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Implementation Completion Report (ICR) Review - Sustainable Agro-pastoral And Land Management (SLM) Promotion Under The PNDP

1. Project Data:   
ICR Review Date Posted:
Project Name:
Sustainable Agro-pastoral And Land Management (SLM) Promotion Under The PNDP
Project Costs(US $M)
 6.87  6.93
L/C Number:
Loan/Credit (US $M)
 6.0  5.99
Sector Board:
Agriculture and Rural Development
Cofinancing (US $M)
Board Approval Date
Closing Date
03/01/2011 03/01/2012
Agricultural extension and research (60%), Other social services (20%), Sub-national government administration (10%), Central government administration (10%)
Land administration and management (29% - P) Participation and civic engagement (29% - P) Climate change (14% - S) Biodiversity (14% - S) Decentralization (14% - S)
Prepared by: Reviewed by: ICR Review Coordinator: Group:
Richard C. Worden
Ridley Nelson Soniya Carvalho IEGPS1

2. Project Objectives and Components:

a. Objectives:
The PAD states that the Project Development Objective is to: “enable communities to contribute to combating land degradation in critical areas. This will be achieved through the adoption of SLM [sustainable land management] best practices and the development of adequate capacity, tools, and mechanisms by communities, thereby strengthening the overall impact of the PAPNDP [Community Development Program Support Project]” (p. 9). This is only slightly different grammatically, but not substantively, from the Project Development Objective as stated in the GEF Trust Fund Grant Agreement (TF056925-CM) in Schedule 2 on page 16.

The Global Environmental Objective is: “to improve the well-functioning of ecosystems by integrating SLM into local development and by decreasing biodiversity loss in fragile agro-silvo-pastoral areas. As a result of GEF interventions, the project will contribute to rehabilitating degraded lands and curbing further degradation, reducing soil erosion, stabilizing sediment storage and release in critical trans-boundary water bodies such as Lake Chad and the Gulf of Guinea, and increasing vegetative cover and carbon sequestration in the targeted areas” (GEF Authorization Note, 15 Sept. 2004, p. 4).

For the purposes of this ICR Review, the Project Development Objective from the PAD and GEF Grant Agreement will be used. It is divided into its two sub-objective elements: (i) enabling communities to combat land degradation in critical areas through the adoption of SLM best practices, and (ii) developing adequate community-level capacity, tools, and mechanisms to combat land degradation, and thereby strengthen the overall impact of the Community Development Program Support Project.

b. Were the project objectives/key associated outcome targets revised during implementation?

c. Components:
The Sustainable Land Management (SLM) Project had three components, which were not revised during implementation, as follows:

Component 1 - Enhancing the integration of SLM into local development (Appraisal estimate: US$3.96 million; actual GEF financing: US$4.31 million). This component was intended to co-finance at least 60 SLM micro-projects by project’s end, at the request of beneficiaries (communities and communes), within the project’s intervention zone. It was expected to identify and increase adoption of SLM good practices by communes/communities that not only enhanced land productivity but also conserved native biodiversity, enhanced carbon sequestration, and reduced greenhouse gas emissions.

Note: Communes are governed by an elected mayor and council. They are the decentralized bodies closest to local communities, and play a major role in local development, collecting, depositing and managing local resources, as well as implementing and maintaining local investments (PAD, p. 4).

Component 2 - Institutional support for SLM (Appraisal estimate: US$1.71 million; actual GEF financing: US$1.01 million). This component sought to reinforce the institutional framework at the national level, strengthen the capacities of beneficiaries to better integrate SLM best practices in their local development plans, and improve land conflict resolution mechanisms. This component was divided into two sub-components:

    2.1 - Institutional support to the land reform process. This sub-component aimed to: (i) develop and reinforce policies, regulations, and institutional frameworks at national and decentralized levels to address land degradation and to mainstream SLM issues into appropriate rural development policy frameworks; (ii) contribute, jointly with key concerned ministries, to the delineation of agro-silvo-pastoral lands within the project's intervention zones, and assist in the implementation of at least 5 landscape use and management plans at the communal level by the project end; and (iii) support existing commissions and concerned ministries in the recognition of traditional land management rights.

    2.2 - Enhancing capacity building at the local level. This sub-component was intended to: (i) build the capacity of beneficiaries to integrate SLM best practices in their local development plans; and (ii) contribute to an improvement of land-use conflict resolution mechanisms. The main expected outcomes were: (i) improved local knowledge of SLM and environmental issues among at least 100 communities that would be able to properly implement SLM tool kits by the project’s end; (ii) the adoption and use of SLM practices by at least 6,000 households; (iii) the effective functioning of the Land Tenure Commissions and Commissions on the modalities for resolving agro-silvo-pastoral conflicts; and (iv) the implementation of at least 10 Conflict Resolution Frameworks at the communal level.

Component 3 - Project management, coordination, monitoring: and evaluation, and communication (Appraisal estimate: US$0.69 million; actual GEF financing: US$1.32 million). This component supported project management, coordination, monitoring and evaluation, and communication functions of the project. The main outcomes were: (i) the development of baseline databases on land and natural resources in the targeted locations; (ii) effective monitoring and evaluation (M&E) mechanisms and GIS database under Community Development Program Support Project adapted to and used by the GEF project; (iii) the efficient and timely production of technical and financial progress reports; and (iv) dissemination of project impacts and results, as well as best practices and lessons learned about sustainable land management.

d. Comments on Project Cost, Financing, Borrower Contribution, and Dates
Project Cost: Total project cost was estimated at US$6.87 million at appraisal, but actual project costs slightly exceeded this estimate by US$70,000 (US$6.93M). The difference of US$0.94 million between the GEF grant and the project’s total costs is presumably accounted for by counterpart contributions although this is not given for the SLM Project alone in the ICR.

Financing: Project financing was provided solely by a GEF grant of US$5.99 million. There was no co-financing of this project within the larger Community Development Program Support Project (PAPNDP).

Borrower Contribution: No exact estimate of the borrower’s contribution is possible to make since figures provided in project documentation all reference the larger PAPNDP and do not separate out this project.

Dates: The project became effective on 1 December, 2006. The Mid-Term Review was carried out in October 2009. As a result of the Review’s recommendations, the project was restructured a year later in November of 2010. It was extended by one year and credit proceeds were reallocated. The project closed on March 1, 2012.

3. Relevance of Objectives & Design:

a. Relevance of Objectives:
Rating: High. Given that agriculture is the lead sector of the national economy in terms of its contribution to GDP (about 30 percent), share of total exports (27 percent without considering wood), and importance as a source of employment for an estimated 60-65 percent of the workforce, the agricultural sector continued to be identified as a priority in the World Bank Country Assistance Strategy (CAS 2010-2013), in effect at the time of project closing in early 2012. At the time the project was being designed in the early 2000s, land degradation was already viewed by the Government and local rural people as an issue of vital importance to their survival, and was widely seen as both a cause and a consequence of the perpetuation of pervasive poverty in the rural parts of the country. Land degradation had reached an advanced state across many areas of Cameroon that were (and still are) highly dependent on the agro-silvo-pastoral sector, representing a key barrier to maintaining and increasing the productive capacity of this important sector.
Not only was the project intended to improve land and water resource management, but it was intended to do so in an environmentally sustainable way to reverse severe degradation processes of land, forest, and water resources. Progress on this front was noted in the CAS, which stated that the areas under sustainable land management practices had been far exceeded - at 88,448 hectares compared to a target of 10,000 hectares in 2013 (CAS, p. 30). The SLM Project clearly contributed toward the achievement of this national priority by increasing agricultural yields while simultaneously slowing down land and water degradation through community-driven sub-projects that were replicated by non-project beneficiary farmers and herders.

The presence of several planned donor-supported activities in the near future was also noted. From the perspective of the funding agency (the GEF), the project was consistent with the GEF’s SLM Operational Program (OP#15) and the GEF’s first and second strategic priorities: Targeted Capacity Building and Implementation of Innovative and Indigenous SLM Practices (Project Executive Summary of the GEF Council Approval Memo of August 22, 2005).

b. Relevance of Design:
Rating: Substantial. The first two components of the project were relevant to achieving both elements of the Project Development Objective: to enable communities to combat land degradation in critical areas through the adoption of SLM best practices, and (ii) to develop adequate community-level capacity, tools, and mechanisms to combat land degradation. The third project component was designed to provide the necessary human and financial resources to carry out the implementation of the project.
The Project design adopted the community demand driven approach of the larger Community Development Program Support Project, a GEF operation to encourage a participatory approach to spatial planning and development in priority intervention zones. This was widely perceived by project beneficiaries as a fair and transparent process for selecting micro-projects, which was the principal means of the project to enable communities to combat land degradation and replicate the experience elsewhere once it had been successfully demonstrated under the SLM Project.

The causal chain of the Results Framework was well-aligned between the project’s inputs and activities to achieving its intended output targets. The 19 Intermediate Outcome Indicators reflected excellent milestones and stepping stones toward achieving the overall Project Development Objective and Global Environmental Objective. No serious flaws were detected in the relevance of the project’s design. By taking into consideration other exogenous factors encompassed within the larger PAPNDP, the SLM Project design was able to focus its limited resources and beneficiary capabilities on its primary objective of demonstrating cost-effective SLM practices among poor rural farmers.

4. Achievement of Objectives (Efficacy) :

The Project Development Objective, as stated in the PAD, was to: “enable communities to contribute to combating land degradation in critical areas. This will be achieved through the adoption of SLM [sustainable land management] best practices and the development of adequate capacity, tools, and mechanisms by communities, thereby strengthening the overall impact of the PAPNDP [Community Development Program Support Project].” For the purposes of this ICR Review, the Project Development Objective was divided into two parts.

a) To enable communities to combat land degradation in critical areas through the adoption of SLM best practices. Rating: Substantial.

The Project started by educating project beneficiary farmers and livestock herders in communities and communes in four targeted regions where land degradation was the most pronounced on the use and adoption of applicable SLM practices and technologies, and their potential benefits to beneficiaries through a series of training workshops.

A total of 191 community micro-projects (with another 34 under implementation at the time of the ICR’s release) were completed to increase vegetative cover and improve soil fertility covering 46,195 hectares. However, the number of communal projects (15) fell far short of the target established at the start of the SLM Project (60). In addition, seven (7) community forests were protected or means for their protection put in place,against a target of three originally planned, and nearly twice the number of hectares as originally targeted (5,000 hectares) of protected area boundaries, buffer zones, and riparian zones were rehabilitated through introduced SLM practices.

Outcomes and Intermediate Outcomes
A total of 88,448 hectares of land were brought under SLM best practices, including 46,195 hectares of communal forest / agro-forestry, 29,500 hectares of Yoko trees in the Center region, 30,000 hectares of protected forests and buffer zones through reforestation, 10,000 hectares of composting land (fallow), 8,000 hectares of fodder crops, 3,433 hectares of conservation agriculture (bunds), and 1,000 hectares with rainwater harvesting (ICR, p. 15). This was 77 percent above the target set of 50,000 hectares.

In areas targeted by the Project, 91 percent of interviewed households practiced at least one SLM technology on their farms, and 77 percent of the beneficiary plots were using SLM practices. The rate of replication of SLM technology among non-beneficiary households was about 25 percent. In addition, 92 percent of beneficiary farmers and 81 percent of non-beneficiaries interviewed expressed their intention to continue using SLM practices.

82 percent of farmers reported increases in production due to improved soil fertility caused by SLM practices and technologies introduced by the project, substantially exceeding the additional costs of implementing those practices. A household income study conducted with support from the World Bank Institute (WBI) showed that the net present value (NPV) of the farming activities carried out by Project beneficiaries was 4 to 5 times greater than the NPV of farming activities carried out by non-beneficiaries. This difference was also observed in the case of livestock producers, who doubled the amount of fodder crops cultivated utilizing SLM practices and technologies. Meanwhile, non-beneficiary farmers who did not adopt SLM practices reported decreases in production due to accelerating land degradation and declining soil fertility (ICR, p. 19). Conversely, 97 percent of ranchers/herders noted improved grazing pasture as the main factors contributing to increased beef and dairy production explaining the increase in their production SLM. These increases compared favorably to non-beneficiary herders who did not adopt SLM practices, who reported much smaller increases. According to interviewees, the adoption of SLM practices (57 percent among farmers and 45 percent of ranchers and herders) was the main reason for their rising incomes.

In terms of increased agro-biodiversity, the ICR pointed to the higher-than-expected adoption rates of agro-pastoral systems as a proxy for measuring increased biodiversity. The ICR cited a number of specific examples of the reappearance of new plant and animal species observed in almost all Project sites in the Results Framework Analysis (pp. ix and 16), but did not confirm this or compare it to control sites. In addition, the link between increased use of agro-pastoral systems and biodiversity was tenuously made at best with no evidence provided to support a plausible linkage.

b) Develop adequate community-level capacity, tools, and mechanisms to combat land degradation.
Rating: Substantial.

Additional training workshops were held with targeted communities and communes to develop a methodology and toolkit to serve as guides in the preparation of SLM micro-projects. These served as the base for subsequent technical support provided to these beneficiaries and contributed to the creation of 120 community and 19 communal development plans. Other workshops were organized to develop a guide for the preparation of five land use and management plans.

A compendium of 14 SLM best management practices and lessons were developed in a participatory manner and published. Some of the more successful SLM initiatives supported under the Project included: (a) cocoa-led agro-forestry systems, (b) rain-fed water harvesting for small-scale irrigated farming, (c) improvement of pasture land through fodder farming, and (d) small scale livestock-farming integrated systems. The target set for the development and dissemination of these BMP guides had been set at 10.

More than 400 community-based organizations (the target was 100) gained knowledge about implementing biodiversity and environmentally-friendly SLM practices“due to the high demand of SLM MPs [micro-projects]” (Table 2.3, p. 32). Twenty-one (21) Land Tenure and Land-Use Litigation Commissions were “revitalized” by the project. In addition, legal texts on land tenure (and land-use rights) issues were reviewed, constraints to SLM identified, modifications proposed, and then submitted to Government authorities for their adoption as official national policy.

Outcomes and Intermediate Outcomes:
Five (5) Landscape Use and Management Plans were approved and are currently being implemented, thereby meeting the target set for this activity. The 120 community and 19 communal development plans are currently being implemented, according to the ICR Data Sheet. The BMP Guides are being utilized by beneficiary and non-beneficiary groups alike, with more than 400 communes and communities trained in SLM practices that are able to implement such practices as a result of project interventions.

The 21 Land Tenure and Land-Use Litigation Commissions are “effectively operational” at the communal/community level. However, the goal of establishing the National Commission for Environment and Sustainable Development (CNCEDD) and the Inter-Ministerial Committee for the Environment (CIE) as fully functional entities promoting sound SLM policies and strategies at a macro social level was not achieved. This was identified as a “project risk factor” (ICR, p. 22). In addition, the preliminary legal work done to ensure that land use rights policies were reinforced through the adoption, revision, and/or implementation of legal texts or decrees on land tenure (and land-use rights) was also not achieved. However, according to interviews with the Bank project team, a technical committee has begun to undertake an analysis of land reform initiatives and their related issues, which will be used to develop findings to improve the land reform proposal before its presentation to, and approval by, the Prime Minister.

c) Progress toward achievement of the Global Environmental Objective (“to improve the well-functioning of ecosystems by integrating SLM into local development and by decreasing biodiversity loss in fragile agro-silvo-pastoral areas. As a result of GEF interventions, the project will contribute to rehabilitating degraded lands and curbing further degradation, reducing soil erosion, stabilizing sediment storage and release in critical trans-boundary water bodies such as Lake Chad and the Gulf of Guinea, and increasing vegetative cover and carbon sequestration in the targeted areas”) was substantial. The SLM did contribute in a meaningful way to demonstrate the advantages, both economically and environmentally, of cost-effective SLM practices and technologies. These have been adopted on a larger-than-expected basis by both project beneficiaries and non-beneficiaries, and have resulted in substantial progress being made toward the GEO.

5. Efficiency:

An economic and financial analysis was prepared for the project (Annex 3), which computed the Financial Rate of Return, the Economic Rate of Return, and the corresponding Net Present Values of micro-projects falling into two main categories: “Land under Agroforestry Farming Systems” and “Pasture Lands for Cattle Production under Fodder Cropping Systems.” These two categories represented about 75 percent of all micro-projects supported under the project and absorbed 50 percent of Component 1 costs [which comprised nearly three-quarters of total project costs. The analysis showed that, on average, micro-projects supported by the Project were financially and economically attractive, even under a set of conservative assumptions and sensitivity analysis of various scenarios. Beneficiary farmers generated a net present value on their SLM investments 4-5 times greater than the NPV of their non-beneficiary counterparts while project-supported activities for ranchers and herders resulted in a doubling of cultivated fodder crops for their livestock.

In addition to quantifiable benefits, project activities contributed to reduced negative externalities occurring downstream from erosion points upstream, such as sedimentation, flood damage, and eutrophication of rivers and watersheds. The Project also generated another global public benefit, namely, the reduction of carbon emissions according to a World Bank Institute study utilizing a carbon balance tool to calculate avoided carbon emissions. It increased below- and above-ground sequestration of carbon which was estimated to fix an average of 2.1 tons and 3.4 tons of equivalent carbon dioxide per hectare per year (ICR, p. 17).

The Economic Rate of Return (ERR) and Financial Rate of Return (FRR) were calculated at project completion using the WBI’s EX-ACT method. The analysis shows that the main types of sub-projects implemented during the Project, representing 75 percent of all sub-projects, had ERRs and FRRs ranging between 18.1-21.2 and 17.6-19.6 percent respectively over a 25 year project timeframe. However, these were for sub-projects only and excluded project overhead costs so, while they gave satisfactory rates of return assuming a 10% opportunity cost of capital, they cannot be assumed to be indicative of an overall ERR. The ICR stated that the ICR results could not be compared with those calculated in the PAD because the ex-ante Economic and Financial Analysis had not computed the Internal Rates of Return (IRRs) or NPVs (Annex 3, p. 34). For these reasons the ERRs/FRRs are not entered below.

There were a number of operational inefficiencies, such as the delayed implementation of many community-level micro-projects and inadequate oversight and supervision of project activities by local implementing partners that led to a slow pace of project disbursement and eventually to the project’s restructuring and extension by one year. These inefficiencies negatively affected project implementation efficiency and its timely completion. However, the project achieved both elements of its objective well under budget, one year behind schedule, with satisfactory sub-project rates of return. Thus, IEG rates Efficiency as having been, on balance, Substantial.

a. If available, enter the Economic Rate of Return (ERR)/Financial Rate of Return at appraisal and the re-estimated value at evaluation:

Rate Available?
Point Value
ICR estimate:

* Refers to percent of total project cost for which ERR/FRR was calculated

6. Outcome:

The Relevance of Objectives was assessed as High due to their direct relevance to Government priorities, GEF operational program #15, and the Bank’s CAS in effect at the time of project closure. The Relevance of Design was assessed as Substantial due to the logical causal link between inputs, outputs, and outcomes in achieving the Project Development Objective. Efficacy was rated as Substantial since both elements of the Project Development Objective and most expected outcomes or intermediate outcomes were substantially achieved while the project was generally efficiently implemented, despite some delays in implementation and had substantial rates of return for subprojects.

a. Outcome Rating: Satisfactory

7. Rationale for Risk to Development Outcome Rating:

There are a number of risk factors that pose a threat to the continuation of project achievements. These include continued conflicts over land rights/use, increased risk or threat to food security from increasingly severe drought conditions due to climate change; an incomplete legal framework, ineffective functioning of Government institutions and commissions, continuing dependence on donor support of financial mechanisms to replicate some of the more successful SLM initiatives supported under the project, and a lack of monitoring and enforcement capabilities among implementing agencies. However, the ICR (p. 10) did mention that the SLM M&E system would strengthen new SLM micro-project activities to be funded through a French aid agency (AFD) grant. If scaled up, the replication of these initiatives could potentially contribute significantly to the Government’s rural development strategy by creating employment for rural youth, generating income for rural households through value addition, increasing food security in rural areas, and conserving biodiversity on which many rural livelihoods depend. The likelihood that these investments will be deepened and extended is uncertain but by no means unlikely, and therefore, IEG rates risk to development as moderate.

a. Risk to Development Outcome Rating: Moderate

8. Assessment of Bank Performance:

a. Quality at entry:
The project successfully incorporated the results from numerous studies that were carried out during preparation. These included feasibility for SLM planning, site diagnosis and advanced soil analysis, capacity enhancement needs assessment for NGOs and local implementation agencies, and assessments of the existing legal/regulatory and institutional frameworks. The project team also followed an inclusive, community-driven model to design project interventions that were relevant to project beneficiary communities and encouraged strong ownership of the techniques and methods introduced. The results of these stakeholder consultations were conveyed to a participatory diagnosis workshop, which facilitated the definition of the Project Development Objective and Global Environmental Objective, the design of the project’s main components, the identification of key activities, and the definition of key outcomes and performance indicators. The process was completed by another workshop organized to validate the final Project Appraisal Document (ICR, p. 8). The relevance and appropriateness of jointly-developed project-supported interventions was later reflected by the extensive uptake of practices that incorporated indigenous technical knowledge. The approaches taken and materials disseminated led to stronger demand for the micro-projects promoted and supported by the project.

The Results Framework was well-conceived with good coverage of the various aspects of the project’s development objective, while baselines for almost all indicators were decided on early on in project implementation. Lessons learned from past experiences supported under previous development projects were also integrated in the project’s design. And risk factors (described above) were identified and mitigation measures were integrated into the implementation of the project’s activities. Given how closely the project’s anticipated expenditures came to its eventual actual costs for the various components and activities, the project’s inputs and activities were accurately and realistically estimated, with the exception of Component 3: Project Management and M&E Activities. Finally, the IDA-financed Community Development Program Support Project’s monitoring and evaluation manual and the accounting, financial and administrative procedure manuals, were adapted to address the particular needs of this project. This enhanced the cost-efficiency of project implementation by piggy-backing on the experience and capabilities of staff instead of creating redundant staff and structures. No serious flaws or omissions were encountered in the Bank’s performance at entry.

Quality-at-Entry Rating: Satisfactory

b. Quality of supervision:
On the positive side, the project benefited from the combined attention and expertise of a number of jointly-conducted supervision missions by the Bank’s project team and existing Bank staff working with Government ministry officials. Those Bank-sponsored missions reviewed various technical and logistical aspects of this project, including social and environmental safeguards, procurement, financial management, and administrative/reporting requirements. Following each mission, detailed recommendations were made to Government and Bank managers to improve implementation effectiveness going forward. As a result of the Mid-Term Review (MTR), the project’s M&E system was strengthened and further training of SLM advisors was provided to offer better technical assistance to beneficiary municipalities in managing SLM micro-projects. Also following the MTR, the project team placed greater emphasis on encouraging the participation of all resource users in the process of consensus-building, promoting a learning-by-doing approach by introducing SLM farmers’ field schools, incorporating indigenous knowledge in the SLM technology package, and establishing a system of advisory support. The team also encouraged greater involvement of sector ministries, research institutions, municipalities and communities in all phases of SLM micro-projects.

However, despite the fact that the MTR identified a number of issues that were seen as negatively influencing project implementation and recommended changes to the Results Framework, a number of the changes proposed at the time of the MTR were not implemented. According to the ICR (p. 6), this was due to the “lack of a proactive approach of the World Bank team” that did not lobby Government officials actively and consistently enough to obtain a request for these modifications from Bank management. Consequently, the Project Results Framework was never formally revised. A year later on November 30, 2010 the project was reorganized. The main reasons for the re-organization were: (a) the low disbursement level (only 46 percent of the grant had been disbursed by June 24, 2010), due mainly to the slow rate of micro-project implementation, poor supervision of the Project in the field, and poor monitoring of activities.

Quality of Supervision Rating: Moderately Satisfactory

Overall Bank Performance Rating: Moderately Satisfactory

9. Assessment of Borrower Performance:

a. Government Performance:
On the positive side, the Government fulfilled most of its obligations, recorded in the Grant Agreement, by providing the necessary technical and administrative staff, both at central and regional levels, and the necessary resources to support the activities. The Government’s political support was important in achieving the project’s results, and it negotiated with the French bilateral aid agency (AFD) to include a sub-component on sustainable land management (SLM) technologies as eligible micro-projects under the follow-on Phase II of the Community Development Program Support Project.

On the other hand, the Government failed to deliver completely on its obligations to advocate strongly on behalf of land reforms, and counterpart financial disbursements were slow to materialize. In addition, the slow rate of micro-project implementation from 2006 to 2010 when the project was re-organized was due in large part to the lack of sufficient technical staff responsible for overseeing activities from the relevant sector ministries at the regional level and poor supervision of the project in the field. These problems led to changes in the project’s management oversight to strengthen partnerships with those ministries to more actively involve their representatives in the design, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of SLM micro-projects.

Government Performance Rating: Moderately Satisfactory

b. Implementing Agency Performance:
The Project Coordination Unit (PCU) was the implementing agency. Its staff implemented all the recommendations of various Bank supervision missions and significantly improved the M&E system of the project. Annual financial audits were conducted in a timely fashion and satisfactorily without qualification. A group of sixty (60) SLM consultants were recruited and trained in the project’s data collection methods, prior to being assigned to the four project intervention sites. These consultants provided technical assistance to communities and communes in the implementation of their micro-projects, serving a dual role as both technical advisors and collectors of M&E input data. (This data was then consolidated by the PCU and disseminated to relevant ministries.)

Implementing Agency Performance Rating: Satisfactory

Overall Borrower Performance Rating: Moderately Satisfactory

10. M&E Design, Implementation, & Utilization:

a. M&E Design:
Operationally, there were an average number of outcome and intermediate progress indicators (two and 19, respectively). For a project of this size and duration, indicator targets appeared reasonable and realistic. The two principal “Global Environmental Objective Indicators:” (i) an increase in vegetative cover in the targeted intervention areas, and, (ii) a visible increase in the biodiversity in the project’s experimental plots compared with control plots, were measurable and meaningful, and reflected the desired results that the project hoped to achieve. However, there were some flaws in the selection of indicators for the M&E system. For example, it was not possible initially to document the areas applying SLM practices on the farms of beneficiaries vs. non-beneficiaries, nor to disaggregate the area under SLM practices by type of SLM technology, such as improved pastures, reforested areas, communal/community forest areas; land using organic manure, and “other” technologies, such as water harvesting systems installed. These distinctions in data collection/analysis were added later during implementation.

b. M&E Implementation:
Baseline data on almost all outcome and intermediate progress indicators was gathered by the end of the first year of implementation, as programmed. However, implementation of the M&E system got off to a slow start under the SLM Project. It is not clear from project documents whether that was due to inadequate effort or number of staff assigned by the relevant Government agencies, or due to inadequate coordination with Community Development Program Support Project staff, with which SLM Project staff were expected to collaborate. There was no indication in the ICR whether an M&E readiness assessment was conducted to determine the degree to which the larger Community Development Program Support Project mechanism was adequate, or if its M&E staff was motivated to collaborate with SLM Project staff.

The SLM Project hired 60 consultants to serve as both technical advisors to communities and to collect M&E data. Monitoring data to inform the Results Framework of the project was regularly updated, and data collected was inputted into the project GIS. However, during the December 2010 supervision mission, the World Bank team determined that the PCU was experiencing difficulties in collecting the data needed to track the indicators for the Results Framework. To address this issue, in 2011 new data collection procedures were developed jointly by the Project team and the World Bank team, and a consultant was hired to assist the Project team in data collection and monitoring of activities on the ground. Starting in February 2011, new procedures were introduced to have beneficiary communities collect data as well. Due to these new procedures, it was possible to document the areas under SLM practices on the farms of both beneficiaries and non-beneficiaries, and by type of SLM practices and technologies being used.

a. M&E Utilization:
Having technical advisors perform these tasks seemed a reasonable approach to take given the wide geographic dispersion of project activities in four different priority target zones and the quite modest project costs, but the quality of technical assistance provided was later questioned and criticized by some beneficiaries in an experimental vs. control group survey of 240 beneficiary households and 240 non-beneficiary households (ICR, p. 21). This was due in part to the fact that it was not clear who the ultimate “users” of that information were supposed to be, or how they would use it to inform the management of the project. According to the ICR (p. 10), the M&E system was scheduled to be incorporated into the AFD-funded follow-up Phase 2 of the Community Development Program Support Project’s M&E framework.

M&E Quality Rating: Substantial

11. Other Issues:

a. Safeguards:
The project was rated as a category B project for environmental screening and only triggered the safeguards OP4.01 on Environmental Assessment and OP4.20 on Indigenous Peoples. The Environmental and Social Management Framework of the Community Development Program Support Project, which was used to identify and manage socio-environmental aspects of its own interventions, was updated in 2009 to incorporate the GEF’s SLM Project. The framework mandated that socio-environmental reviews be carried out for specific types of SLM micro-projects. Consistent with the framework, all communal and communities SLM micro-projects were subjected to systematic socio-environmental screening, to ensure (when appropriate) that environmental and social mitigation measures that have been incorporated into the technical and financial documents of those micro-projects. Socio-environmental screening and evaluation forms were systematically appended to all requests for funding (ICR, p. 10). No involuntary resettlement occurred during the implementation of SLM micro-projects funded by the Project. No safeguard violations were reported in the ICR.

b. Fiduciary Compliance:
Annual procurement plans were prepared regularly and submitted to the World Bank for approval. Community SLM micro-projects, which were subject to strict funding limits, were implemented mainly in-house, while communal SLM micro-projects, which involved considerably more resources, were systematically put out for competitive bidding. It would appear that the lack of progress made in reaching the targeted number of communal micro-projects (15 out of a target of 60) compared to the achievement of the targeted number of community-level micro-projects may have been due to procurement registration and contracting mechanisms that deterred more progress from being made. This factor was noted by many of the local service providers in comments contained in the ICR (p. 27).

Each Regional Coordination Unit (RCU) set up a system that allowed the financing of micro-projects through joint accounts co-managed with beneficiaries, and procurement documents were retained by the RCUs as well as at the central PCU. Throughout implementation, the Project was subject to annual technical and financial audits. No major irregularities were noted in the ICR.

c. Unintended Impacts (positive or negative):
No unintended outcomes or impacts were encountered.

d. Other:

12. Ratings:

IEG Review
Reason for Disagreement/Comments
Risk to Development Outcome:
Negligible to Low
Risk factors described in the ICR appeared to be higher than negligible. This included weak institutions, and the lack of a legal land-use and conflict resolution framework that continues to pose risks to the PDO/GEO. 
Bank Performance:
Moderately Satisfactory
Opportunities to formally revise the Results Framework, as recommended, were not taken during Supervision. 
Borrower Performance:
Moderately Satisfactory
Slow disbursement of counterpart contributions and poor coordination of cross-ministerial roles and responsibilities. 
Quality of ICR:
- When insufficient information is provided by the Bank for IEG to arrive at a clear rating, IEG will downgrade the relevant ratings as warranted beginning July 1, 2006.
- The "Reason for Disagreement/Comments" column could cross-reference other sections of the ICR Review, as appropriate.

13. Lessons:
It is important not to confuse the intermediate means (outputs and intermediate outcomes) with the ultimate ends (outcomes) of an intervention, and to take a broad view of the ends sought. The objective of the project was to enable communities to contribute to combating land degradation in critical areas through the adoption of sustainable land management (SLM), but it should have been also understood that the beneficiaries’ ultimate objective was to get those more environmentally sustainable commodities (crops and livestock) to market to increase short-term incomes and improve their quality-of-life. Local communities would have benefitted more from SLM practices if they had had more reliable access to well-functioning infrastructure and markets for their products. In SLM projects, creating market value chains is important since profitability is what sustains the incentives. In this case, as the ICR points out, “A rapid market appraisal revealed that a significant proportion (60 percent) of the crops and livestock products produced by beneficiaries was sold to a group of intermediaries who acted in collusion to manipulate commodity prices… The mere availability of improved technology cannot sufficiently induce farmers to adopt sustainable production systems. Additional economic incentives are necessary to foster technological change. The introduction of SLM technologies therefore needs to be accompanied by investments in complementary infrastructure, such as storage facilities for cereals, physical market places, and access roads” (p. 25).

It is important to explicitly weigh the options of a simpler versus a more complex approach when designing community-driven development project interventions. It is clear from the results achieved in the SLM Project that micro-projects were more successfully implemented at the community-level than were the larger, more complex, communal interventions, at least in terms of reaching their respective targets for outcome indicators. The funding cap for communal SLM projects was not large enough to allow investments to be made under the same micro-project for an integrated set of complementary activities, such as rainwater harvesting, composting, tree planting, and fodder cropping. The trade-off, however, of a more comprehensive approach would have required a higher disbursement envelope entailing a higher level of supervision and financial management to ensure efficiency, accountability, and transparency. While in this case a large number of single “one-off” micro-projects were relatively simple to prepare and implement, their combined impact was diluted by their isolation and by the lack of a critical mass to achieve changes in attitudes and behavior among target populations. On the other hand, larger, more complex “Christmas tree” interventions (including everything within a single delivery package) can quickly become bogged down in administrative oversight and thus reduce coverage. There are no easy answers to this perennial tension between simplicity and complexity but the choices need to be explored when designing interventions.

Land use and management plans can enhance consensus-building efforts while limiting land-use conflicts among users, but they require the existence of adequate legal platforms and functional institutions to sustain them.The ICR noted that the land use and management plans prepared were “powerful tools” that had demonstrated their utility in building consensus among affected communities and reducing conflicts over land-use. However, the project’s inability to develop the prerequisite legal and institutional structures and coordination to support and sustain them undermined their further expanded use elsewhere. Without such foundations, the process becomes a “one-on, one-off” endeavor lacking sustainability.

14. Assessment Recommended?


15. Comments on Quality of ICR:

The ICR provided a well-balanced, analytically rigorous, and thorough evaluation of all aspects of the Project’s implementation. Positive aspects were noted as well as issues that persisted and negatively affected the achievement of the Project Development Objective. The report was well-organized and written, reducing the time required to validate it. Ratings were based on a sound and convincing base of evidentiary information. Written comments provided by the last TTL and ICR Team Leader to IEG following the ICRR interview were well-prepared and responsive, providing additional inputs to the final ICR Review. The only qualifying criticism of the ICR was that it sometimes conflated the SLM Project costs within the larger multi-project Community Development Program Support Project (PAPNDP).

a. Quality of ICR Rating: Exemplary

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