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Evaluation report

2012 China: Report of Final Evaluation of (MDGF) Joint Programme: UN-China Protecting and Promoting the Rights of China’s Vulnerable Young Migrants (YEM)

Author: Meng, Hongwei

Executive summary

"With the aim to continuously improve transparency and use of evaluation, UNICEF Evaluation Office manages the "Global Evaluation Reports Oversight System". Within this system, an external independent company reviews and rates all evaluation reports. Please ensure that you check the quality of this evaluation report, whether it is "Outstanding, Best Practice", "Highly Satisfactory", "Mostly Satisfactory" or "Unsatisfactory" before using it. You will find the link to the quality rating below, labeled as 'Part 2' of the report."


This report provides a final evaluation of the MDG-F Joint Programme on Protecting and Promoting the Rights of China’s Vulnerable Young Migrants (YEM), which started on 11 February 2009 and was completed in mid-February 2012.

The report sets out the findings and recommendations of the final evaluation following the MDG-F secretariat recommended structure for Evaluation Reports. Following a consultation process and feedback from the UN and national programme managers and coordinators, the report addresses the specific issues raised in the Terms of Reference for the evaluation, both those of the YEM programme within the context of the China, and those raised within the context of the MDG-F thematic windows.

The YEM final evaluation ran from July 2011 to February 2012, starting with an initial briefing meeting in the YEM Programme Management Office in Beijing on 2 August, de-briefing with the UN coordinator on 27 August and meetings with programme staff between 7 and 27 September 2011. According to the proposed itinerary and agenda of field visits for the final evaluation of YEM, the consultant visited Tianjin, Xi’an and Cangzhou from 13 to 28 October 2011.

This evaluation was summative in nature. It seeks to measure the extent to which the joint programme has fully implemented its activities, delivered outputs and attained outcomes, particularly with regard to the impact and sustainability of the various interventions. It is also intended to identify the best practices and lessons learned from the YEM programme that could be useful to other development interventions at the national (scale up) and international level (replicability).

Findings and Conclusions:

Relevance & Design:
1. The overall objective and the expected outcomes of the YEM project precisely covers the theoretical and practical issues that the Chinese government is facing with regard to developing a harmonious society and the government’s immediate objectives regarding the improved protection of migrant workers and the achievement of China’s MDGs on poverty, education, gender equality, maternal health and HIV/AIDS. YEM was firmly rooted in the development priorities indicated in the 2006-2010 UNDAF, and the MDGs.
2. The overall design of the Programme focused on support for the Chinese Government in managing the positive and negative effects of internal labour migration, through the joint effort of nine UN agencies using their diverse and cross-sectoral expertise and experience, rather than through any single UN agency. It offered a useful opportunity to help the Chinese Government strengthen cooperation between Ministries and Departments.
3. The evaluation noted that the target groups were in line with the aims of the programme, focusing on young migrants in major sending and receiving areas in China and were consistent with the general pattern of distribution of the migrant population reported by the National Population and Family Planning Commission in 2011.

Process & Efficiency:
4. The outputs of the YEM programme demonstrated a high level of efficiency in implementing and managing the programme, particularly for such a complex design, the short period of implementation and with so many agencies and organizations involved.
5. Major achievements of the YEM programme can be summarized as follows:
Policy dialogue involving all key stakeholders equally has been actively promoted to strengthen communications and enhance awareness of the rights of migrant workers, and the service awareness of the relevant government departments.
An information exchange platform on research on young migrant workers has been launched. (website: www.youngmigrants.org).
Awareness raising campaigns, training, and the provision of services, etc, organized by communities and NGOs promoted the integration of young migrant workers in the urban communities.
16 comprehensive community service centers were established in the selected pilot sites to provide one-stop service for the young migrant workers in the community.
A network of reliable and needs-based employment services among public and private employment services agencies was established in pilot cities to increase the migrants’ reliance on formal migration channels, which has improved the quality and depth of job information related decent work indicators, including the specifics of job responsibilities, wages and benefits, the reliability of the employer, working conditions, access to training and social insurance, etc.
Training programmes focusing on strengthening the employability of young migrant workers and rural youth have been tested. These programmes include pre-employment, skills upgrading and business start-up training to promote safe and orderly migration and help them find employment more successfully.
- An innovative comprehensive life-skills training package for rural youth and young migrant workers has been developed. It was widely presented to and welcomed by young migrants at different venues, such as middle and vocational schools, community service centers, enterprises, etc., through diverse teaching approaches, including peer education, which empowers young migrants to become active disseminators of knowledge and information.
The registration of migrant children has been piloted in pilot sites to enhance their protection and access to social services. The registration of migrant children has been included in the NPA on children (2011-2020) issued by NWCCW in July 2011.
Strong outreach of labour laws and regulations to promote the protection of rights of young migrant workers, especially for the protection of particularly vulnerable groups, such as young female migrant workers and domestic workers.
A health promotion model to promote the use of appropriate health services by migrant youth has been developed and tested in the pilot sites. It provided more opportunities for young migrant workers to have access to health knowledge and enjoy health services.
A number of government departments, enterprises and training agency staffs, and youth peer educators of migrant workers have been trained. They are the most important and valuable human resources for relevant training activities to be carried out in the future.
6. The senior leadership of the Chinese government and UN agencies attach great importance to the YEM programme. This provided a strong guarantee for the smooth implementation of the programme. As the coordinating agencies, senior government and UN officials, particularly the two PMC Co-Chairs from ILO and the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security are deeply committed to this programme.
7. The PMO played a very important role in the daily management and coordination among the partners as well as M&E. Their efforts to develop YEM implementation, coordination and communication Guidelines to share with all partners were very helpful and h in turn further strengthened the coordination among the partners and the efficiency of the programme.
8. With the aim of improving UN coordination, effectiveness and efficiency in supporting the realisation of national goals and outcomes, a number of reforms have been introduced to simplify and harmonise programming at the country level. Since the beginning of the 21st century, UN agencies in China have started to implement measures such as the UN development frameworks (UNDAF) developed jointly with the Chinese government to cover a five-year cycle. The results of the implementation of the YEM programme show that it further promoted cooperation among UN agencies and national counterparts and institutions.

Results & Effectiveness:
9. Looking at YEM’s achievements against the three outcomes and ten outputs listed in the YEM Programme Document, the programme is likely to fulfil the objectives of all activities proposed. Of course, for such an ambitious and complex programme, there is room for further improvement.
10. With the great commitment and active participation of the implementing partners, the past three years have witnessed an impressive array of activities delivered under this very complex joint programme, including policy dialogues, research, materials development, piloting training, service, and advocacy campaigns, promotions and information sharing, etc. Around 400,000 individuals, including young migrant workers, rural youth, migrant children, civil servants, community workers and service providers have directly benefitted from the

YEM Joint Programme:
11. The YEM programme has had a significant impact at the local level, giving the YEM programme a wide geographic impact and an opportunity to maintain YEM’s current operations in most of the pilot sites. Feedback from the local authorities has confirmed their interest and further support after the end of the programme. This is seen as a positive development and fully in line with the expectations of the YEM programme.
12. Given the Chinese Government’s willingness and capacity to replicate and mainstream successful pilots, the solutions developed within the Joint Programme will have the potential to significantly contribute to China’s MDGs on poverty, education, gender equality, maternal health and HIV/AIDS. Beyond the potential impact on China’s 150 million migrants, this programme will have a substantial influence on global MDG indicators. Many of the interventions that have proven effective can be adapted to address youth employment and labour migration challenges worldwide.

Ownership & Sustainability:
13. Focusing on the social inclusion of migrant workers, the piloted initiatives of YEM such as a study on migration trends, institutional services, protection mechanisms, and existing initiatives and the registration of migrant children have led to policy recommendations which were reflected in the 12th national five-year plan and related sector plans concerning population and social development, as well as relevant national policy on the implementation of a residence certificate system.
14. YEM activities that offered opportunities for university volunteers to mentor migrant children provided enriching experiences for both parties, as well as a feasible and replicable model for the “Young Volunteers Caring for Migrant Children Action” launched in 2010, and currently being implemented in more than 2700 pilot counties across the country.
15. YEM flexible courses showed good prospects of sustainability. Relevant UN and national partners will continue to carry out training of trainers and deliver flexible courses to rural youth. Outstanding cases and good practices will be collected and documented to develop a “trainers’ manual” guiding the trainers and delivery of training. The flexible courses will be further improved and updated as well.
16. Participating in YEM research and entrepreneurship training were proven to be excellent capacity building processes for the local government departments that helped Cangzhou apply for and become one of the first three pilots for “Building Up an Entrepreneurial City” in Hebei Province. Financial support from the provincial government will be available in the future to further promote entrepreneurship training.
17. YEM life skills training was introduced to 192 rural labour transfer model counties and the practices (especially the participatory methods) will be integrated into pre-employment training and be further promoted through the training platform.
18. The integration of life skills training in the curriculum of secondary vocational schools, piloted by YEM, received positive results. This practice will be scaled up beyond the project cycle in Guizhou Province, in particular in the ethnic minority areas, to prepare the minority youth for safe migration, decent jobs and living in cities.
19. The successful implementation of this programme and the strong partnership displayed with the implementing agencies should serve as a model for future programmes of this kind, and its results and experiences deserve wide dissemination. It should be seen as a solid base for the implementation of UNDAF 2011-2015 in China.


1. The design of the joint project should include the details of how to join outputs together including the testing areas, the distribution of funds and the evaluation of results.
2. Enhanced dialogue between UN agencies and senior Chinese leaders could improve the impact and sustainability of the project through the further application of the policies tested through YEM.
3. Future programmes such as YEM should consider the selection of joint pilot sites to make cooperation among the related departments relatively easier and to increase the impact of the interventions. UN organizations should discuss cooperation mechanisms with government counterparts to ensure proper coordination.
4. Proper funding for a joint project office should be ensured to upgrade project office management and monitoring capabilities.
5. The design process of UN projects should be long enough and the project proposal should be detailed enough to cover all the output activities. Such a process would not only benefit project implementation, but also the evaluation of the comprehensive effect (impact) of outputs and activities. If possible, a comprehensive, overall review of the project design led by the project office could mitigate the shortcomings of the earlier design.
6. For large-scale cross-sector comprehensive projects like YEM, a longer implementation period would allow establishment of solid coordination mechanisms and increase the impact of the project. The first year could be dedicated to coordination and preparation of the project launch, the second year to start pilots, the third year to review and modify the project results for comprehensive coordination and re-piloting, and the fourth year to summarize project results. Contracts of the project experts and administrators should continue long enough after the official end of the project to enable them to complete reporting and closure requirements.
7. Building the capacity of appropriate domestic organizations to manage information and carry out monitoring and evaluation could improve governance ability in the long term, by improving cooperation mechanisms among government departments and contributing to evidence-based decision-making.
8. To ensure the sustainability of results, the project design should consider the feasibility of national ownership – and funding – of successful pilot experiences after the programme is finished.
9. The programme design should include project management training for the personnel in implementing organizations, for example, accounting procedures, regulation of shared responsibilities and funds, how to write reports etc, while hosting joint activities. In addition, for future projects, a Chinese version of project management guidelines should be provided at an early stage to the domestic partners, especially local partners, who participate in implementing activities.
10. Based on the participatory training concept and practice brought out by YEM, the UN organizations may wish to pay further attention to building up a professional team to promote participatory training in China, as a new concept for project management and design.
11. The establishment of a joint project technical team to provide the necessary training and support and utilizing available domestic and international experts , would have contributed greatly to the sustainability of the project. The development of such an expert team would become an important domestic human resource over time.
12. The impact of YEM has been noticeable and widespread as a model of a comprehensive response to young migrants’ issues in China. An international high level forum describing the successful outcomes of the YEM Programme in China could be initiated with the help of UN agencies under the overall framework of UNDAF 2011-15 as one avenue to make YEM approaches more effective, efficient and sustainable.

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