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Implementation Completion Report (ICR) Review - Natural Resource Management

1. Project Data:   
Project ID:
Project Name:
Natural Resource Management
Central African Republic
Forestry, Agriculture
L/C Number:
Partners Involved:
World Wildlife Fund/USAID
Prepared By:
Ridley Nelson, OEDST
Reviewed By:
Hernan Levy
Group Manager:
Roger Slade
Date Posted:

2. Project Objectives, Financing, Costs, and Components:

Approved: May 1990; Effective: August 1990; Closed: (one and a half years behind schedule) June 1997. The project was designed as a first phase in a long term program. Main objectives were: (a) to promote sustainable production and resource conservation; (b) to strengthen forestry sector institutions by improving their capacity to plan, manage, monitor, and evaluate forestry development and conservation in the south-west dense forest zone. Main components were: (a) completion of on-going policy reform initiated under two SALs, including: improving regulations; increased incentives for users to participate in protection; improved fiscal regime to increase government and local people's revenue; and strict measures against illegal poaching. (b) restructuring of institutions; (c) development of an inventory of resources; (d) promotion of better management of the agriculture - forestry interface; (e) protection of a particular forest reserve for wildlife conservation at Sangha-Dzanga; and, (f) provision of equipment and Technical Assistance. Total Project Costs were US$26.3 million. IDA financed US$19 million, WWF/USAID US$400,000 for the forest reserve, the remainder was financed by government. In parallel, GTZ financed two consultants to strengthen institutional capacity.

3. Achievement of Relevant Objectives:

The objectives stated in the Staff Appraisal Report were relevant. The bulk of the investment components achieved their objectives but the bulk of the policy and institutional components did not. An assessment done in 1997 found that, although the government had adopted a number of measures that were essential prerequisites for sound forest management, very little had actually changed on the ground since the launching of the sector adjustment program, particularly with respect to the action of the 7 main forest companies.

4. Significant Outcomes/Impacts:

Significant achievements included: (i) a very successful completion of the multi-resources inventory and land use mapping to provide a good basis for planning, pricing, tax system design, etc. This is generally considered a model for the Congo Basin countries; (ii) completion of the Bangui Forestry Master Plan; (iii) successful implementation of the Dzangha-Sangha Wildlife Protection Component. At this site, the lack of counterpart funds prompted the creation of a very effective local development fund based on tourist revenues; (iv) the TA component which made a significant contribution to the forest inventory and computer technology.

5. Significant Shortcomings (include non-compliance with safeguard features):

The most significant shortcoming was that, despite introducing a series of reforms in forest regulations, taxation and incentives for more sustainable management - a process that had been initiated back in 1986 - very little changed because much of that forestry reform agenda, particularly the regulatory part, was not actually applied on the ground. One reason for the poor progress was that the capacity building component was unsatisfactory, getting off to a late start, due mainly to strikes, and never catching up, achieving only half its planned expenditure. Furthermore, the reorganized Ministry remained highly centralized. Another reason was that the Government poorly managed the concession system. This became a vehicle for political patronage. In weighing these project shortcomings, some allowance must be made for two mitigating factors: (i) that this project was designed as a first stage in a longer term program, so it would be unreasonable to expect complete adoption of the policy and institutional reform by the date of project closure. (Against that is the fact that the project followed two SALs which included natural resource related reforms, so there had been movement in the policy reform area for over 10 years.); and, (ii) there were periods of substantial political unrest which made it difficult to implement reforms. In particular, the government's inability to pay salary arrears resulted in lack of commitment from civil servants and contributed to civil unrest.
6. Ratings:ICROED ReviewReason for Disagreement/Comments
SatisfactoryMarginally Unsatisfactory
    Given the long term strategy and earlier adjustment loans, policy implementation and capacity building were more important than investment component implementation. Performance was poor in both these areas. - even with some allowance for the political turmoil..
Institutional Dev.:
Bank Performance:
    There is little evidence of supervision missions either closely monitoring reform implementation or of taking up any findings strongly with government, at least until the 1997 assessment. The main focus of supervision was on the investment components.
Borrower Perf.:
    Did not adequately implement policy
Quality of ICR:

7. Lessons of Broad Applicablity:

(i) For development effectiveness, policy implementation, where it is a significant component, usually should be treated by supervision as the priority above investment component achievement, because, in the absence of policy reform, investment component achievement is likely to be temporary. (ii) Policy formulation should call for input from stakeholders during the design phase. In situations with large vested interests good stakeholder analysis is particularly important in order to forecast the areas where perverse reactions may arise, to fully understand the incentive regimes for each stakeholder class, and, to offer mechanisms to try to pre-empt anticipated problems with the application of legislation. (iii) Indicators should particularly include policy implementation indicators to trigger action early in the event of policy implementation slippage. (iv) Projects with sector adjustment components, especially if building on earlier adjustment loans, should have an experienced economist to monitor the policy reform component throughout supervision, not only for the reform legislation enactment but for the implementation which is often where the failure occurs.

8. Audit Recommended?  No


9. Comments on Quality of ICR:

The ICR was generally of good quality, although generous in its assessment. Future operations and the lessons learned sections were good. The main area of disagreement is with respect to the ICR's contention that, because the investment components (defined by the ICR as all costs except the adjustment component) represented 91% of project costs, and were generally satisfactory, the overall assessment should be 'satisfactory'. We disagree because the project design gave the institutional objectives and component (52% of original project costs) high prominence yet achievements of that component, as rated by the ICR, were negligible. Partly as a result of this the policy reforms, particularly the regulatory reforms, were not implemented. Capacity and policy implementation were the keys to longer term development effectiveness and sustainability.

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