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Implementation Completion Report (ICR) Review - Projet Foret Et Environnement


  
1. Project Data:   
ES Date Posted:
05/14/2003   
PROJ ID:
P000786
Appraisal
Actual
Project Name:
Projet Foret Et Environnement
Project Costs(US $M)
 38.50  28.82
Country:
Gabon
Loan/Credit (US $M)
 22.50  20.91
Sector, Major Sect.:
Agricultural extension and research, Forestry, Central government administration,
Agriculture fishing and forestry; Law and justice and public administration
Cofinancing (US $M)
 9.80  0
L/C Number:
CQ292; L3506; LP393      
   
Board Approval (FY)
  93
Partners involved
EC, GTZ, AFD, WWF, French Cooperation 
Closing Date
06/30/1998 06/30/2002
         
Prepared by: Reviewed by: Group Manager: Group:  
Ridley Nelson
Madhur Gautam Alain A. Barbu OEDST

2. Project Objectives and Components:

a. Objectives
The main project objective was to strengthen the capacity of the Ministry of Water and Forests (MEF) to implement forest policy, particularly the sustainable management of forest resources. More specifically the objectives were to: (a) contribute to a better use of forestry resources by implementing, on a pilot basis, a management plan in the depleted First Zone; (b) to this end, reinforce the strategic planning and operational capacity of government institutions in the sector through the restructuring and strengthening of MEF and METPN (the Ministry of Environment, Tourism, and National Parks); (c) resume forestry and environment research activities; (d) make forestry and environment training more practical and tailored to the needs of the private sector and to conservation needs; (e) prevent environmental degradation; and, (f) support the government in the creation and maintenance of wildlife preserves.

b. Components
The project was to be a first phase of a longer-term program, and included: (a) institutional strengthening (by far the largest component at US$17.2 million), including restructuring MEF, improving MEF and METPN capacity and, in particular, increasing presence in the field. (b) forestry and environment training (US$2.3 million) focused on the needs of the private sector, training and retraining forest graduates, and in preparing a management plan for the Mondah Forest. (c) forestry and environment research (US$2.1 million). (d) natural forests and plantations rehabilitation(US$5.8 million), including a management plan for 40,000 hectares of natural forest and silvicultural operations to rehabilitate 5000 hectares of plantations. (e) protected areas(US$2.6 million) including the creation and maintenance of reserves in 800,000 hectares of forest area. In 1998 there were additions agreed to the natural forest and plantation management component and modifications to the environment and protected areas component.

c. Comments on Project Cost, Financing and Dates
Very early in the project, the EC, UNDP, and WWF chose to proceed separately. It is not clear from the ICR why this happened. In 1994 the large devaluation of the CFA substantially increased the available local funds for the project. This was partly absorbed by a four-year extension of the project, by additional activities, and by funding of parts of components originally expected to be funded by cofinanciers.


3. Achievement of Relevant Objectives:

The most important objective, and taking the largest share of funds, institutional strengthening of MEF, was only partially achieved, although this needs to be assessed in the light of the stated intention to follow the project with further phases. (The objectives statement is unclear on what was to be expected from the first phase itself as compared with the full program.) With respect to the more specific objectives, (a) the management plan in the First Zone was achieved but with considerable shortcomings. Some operators went ahead without the experience of the pilot. (b) the restructuring and strengthening of MEF and METPN was only very partially achieved. Significant redeployment to the field took place, some useful training was completed, but none of the several studies for reorganization of the ministry has been implemented and a review of institutional capacity for a possible future operation is underway. (c) forestry and environment research objectives were not adequately achieved. (d) forestry and environment training was largely achieved satisfactorily. (e) prevention of environmental degradation was probably only partially achieved, although there is little evidence presented in the ICR. (f) creation of wildlife reserves appears to have been not achieved, although the evidence is somewhat confused by the fact that other donors supported some of the proposed reserves.

4. Significant Outcomes/Impacts:

Significant capacity building was achieved, partly through the training component. Substantial redeployment of staff to the field was achieved and buildings, computer support and vehicles provided. There was strengthening in the external services (provincial inspections offices), the National School of Waters and Forests, and the Head Office of Inventories, Management and Reforestation. The raining was quite successful but somewaht limited in scope. A number of useful studies were carried out. Forest taxation reform has now been passed. The project contributed to the elaboration of the important new forestry code. 6 million hectares of forest permits are now being managed in Gabon.

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

The project took nine years to execute, partly due to the large devaluation of the CFA and the increased funds available but also due to a very slow start. Several studies were carried out to support reorganization of the Ministry, but no reorganization was implemented although an important deconcentration of staff was achieved. No monitoring and evaluation system was implemented, although plans were prepared and subsequently, we understand, an M&E unit is now in place. The Project Implementation Unit had too little power to effectively manage resources. Very little was achieved in protected area management, and, as noted by the ICR, it was therefore surprising that this component was broadened after the midterm review. Plantation restoration was found to be uneconomic. There was an improvement in the regulatory framework, but the first application of a decree came only in 2002. Forest taxation reform was not implemented before the end of the project but now has been. There were frequent changes of World Bank Task Manager - 5 in 9 years which presented problems in sustaining policy dialogue. There were delays in counterpart funding. Sustainability is rated by the ICR as unlikely. This will depend partly on whether a proposed follow-on project eventuates. The community forest management concept remains untested and, as noted in the ICR, needs testing before more widespread application. Government was unable to protect the restored plantations against shifting agriculture.
6. Ratings:ICROED ReviewReason for Disagreement/Comments
Outcome:
SatisfactoryModerately SatisfactoryNo Moderate rating is available for the ICR. The main objective was institutional strengthening which was largely achieved but with many significant shortcomings. Achievement of other subsidiary objectives was mixed but a weighting of the achievement of all objectives, applying efficiency criteria, suggests a moderately satisfactory rating - but only just.
Institutional Dev.:
ModestModest
Sustainability:
UnlikelyUnlikely
Bank Performance:
SatisfactoryUnsatisfactoryThere was weak performance in getting ownership during preparation and appraisal, optimistic appraisal expectations, poor supervision performance for about four of the middle years, 5 task managers over 9 years - a particular problem for a largely institutional reform project, and weaknesses in the design of the revised Protected Areas component. Moreover, there have to be questions about a 9 year project that began as a 5 year project.
Borrower Perf.:
SatisfactoryUnsatisfactoryBorrower ownership appears to have been weak. In particular, no coordination committee was established, there were delays in counterpart funds and, as noted in the ICR, "the project was perceived more as a source of funding than as an opportunity to enable changes." Financial management was weak.
Quality of ICR:
Satisfactory

7. Lessons of Broad Applicablity:

Main lessons drawn from the ICR with some modification are: (i) strong training and support is needed early on for project management staff; (ii) training is also an essential first stage in redeployment of staff to the field; (iii) logical frameworks and associated indicators are important for project management and supervision.

8. Audit Recommended?  Yes

          Why?  A number of issues warrant further examination, including: (i) outcome, Bank performance, and sustainability ratings; (ii) ownership, in particular, the reasons for the delays in the reorganization of the ministry; (iii) the reasons for the cofinanciers pulling out; and, (iv) the extent to which the extended and revised project was relevant and really met the evolving needs of the sector rather than simply using up the windfall funds arising from the large devaluation.

9. Comments on Quality of ICR:

Satisfactory overall, however there are a few areas insufficiently covered, some of the lessons are not lessons in the usual sense - they are issues, and, no reason is given for the cofinanciers pulling out.

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