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Tunisia: Forestry Development Project (Ln. 2870-TUN)

The Tunisia Forestry Development project, supported by Loan 2870-TUN for US$20.0 million, was approved in FY88. The loan was not fully disbursed and US$2.6 million was canceled when the project closed on schedule in FY96. The Implementation Completion report (ICR) was prepared by the FAO/World Bank Cooperative Program for the Middle East and North Africa Regional Office. The borrower contributed to the aide memoire of the ICR mission, included in the ICR as Appendix A. The borrower did not prepare its own final evaluation report.

The project's objectives were to increase fuelwood and industrial wood production, improve grassland and range management, reduce soil erosion and increase soil water retention, and preserve natural resources and wildlife to complement cultural and recreational facilities. The staff appraisal report included an even more ambitious objective_ improving the cost-effectiveness of the Forestry Directorate_ that the project was not designed to achieve. Specifically, the project was to: (i) support forest exploitation and regeneration by thinning and harvesting plantations and natural forests; (ii) expand public and private forest plantations through tree planting and protection; (iii) intensify forest management in degraded public forest areas by providing management plans, facilities, and equipment; (iv) expand and rehabilitate range lands in forest areas through pasture development and improvement; and (v) strengthen the Forestry Directorate by supporting preparation of national forest and range inventories, improving national park management, supporting technical assistance and training, and by providing buildings and equipment.

The project achieved a substantial proportion of most of its physical targets. Forest regeneration activities were completed on 62,000 ha, 86 percent of the target; forest plantations were established on 7,500 ha, 70 percent of the target; and pastures were developed on 3,000 ha, more than 80 percent of the target. Activities to support intensified forest management were mostly completed, including buildings and road construction, provision of equipment, and boundary marking. Support for institutional development met or exceeded the targets set for forest inventory, nature conservation, consultant services, training, forest research, and equipment. However, there were a number of shortcomings, some attributable to a drought in 1993-94, but others the result of weaknesses in preparation or implementation. There was less mechanized tree planting than expected because sufficient land suitable for planting could not be found, a reflection of inadequate project preparation. The quality of pasture improvement is judged by the ICR to be poor, and no appropriate range management systems were put in place. Institutional development gains were concentrated in the Forestry Directorate, and important intersectoral links to other parts of the Ministry of Agriculture, such as those needed for livestock development were not made. While a forest inventory was completed, it has not yet been utilized as the basis for forest development plans. Most importantly, monitoring and evaluation (M&E) was deficient because of inadequate staffing and staff training, weakening the information base for the ICR itself, and making it impossible to assess if many of the stated objectives of the project have been achieved. The overall economic rate of return has been recalculated as 9 percent (18 percent at appraisal), but this excludes the project's social and environmental achievements which are likely to be positive.

The ICR rates project outcome as satisfactory, institutional development as partial, and sustainability as likely. The Operations Evaluation Department (OED) agrees with the ICR ratings of project outcome and institutional development. The ICR rating of sustainability as likely is dependent mainly on the outcome of a follow-on project (Loan 3601-TUN). The follow-on project provides time to establish an M&E system, to intensify forest management and lower production costs, to involve beneficiaries in pasture and range resource management, and to develop an operational plan for forestry_all of which are necessary to make sustainability likely. But the existence of a follow-on project by itself does not assure likely sustainability. Accordingly, on the evidence of accomplishment provided by the ICR, OED rates sustainability as uncertain. Bank performance is rated as satisfactory.

Lessons learned suggest that forestry projects demand careful preparation, that includes detailed analysis of socioeconomic and agrogeoclimatic conditions; that efficient and effective project management requires appropriate M&E systems to be in place from the start of implementation; and that multisectoral projects need special institutional arrangements for effective coordination.

The quality of the ICR is satisfactory, with some weaknesses stemming from inadequate M&E. No audit is planned.

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