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Implementation Completion Report (ICR) Review - Inparques Project

1. Project Data:   
ES Date Posted:
Project Name:
Inparques Project
Project Costs(US $M)
 95.9  68.9
Loan/Credit (US $M)
 54.9  41.3
Sector, Major Sect.:
General agriculture fishing and forestry sector, Central government administration, Sub-national government administration, General education sector,
Agriculture fishing and forestry; Law and justice and public administration; Law and justice and public administration; Education
Cofinancing (US $M)
L/C Number:
Board Approval (FY)
Partners involved
Closing Date
06/30/2000 06/30/2004
Prepared by: Reviewed by: Group Manager: Group:  
George T. K. Pitman
Ronald S. Parker Alain A. Barbu OEDSG

2. Project Objectives and Components:

a. Objectives
The goal of the project was to strengthen the National Parks Institute's management of Venezuela's national and urban parks, natural monuments, and wildlife refuges and reserves. There were three objectives:

  1. strengthen conservation and protection of vulnerable areas;
  2. intensify public environmental research, training and education efforts; and
  3. improve the economic sustainability of the national parks and other protected areas.
A fourth objective was added following catastrophic floods in 1999:
4. Restore access to selected national parks and rehabilitate water supply systems in areas affected by floods.

b. Components
Management and protection of 16 national parks in northern Venezuela, four national parks and two groups of natural monuments in the Amazon region, two wildlife refuges and seven urban recreational parks, and establishment of an effective fire prevention and fire fighting capacity throughout the national park system.

  • Applied environmental research to support sustainable management of various parks, generate useful scientific knowledge on the ecology of the parks, and assist Venezuela in safeguarding its rights with respect to research findings and the possible commercial use of its biodiversity resources.
  • Environmental education at regional and local level to disseminate information, raise the level of knowledge about environmental issues and their linkages with economic development, and engage the active participation of the community in supporting environmental protection.
  • Institutional development including training, technical assistance and studies. Provide physical infrastructure, equipment and other operational support for project institutions.

c. Comments on Project Cost, Financing and Dates
The emergency response to a major flood in 1999 led to restructuring of project objectives and components (June 14, 2000). Initial activities were redefined and reduced in size and these savings financed (a) emergency works in selected national parks (US$6.8 million) and (b) repair and rehabilitation of water supply systems in the States of Vargas and Miranda (US$10.0 million). Irregularities found by the 1999 audit led to cancellation of US$8 million of the loan. US$5.7 million remained undisbursed and was cancelled on closing. Poor project management and a volatile political environment, allied with the restructuring of the project to mitigate flood damage, caused the project to be extended 5 times for a total period of 4 years.

3. Achievement of Relevant Objectives:

Objective 1, strengthening conservation and protection of vulnerable areas, was only partially achieved with major shortcomings.
    • Project ownership was weak mainly because of the changing political situation and significant organizational changes in the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources (two of the key government institutions - for the Amazon and the fish and wildlife conservation services - were eliminated).
    • A decentralized structure for INPARQUES was never approved or implemented. In consequence, most of the institutional reforms/improvements floundered for lack of direction.
    • Decentralization of improved management and resources to parks outside the main urban areas and Caracas was only partial. Even then, for most of the project centralized management decision-making remained insensitive to the views of most stakeholders - including its own staff and NGOs who were alienated by the process.
    • Although administrative staff increased, staff within the parks, wildlife and refuge areas were unevenly increased to levels far below those seen as essential at appraisal. Improvement to staff numbers, resources and facilities for fire prevention and control - seen as a major risk at appraisal - were negligible according to data presented (but ICR page 10 states the opposite).
    • Infrastructure was built in two urban parks, and works for the more remote and needy parks, reserves and refuges were either eliminated are substantially reduced.
Objective 2, intensified public environmental research, training and education efforts, was only partially achieved with major shortcomings.
      • Environmental research had neither a logical framework nor strategic targeting criteria to identify priority areas and criteria for participation and there is no indication of outputs or impacts.
      • Environmental education and outreach activities received attention just as INPARQUES's capacity to implement them waned and there were no funds when this came back on the agenda post-2000.
Objective 3, to improve the economic sustainability of the national parks and other protected areas, was not achieved.
      • Despite improved access controls and increased visitors' centers, the lack of a legal framework for environmental services hampered INPARQUES's fee collection. Revenues contributed an increasingly smaller proportion of INPARQUES total budget. In 2003 they were only 7% of total revenues, compared with the appraisal target of 42%.
Objective 4, to restore access to selected national parks and rehabilitate water supply systems in areas affected by floods, appears to have substantially achieved with few shortcomings (although there is very little quantified data in the ICR).

4. Significant Outcomes/Impacts:

The project had very few positive outcomes; possibly the greatest discernible impact was the repair of flood-damaged infrastructure. Even so, an underlying argument in the ICR is that the project financing allowed the National Parks Institute to survive a very turbulent period, recover its image and begin rebuilding its capacity to carry out its mission. The ICR counterfactual is that it would have been totally marginalized and would not have recovered.

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

During implementation there were 5 ministers, the head of the national parks service changed 7 times, as did the head of the project coordination unit. And there was a high rotation and loss of staff trained by the project. Coordination with the finance and planning ministries was poor and counterpart funding was unpredictable and generally inadequate.
  • The institutional capacity of the National Parks Institute (INPARQUES) was insufficient to implement the project efficiently and there are no indicators enabling the assessment of the efficacy of the training effort - even though technical assistance was generally more than planned to provide technical continuity.
  • The urban parks recieved the most attention and are probably sustainable; in comparison, remote parks and reserves were generally neglected by the project.
  • Bank appraisal was overly-optimistic on institutional capacity to implement the project and 7 changes of task manager undermined the effectiveness of supervision.
  • Monitoring and evaluation was poor and actual project costs and outputs are hard to determine..
6. Ratings:ICROED ReviewReason for Disagreement/Comments
Institutional Dev.:
LikelyUnlikelyEssential improvement identified in the SAR were only partially implemented, if at all, in non-urban project sites.
Bank Performance:
Borrower Perf.:
Quality of ICR:

7. Lessons of Broad Applicablity:

Inadequate ownership and attention to institutional capacity during appraisal heightened implementation risks. In this case, the Bank mistook enthusiasm generated by Venezuela's hosting of the 1992 World Congress on National Parks for project ownership. The anticipated optimistic socioeconomic scenario was at odds with the reality of Venzuala in the early 1990s.
  • The Bank must give significant attention to supervision especially in countries undergoing political adjustment and shocks to major sources of income (that may throttle financial support for the investment).
  • It is important to include all stakeholders in appraisal and project design. Failure to do so risks loss of support for project objectives and seriously weakens support during implementation.

8. Audit Recommended?  No


9. Comments on Quality of ICR:

A realistic description of the project experience. There are major difficulties over establishing what was actually achieved because of totally inadequate indicators, monitoring and evaluation, and absence of final completion costs by component (this was caused by lack of final audited information at the time the ICR was prepared.)

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