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Implementation Completion Report (ICR) Review - Biodiversity Conserv

1. Project Data:   
ES Date Posted:
Project Name:
Biodiversity Conserv
Project Costs(US $M)
 12.4  21.0est
Loan/Credit (US $M)
 6.0  6.1
Sector, Major Sect.:
Forestry, Central government administration, Sub-national government administration, Other social services,
Agriculture fishing and forestry; Law and justice and public administration; Law and justice and public administration; Health and other social services
Cofinancing (US $M)
 5.4  13.9est
L/C Number:
Board Approval (FY)
Partners involved
Government; Netherlands; Germany: France; UK; EU 
Closing Date
12/31/1999 03/31/2003
Prepared by: Reviewed by: Group Manager: Group:  
Peter W. Whitford
Fernando Manibog Alain A. Barbu OEDST

2. Project Objectives and Components:

a. Objectives
To consolidate and upgrade the management of protected areas in Cameroon by: (a) providing support to the Government in its efforts to conserve and manage its biological resources; (b) promoting involvement of rural populations in biodiversity conservation; and (c) encouraging sustainable utilization of renewable natural resources and promoting sustainable and environmentally compatible development in regions surrounding the Protected Areas. Note: the objective is worded slightly differently in the Grant Agreement and substantially differently in the Technical Annex.

b. Components
From Grant Agreement (condensed):

A. Strengthening the Ministry of Environment and Forestry (MINEF) Capacity at National, Provincial and Local Levels - strengthening the Department of Wildlife and Protected Areas; information systems; environmental education and awareness; national biodiversity conservation strategy [not in Project Document]; in-service training for field staff; monitoring, evaluation and supervision.
B. Strengthening Biodiversity Related Research - capacity building; information management; socio-economic data collection.
C. Enhancing Protection and Management of Protected Areas in the Priority Sites - baseline biological and scoio-economic surveys; development and use of management plans; gazettement of areas in conformity with management plans.
D. Support to Priority Project Sites - Mt. Kilum-Ijim Forest (establishment as protected area; promotion of sustainable utilization; ecological research; conservation awareness and training); Mt. Koupe Forest (established as protected area; promotion of appropriate agricultural and forest utilization practices; ecological studies; conservation education); Mt Cameroon-Etinde Rainforest (baseline inventories and monitoring; community consultation; boundary negotiations; management plans for forest zones; delineation of core zones; environmental awareness and education); Campo-Ma'an (control of hunting; biological surveys; socio-economic studies; forestry research; community development; monitoring and evaluation; land use and management plans); Savannah Ecosystem (regional development plan; pilot community conservation; infrastructure; ecological studies for rhinoceros); Southeastern Region (management framework; management plans for three zones; studies of development options; community-based development plans). Note: the project description is organized differently in the Project Document, with some apparent differences of substance.

c. Comments on Project Cost, Financing and Dates
Though not clearly explained in the Project Document, the project was based on an innovative concept of providing a national framework to a set of protected areas which, in most cases, had ongoing programs with bilateral financing and execution through major international NGOs. GEF supported the bulk of the national activities, together with selected site-specific activities not included in bilateral financing. The Bank argued for sole-source selection of the NGOs and, at the Mid-Term Review in 1999, reached an understanding with MINEF for a delineation of responsibilities that left major responsibility for site-specific activties with the NGOs - a kind of outsourcing. Lack of clarity on responsibilties appears to have been one of the reasons for the substantial delay of 3.25 years in project completion (with some items still not complete - see below) but the ICR does not address this. The ICR also does not address the cost "overrun" of 70% (nor does it have accurate figures on actual co-financier contributions); the reason may have been that, with the delays in project completion, bilateral donors continued to fund the continuation of their programs at specific sites (for example, the Netherlands contribution - administered by the Bank through a Trust Fund - was actually $6.3 million compared to $1.9 million at appraisal). The project achievements should, therefore, be seen in the context of additional time and resources on the input side.

3. Achievement of Relevant Objectives:

While the Project Document made a strong case that biodiversity in Cameroon is of global importance and under considerable threat, mainly from human interference, including hunting and logging, it did not attempt to quantify those threats or to provide key indicators to measure the achievement of objectives. There was no logframe at appraisal and a very sketchy one in the ICR. Moreover, the ICR does not attempt to assess the overall status of biodiversity in Cameroon in 2003 in comparison with 1995, even using the qualitative measures of the Project Document. While a number of significant achievements are listed, we still do not know if the overall situation has improved, as a result of the project.
Turning to the three specific objectives, the results of (a) (management of biological resources through protected areas) are more clearcut than the other two, which deal with community participation and sustainable development. Although the Project Document clearly recognizes the need for strong community participation and the provision of alternative income opportunities in any successful conservation program in Cameroon, the task team appears to have lacked depth on the sociological side, which is reflected in the rather generic nature of the project design in this area (for example, there is no information in the Project Document on the ethnic groups involved in the project, their culture or economy). The same imbalance is evident during supervision and ICR, where no input from a sociologist is recorded.

4. Significant Outcomes/Impacts:

The ICR provides a long list of project outputs, with little attempt to evaluate their significance or to measure outcomes or impacts. Among the most significant outputs may be:
  • establishment of a Biodiversity Information System in Cameroon
  • augmentation of MINEF's ability to control poaching, thorugh recruitment of 50 additonal guards and training of 65 community guards
  • rehabilitation of the Cameroon National Herbarium and publication of the Flora of Cameroon
  • surveys on wildlife and fauna
  • building of local partnerships at the Southeast and Savannah sites between villagers, herders, hunters, loggers, and safari hunters (described in the ICR as "remarkable" but without further explanation)
  • redistribution of portions of logging and hunting taxes to local governments and villages
  • approval of a management plan for the Benoue National Park (part of the Savannah site)
  • issuance of 12 "arretes" (not defined) or decrees to protect priority sites
  • full gazettement of National Parks Campo Ma'an and Lobeke (a unit of the Southeast site) and the periphery of the latter
  • Mt. Kilum-Ijim: boundary demarcation; creation of 18 community forests, with management plans for 8; enforcement of regulations; and, monitoring.
  • Mt. Koupe: participatory delineation of agricultural and forest conservation zones; and, awareness raising.
  • Mt. Cameroon: reservation of 2,500 km2 for conservation; botanic garden; monitoring; and, strengthening the bargaining power of villagers for a medicinal product.
  • Campo Ma'an: creation of a 2,640 km2 National Park [as a mitigation measure for the Chad Cameroon pipeline and with funding from a foundation financed by that project]; sustainable development activities; and, sustainable logging plans.
  • Southeast: creation of three National Parks (Boumba-Bek, Lac Lobeke, and Nki) and other conservation zones; cooperative agreements to control poaching; agreements with Congo, CAR and Gabon; and, participatory management of hunting zones.
  • Savannah: creation of wildlife corridors; reduction of conflicts between pastoralists, farmers and safari hunters; wildlife inventories; small-scale development projects; promotion of eco-tourism; and, preliminary contacts with Nigeria and Chad.
  • emergence of local NGOs.
It is more difficult to judge the institutional achievements of the project. While MINEF's capability has undoubtedly improved, and the concept of "decentralized" management (outsourcing) seems to be working, it remains to be seen how effective MINEF would be without blanket donor support. Neither the Project Document nor the ICR question the wisdom of having extractive functions (especially forestry) and conservation responsibilities under the same roof.
The ICR rates sustainability as Likely, mainly because major elements of the project, for biodiversity and local development respectively, will be continued under two (proposed) Bank projects. In addition, other elements will be continued under bilateral or NGO funding. The fate of sub-components for which no contrinuing external funding is available (such as the National Herbarium) is not discussed; neither is the situation when donor interest flags and Cameroon is on its own. The ICR does not estimate the annual operation and maintenance cost of the facilities and protected areas created under the project and the likelihood of full funding, under "normal" conditions of largely domestic financing.

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

Quality at Entry
  • the Project Document did not provide a clear snapshot of the threats to biodiversity in 1995 nor a set of key indicators to measure the success of the proposed intervention
  • for a first biodiversity project in a country with very limited implementation capacity, the project was unusually large and complex
  • the project's readiness for appraisal was questionable, given the fact that some key decrees had not been issued, baseline socio-economic surveys had not been done, training programs had not been designed, and staffing plans and committee memberships not defined.
  • community development activities were not specified in detail nor, it seems, based on detailed analysis of social structures and economic possibilities
  • the feasibility of a government contribution of $1 million to the project cost was not analyzed, neither was the expected O&M cost after completion
  • there was no incremental cost analysis (a normal, if not very useful, GEF requirement)
Quality at Completion
  • in the absence of quantitative indicators, it is difficult to judge the overall impact of the project on biodiversity conservation
  • perhaps due to size and complexity, as well as the lack of clarity on implementation responsibilities mentioned in the ICR, implementation was seriously delayed, especially in the early years. One result is that GEF/Bank preparation and supervision costs were 25% of the grant amount.
  • some key outputs of the project had not been achieved by the time of the ICR - especially approval of several management plans.
  • no monitoring results are quoted in the ICR, for example, on changes in income for villages affected by community development programs (or restrictions on forest access). The project may, therefore, not provide a very strong foundation for the proposed follow-up Bank projects.
  • at the Mt. Koume site, the NGO team leader was not replaced for two years, with serious effects on implementation
  • provision of counterpart funding was a problem throughout implementation and there was an acute staff shortage
  • the budgetary impact of O&M has still not been estimated.
  • logging permits were granted in violation of the Grant Agreement and later revoked and staff dismissed after the Netherlands threatened to suspend disbursements (no mention of whether the Bank did also). The effectiveness of another "strong" covenant (banning private dwellings within the core zone of Campo Ma'an) is not known.
Safeguards Compliance
The project was assigned Category B, which was appropriate, and an EA of satisfactory quality was prepared, together with a monitoring plan and cost estimate, implementation of which was mandated in the Grant Agreement. Only minor environmental impacts were expected but the EA also addresses more significant social impacts, including those on traditional forest dwelling people. No resettlement was expected. Unfortunately, the ICR contains no information on how well the EA was implemented and whether any unforeseen impacts arsose.

6. Ratings:ICROED ReviewReason for Disagreement/Comments
SatisfactoryModerately SatisfactoryWhile the achievements of the project are considerable, they must be weighed against the shortfalls noted above.
Institutional Dev.:
SubstantialModestMINEF has undoubtedly made progress but its ability to manage biodiversity effectively in the absence of massive donor support remains in doubt.
LikelyNon-evaluableFor the near term and for those components to be continued under other donor funding, sustainability is likely. However, in the longer term, sustainability under government funding appears unlikely.
Bank Performance:
SatisfactorySatisfactoryInput at the MTR was evidently effective in overcoming quality at entry problems and getting the project on track.
Borrower Perf.:
SatisfactorySatisfactoryHowever, problems of counterpart funding and violation of logging ban were serious detractions.
Quality of ICR:

7. Lessons of Broad Applicablity:

1. Projects like this will continue to be needed to protect some of the world's most valuable and threatened ecosytems.
2. Project components to involve local communities in conservation and to provide alternative income opportunities are essential if biodiversity objectives are to be achieved. However, such components need to be designed and monitored with care.
3. Even for partly intangible values like biodiversity conservation, performance indicators, quantitative where possible, need to be integrated into project design.
4. Given the budgetary stringency in poor countries like Cameroon and the global benefits of biodiversity conservation, program sustainability may only be possible with continued donor support into the indefinite future.

8. Audit Recommended?  Yes

          Why?  As an ambitious "flagship" of the first generation of GEF biodiversity projects, the project could usefully be audited within a group of African biodiversity projects.

9. Comments on Quality of ICR:

The ICR provides a reasonably detailed picture of the project's achievements and shortfalls. However, it shies away from evaluating outcomes and impacts, making it difficult to see whether biodiversity is actually better protected than it would have been without the project.

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