A VfM assessment of the Gender Responsive Equitable Agriculture and Tourism program
Learning and Change collaborated with AusAid through their initiative AUS4Equality’s “Gender Responsive Equitable Agriculture and Tourism (GREAT) program in Vietnam. Since 2017, this programme has worked to promote women’s economic empowerment (WEE) in the ethnically diverse northwest region of Vietnam. The primary beneficiaries are women living in the provinces of Son La and Lao Cai with a focus on the economic inclusion of women from ethnic minority communities.
The GREAT programme is funded by the Australian Government and supported by the Provincial People’s Committees of Son La and Lao Cai provinces. From 2017 to 2022, with a budget of AUD 33.7 million, the first phase of this programme worked hard to improve the social and economic status of ethnic minority women living in Northwest Vietnam.
The objectives of GREAT
The programme uses a multi-pronged approach using the social-ecological system to inform their practices to achieve following program outcomes:
- Empowering local women: Women living in local communities have increased capacity, space, and choices to beneficially engage with agriculture and tourism businesses.
- Inclusive business partnerships: Selected private sector actors within the agriculture and tourism sectors innovate to profitably and sustainably trade
- Improving sector governance and policy: Government agencies reinforce policies, and enact plans, regulations, and services that enable more inclusive socio-economic development.
The need for a VfM assessment
To better understand the impact that the GREAT program had over its 5-year run, Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) commissioned a Mid-term review. One of the main recommendations was to “develop criteria to define what good value for money (VfM) looks like for GREAT,” which would give deeper insights into the program’s values, principles, and practices .
The VfM assessment
Following the Mid-term review recommendation, Learning and Change was contracted to conduct a VfM assessment and assist GREAT to develop a tailored Framework for VfM . This involved (i) a review of the current systems, tools, and practices by GREAT to provide an understanding of how the Program is tracking against VfM criteria and opportunities for improvement; and (ii) to develop of a Framework and Operational Guide, including Procedures and Analysis Tools to ensure VfM at the Program, sector, and sub-sector levels aligned with DFAT’s VfM principles.
The assessment was undertaken remotely, mostly using existing data sets and reports. The GREAT team was responsible for the data collection using GREAT’s VfM Toolkit and Learning and Change was responsible for the analysis and identifying the key findings. The findings were reviewed and discussed in a VfM Task Force meeting to identify key recommendations to move forward.
Recognizing the holistic approach that GREAT used to advance women’s empowerment in the provinces of Lai Cao and Son La, the VfM assessment included the following actions;
- Desktop review
- Data collection
- Analysis and identification of preliminary findings
- Interviews with the GREAT team
- Scoring of the VfM Components &
- VfM Task Force meetings
Usefulness of a VfM assessment
Through this VfM approach, GREAT was able to use the findings of the assessment to feed into the design of Phase 2 of the program and have a greater reach and impact on the lives of women, particularly minority women in Vietnam.
VfM assessments help organizations reflect on whether the resources invested in the different areas of work are generating the desired impact and, if not, what needs to be done differently for this to happen. In the international development and aid sector, it gives organizations and their stakeholders a comprehensive framework to understand whether they are investing their resources in the areas of work where they are generating the most change.
If your organization is interested in maximizing its value for money, reach out to Learning and Change to develop a framework or to get more insight into how value for money can have a positive impact and help your organization transform the lives of the people you are targeting.
Learn more about our work on VfM here.