor budget support to a core Government of Vietnam (GoV) sub-
sector programme. In addition, ministry level aid management support structures have re-
cently been established and various new partnership, networking and consultation initiatives
are being contemplated. Following the request by the GoV, MARD is also at an initial stage of
defining a framework for formulation of a comprehensive Rural Development Strategy for Viet-
nam (RD Strategy).
In the context of these developments a range of issues are emerging at the ministry level
and at the sub-sector/partnership level with regard to the coordination and steering of these
efforts. Some of these issues relate to the capacity of the MARD leadership to steer the vari-
ous processes and the level of awareness and incentive among MARD department staff to
pursue and internalise new aid modalities and sector approaches. Others arise from local rep-
resentatives of international MARD partners not always being fully informed or appreciative of
the effort and resources required to effectively pursue sector approaches at the operational
level even though they may collectively embrace the agreed principles of coordination, harmo-
nisation and alignment (e.g. as expressed in the Hanoi Core Statement on Aid Effectiveness,
the key document agreed to by the GoV and its international partners seeking to “translate” the
Paris Declaration into the national context of Vietnam).
Various initiatives are being pursued to address these emerging issues, including the
MARD-Sida Cooperation Programme (MSCP), which seeks to build capacity within MARD to
facilitate the introduction of programme approaches to enhance effective management of pub-
lic investments in Agricultural and Rural Development (ARD) in Vietnam.
This study, jointly implemented by MARD and the Global Donor Platform for Rural Develop-
ment (Platform) seeks to support consolidation of these sector initiatives in MARD through
documentation and analysis of experiences gained to date, compilation of key lessons learned
from the past and ongoing initiatives, and synthesis of related policy and operational implica-
tions. This, in turn, will contribute to the exploration of options for the application of effective
Official Development Assistance (ODA) management, sector coordination mechanisms and
sector-wide approaches in the context of the upcoming RD Strategy. This exercise will thus as-
sist MARD and its partners in their efforts to implement the Hanoi Core Statement on Aid Ef-
fectiveness, Harmonisation and Alignment in the context of the ARD sector. Furthermore, en-
gagement by the Platform in this exercise will contribute to the dissemination of “the Vietnam
experience” to a global audience.
On this basis, the overall objective of the study is to support enhanced effectiveness of ODA
and national investments in ARD in Vietnam through the “generation of knowledge among
MARD leaders and their key national and international partners of institutional and other fac-
tors influencing the possible application of sector-wide approaches within the ministry”. The
specific objectives are to a) analyse the extent to which the various sector and sub-sector
partnerships and other cross-cutting sector initiatives in MARD have effectively contributed
to enhanced sector and sub-sector coordination and possible application of sector-wide ap-
proaches, and b) to facilitate a collaborative definition of lessons learned and a synthesis of
key policy implications.
The study and the subsequent policy implication consultation process were conducted dur-
ing the period May 2007 to January 2008 by a study team comprising Mr. Jens Rydder and Ms.
Dao Thanh Huyen. The team operated under the coordination and management of the MARD
International Support Group (ISG) and was supported by Ms. Lotta Höglund, whose services
were provided in the context of the MARD-Sida Cooperation Programme. Mr. Ngo Gia Trung,
ISG Communications and Information Officer, acted as the direct counterpart to the team.
1.2. Analytical approach
The partnerships established by MARD and its international partners are institutional mecha-
nisms for the collective pursuit of sector coordination, capacity building, policy dialogue and
harmonisation/alignment. This study assesses and explains the extent to which these sector
and sub-sector partnerships have effectively contributed to the objectives of enhancing aid ef-
fectiveness and the extent to which they have succeeded in facilitating the adoption of sector-
wide approaches (SWAp), or similar approaches, in their sectors and sub-sectors. The basic
analytical question, therefore, is: “What are the (institutional) factors determining the extent
to which individual partnerships effectively contributed to enhanced aid effectiveness and the
application of sector-wide approaches in their respective sub-sectors1
The study reviews this basic question through analysis at three levels:
National level:a) This includes an introduction to the overall socio-economic development of
Vietnam. A brief analysis of the “macro-level” framework for sector coordination and aid ef-
fectiveness that sets the conditions under which the efforts of MARD and other sector-level
line ministries are implemented (Section 2) is provided. It also includes a review of the na-
tional efforts to enhance aid effectiveness, regulate ODA management and enhance sector-
level coordination and planning by the Ministry of Planning and Investment (MoPI), other GoV
agencies and international partners of the GoV.
MARD level:b) This analysis (Section 3) reviews the opportunities and barriers for “partner-
ship effectiveness” resulting from the immediate institutional and regulatory environment in
which the partnerships operate. This includes analysis of various cross-cutting efforts initi-
ated by MARD and its international partners to enhance internal capacity for adoption of new
aid modalities and sector-approaches.
Partnership level:c) This includes analysis of issues of importance for the successful design
of partnership structures (Section 4.1), the effectiveness of the institutional structure and
operational modality applied by individual partnerships (Are these structures designed to
effectively support the application of sector approaches?) (Section 4.2), as well as analysis
of the extent to which the “outcomes” or results of individual partnerships have met critical
sector-level “change dimensions” (Section 4.3). This analysis determines which institutional
and other factors at the partnership level have influenced the degree of efficiency achieved
by the partnerships.
The structure of the report follows these three levels of analysis. The emphasis of the study,
in addition to reviewing conditioning factors at the national and MARD level, is to undertake
a comparative analysis of the partnerships, rather than an individual analysis of each part-
nership. Such a comparison will enable learning about “what works and what doesn’t work”
across partnerships. Individual partnership analysis has been undertaken in the context of the
many reviews several of the partnerships have experienced to date.
In the concluding Section 5, the study analyses the key lessons learned and outlines the
1 It follows from this that the starting point for the analysis is the extent to which the partnerships have
contributed to enhanced aid effectiveness in general, not whether a move towards the application of SWAp by MARD
and its partners is desirable. The reference to SWAp is, therefore, primarily used as a measuring stick assessing
the degree to which the partnerships are effective mechanisms for achieving objectives related to improved
effectiveness, sector level coordination, etc.
broad potential policy implications of this learning. This is intended to form the basis for a con-
sultative process for facilitating a common definition of the policy implications resulting from
this study for various relevant forums. These would include individual partnerships, MARD,
the Partnership Group for Aid Effectiveness (PGAE), the Like-Minded Donor Group (LMDG) and
the Aid Monitoring Working Group (AMG) of the International Non-Governmental Organisation
Resource Centre (INGO-RC).
As mentioned above, the partnership analysis includes an analysis of the effectiveness of
the institutional structure and operational modality applied by individual partnerships (the
“machinery” of partnerships) as well as an analysis of the partnership “outcomes”.
The analysis of partnership structure and operational modalities covers the following core
partnership “building blocks”:
Issues of importance for the design and initiation of partnerships.•
Partnership rationale, objectives and programme framework.•
Legal basis and membership.•
Management, steering and coordination.•
Engagement of stakeholders and organisational linkages.•
Financing of partnership structures and activities.•
The analysis of partnership “outcomes” intends to explore the extent to which the partner-
ships have moved from “process” (e.g. the way in which they support definition of sector priori-
ties, the way stakeholders are consulted and the modalities for ODA delivery) to “performance”
(i.e. are they delivering results “on the ground”, and for whom?). Maintaining a sound balance
between process and performance (or results) is critical for partnership efficiency.
To analyse these questions, the study applies the five outcome areas defining “the SWAp
model of change” applied by the global study on the application of SWAp in agriculture and
rural development (ARD) conducted by the Overseas Development Institute’s (ODI) on behalf of
. Consequently the following five partnership outcome areas are analysed:
Policy co-ordination and planning. • To what extent have the partnerships contributed to
the strengthening of policy content and enhanced policy coherence and coordination? Have
they facilitated innovation of sector-level co-ordination and planning? To what extent have
they supported national level planning and management instruments, such as Poverty
Reduction Strategies (PRS)?
Aid management, harmonisation and alignment. • Have the partnerships identified
sound mechanisms for increasing harmonisation and alignment? How effectively are the
partnerships focusing attention on ARD issues in the context of overall GoV policy and
planning? Have the partnerships mobilised additional resources for ARD?
Ownership, leadership and institutional capacity in the context of decentralisation. • To
what extent have MARD/GoV assumed effective leadership in the partnership processes?
How have the partnerships addressed the roles and responsibilities of central and local
institutions? How have the partnerships tackled the challenge of decentralisation?
Public expenditure management and service delivery. • Have the partnerships balanced
improved service delivery in the ARD sectors with the necessary conditions for long term
growth? Have the partnerships helped to facilitate innovative practices in public financial
management and service delivery, including engagement of non-stakeholder actors in
2 Alison Evans, ODI: ‚Formulating and Implementing Sector-wide Approaches in Agriculture and Rural Devel-
opment”, commissioned by the Platform and prepared by ODI. Like the MARD Partnership Study, this study is commis-
sioned by the Platform, and includes a brief desk review of the Vietnam forest sector’s efforts to develop elements of a
sector-wide approach. The use of the ODI “SWAp change model” areas is intended to enhance the complementarities
of the two studies.
Interface between public and non-state actors. • Have the partnerships succeeded in
creating efficient mechanisms for interaction with the business sector3
and civil society
and in building synergies with the resources and efforts of these constituencies?
3 The term “business sector”, rather than “private sector”, is applied by this study in recognition of the impor-
tant role that state-owned enterprises continue to play in Vietnam
2. AGRICULTURE AND RURAL DEVELOPMENT IN THE
CONTEXT OF SOCIO-ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT AND
AID EFFECTIVENESS IN VIETNAM
2.1. Overall socio-economic trends
Vietnam has experienced rapid socio-economic growth since the process of economic liberali-
sation (Doi Moi) began in 1986. GDP growth rates remain high and are increasing steadily, from
6.9% during the period 1996 to 2000 to 7.5% in the period 2001 to 2005 (MoPI, 2006)4
levels have been reduced at a dramatic rate, from 37% in 1998 to 24% in 2004 (SRV, 2005)5
With GDP per capita estimated at USD 640 in 2005, Vietnam is among the high performers in
the group of low-income countries (MoPI, 2006)6
. The recent accession into the WTO confirmed
Vietnam’s achievements in transforming the country from a centrally planned economy to a
market economy. Along with development growth, the GoV maintains social and political sta-
bility, promotes competitiveness and implements reform in all sectors.
However, the Socio-Economic Development Plan for 2006 – 2010 (SEDP) also identified criti-
cal challenges to the socio-economic development process. The quality of development is still
low and the efficiency and competitiveness of the economy is only slowly improving. Growth
is achieved mainly from capital and labour, while technology accounts for only small part of it.
Environmental pollution has become a major problem with no effective solutions in sight, and
regional and social inequities have rapidly increased as economic development has advanced.
In addition, macro level imbalances still prevail, with state budget revenues still largely being
dependent on externalities and state development investment expenditures still being partly
dependent on foreign loans (MoPI, 2006).
The SEDP for the period 2006 to 2010 outlines an overall framework for economic growth
and social development to guide Vietnam into the group of middle-income countries by 2010.
It seeks to achieve sustainable development by focusing on the three development axes of the
economy, society and the environment through enhanced industrialisation and modernisation.
The plan identifies an improved business environment, enhanced social inclusion, strength-
ened natural resource and environmental management and improved governance as the key
development challenges for Vietnam. The SEDP targets an average annual GDP growth rate
of 8%, GDP per capita at about USD 1,050 – 1,100 by 2010 and a reduction of poor households
from 24% in 2004 to 10 – 11% by 2010. The vision for 2010 with regard to economic structure
focuses on industry and construction (to account for 43 – 44% of GDP) and services (40 – 41%),
while agriculture, forestry and fishery are expected to contribute 15 – 16% of GDP (MoPI, 2006).
2.2. Agriculture and rural development
The SEDP for the period 2006 to 2010 emphasises development of a modern agricultural and
rural development sector, with a focus on production, infrastructure and poverty reduction. It
sets the overall growth target for the ARD sector at 4.5% - up from the 3 to 4% achieved during
the previous planning period. This compares with the growth target of 8% for the economy as a
The SEDP establishes close linkages between the development of agricultural and forestry
4 MoPI, The five-year Socio-Economic Development Plan 2006 – 2010, March 2006.
5 Socialist Republic of Vietnam, Vietnam Managing Public Expenditure for Poverty Reduction and Growth,
Public Expenditure Review and Integrated Fiduciary Assessment, Volume 2: Sectoral Issues, Financial Publishing
House, April 2005.
6 MoPI, The five-year Socio-Economic Development Plan 2006 - 2010, March 2006.
production and improvement in living conditions and poverty reduction. It emphasises the
need for developing a strong rural economy to meet both domestic and export demands. It is
noted that even though the contribution of agriculture, forestry and fishery to GDP growth is
quite low, these sectors provide employment for a major part (57%) of the labour force, while
industry accounted for 18%, and services to approximately 25% (MoPI, 2006)7
. The ARD sector
directly affects the livelihoods of 90% of the rural poor and accounts for 70% of the income of
rural workers (13.9 million farming, aquaculture and forestry households).
Given the policy emphasis on the ARD sector’s role in poverty reduction, the sector’s 6%
share of the state budget is relatively low8
. Furthermore, foreign direct investment (FDI) in ag-
riculture accounted for less than 3% of the total FDI investments for the period 1999 to 20029
Recently MARD initiated the development of a Rural Development Strategy for Vietnam (RD
Strategy), which calls for a multi-sector effort (health, education and business sectors and
civil society) to address rural poverty and rural development.
The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD) established in 1995 through
the merger of the previous ministries of agriculture and food industry, forestry, and water
resources, maintains the core state management responsibility for the ARD sector in Viet-
nam. MARD’s role is not only to enhance rural production, but also to ensure generic socio-
economic and environmentally sustainable development for rural populations. It is responsible
for the delivery of public services and the management of state owned enterprises and numer-
ous research and service institutions in agriculture and rural development. It provides policy,
regulatory and technical guidance to MARD structures and other ARD agents at the provincial
and district levels throughout the country. MARD comprises 6 departments and 11 profes-
sional bureaus (technical departments). The MARD office acts as the ministerial secretariat
and inspectorate. A wide range of subordinate agencies are responsible for service delivery.
The MARD institutional structure is included in Annex A.
With its focus on broad based ARD rural development, service delivery and infrastructure,
and its wide network of institutions and agencies at the central, provincial and local levels,
MARD is a strong sector-line ministry, both in terms of the scope of its mandate and its budg-
et. The recent addition of the former Ministry of Fishery to MARD is testimony to the ministry’s
political position. However, while MARD is responsible for defining the overall strategic orien-
tation, regulatory framework and planning for rural development, it does not have the author-
ity for the allocation of resources for the implementation of these strategies and plans. Plans
from the ministry’s provincial and local entities are consolidated and submitted to the GoV and
the National Assembly for consideration and approval, and funding is then channelled directly
back to these entities through the Ministry of Finance (MoF).
2.3. Public administrative reform and decentralisation
Based on a resolution of the IXth
Congress of the Communist Party, in 2001 the Prime Minister,
through Decision No. 136/2001 (9/2003) and the establishment of the Comprehensive Public
Administrative Reform (PAR) Programme for 2001 – 2010, laid the foundation for the efforts by
the GoV to reform the role, function and structure of the government given the move towards a
market based economy.
The PAR process focuses on the four main areas of institutional, administrative, personnel
and public finance reform. The reform process reflects the commitment of the GoV towards
international economic integration, decentralisation and socialisation, and democratic and
7 MoPI, The five-year Socio-Economic Development Plan 2006 - 2010, March 2006.
8 Socialist Republic of Vietnam, Vietnam Managing Public Expenditure for Poverty Reduction and Growth,
Public Expenditure Review and Integrated Fiduciary Assessment, Volume 2: Sectoral issues, Financing Publishing
House, April 2005
transparent governance, and seeks to facilitate sustainable economic growth and develop-
ment. Under the leadership of the Ministry of Home Affairs (MoHA), the programme provides
guidance to line ministries, central sector agencies and local authorities who are responsible
for the actual implementation of PAR initiatives. PAR initiatives pursued by MARD are dis-
cussed in Section 3.3.2.
Decentralisation is an on-going process in Vietnam, and this is reflected in the increasing
share of government spending at lower administrative levels. The new State Budget Law is-
sued in 2004 provides additional financial autonomy to provincial authorities to decide on the
allocation of resources to different sectors. The law also gives more flexibility to provinces to
allocate funding among districts and communes, so poor communes and districts can be al-
located more resources. In the agriculture sector, the share of sector expenditure managed at
the local level almost doubled in the period 1997 to 2002, from 43% to 79%, and further budget
delegation and autonomy to the provincial and commune levels is expected following the new
Within certain limits, Provincial People’s Committees can now decide on their provincial so-
cio-development strategies and negotiate directly with donors for grants and projects. Budget
allocation efficiency will, therefore, partly depend on the capacity of local authorities to decide
on their priorities.
The decentralisation process has revealed difficulties in matching the decentralisation of
financial and implementation responsibilities to provinces and lower levels with the need to
strengthen sector regulation, and planning and monitoring functions on the part of the central
2.4. Main international partners in ARD development
ODA accounted for 46% of the budget for agriculture in 2001, a decline from 89% in 1997, even
though the amount was stable at about VND 3,300 billion per year11
. A significant proportion of
the ODA investments in ARD are capital investments in rural infrastructure and micro finance.
ARD, including forestry, has received substantial support from a wide range of international
donor agencies and INGOs. These include:
Bilateral donors with large scale and sustained involvement, including Sweden,•
Switzerland, the Netherlands, Finland, Denmark, Australia, and Germany.
Key multilateral and international financial institutional partners, such as the World Bank,•
JICA, KfW, ADB, UNDP, FAO, EC and UNICEF.
Many INGOs support ARD programmes in Vietnam, but mostly at the provincial and lower•
administrative levels. A limited number of these also engage in policy dialogue at the
national level, including, notably, SNV, but also Plan International, CARE, WWF, Oxfam UK
Vietnam’s move towards middle income status and the rapidly increasing levels of FDI and
national business sector investments in ARD are likely to affect ODA levels in both absolute
and relative terms. However, clear trends are yet to be identified. It is likely that ODA trends, at
least in the short to medium term, will differ significantly between different ARD sub-sectors,
depending on differences in donor interest and levels of GoV, FDI and national business sector
10 Socialist Republic of Vietnam, Vietnam Managing Public Expenditure for Poverty Reduction and Growth,
Public Expenditure Review and Integrated Fiduciary Assessment, Volume 2: Sectoral issues, Financing Publishing
House, April 2005
11 Socialist Republic of Vietnam, Vietnam Managing Public Expenditure for Poverty Reduction and Growth,
Public Expenditure Review and Integrated Fiduciary Assessment, Volume 2: Sectoral issues, Financing Publishing
House, April 2005
2.5. Global aid effectiveness initiatives in Vietnam
Generally, Vietnam is seen by its international partners as “a success story” with regard to
the national application of global aid effectiveness initiatives. The aid effectiveness agenda in
Vietnam is strongly driven by the Paris Declaration on Aid Effectiveness, as illustrated by the
signing of the Paris Declaration by the GoV and the signing of the Hanoi Core Statement on Aid
Effectiveness, Harmonisation and Alignment (HCS)12
in 2003. The HCS defines aid management
principles, indicators, activities and responsibilities derived from the Paris Declaration in the
Vietnamese context. The implementation of the HCS is monitored by the Partnership Group for
Aid Effectiveness (PGAE), which was established in 2004 by the GoV and core donor agencies,
and is chaired by the Ministry of Planning and Investment.
Progress in moving towards the results set out in the HCS includes the promulgation of the
Prime Minister’s Decision No. 209/206/QD-TTg of 29 December 2006 defining a new frame-
work for streamlining ODA investments with the SEDP 2006 - 2010, and the promulgation of
Decree 131 and the supporting Circular 04, which endorse budget support mechanisms as
instruments that sectors and ministries may pursue to improve aid effectiveness. The Decree
and Circular recognise the concepts of Programme-Based Approaches (PBA), Sector Wide
Approaches (SWAp), budget support and basket funding mechanisms, and institutionalise the
more decentralised management of aid resources. They also support the ongoing decentrali-
sation trends by enabling line agencies and provinces to decide on their programmes and aid
modality selection for grant-financed activities in consultation with donors.
However, while the Paris declaration and the HCS have received high-level political en-
dorsement, a recent review of the implementation of the HCS found that results at the sector,
lower administrative levels and at the programme level were mixed, and that reform of coun-
try systems were underway, but slowly implemented. While the national leadership and donor
alignment at the national level is strong, many GoV agencies and donors still tend to prioritise
implementation efficiency over sustainability and development impact, and donors face limited
pressure to change approaches. The review finds that the strengthening of partnership struc-
tures, including, specifically, at the Partnership Group for Aid Effectiveness, is a “pre-requi-
site” for overcoming these challenges13
In addition to the commitment to the Paris Declaration process, Vietnam has supported the
adoption of the following aid effectiveness initiatives:
With the approval of the Vietnam Comprehensive Poverty Reduction and Growth Strategy•
(CPRGS) in 2002, Vietnam became one of the first countries to adopt the Poverty Reduction
Strategy (PRS) framework The poverty reduction and growth planning function of the
CPRGS has subsequently been mainstreamed into the SEDP, which, therefore, now
constitutes the single most important planning framework for poverty reduction and
growth in Vietnam. The 6th
Poverty Reduction Strategy Credit (PRSC) for Vietnam, which
was signed in September 2007, includes 17 priority intervention areas, including 6 of
relevance for MARD.
Vietnam is the first country actively pursuing piloting of the “One UN Initiative”.•
The drive toward increasing efficiency and effectiveness of ODA and the reduction of•
transaction costs has led to a formulation of a number of partnerships in different
sectors, including ARD, education, health, transport and poverty reduction.
Institutionally, the Partnership Group on Aid Effectiveness (PGAE) and the Like-Minded Donor
12 Hanoi Core Statement on Aid Effectiveness, Harmonisation, Alignment, March 2005
13 Moving towards 2010 Vietnam Partnership Report, an informal report prepared for the Consultative Group
Meeting for Vietnam, Ha Noi, 1-2 December 2004 and concluding presentation of the Joint HCS Monitoring Mission,
Hanoi, September 2007.
are critical drivers supporting the GoV to pursue the aid effectiveness agenda. INGOs
active in Vietnam also recently established an Aid Effectiveness Monitoring Group in the con-
text of the INGO Resource Center in Hanoi. Aid effectiveness is, finally, an underlying theme of
the semi-annual Consultative Group meetings in Vietnam.
The GoV and its international partners have adopted various partnership models in differ-
ent sectors, or related to cross-cutting issues, including ARD, transport, education, health,
and poverty reduction, and more than 25 partnership structures have been established across
sectors. The rationale, scope and focus of these partnership structures differ greatly from
sector to sector, with the health partnership simply being a loose mechanism for policy dia-
logue (a number of largish meetings annually to discuss ad hoc policy issues), to more op-
erational partnerships focusing on implementation of multi-donor budget support to national
programmes (e.g. the Primary Education for All Programme and Programme 135 on Hunger
Elimination and Poverty Reduction).
14 Members of the Like-Minded Donor Group include Canada, the United Kingdom, Denmark, Finland, Norway,
Sweden, The Netherlands, Australia, Ireland and Switzerland.
3. THE MARD INSTITUTIONAL AND POLICY CONTEXT
CONDITIONING PARTNERSHIP EFFECTIVENESS
This section provides an overview of cross-sector efforts by MARD and its international part-
ners to enhance sector coordination and the adoption of sector-approaches. It includes a brief
analysis of the opportunities and barriers for “partnership effectiveness” resulting from the
immediate institutional and regulatory environment within MARD in which the partnerships
operate. This serves to inform the main analysis of partnership efficiency in Section 4 and the
conclusions of the study presented in Section 5.
3.1. Overview of aid effectiveness, sector policy development and
coordination initiatives in MARD
MARD is supporting an impressive number of sub-sector and cross-sector initiatives sup-
porting aid effectiveness and sector and sub-sector coordination15
. This includes the following
types of initiatives:
Sector policy development. • This includes the recent preparation for the establishment of
a new Rural Development Strategy for Vietnam as well as various thematic and sub-sector
strategies and action plans.
Partnership structures. • This includes the ministry-wide International Support Group and
the four sub-sector or thematic partnerships.
Good governance, decentralisation and administrative reform initiatives. • This includes
the participation in the Public Administrative Reform programme.
Initiatives to strengthen sector and aid management capacities and tools• This includes:
a) the MARD-Sida Cooperation Programme (MSCP), b) development of enhanced
systems for monitoring ODA inflows and implementation of MARD’s Five-year Socio-
Economic Development Plan, and c) several internal practitioners’ networks (such as the
International Cooperation Network and the M&E Network).
In addition, the first budget support programme• , supporting one of the national
programmes implemented under the leadership of MARD, was recently initiated in the
context of the National Target Programme for Rural Water Supply and Sanitation.
3.2. Presenting the MARD partnerships: A summary
Following the establishment of the MARD International Support Group in 1997, MARD has sup-
ported the establishment of 4 sub-sector or thematic partnerships.
Broadly speaking, the MARD partnerships are coordination frameworks enhancing sector
or sub-sector level information sharing, policy development, capacity building and resource
coordination. This support is either specifically related to ODA investments (regardless of the
modalities applied) or more broadly related to sector investments as such. At the same time,
they typically include collaborative implementation of agreed sector level activities (such as
support towards development of sub-sector policy or monitoring frameworks) without requir-
ing commitment to joint, legally binding programming. These characteristics make the MARD
partnerships quite unique in the Vietnamese context, as partnerships in other sectors, as
15 Given the wide-ranging mandate of MARD, the Ministry’s sector domain, i.e. “ARD”, is generally referred to
as “a sector”, while department level domains, such as “forestry”, “rural water supply and sanitation”, “crop produc-
tion”, etc., are often referred to as “sub-sectors”. While this nomenclature is not universally applied (e.g. the Forest
Sector Support Partnership or the Vietnam Forest Sector Development strategy), this study will apply this language.
mentioned in Section 2.5, are either loose platforms for broad-based policy dialogue or opera-
tionally focused mechanisms for joint budget support to GoV programmes.
Consequently, while most of the MARD partnerships explicitly seek to move towards higher
levels of ODA coordination and aid efficiency, they are not characterised as sector-wide ap-
proaches (SWAp) as understood by OECD/DAC, though some of them increasingly include
3.2.1. International Support Group (ISG)
The ISG was established in 1997 as an advisory structure to promote the effective use of ODA
resources. Initially, the focus of ISG was on forestry. However, a review undertaken in 1999
recommended widening the scope of the ISG to include additional sectors and activities. The
ISG’s current functions include strengthening MARD ownership and capacity in ODA man-
agement, facilitating partnership building and acting as a forum for policy dialogue, donor
coordination and information dissemination under the principles embodied in the Hanoi Core
Statement. In accordance with its current work plan (for the period 2006 to 2010), the ISG also
assists MARD to attract and coordinate foreign direct investment.
The ISG’s scope of work has increased over time as a result of developments in the ARD
sector institutionally within MARD, the general investment climate in Vietnam and the overall
ODA agenda. The ISG has supported the formulation of MARD’s Socio-economic Development
Plan/Five-Year Plan, facilitated ministry-wide policy dialogue and the work of cross-sector
Thematic Ad-hoc Groups (TAGs), and the recently established an International Cooperation
Network (ICN). The ISG is governed by a Steering Board composed of national and internation-
al partners, and is supported financially by five core donors through the ISG Trust Fund. The
ISG has also actively supported the development of sub-sector partnerships for forestry, rural
water supply and sanitation, and avian and human flu.
3.2.2. Forest Sector Support Partnership (FSSP) and Trust
fund for Forests (TFF)
The Forest Sector Support Programme and Partnership (FSSP&P) was established in 2001
through a Memorandum of Agreement (MoA) signed by the GoV and 19 international partners
(now 25 international signatories). The partnership was formed to meet the need for broader
consultation on, and support to, the sector strategy on forestry. The FSSP&P MoA included
15 major principles of cooperation, as well as an FSSP framework, with nine key results ar-
eas, highlighting key areas for sector intervention. The partnership has evolved to respond
to the changing need of collaborative support to the sector. To date, this partnership has
evolved through three distinct phases: (1) the 5 Million-Hectare Reforestation Programme
(5MHRP) Partnership, 1999 – 2001; (2) the Forest Sector Support Programme and Partnership
(FSSP&P), 2001 – 2006; and (3) an updating – revising and renaming the partnership as the
Forest Sector Support Partnership (FSSP, or the Forestry Partnership), 2006 – 2010. The part-
nership has promoted better harmonisation, enhanced the effectiveness of collaboration and
contributed to the rationalisation of the sector through the development of the Vietnam Strat-
egy on Forestry Development.
16 Critical features of SWAps include (OECD/DAC Harmonising Donor Practices for Effective Aid Delivery. Vol.
2. Budget Support, Sector-Wide Approaches and Capacity Development in Public Financial Management. DAC Guide-
lines and Reference Series, 2005):
A single comprehensive, country-led sector strategy and expenditure framework.
All significant funding, domestic and external supports the single sector strategy and expenditure framework.
Centrality of government ownership and leadership of the strategy and its implementation.
Common approaches for development partners across the sector and in line with the sector strategy.
Increasing reliance by partners on national procedures to disburse and account for funds and monitor results,
while also strengthening national systems.
In 2004, the four bilateral donors established a multi-donor Trust Fund for Forests (TTF) to
support FSSP framework priorities, the implementation of the National Forestry Development
Strategy (2001 – 2010), and the national target programme for forests (the 661 Programme).
The TFF is managed by the FSSP Coordination Office. The TFF seeks to align ODA support with
agreed FSSP framework priorities; improving the poverty targeting of ODA support; harmonis-
ing ODA delivery by reducing transaction costs with the GoV; and supporting a transition to-
wards a sector wide approach in forestry. Formed for pooling donor contributions and ensur-
ing effective use of these contributions to address agreed sector priorities, the TFF is intended
to be a “transitional step” towards direct sector budget support.
3.2.3. Natural Disaster Mitigation Partnership (NDMP)
Established in December 1999, the NDMP originally sought to address the need for coordinated
intervention for effective disaster reduction and to overcome the consequences of the frequent
disasters affecting human and economic activity in the central parts of Vietnam. The main fo-
cus of the NDMP is support for information sharing, policy dialogue, capacity building and ef-
fective utilisation of resources.
The first phase of the partnership was executed by MARD under a project managed by UNDP
from 2001 through 2003. During the preparation phase, the partnership structure was set up,
with a Steering Committee and a Secretariat. This phase focused on information sharing and
increased cooperation and coordination among agencies actively working in disaster mitigation
in Vietnam. It also identified pilot projects and priorities for disaster mitigation for implemen-
tation under the partnership framework of priority interventions and resource mobilisation.
During its second phase, the NDMP has enhanced its focus on institutional capacity building
for disaster mitigation and policy and strategic sector development. The NDMP recently adopt-
ed the draft Second National Strategy and Action Plan for Disaster Mitigation and Management
in Vietnam as its programmatic framework. It has established an Inter-agency Working Group
which facilitates the engagement of partner agencies in the planning and implementation of
NDMP sector activities. The current phase is a jointly financed project initiative supported by
five bilateral agencies, executed by the Department of Dyke Management and Storm and Flood
Control, and managed by the UNDP.
3.2.4. Rural Water Supply and Sanitation Partnership
The RWSSP was established in late 2005 as a framework for donor coordination to support the
implementation of the National RWSS Strategy. The goal of the partnership is “to contribute
to reduction of rural poverty and protection of the environment through more effective imple-
mentation of the National RWSS Strategy, the CPRGS (Comprehensive Poverty Reduction and
Growth Strategy) and other relevant GoV policies and strategies.” The partnership intends to
enhance the effectiveness of resource use in the RWSS sector through the establishment of a
collaborative mechanism for coordination and harmonisation of support for GoV policies, the
RWSS NTP and other programmes in the sector17
. The RWSSP is in a rather unique position
compared to the other MARD sub-sector partnerships in that it is linked to the nation-wide Na-
tional Target Programme for RWSS, which received budget support from three bilateral mem-
bers of the partnership (AusAID, DANIDA and The Netherlands). This enables the RWSSP to
act as an umbrella mechanism linking wider sector policy development, information sharing,
capacity building and investments from other donors to the efforts of the GoV and the three
donors in the context of the NTP. The RWSSP coordination unit is organised as an independent
unit associated with the International Cooperation Department.
17 Annex A of the RWSSP MoU
3.2.5. Partnership for Avian and Human influenza (PAHI)
The National Preparedness Plan in Response to the Avian Flu Epidemic H5N1 and the Hu-
man Influenza Pandemic, also called the “Red Book”, was prepared and approved by the GoV
in September 2005. This plan was developed to 1) prevent the emergence of a flu pandemic
throughout the country, 2) limit flu incidence and mortality rates, 3) prevent the emergence
of a flu pandemic on the global scale, and 4) be efficiently prepared for and to respond effec-
tively to a flu pandemic18
. Based on the plan the Integrated National Operational Programme
for Avian and Human Influenza (OPI) 2006 - 2010, also referred to as the “Green Book”, was
established, The OPI, which is a USD 250 million programme, was developed to provide an op-
portunity for the GoV and donors to work together on the basis of one single programme, and
was based on GoV structures. The OPI proposed to strengthen overall coordination of govern-
ment, donors and other stakeholders in support of implementation of the national plan though
the establishment of a partnership under the leadership of the National Steering Committee
for Avian Influenza.
On this basis, the Partnership for Avian and Human Pandemic Influenza (PAHI) was estab-
lished in November 2006 to improve ODA efficiency and mutual accountability. The overall
objective of PAHI is to support the implementation of the OPI by facilitating information sharing
and exchange between partners, discussion of ODA priorities and allocations, and develop-
ment of a monitoring and evaluation (M&E) framework. MARD and the Ministry of Health (MoH)
jointly maintain the leading roles in the management structure, supported by the PAHI Secre-
3.3. Presenting cross-cutting aid effectiveness, sector policy
development and coordination initiatives
3.3.1. Sector policy development
Recently MARD, at the request of the Prime Minister, has initiated the development of the
Rural Development Strategy for Vietnam (RD Strategy). The RD Strategy is intended as a com-
prehensive multi-sector framework (including health, education and the business sectors and
civil society) for people-centred, equitable, sustainable, rural poverty and economic develop-
ment. It has been established in response to Vietnam’s economic liberalisation and accession
to the WTO. A national Steering Committee and a task force, comprising representatives from
MARD, other ministries, research and business sector representatives, have been formed
to lead the policy formulation process. MARD expects to issue a draft version of the strategy
for consultations during the second quarter of 2008 and to submit a final draft strategy to the
Prime Minister for approval in 2009.
At the sub-sector level, MARD has supported the development of a range of strategies, such
as the Rural Water and Sanitation Strategy from 2000, the Vietnam Forestry Development
Strategy (the VFDS, 2006 - 2020), and the recently approved Natural Disaster Mitigation Strat-
18 The National Preparedness Plan in Response to Avian Flu Epidemic H5N1 and Human Influenza Pandemic,
September 2005, Vietnam.
3.3.2. Good governance, decentralisation and
administrative reform initiatives
MARD has supported public administrative reform (PAR) for more than five years, and in late
2006 the Minster of MARD approved a new PAR plan for the period 2006 to 2010. The third
phase of the MARD PAR support programme, funded by The Netherlands and UNDP, was ap-
proved in September 2007 with the objective of pursuing institutional, administrative, person-
nel and public finance reform initiatives within the ministry.
The goals for the MARD PAR for the period 2006 to 2010 emphasise the strengthening of the
governance functions of MARD. These are required to meet the needs of sector stakeholders
to define their contributions to sustainable sector development in the context of market liber-
alisation. Reform will be pursued through more vigorous decentralisation, clearer definition of
the functions and tasks of MARD and a restructuring of the ministry and its institutions at pro-
vincial and local levels. The PAR process has the potential to strongly influence institutional
structures, mandates and processes within MARD, which in turn will have an effect on the op-
eration of the MARD partnerships.
3.3.3. Initiatives to strengthen sector and aid management
capacities and tools
a) MARD – Sida Cooperation Programme (MSCP)
The MARD – Sida Cooperation Programme (MSCP) implemented during the period July 2005
to December 2008, is designed to improve the capacity of MARD to apply programmatic ap-
proaches to investment in the ARD sector. The MSCP is an umbrella programme for provision
of financial and programmatic inputs provided by Sida to the MARD partnerships (ISG, FSSP/
TFF, NDMP, RWSSP) and technical assistance (TA). These inputs are to be used for capacity
building in the areas of aid management and the application of programme approaches. It also
seeks to strengthen policy and strategy development capacities within MARD through provi-
sion of independent macro-level policy advice to the MARD leadership on reform and moderni-
sation of the ministry, its strategies and operations in the new national development context
(through a newly established Policy Advisory Group (PAG)).
b) Monitoring of ODA inflows and the M&E framework
Numerous efforts have been made to strengthen M&E systems at the project and sub-sector
levels, including efforts of the FSSP and RWSSP to establish sub-sector performance moni-
toring systems in their sub-sectors. However, these efforts have been pursued in the absence
of a comprehensive M&E framework for the ministry, resulting in fragmentation and confusion
as different departments maintain their own databases and systems. Initial efforts to address
this situation by the MARD-Sida Cooperation Programme have now been taken over by the
SDC-supported MESMARD project, which will develop a framework for sector level monitoring
of the implementation of the MARD five-year Socio-economic Development Plan. These efforts
are complemented by the piloting of the Aligned Management Tool (AMT) for ODA management
in MARD as part of a national initiative supported by the Ministry of Planning and Investment
and several international agencies.
c) Internal practitioners’ networks
The ISG has recently supported the establishment of an internal “international cooperation
practitioners’ network” comprising staff of departments and institutions throughout MARD
who are involved in ODA financed activities. The core objective of this network is to enhance
the international cooperation capacity of departmental staff in response to the gradual trans-
fer of ODA management responsibilities to technical departments and lower administrative
levels. This delegation of responsibility is taking place as a consequence of the new Decision
131 on ODA management and the general aid effectiveness and decentralisation efforts of the
GoV and its international partners. Likewise, a MARD M&E Network, comprising practition-
ers from most MARD departments, has recently been established as part of the efforts by the
MESMARD project to establish the MARD M&E Framework. It is anticipated that the establish-
ment of such practitioners’ networks will contribute significantly to strengthening lateral in-
formation management and coordination within MARD.
3.4. MARD level policy and institutional issues affecting
3.4.1. Division of ODA management responsibilities
between MARD departments
The division of mandates, authority and responsibilities within MARD is defined on the basis of
“state management responsibilities” assigned to individual departments. The International Co-
operation Department (ICD) maintains the overall responsibility for international cooperation,
while technical departments maintain state management responsibilities for planning, regula-
tion and service delivery in individual sub-sectors. Internationally supported projects are often
implemented through sub-sector project management offices responsible for the implementa-
tion of several projects, with each project being managed by a project management unit. In ad-
dition, most technical departments include a small international cooperation section respon-
sible for the overall coordination of departmental relations with international agencies. The
formal division of responsibilities for international cooperation in MARD is, therefore, shared
between ICD and individual technical departments, leaving the door open for uncertainty about
the exact division of responsibility.
Furthermore, with internally supported programmes increasingly being aligned with na-
tional planning frameworks and executed nationally, the involvement of technical departments
in ODA management is changing.
The functional division of responsibilities between MARD departments has implications for
the decision about where to embed the partnerships institutionally within MARD. The partner-
ships, as part of their rationale, include elements of international cooperation, policy develop-
ment and a focus on “technical” sub-sector issues as well as efficiency of sector resource use
and planning. Decisions in this regard are critical determining factors for the internal owner-
ship of partnership operations and, consequently, for their evolution, viability and success as
institutions. These issues are discussed further in Section 4.2.3.
3.4.2. Proliferation of partnership initiatives: Challenges
to the division of work between partnerships at the
sector and sub-sector levels
The proliferation of partnership initiatives within and outside MARD has resulted in an increas-
ing risk of overlap between the programmatic and operational functions and the responsibili-
ties of partnerships. These overlaps have occurred at different levels within MARD; between
partnerships at the sub-sector level within MARD, and between MARD partnerships and part-
nerships embedded in other ministries. It is critical to maintain a reasonable level of discipline
when deciding on the establishment of new partnership initiatives and when defining the exact
programmatic and operational division of work between existing partnerships. This helps to
avoid “partnership fatigue” and stress on the scarce operational resources of the national and
international partners involved. A recent example of potential overlap between partnership ini-
tiatives is the proposal to establish one for sustainable forestland management. Such a part-
nership would overlap programmatically with the FSSP. The ongoing preparation of a national
sanitation strategy covering urban as well as rural sanitation across sectors of water, industry,
animal husbandry, etc., similarly points to the need to ensure strong coordination between
partnership initiatives at different levels.
More specifically, in the context of MARD, it is generally acknowledged that the presence of
collaborative coordination mechanisms at both the ministerial level (ISG) and the sub-sector
level is warranted. However, this “dual-layer” partnership structure also poses a risk for over-
lapping responsibilities as discussed above. This issue is discussed further in Section 4.2.6.
3.4.3. Challenges to creating linkages between
partnerships and national/cross-sector aid
effectiveness and coordination initiatives
The partnerships are collaborative mechanisms for enhanced sector and sub-sector coordi-
nation and performance management. They are well positioned to function as platforms for
translating national and ministry level aid effectiveness, sector coordination and public admin-
istrative reform initiatives into practice at the sector and provincial levels. This would require
creation of synergies between such national or ministry level initiatives and priority setting at
the partnership/sub-sector level on the one hand, and establishment of effective linkages be-
tween the partnerships and provincial stakeholders on the other hand.
However, the study reveals that very limited linkages exist between partnership priority
setting and the PRSC process19
, the work of the Partnership Group for Aid Effectiveness20
MARD Public Administrative Reform process and the efforts to create a MARD level sector and
ODA M&E framework.
The relatively weak linkages between the partnerships and the provincial level are further
discussed in Section 4.3.3.
As the same MARD and donor agencies are often represented in higher-level cross-cutting
initiatives and in various partnerships, the above discussion points to the need to improve the
internal coordination within these agencies in various aid effectiveness initiatives and partner-
ships. Likewise, at the partnership level, individual partnerships could more proactively seek
to adopt sub-sector level follow-on action to national and ministerial initiatives as part of their
internal priority setting and work planning.
19 The latest PRSC review pointed to weak linkages between the PRSC process and the sector line ministries.
This serves to illustrate the obvious advantages to the GoV of establishing stronger linkages between national level
aid effectiveness processes and sector partnerships. The MARD partnerships would be well positioned as platforms
for defining policy issues to be considered by the PRSC process, and to facilitate coordination of PRSC indicator imple-
mentation at the MARD level (given that partnerships, like the PRSC triggers, often relate to issues that are broader
than the typical mandate of a technical department).
20 The leadership of the Partnership Group for Aid Effectiveness (PGAE) has emphasised the need to “rational-
ise” the relationship between sector partnerships and the PGAE, pointing to the difficulties of engaging effectively with
the many and, often very different, sector partnerships. In an effort to enhance the engagement of the partnerships in
the aid effectiveness agenda, this would include establishment of a sensible division of work between the PGAE and
the partnerships. The PGAE would focus on alignment of macro-level cross-cutting initiatives (such as alignment of
systems for procurement and resettlement), while the sector partnerships would focus on the application of such
systems at the sector level. Furthermore, in late 2007 the PGAE selected MARD as a “model” for HCS implementation,
and requested preparation of a ministry level “Framework for HCS Implementation” outlining a detailed roadmap for
HCS implementation. MARD was selected in recognition of the aid effectiveness achievements of the ministry. The
preparation and implementation of the MARD HCS Framework may, if done in consultation with the partnerships and
MARD stakeholders in general, serve to enhance the linkages between aid effectiveness action at the national level,
the ARD sector and the sub-sector partnerships.
3.4.4. Obstacles to the integration of sector strategies in
the mainstream planning framework
Several partnerships have supported the establishment of sub-sector strategies and action
plans (FSSP, NDMP), and all four sub-sector partnerships have adopted such strategies as
their overall programme framework or programmatic reference point. There are, however,
significant barriers to integration between sector strategies and the mainstream GoV Socio-
economic Development Plan/Five-Year Plan (SEDP/FYP) framework, as demonstrated during
the 2005 consultation process for the 2006 to 2010 SEDP. Operationally, these challenges to
integration with the mainstream planning system reduce the efficiency by which action plans
derived from sub-sector strategies can be implemented. This in turn affects the level of own-
ership of strategy activities by national agencies, as these are considered core work responsi-
bilities of the agencies concerned21
3.4.5. Challenges to lateral coordination between
ministries, departments and cross-sector policy
Following the system for assignment of state management responsibilities, individual minis-
tries or departments are assigned lead responsibility for the management of individual sec-
tors. They are also assigned the leadership for implementation of cross-sector or generic is-
sues that require coordination and collaboration between government institutions across sec-
tors. In addition, several departments or ministries may maintain state management respon-
sibilities for different aspects of management within a sector. The fact that several agencies
maintain ownership of various aspects of the management processes influences the efficiency
of cross-cutting sector management.
This system of multiple sector management responsibility also has implications for the
efficiency of partnership operations. Leadership of a partnership by one lead agency tends
to affect the sense of ownership of the partnership processes of the agencies that maintain
responsibilities within the sector covered by the partnership, but who are not assigned the
leadership role in the partnership. However, these challenges to sector coordination also cre-
ate opportunities for the partnerships, as the MARD leadership, in several cases, has looked
towards these as the only existing mechanisms that can secure a reasonable degree of inter-
. That cross-sector, emerging and/or thematic issues, such as climate
change or gender equity, often have multiple or unclear “institutional homes” also affects the
ability of the partnerships to deal effectively with such issues.
3.4.6. Aid effectiveness agenda still hampered by
reluctance by stakeholders within MARD and
As noted in Section 2.5, the recent review of the implementation of the Hanoi Core Statement
(HCS) pointed to the need to further strengthen the implementation of the HSC. In the context
of MARD, while pursuit of the partnerships and the many cross-sector, aid effectiveness-
related initiatives is, in itself, an indication of the commitment of MARD and its international
partners towards aid effectiveness in general, and the HCS in particular, there are several
21 As an illustration of this issue, it required significant effort on the part of the FSSP to align the forest sector
SEDP and the Vietnam Forestry Development Strategy (VFDS), which were under preparation at the same time.
22 The potential function of the RWSSP as a mechanism for coordination between MARD and the Ministry of
Health in the field of rural sanitation was, for instance, an explicitly stated incentive for the MARD leadership to estab-
lish this partnership.
examples of both sides not fully “walking the talk” when it comes to reflecting these intentions
Within MARD, various stakeholders have varying degrees of commitment towards sector
coordination, application of SWAp, or similar approaches, and new collective aid modalities.
While there is a tentative commitment in this regard at the level of the MARD leadership and
ICD, many functional departments and implementing centres maintain an entrenched and
vested interest in sticking with the project modality. Furthermore, MARD has deliberately re-
frained from recommending new aid modalities in view of the resistance from several donors,
including, mainly, multilateral financial institutions.
3.4.7. Administrative authority, resources, financial and
managerial regulations, and culture
Among national and international partners alike, there is limited appreciation that coordina-
tion and collaborative action requires time, effort and resources. A careful balance needs to be
maintained between process, efficiency and content of the coordination effort in order for it to
be meaningful to its stakeholders. Also it must be recognised that both national and interna-
tional agencies face limitations with regard to the amount and quality of human resources that
can be allocated towards joint aid effectiveness and coordination efforts.
On the international side, the general trend towards decentralisation of authority to local
representations in many ways provides incentives for entering collaborative arrangements.
However, it also limits the time available for staff to engage in what is often considered non-
core business. The increased local authority is rarely matched by the allocation of the human
resources required to fulfil this added authority. Similarly, the ability of international partners
to engage in technical or policy sector dialogues is often hampered by the fact that representa-
tives authorised to engage in policy conversations are embassy generalists with limited sector
or country-specific expertise, rather than technical or project level expertise.
Quite uniquely, INGOs generally have full access to participate in the MARD partnerships,
which, therefore, offer access to policy forums that may not be available to INGOs in other
sectors in Vietnam or in other countries. However, in practice, engagement by many INGOs is
restricted by their dependence on project-based funding, which does not allow them to spend
the amount of time required to fully exploit this opportunity. This constitutes a major loss of
opportunity because indigenous civil society organisations are at a very rudimentary stage of
development in Vietnam.
Similarly, on MARD’s side, it must be recognised that limitations in human resource avail-
ability and administrative budgets affect the ability of leaders and officers to engage in part-
nership activities. The situation is similar for international partners. Engaging in partnership
operations is often considered non-core work, though increasingly MARD leaders perceive
pursuit of aid effectiveness and coordination efforts as an integral part of their responsibility.
The fact that partnership activities are rarely reflected in departmental work plans further
compounds this issue.
Furthermore, it is an often heard observation from international partners that MARD ought
to take a stronger leadership in aid management and coordination in general and more specifi-
cally in the context of the partnerships. However, it may be questioned if mid-level MARD lead-
ers have the institutional authority required to effectively pursue donor coordination not only at
the formal level, but also at the (very important) informal level.
Due to perceived operational and administrative limitations when following national sys-
tems, MARD and international partners alike have, until now, maintained a preference for cre-
ating the partnerships as “independent units” or “projects” rather than fully-fledged internal
units in the respective hosting departments.
4. COMPARATIVE ANALYSIS OF PARTNERSHIP
EFFICIENCY: WHAT WORKS WHERE,
WHAT DOES NOT?
4.1. The Initiation of partnerships
Based on experience from the establishment of the current MARD partnerships, the issues
discussed in the following were identified as critical to ensure that stakeholders feel a strong
sense of ownership of partnership structures.
4.1.1. Collective analysis
A commonly agreed analysis of sector development needs among sector stakeholders was
of major importance in establishment of the FSSP (then the 5 Million-Hectare Reforestation
Programme Partnership), RWSSP and PAHI. For the FSSP, the design of this partnership was
preceded by an elaborate two-year analysis of forest-sector development needs, supported by
three task forces comprised of experts from interested GoV and international agencies. The
establishment of the RWSSP was preceded by a Joint GoV/Donor RWSS Sector Review, sup-
ported by the GoV and five donors active in RWSS.
4.1.2. Presence of lead-agents with a mandate and desire
to look beyond narrow institutional interests
Interested international agencies had critical facilitating roles in the establishment of all five
partnerships. Sida was a vital driving force in establishment of the ISG, with similar roles of
the Royal Netherlands Embassy for the FSSP, Danida for the RWSSP, the UNDP for the NDMP,
and the UNDP and the World Bank for PAHI.
An important lesson in this regard is that this driving role must emphasise collective own-
ership of the sector analysis and partnership design processes, rather than emphasising in-
dividual ownership by the concerned driving agent. This lesson is clearly demonstrated in the
NDMP, which suffers from the entrenched reputation that this partnership is a “UNDP project”,
since the first phase was established as a UNDP project, and despite the second phase being
jointly financed by five core donors. Comparatively, the leadership demonstrated by the Royal
Netherlands Embassy during the preparation for the establishment of the FSSP is a good ex-
ample of approach to these collective processes.
Over time, MARD has taken an increasingly pro-active and leading role in the conceptualisa-
tion and design of the partnerships, as demonstrated in the RWSSP and PAHI. This evolution
reflects an increasing appreciation by MARD of the useful roles and functions played by the
4.1.3. Careful definition of the sectoral scope of
Given the wide mandate of MARD and the broad scope of the “agriculture and rural develop-
ment” sector, the definition of “sectors” and themes frequently overlap. Thus, it is essential to
carefully define the sectoral or thematic scope of each partnership to make the programmatic
focus of each partnership meaningful to its constituency and to avoid overlap.
Ensuring that the programmatic focus of a partnership is relevant to constituencies is criti-
cal for fostering the sense of ownership needed to ensure the partnership’s viability. To do so,
not only the programmatic or thematic interest, but also the sectoral institutional reality of Vi-
etnam must be considered. Such institutional considerations were among the primary reasons
for narrowing of the programmatic focus of the RWSSP to “rural water supply and sanitation”
as opposed to “water supply and sanitation” or “water”23
Narrowing the programmatic focus of partnerships has enabled partnership efficiency;
however, all MARD partnerships are to some extent “cross-sectoral” and must engage insti-
tutions across sectoral lines. For instance, a key to the rationale for establishing the RWSSP
and PAHI was facilitating critical institutional coordination between MARD and the Ministry of
Health in rural water supply, sanitation and avian flu.
4.1.4. Using prior experience
Over the 12 years since the ISG was established as the first partnership in MARD, an enormous
body of experience in “what works, what doesn’t” has accumulated. It is critical to utilise this
learning when establishing new partnerships; for instance, the RWSSP design was clearly in-
formed by the design, experiences and evolution of the FSSP.
4.2. The machinery of partnerships
4.2.1. Basic rationale, objective and programme
a) Scope and depth of partnership cooperation
All sub-sectoral partnerships are now largely intended as collaborative mechanisms for co-
ordination of national and international investments in support of government strategies and
programmes. The partnerships share the following common characteristics:
They are frameworks for voluntary engagement by interested agencies rather than legally•
binding frameworks for joint programming.
They are structures for coordination of sector interventions regardless of the•
implementation modalities applied by stakeholders.
None includes a roadmap or blueprint for evolution towards SWAp or SWAp-like•
structures. Instead, they are based on a notion that incremental evolution towards more
binding collaborations is desirable.
While being voluntary, all partnerships have established frameworks for definition•
of jointly agreed sector-support activities, and established small and jointly-funded
institutional structures to implement these activities or coordinate implementation by
partner agencies. Thus they go beyond merely being platforms for policy dialogue and
coordination, without getting into legally binding joint-programming.
All partnerships are fully inclusive, i.e. in principle all interested government agencies•
and international partners (donors and INGOs) can join. The FSSP has recently revised its
structure to open up its activities to all interested sector stakeholders, including domestic
non-governmental groups, and domestic and foreign business sector representatives.
b) Frameworks for sector coordination or for coordination of international support?
The degree to which the partnerships were originally intended as frameworks for sector co-
ordination or as frameworks for coordination of international support for sector development
has influenced the evolution of their respective programme frameworks and linkages to na-
23 Rural water and sanitation is the domain of MARD while urban water and sanitation is the domain of the Min-
istry of Construction (MoC). The more generic “water resource management sector” is caught in institutional rivalry
among the Ministry of Natural Resources and the Environment, MARD, MOC and others.
tional strategic frameworks. The evolution of the programmatic basis for each of the partner-
ships may be summarised as follows:
The original rationale of the FSSP was very ambitious. The FSSP Programme Framework•
was seen (by international partners at least!) as the main coordination framework for the
forest sector. In 2003, the FSSP decided to support the preparation of the current Vietnam
Forestry Development Strategy (VFDS, 2006 – 2020) and in early 2007 adopted the VFDS
as its programmatic basis, abandoning its original Programme Framework.
On the other hand, from the onset PAHI had a more narrow rationale to effectively serve•
as the “international cooperation arm” of the National Steering Committee for Avian
and Human Influenza (NSCAI), to facilitate policy dialogue and support monitoring of
international assistance towards avian and human flu in the context of the Green Book.
The Green Book, adopted by the NSCAI as the core programme basis for the GoV’s efforts
to combat avian flu, is therefore the programmatic basis for PAHI as well.
From the onset, RWSSP partners established the GoV National Rural Water and•
Sanitation Strategy (NRWSS) as the overall programmatic basis for the partnership. The
RWSSP Programme Framework was then established to define a limited set of priority
intervention areas where all partners agreed to support the NRWSS.
The NDMP was originally a component of a UNDP project and then later re-established•
as a joint project between MARD and five donors (UNDP, AusAID, RNE, Luxembourg and
Sida). In both phases the programmatic basis for the NDMP was a logframe contained
in the UNDP project document that formed the legal basis for this partnership. In July
2007, the NDMP Steering Committee finally adopted the draft GoV NDM Strategy as the
basic programme framework for the partnership, and decided to support development
by the GoV of an action plan to implement the strategy, which will form the basis for
establishment of collective action priorities for the NDMP.
c) Partnerships as frameworks for support to national programmes?
Another factor influencing the overall orientation of the partnerships has been the extent to
which they were intended as frameworks for support to national programmes in their respec-
In 1999, 15 international agencies in the forest sector agreed with MARD to establish a•
“5MHRP Partnership” to support the National Target Programme for the forest sector
(the 5 Million-Hectare Reforestation Programme, or 5MHRP). As part of its design, it
was subsequently decided to broaden the partnership to support the entire forest sector.
This was partly due to the perceived lack of incentives for the 5MHRP to “open up” to
international financial support (and accountability procedures), and concerns among
international partners about the rationale and operational integrity of the 5MHRP.
As regards PAHI, early exploration of the opportunities for establishing a joint avian•
influenzy programme based on the existing UN Joint Programme for Avian and Human
Influenza (AHI), the new World Bank AHI programme and project initiatives supported by
other donors did not materialise. Instead, the Green Book was established as an overall
framework for implementation of individual projects and programmes. PAHI is therefore
focused on coordination and monitoring of clusters of international programme inputs
defined in the context of the Green Book, rather than focusing on implementation of a joint
Overlapping time-wise with the design of the RWSSP, the GoV embarked on the•
formulation of the second phase of the National Target Programme for RWSS (NTP II,
a GoV programme as the main mechanism for nation-wide government RWSS service
delivery), and the formulation of a targeted budget support programme (TPBS) for