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Implementation Completion Report (ICR) Review - Regional Environmental Information Management


  
1. Project Data:   
ES Date Posted:
09/10/2004   
PROJ ID:
P000003
Appraisal
Actual
Project Name:
Regional Environmental Information Management
Project Costs(US $M)
 19.35  18.12
Country:
Africa
Loan/Credit (US $M)
 4.02  4.08
Sector, Major Sect.:
General public administration sector, General information and communications sector, Other social services,
Law and justice and public administration; Information and communications; Health and other social services
Cofinancing (US $M)
 12.76  12.32
L/C Number:
     
   
Board Approval (FY)
  98
Partners involved
12 multi- and bilateral cofinanciers 
Closing Date
06/30/2003 06/30/2003
         
Prepared by: Reviewed by: Group Manager: Group:  
Peter W. Whitford
Fernando Manibog Alain A. Barbu OEDSG

2. Project Objectives and Components:

a. Objectives
To improve and strengthen the management and planning of natural resources and their utilization in the Congo Basin Region, through: i) ensuring the circulation of environmental information and optimizing benefits from existing initiatives;

ii) fostering involvement of decision-makers in environmental information use and facilitating sound land use planning in the Congo Basin;
iii) providing users with environmental information meeting their demand; and
iv) strengthening national capacities for environmental information management.

b. Components
1. Network Creation ($1.03 million) - strengthening dissemination of environmental information; promotion of the results of analyses and good practices; workshops; and, improvement of communications.
2. Assistance to Decision-Making ($1.54 million) - development of information databases; and, dissemination to stakeholders.
3. Generation of Information ($6.18 million) - maps; remote sensing products; zoning, forest and biodiversity management plans; coastal risk mitigation plans; and, monitoring tools.
4. National Capacity Building ($4.20 million) - training; technical assistance; technology transfer; equipment; and, establishment of Centers of Excellence.
5. Project Management ($6.40 million) - technical assistance [and establishment of a Regional Fund for Local Initiatives (REFLI), though not mentioned in the Grant Agreement]

The project originally covered six countries - Cameroon, Central African Republic, Congo, Democratic Republic of Congo, Equatorial Guinea, and Gabon - with Chad joining in 2001.

c. Comments on Project Cost, Financing and Dates
The estimated projects costs and implementation schedule were reasonable. GEF funds of $4.08 million were leveraged with $12.76 million in other donor support (mostly parallel funding) by bundling together planned donor support for project activities supporting the overall objective (cf. Cameroon: Biodiversity).


3. Achievement of Relevant Objectives:

The Objective and Sub-Objectives were well designed to meet the needs of the partner countries, with flexibility to meet emerging and evolving needs. Although the overall objective was too sweeping to be met in a first operation, satisfactory progress was made; the sub-objectives were substantially met.

4. Significant Outcomes/Impacts:

Improved awareness among stakeholders of the importance of reliable, accessible environmental information
  • Establishment of a regional organization (ADIE) to coordinate and cross-fertilize national efforts in environmental information management
  • Initiation of networks between governmental, NGO and private sector users of information, together with databases, libraries, catalogs, audiovisual materials, and a web site
  • Establishment of a Central Africa Forest Observatory
  • Building of the capacity of network members and training of staff
  • Leveraging of considerable co-finance (though the ICR does not report on the outcomes of the co-financed activities)
These achievements need to be seen in the light of considerable civil unrest in some of the partner countries during project implementation.

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

For a first operation, the targets were rather ambitious, especially on cost recovery. Another shortcoming was not insisting on full-time national coordinators. Otherwise, quality at entry was very high. Project preparation was highly participatory and the resulting Project Document (PD) showed clear logic, with innovations like a quantitative approach to project benefits, rules for data sharing, a lean regional organization and a flexible structure to accommodate unanticipated changes.

Quality of implementation was high but the following shortcomings may be noted:
  • the self-financing goal was not realistic and was not achieved (however, the important principle of government contributions to ADIE's core running costs has been established)
  • coordination of 12 co-financiers was not simple (not surprisingly), with the largest - the EU - cooperating poorly with the project management
  • lack of full-time coordination staff from governments and difficulties with counterpart funding
  • inadequate financial management by ADIE
  • shortfalls in some physical output targets
  • possibly an over-emphasis on academic, as opposed to on the job, training

Safeguard policies are not discussed at all in the PD or ICR. However, as the project comprised technical assistance, training, office and scientific equipment and operating costs, it is difficult to see that it would have had any significant negative environmental or social impacts and thus its appropriate category would have been C, not requiring any specific analysis or mitigation measures.

6. Ratings:ICROED ReviewReason for Disagreement/Comments
Outcome:
SatisfactorySatisfactoryClose to Highly Satisfactory, especially in comparison with the results of other regional environmental initiatives e.g. Aral Sea
Institutional Dev.:
ModestModestWe defer to the ICR, although the material presented there would seem to support a higher rating.
Sustainability:
UnlikelyUnlikelyLong-term sustainability unlikely, on balance, as ADIE will probably not be able to survive in a meaningful form without further L-Tdonor support. However, (short-term) sustainability could be attained if the countries follow through on their commitment to contribute core operating funds and discussions for a follow-up donor-funded project are successful.
Bank Performance:
SatisfactorySatisfactoryClose to Highly Satisfactory, especially in preparation and appraisal. However, Bank/GEF costs were a high 20% of the grant amount (32% if project preparation grants are included).
Borrower Perf.:
SatisfactorySatisfactoryIncludes the Recipient (ADIE) and the seven governments.
Quality of ICR:
Satisfactory

7. Lessons of Broad Applicablity:

1. Even in a region beset by poverty and civil strife, progress on cooperation in environmental information is possible, when there is full commitment from the major stakeholders and some coordination of donor efforts.
2. Establishing the principle of modest cash contributions from the partner governments is an important first step towards eventual sustainability of a regional organization.
3. The model of a lean regional organization coordinating a decentralized network of specialist agencies is preferable, especially in the information field, to the traditional model of a centralized body with high overheads, non-participatory management and low sustainability.

8. Audit Recommended?  No

          Why?  

9. Comments on Quality of ICR:

The ICR does a sound job of summarizing the project's implementation history, achievements and shortcomings. Lessons Learned were particularly well done. However, some shortcoming were noted:
  • the ICR covers only the GEF portion of the project, which was only 20% of the whole. The achievements and shortcomings of the co-financed activities would have been worth recording.
  • a discussion as to whether the REFLI achieved full transparency in its awards procedures would be useful for other projects of this kind e.g. did the Bank have a right of prior review of proposed awards?
  • it was not correct to say in Section 4.3 that quantification of benefits could not be done for a project of this kind, as the PD had already done it
  • a more complete matrix of projected (PD) and actual outputs, covering the whole project and not just ADIE, would have been useful

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