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Implementation Completion Report (ICR) Review - Rural Roads

1. Project Data:   
ES Date Posted:
Project Name:
Rural Roads
Project Costs(US $M)
 88.723  73.964
Loan/Credit (US $M)
 51.500  46.129
Sector, Major Sect.:
Central government administration, Roads & highways,
Law and justice and public administration; Transportation
Cofinancing (US $M)
 0  0
L/C Number:
Board Approval (FY)
Partners involved
Closing Date
12/31/2002 06/30/2003
Prepared by: Reviewed by: Group Manager: Group:  
Peter Nigel Freeman
Fernando Manibog Alain A. Barbu OEDST

2. Project Objectives and Components:

a. Objectives
i) To reduce income disparities between urban and rural areas, by improving access to markets and creating conditions favorable to increased investments in farming, and by improving the delivery of social services to the rural poor;

ii) To decentralize management of local and rural roads to ensure adequate funding of their maintenance needs, while at the same time strengthening budgetary discipline, transparency and accountability in the entire road sector;
iii) To promote private sector participation in road works in general and, on a pilot basis, in maintenance of unpaved rural roads; and
iv) To adapt construction and maintenance standards for rural roads towards minimizing life-cycle costs.

b. Components
A) The preparation and implementation of an institutional reform program;
B) The periodic rehabilitation of approximately 300km of gravel roads;
C) The upgrading of about 715km of priority rural roads; and
D) Strengthening of 340km of selected classified paved roads.

c. Comments on Project Cost, Financing and Dates
The project and loan agreement were revised twice. In the first revision major savings in the upgrading of rural roads component (C) were identified and a new component (D) added to strengthen selected classified paved roads (rehabilitated under previous Bank-financed projects). At the same time the project objectives, which were originally formulated rather opaquely, were made clearer. The second amendment expanded component (A) and allocated some of the project funds to train personnel, improve management and to strengthen the organization and informatization system of the Ministry of Equipment and Housing.

3. Achievement of Relevant Objectives:

A number of important institutional studies were carried out and the components concerning budgets and maintenance are now being used to provide guidance to an interministerial working group. The manual which defined appropriate road standards is now in use and related recommendations are being implemented. A training program is also in place aimed at improving management skills and organizational systems. The Ministry of Equipment and Housing intends to use the study on the relationship between agricultural production, socio-economic improvements and rural road investment to make a more substantive case for future funds for upgrading unpaved rural roads, (where economically justifiable) to the Ministry of Finance. Decisions were made by the Cabinet in assigning different types of road to different ministries which resolves the "responsibility" issue and a detailed road classification study is in progress to determine the lengths of road to be assigned to each ministry.

665km of rural roads out of 715km at appraisal were completed; the balance was rehabilitated under other programs. Costs at $50,000/km were substantially lower than the $87,700/km anticipated at appraisal. Agricultural investments exceeded appraisal forecasts and traffic volumes rose to over 300 vehicles/day. Some 340km of classified paved roads were also strengthened.

The private sector now makes an effective contribution to the maintenance of the road system and from 2000 onwards periodic maintenance has totally been given over to private contractors.

4. Significant Outcomes/Impacts:

The highly successful initiative to involve the private sector in rural road works made a significant difference to the perceptions of the Government and has permanently changed the way such works are undertaken in rural road projects in Tunisia.

Physical components were very well executed and delivered ahead of time, while clarity was achieved about future responsibilities and hence budgets for different road classes.

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

Some aspects of the performance of the Bank during project design were unsatisfactory. The original development objectives were formulated in a confused manner, the institutional component omitted funds for equipment and did not develop in sufficient detail the training component (both of which were added later).

The objective to decentralize rural road responsibilities to the Regional Councils was too complex a task for the implementing agency and possibly unrealistic given their poor institutional and staffing capability. There was insufficient commitment to reform by the Government at the outset of the project and insufficient senior level attention to the agreements reached at the time of preparation. The implementing agency also did not establish a central coordinating office, which led to studies being assigned to too many separate departments and to work being reviewed in isolation and taking too long in execution.

6. Ratings:ICROED ReviewReason for Disagreement/Comments
Institutional Dev.:
Bank Performance:
Borrower Perf.:
Quality of ICR:

7. Lessons of Broad Applicablity:

Complex public sector management issues, such as decentralization, take time and senior level commitment at a very high level to be carried out successfully. Preferably such tasks should be pursued through specific public reform projects and not through a project focused on physical construction.
  • Inadequately formulated project objectives inevitably lead to delays and revisions. Paying more time to this aspect in preparation pays good dividends.
  • More attention is needed to listening to the Borrower about what standards for infrastructure are appropriate for local circumstances. An inflexible approach by the Bank will result in a polarization of views and the Borrower carrying out the requirements, but without any real commitment or enthusiasm.

8. Audit Recommended?  Yes

          Why?  Good practical example of institutional support project in the transport sector, including some deficiencies which are instructive for other projects. Preferably should be looked at with other related projects, if possible.

9. Comments on Quality of ICR:

The ICR was satisfactory. It was easy to read, fair, but candid about possible shortcomings in the project.

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