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Implementation Completion Report (ICR) Review - Lake Malawi

1. Project Data:   
ES Date Posted:
Project Name:
Lake Malawi
Project Costs(US $M)
 8.19  7.60
Loan/Credit (US $M)
 5.44  4.96
Sector, Major Sect.:
Other Agriculture,
Cofinancing (US $M)
L/C Number:
Board Approval (FY)
Partners involved
Closing Date
07/31/1999 06/30/2000
Prepared by: Reviewed by: Group Manager: Group:  
George T. K. Pitman
Soniya Carvalho Alain A. Barbu OEDST

2. Project Objectives and Components:

a. Objectives
The project's objectives were twofold: to assist the three riparian countries (Malawi, Tanzania and Mozambique) in creating the scientific, educational and policy basis required to ensure conservation of the biological diversity and unique ecosystem of Lake Malawi/Nyasa; and producing a Biodiversity Map and Management Plan for the Lake.

b. Components
There were four:

  • Research consisting of biodiversity survey; taxonomic, ecologic and distributional surveys of cichlid species; limnology and water quality studies
  • National Capacity-Building for staff of the three riparians through training in the research activities, and raising conservation awareness among decision makers and lake resource users
  • Reviewing Environmental Legislation and its compatibility among the three riparians, and
  • Protected Area Management including a strategic management plan for the Nankumba Peninsula and Lake Malawi National Park.

c. Comments on Project Cost, Financing and Dates
GEF provided a grant of $5.44 million and this was supplemented by a CIDA grant of $2.75 million negotiated under a separate agreement. The difference between appraised and actual costs is due to changes in exchange rate fluctuations. DFID provided assistance in kind by allowing use of their Senga Bay research facility and direct support to repair, operate and maintain their fisheries research vessel. The bulk of the funding (63%) was used to pay expatriate consultants' fees and service contracts.

3. Achievement of Relevant Objectives:

The objectives were partly achieved. Research, national capacity-building and plans for protected areas mostly met appraisal targets. The Lake-wide management were not achieved.

4. Significant Outcomes/Impacts:

The research program was substantially completed to high international standards and has provided the basis for a number of landmark publications relating to the ecology, biodiversity, limnology and water quality studies of Lake Malawi/Nyasa - and more are under production.
  • Three Lake Malawi/Nyasa reference fish collections were established, one each in Malawi, Belgium and South Africa
  • Ten fisheries research professionals from the three riparian countries were trained at postgraduate level (8 MScs, 2 PhDs) and there is now for the first time a cadre of riparian scientists able to research biodiversity issues.
  • Two fisheries staff from each riparian (6 in all) received extensive on-the-job training and 22 others were trained for 6 months in environmental awareness raising and education - but only some of this latter training was related to Lake management.
  • Conservation raising activities were promoted in a small area (Nankumba Peninsula) and use of a touring drama group to promote environmental awareness was piloted.
  • A Strategic Plan for the Nankumba Peninsula was produced using extensive local consultation and participation.
  • Key environmental monitoring indicators were established.

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

    A Management Plan for Lake Malawi/Nyasa was not produced. In part this was because: the schedule was unrealistic (a preliminary draft with 24 months of effectiveness) given the magnitude of the task; there were significant delays in initiating project activities due to over-optimistic appraisal; and there were difficulties in establishing tripartite consensus and guidance on project management and review of outputs. This was rescheduled at mid-term review but the project objectives were never officially reformalized. The Biodiversity Map was only partially completed because half of the ecological research was never written up due to managerial problems. Despite these problems there is still no reason why a framework management plan was not produced. Such a framework would have enabled the process to be agreed, indicated the roles of stakeholders and have shown that development of managerial and regulatory institutions was as essential to sound Lake management as knowledge generated from scientific research.
  • Project design did not recognize that signing a project agreement with Malawi would jeopardize ownership of the project by the other riparians, nor did it appreciate that each riparian had different priorities, levels of interest, and capacity to contribute to and manage the project. The set-up led to disagreement over the distribution of resources and benefits among the riparians.
  • The above problem was exacerbated by lack of clarity in describing the management functions of the international Steering Committee (SC) and project management which created friction that undermined achievement of some project components. Failure to establish an effective Research Advisory Committee (RAC) allowed personality clashes among expatriate project staff to cause a substantial reformulation of the ecology program with a significant loss of more than half the research effort.
  • The Environmental Legislation component was transferred to the FAO and is still on-going.
  • The Nankumba Peninsular Strategic Plan is still awaiting implementation and in the meantime, the local stakeholders involved in its formulation appear to have lost interest.
  • There were weak horizontal linkages to the national environmentally-related institutions within Malawi that could have synergized the research efforts and findings towards development of comprehensive Lake management plan and built greater local ownership.
  • There are mixed views on the utility of drama to promote environmental conservation activities which would have benefitted from greater riparian ownership and inclusion of their cultural norms. Similarly, the environmental awareness training may have targeted the wrong people as trainees, thus limiting its effectiveness.
  • The frequent change of Bank Task Managers for this project (4) made a consistent approach to the above issues difficult particularly in the first two years during which time the balance between forward-looking plans to manage the Lake and basic research became totally skewed towards the research program dominated by expatriate scientists. Some of this is due to the failings of the SE and RAC and the fact that the expatriate research scientists substituted for the lack of technically qualified senior counterparts. Even though project supervision got back on track after 1998 (three years after effectiveness) it was too late to redress the failings of project design.
  • 6. Ratings:ICROED ReviewReason for Disagreement/Comments
    SatisfactoryModerately SatisfactoryWhile the building blocks were accomplished, the management plan for the Lake was not produced. Plan for regional cooperation was flawed.
    Institutional Dev.:
    Bank Performance:
    SatisfactoryUnsatisfactoryThe ICR rates performance as marginally satisfactory. Both appraisal and the first half of supervision were unsatisfactory while the second half of supervision was satisfactory - but the weighted average is unsatisfactory.
    Borrower Perf.:
    Quality of ICR:

    7. Lessons of Broad Applicablity:

    Establishing regional institutions for international waters projects requires very careful planning, extensive consultation, clear and unambiguous agreements, protocols on communication, and an effective umbrella organization to coordinate and synergize riparians' efforts. The required level of Bank effort and facilitation required should not be underestimated.
    • Achievement of multicountry objectives is put at risk if only one partner receives and manages GEF project financing.
    • GEF biodiversity and environmental research projects require frequent and objective management and technical review to ensure achievement of their development and sustainable management goals - there is a great danger that they become hostage to an increasingly demanding scientific agenda.
    • GEF projects need to be strongly linked to the all relevant national environmental and natural resource agencies to mainstream the development effort and leverage outputs.
    • Partnership with bilateral development agencies (who have a comparative advantage in many areas) have to be carefully structured to significantly enhances the effectiveness of GEF projects.

    8. Audit Recommended?  Yes

              Why?  An under-audited sector. This project also has several lessons for international waters and multicountry projects and programs.

    9. Comments on Quality of ICR:

    An excellent, candid and objective account of the successes and failures under the project.

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