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Implementation Completion Report (ICR) Review - West Africa Pilot Community-based Natural Resources & Wildlife Management Project

1. Project Data:   
ICR Review Date Posted:
Project Name:
West Africa Pilot Community-based Natural Resources & Wildlife Management Project
Project Costs(US $M)
 13.2  9.47
Loan/Credit (US $M)
 0  0
Sector, Major Sect.:
General agriculture fishing and forestry sector, Sub-national government administration, Other social services, Roads and highways, General water sanitation and flood protection sector,
Agriculture fishing and forestry; Law and justice and public administration; Health and other social services; Transportation; Water sanitation and flood protection
Cofinancing (US $M)
 7.0  5.7
L/C Number:
Board Approval (FY)
Partners involved
GEF, Belgium 
Closing Date
12/01/2001 06/30/2004
Evaluator: Panel Reviewer: Group Manager: Group:  
Ridley Nelson
Nalini B. Kumar Alain A. Barbu OEDSG

2. Project Objectives and Components:

a. Objectives
In the PAD, and shortly thereafter, there were four different formulations of objectives for this GEF pilot project covering two countries (although one of these is a subset of another).

First, the PAD summary says: “To conserve biodiversity through local community participation in capacity building and human resource development, zoning wildland and village areas, improving natural habitat and wildlife management, and improving agricultural land management and infrastructure development."
Second, the main text says: “ introduce a new approach to biodiversity conservation in West Africa which aims to find a common solution to both development and conservation concerns by involving local communities in the sustainable, profitable exploitation of wild resources and assisting them to manage their wildland areas for their own economic benefit and for the benefit of biodiversity.” This was picked up in the ICR.
Third, this last was broken down into four specific sub-objectives: “(i) to strengthen capacity of local communities, NGOs, and government to manage wild plant and animal resources in a sustainable manner; (ii) to improve the management and use of habitat and wildlife populations at each site; (iii) to improve local land management practices and infrastructure; and, (iv) to establish a durable system for monitoring and evaluating project implementation and impact.”
Fourth, following a logframe workshop shortly after project effectiveness in 1996, the objectives were reformulated, with reduced emphasis on biodiversity, as: “to establish the basis for the sustainable and participatory management of the land and its natural resources in the project area.” These were never formally adopted by the Bank or, it seems, the GEF.
The legal documents pick up a reasonably accurate version of the first and third above, so did not add further to the range of objectives.
The confusion in the objectives, noted in the ICR, was exacerbated by poor and late selection of indicators and lack of consistent tracking during implementation. These alternative formulations of the objectives and multiple income and environment objectives without significant trade-off guidance makes evaluation difficult.

b. Components (or Key Conditions in the case of Adjustment Loans):
There were four components:

  1. Capacity Building (US$1.99 million appraisal; US$0.59 million actual) to build human and local institutional capacity through training, technical assistance and supervision.
  2. Wildlife and Habitat Management (US$4.98 million appraisal; US$0.83 million actual) to identify and manage village land and wildlife zones and help communities make better use of wildlife and secondary forest products.
  3. Land Management and Social Infrastructure (US$1.75 million appraisal; US$ US$1.43 million actual) to facilitate the participatory preparation of community-based village land management plans and provide technical support and matching grant financing for land management and social infrastructure.
  4. Project Management (US$4.48 million appraisal; US$6.63 million actual) to finance infrastructure and equipment and technical assistance to support project management.

c. Comments on Project Cost, Financing, Borrower Contribution, and Dates
The project was implemented in two countries Burkina Faso and Cote d’Ivoire but in one contiguous wildlife area. Approximately, investments were expected to be 30 percent in the former and 70 percent in the latter. Partly due to the civil strife in Cote d’Ivoire that occurred later in the project, actual investments were close to evenly split between the two countries. While in Burkina Faso there was a small contribution by beneficiaries, in Cote d’Ivoire, in the end, there was none. Originally planned as a six year project, it actually took eight years due to an over-optimistic ambitious time frame, implementation problems mainly in the institutional area, and civil strife in Cote d'Ivoire.

3. Relevance of Objectives & Design:

The various formulations of the objectives were largely relevant to the Bank and borrower strategies at the time, although the shift in objectives following the workshop probably enhanced relevance to the needs of the beneficiaries while the original more biodiversity-oriented objectives were more relevant to the strategy of GEF and to longer-term goals.

4. Achievement of Objectives (Efficacy) :

In this assessment we take the second formulation of objectives listed above as being most reflective of the original intent of the project at the time of effectiveness and the most outcome oriented. (a) Introducing a new approach to biodiversity conservation in West Africa. This is rated as substantial, although barely. The project introduced a new approach and this approach was spread into the strategies of the two countries and elsewhere. However, sustainability questions do raise concerns about the achievement of this objective.
(b) Finding a common solution to both development and conservation concerns through the sustainable and profitable exploitation of wild resources. This is rated as negligible. While this was a pilot project and intentionally experimental in nature, any allowance for its experimental nature should be tempered by the clear over-optimism at appraisal about the profitability of wildlife resources. Also, a key element in this objective was sustainability, and that seems not to have been achieved.
(c) Assisting communities to manage their wildland areas for their own economic benefit. On balance, this is rated modest. There appear to have been some gains in land management skills. However, the level of economic benefit achieved does not seem to have been sufficient incentive for communities and for at least some individuals poaching still appears the better option.
(d) Assisting communities to manage their wildland areas for the benefit of biodiversity. On balance, although there is some evidence of an increase in ungulates (which would need assessing against the decadal rainfall pattern), this is rated modest mainly on the grounds of the sustainability element which must be considered inherent in any biodiversity rating.

5. Efficiency:

Management efficiency was very poor, the ICR shows (p14) that the Project Coordination Unit used an inordinate amount of resources to the detriment of field activities. Project management costs jumped from being an already quite high 31% of total costs at appraisal to being a huge 77% of actual total costs at closing. No economic analysis was carried out, but the fact that a central objective was to seek the profitable exploitation of wildland resources for beneficiaries and that this did not occur, suggests also an unsatisfactory efficiency performance. In a pilot project some allowance must be made on efficiency since experiments cannot all succeed. However, in this case, the stand-alone economics of wildlife for communities seems to have been questionable from the outset which weakens any experiment argument on efficiency.
6. M&E Design, Implementation, & Utilization:

Overall, M&E design, implementation and utilization was unsatisfactory. In particular, as well described in the ICR, design of the initial indicators was weak. In a pilot project that is intended to learn, this must be given very high weight in the aggregate rating of M&E. Moreover, in a project intended to explore the profitable exploitation of wildland resources, the weaknesses in wildlife population measurement, including the failure to utilize well-established aerial survey techniques, is significant. The lack of wildlife management skills in supervision may have contributed.
7. Other (Safeguards, Fiduciary, Unintended Impacts--Positive & Negative):

No negative safeguard issues were anticipated at appraisal and none appear to have eventuated except to the extent that some individuals may have lost income from illegal hunting.

8. Ratings:
OED Review
Reason for Disagreement/Comments
Institutional Dev.: 
Bank Perf.: 
Borrower Perf.: 
SatisfactoryUnsatisfactoryOn balance unsatisfactory. While some of the later weaknesses in Cote d’Ivoire related to the civil disturbance can be treated as exogenous, there were many weaknesses recorded in the ICR with the performance of institutions. Indeed, the ICR itself rates both overall government performance and implementing agency performance as unsatisfactory.
Quality of ICR: 

- When insufficient information is provided by the Bank for OED to arrive at a clear rating, OED will downgrade the relevant ratings as warranted beginning July 1, 2006.
- ICR rating values flagged with ' * ' don't comply with OP/BP 13.55, but are listed for completeness.

9. Lessons:

The ICR contains an excellent set of thoughtful lessons, including the following (summarized):
  1. A reaffirmation of the importance of pilot projects to learn, especially in the challenging area of biodiversity and community incentives which calls for risk-taking and the adaptabilty usually only provided by pilot projects.
  2. The importance of realism about natural resource management and biodiversity benefit streams. There are high risks in a local population not seeing tangible benefits soon enough from natural resource management. An aspect of this is the need to understand the potential development/biodiversity conflicts and that “rural development does not necessarily provide a healthy or sustainable incentive for conservation”.
  3. The importance of partnership with government, NGOs, and the private sector given the low capacity at community level in the challenging task of protected area management. This project substantially by-passed important government and other actors in its single-minded pursuit of community involvement. Moreover, the private sector is usually most proficient at assessing and managing revenue generating activities.
  4. The importance of wildlife management skills and the injection of the accumulated experience and associated technologies (e.g. radio/GPS, population counting), including understanding the skills and challenge of poaching control. Modern wildlife management is a complex and highly technical operation calling for experienced professionals.
This review adds one additional lesson. The need for formal adoption by the Bank/GEF of any proposed new Project Development Objectives and a reassessment, at that time, of the implications of that change for project design. Simply changing the focus of an objectives statement over the top of a set design risks a disconnect which is likely to become increasingly apparent as the project unfolds.

10. Assessment Recommended?  Yes

          Why?  For the following reasons: (i) to better understand the extent of learning from this pilot and the community development lessons with relevance elsewhere in GEF and Bank programs, (ii) to better assess the efficiency and Bank performance, (iii) to update knowledge on sustainability, and (iv) to explore whether any of the objectives issues reflect differences of view between the Bank and GEF.

11. Comments on Quality of ICR:

The ICR is well done and some aspects are exemplary. It analyzes the problem of the multiple development objectives well. It is balanced and honest about performance weaknesses. To the extent possible, in the absence of data, it is analytical in assessing each rating. The formulation of the lessons is practical and focused. However, as a CBD/CDD project following a pilot learning approach, the lack of discussion of the strengths and weaknesses in the participatory processes themselves, including their poverty focus, interaction with local government, elite capture, and exit strategies weakens the learning contribution. Two other lesser weaknesses are: (i) the absence of any evidence about climatic and associated forage trends over the project period and what that might imply for wildlife population trends in different species (in dryland areas there are often very long perennial/annual forage cycles related to both population pressures and rainfall); (ii) it would have been helpful to know whether the substantial and important PAD concerns about in-migration due to the clearing of river-blindness eventuated. Also, translation of partner comments would have been helpful.

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