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Implementation Completion Report (ICR) Review - Bangladesh: Repatriation And Livelihood Restoration For Migrant Workers


  
1. Project Data:   
ICR Review Date Posted:
09/03/2013   
Country:
Bangladesh
PROJ ID:
P126263
Appraisal
Actual
Project Name:
Bangladesh: Repatriation And Livelihood Restoration For Migrant Workers
Project Costs(US $M)
 74.1  72.2
L/C Number:
Loan/Credit (US $M)
 40.0  38.0
Sector Board:
Urban Development
Cofinancing (US $M)
 29.5  29.8
Cofinanciers:
International Organization of Migration (IOM)
Board Approval Date
  04/26/2011
 
 
Closing Date
06/30/2012 06/30/2012
Sector(s):
Other social services (100%)
Theme(s):
Conflict prevention and post-conflict reconstruction (50%) Social safety nets (50%)
         
Prepared by: Reviewed by: ICR Review Coordinator: Group:
Toneema M. Haq
Roy Gilbert Soniya Carvalho IEGPS1

2. Project Objectives and Components:

a. Objectives:
The objectives of the project are to help the Government of Bangladesh to "(i) repatriate its migrant workers, who have fled the ongoing conflict in Libya from refugee camps in neighboring countries in a timely manner; and

(ii) provide a one-time cash grant as a transitional safety net measure to help them meet immediate basic needs and commence the process of livelihood restoration." (Emergency Project Paper,p. 4, and Financing Agreement, Schedule 1).

b. Were the project objectives/key associated outcome targets revised during implementation?
No

c. Components:
There were two components in the project:


1. Repatriation of migrant workers to their home country (estimated cost: US$46.7 million; actual cost: US$48.9 million)

This component financed the air fare cost of returning conflict-affected Bangladeshi workers in Libya back to Bangladesh. IDA was committed to financing US$12.6 million of this component to cover the air fare of an estimated 10,000 workers (one-third the travel costs of 30,000 migrant workers) from camps in Tunisia and Egypt. The other two-thirds cost were covered by US$29.5 million in donor contributions to the International Organization of Migration (IOM) and US$4.6 million from the Government of Bangladesh. This component was essentially completed at the time of project appraisal and was financed by an exception to the rule on retroactive financing authorized by the Board: "To facilitate rapid approval, the Bank TTL. Country Director, and Regional Vice President briefed the Board on the proposed project design two weeks into project preparation and received the 'green light' to continue to explore 100 percent retroactive financing of repatriation costs" (ICR, p. 11). This component also financed identification of migrant workers, emergency travel documents, air fares, transportation to their homes, medical care, food, and immigration support. The amount at closing was US$2.2 million higher than at appraisal since the cost savings under component 2 (below) was reallocated to this component. There was no formal reallocation between components since the Bank agreed to finance the cost of the airlift by overdrawing on Category 1 (transportation services) and using the savings in Category 2 (transitional assistance grants). (ICR, p. 29).

2. Transitional Assistance/Reintegration (estimated cost: US$26.5 million; actual cost: US$23.3 million)

This was entirely financed by IDA. It intended to provide a one-time cash grant of the equivalent of US$775 to each returnee for an estimated 34,000 workers. This was to cover their immediate basic needs upon their return to Bangladesh. This was a transitional safety net measure. In order to organize the distribution of the cash grant, the cofinancier, International Organization of Migration (IOM) financed setting up a basic cash transfer system and organized a public information campaign in collaboration with the Government of Bangladesh. A monitoring system was set up to provide feedback, as well as a system to address individual grievances. The unused amount was reallocated (along with US$0.9 million contingency funds) to reimburse the "heavily cash-strapped" (ICR, p.11) national airlines for repatriation expenses.

d. Comments on Project Cost, Financing, Borrower Contribution, and Dates
Project Cost. The difference between total project cost at appraisal and total project cost at completion was US$2 million due to the fluctuations in the US Dollar-SDR exchange rate.

Financing. The IDA credit was for SDR 25.3 million (US$40 million equivalent) at appraisal. IOM fully paid its US$29.5 million cofinancing commitment to which it added a further US$0.3 million during implementation to pay for setting up a cash transfer system. The EPP recommended 100% retroactive financing to reimburse repatriation expenditures from the beginning of the IOM operation on February 28, 2011 (EPP, p. 1). As mentioned in Section 2c, above, the Board authorized retroactive financing up to 100% of expenditures under Component 1 and 96.4% of expenditures under Component 2. This allowed the Government of Bangladesh to continue uninterrupted repatriation and avoid leaving Bangladeshi workers in refugee camps while the project was under preparation (ICR, p. 13).

Borrower Contribution.The national air lines, Bangladesh Biman contributed US$4.6 million (no change from appraisal) which constitutes 6% of total project costs. IDA reimbursed US$3.43 million of this. The reallocation of funds was financed by the unused amount in Component 2 and the US$0.9 million in contingency funds.

Dates. This emergency project was implemented within its planned time frame, closing on June 30, 2012 as intended, 14 months after approval on April 26, 2011 and 12 months after effectiveness on June 16, 2011.


3. Relevance of Objectives & Design:

a. Relevance of Objectives:
The objectives of the project were relevant to the World Bank country strategy in Bangladesh as well as to the context of Bangladesh. The relevant Country Assistance Strategy (CAS) at project closing covered the period FY 2011-2014. The importance of migrant workers remittances to the economy of Bangladesh is emphasized several times in the CAS. Domestic consumption accounted for 70-80% of economic growth and this has been driven largely by foreign remittances. Migrant remittances in Bangladesh accounted for 87% of the total external inflows in FY 2011. The 2011 civil conflict in Libya affected 63,000 Bangladeshis who lost their livelihoods and fled to camps in Egypt and Tunisia. This presented a "significant shock" to their families, resulting in a loss of income of about US$3,690 per year (ICR, p. 8). The objectives were highly relevant to the country context given the importance of migrant workers to Bangladesh and the importance of supporting "safe overseas employment" (ICR, p. 12).

Relevance of Objectives is High.

b. Relevance of Design:
Project design was simple and clearly defined. It focused on the emergency and the need to return conflict affected workers and provide them with cash grants.

The Results Framework in the EPP was also simple, clear and well defined. The repatriation component was divided into a pre-departure phase (identification of migrant workers, screening process to determine willingness to repatriate, eligibility, and consular services for documents), a transport phase (safe transport from camps to airport and airlift to home country by chartered flights), and a post-arrival phase (gathering contact details of repatriated workers). The transitional assistance component included the administrative elements of a basic cash transfer system, a public information campaign to reach out to those eligible, a monitoring system to provide feedback on improvements to the cash payment system, and grievance options for individual errors. This linear results chain was ideal for a simple results-oriented emergency operation.

One shortcoming was the lack of a component dealing with livelihood restoration. As noted in Section 4, below, there was originally a third component dealing with livelihood restoration but it was eliminated at the concept stage since it would potentially lengthen and complicate a fast-disbursing emergency project.

Relevance of Design is Substantial.


4. Achievement of Objectives (Efficacy) :

Objective 1, to repatriate migrant workers, who have fled the ongoing conflict in Libya from refugee camps in neighboring countries in a timely manner is rated High.

Output

36,713 conflict-affected workers were identified as eligible, registered, repatriated, and given official photo identification.


Outcomes

No real outcomes were monitored as this was an emergency operation. The mid-term review recommended an evaluation to deal with such situations in the long-term (see Section 3b above).

Objective 2, to provide a one-time cash grant as a transitional safety net measure to help meet immediate basic needs and commence the process of livelihood restoration is rated Substantial.

Output

By project closing, 36,307 repatriated workers were identified as eligible and received a one-time cash grant for subsistence between 2.5 to 7 days after verification of eligibility, above the appraisal target of 34,000.


Outcomes

There was no evidence in the ICR of how returnees used the cash grant to resume their lives in Bangladesh. There was an assessment conducted by IOM (ICR, p. 21) of 7,234 returning workers which gave some information on the use of the cash grant. 54% of the returnees in this assessment used the cash grant to repay migration related debt (the majority, 84%, has been in Libya less than a year), 20% used the grant to invest in business, 11% used the grant for future migration, and 10% used the grant on family expenses. It would appear from this data that the cash grant was used mainly for immediate basic needs (debt payment, family) and only for some to restore their livelihoods (invest in business, future migration). The ICR notes that there was originally a third component in this project for livelihoods restoration but that it was eliminated at the concept stage "due to concerns that these activities would necessarily mean a longer project period and would complicate the project" (ICR, p. 12).

5. Efficiency:

Since this was processed as an emergency operation, no economic or financial rate of return was estimated at appraisal. The EPP did, however, have an annex on economic and financial analysis that estimated the indirect project beneficiaries as the families of the 34,000 workers that used to send remittances back (p. 34).

The ICR did discuss efficiency in terms of overhead administrative costs. In this project, they were just 2% of direct costs, lower than international standards where costs for administering cash transfers average 7-8% of budgets total costs (ICR, p. 19). The waiver on retroactive financing to reimburse the IOM for already repatriated returnees allowed for quick implementation and reduced overall costs. The single-source contract between the Government and IOM also lowered costs (see Section 11b below). IOM charged only 0.4% of project costs for the establishment of the cash transfer system (ICR, p. 13).


Finally, the EPP estimated the average cost of repatriating a Bangladeshi worker from Libya at US$1,500 (US$1,260 of which is air fare and rest for assistance in transit camps and overhead charges). At project completion, 36,713 workers were repatriated at a total cost of US$48.9 million which averages out to US$1,332, lower than the expected cost.

Efficiency is High.

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
Coverage/Scope*
Appraisal:
No
%
%
ICR estimate:
No
%
%

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

6. Outcome:

Based on High Relevance of Objectives, Substantial Relevance of Design, High Efficacy of the first objective and Substantial Efficacy of the second objective, and High Efficiency, the overall outcome is rated Highly Satisfactory, in line with the ICR rating.

a. Outcome Rating: Highly Satisfactory

7. Rationale for Risk to Development Outcome Rating:

This is only relevant to this project in terms of the risk that livelihoods may not be restored. In terms of repatriation, the affected workers have already been returned to their home country and nearly 99% received the one-time non-reimbursable cash grant. There is a risk that the returnees livelihoods will not be restored and that some returnees may become anti-social elements. The ICR maintains that this is an issue for the future Japanese Social Development Fund grants (see Section 8b, below), not this project. However, if the project had included livelihood restoration this risk could have been reduced.

a. Risk to Development Outcome Rating: Moderate

8. Assessment of Bank Performance:

a. Quality at entry:
The Bank prepared a simply designed fast disbursing project to meet the immediate needs of an emergency situation. The project objectives were "relevant, measurable, and achievable in the time frame of the project and consistent with the requirements of the emergency." (ICR, p. 21). Procurement risks were greatly reduced by relying on a single contract with IOM for all project activities (see Section 11b, Procurement, below). The Bank exhibited flexibility to procedures when the Board authorized 100% retroactive financing to reimburse the national airlines completed airlift of affected workers that had thus far been financed by IOM. The contingency amount reserved in the EPP of US$0.9 million turned out to be very useful in alleviating the financial burden on the national airline (Biman). It was reallocated to reimburse Biman for repatriation expenses. An operational manual was developed to provide procedures, roles and responsibilities for the disbursement of the cash grant.

There were some shortcomings. The project design could have paid more attention to the returnees resuming their livelihoods to ensure that it would continue after the temporary one-time cash grant was spent. There was no background analysis done of the beneficiaries who by the time of project appraisal had already been repatriated, thus making it a simple matter to assess beneficiaries as they were already physically back in Bangladesh. This background analysis would have enabled a more accurate assessment of the number of outstanding beneficiaries that the project would have to attend to. The project design did not include third-party process audits for the cash grant (see Section 11b, Financing Management, below). According to the Project Team, the process audit was not done since there were no funds available to conduct these assessments as part of the project design, and cash transfers were completed earlier than anticipated so the team had to focus on completing formalities for project closing. Random checks were conducted by the team against the list of transfers provided by Sonali Bank. These random checks were not "rigorous" (ICR, p. 15), but helped to ensure that the cash grants were made to the correct beneficiary accounts within the agreed time frame.

Quality-at-Entry Rating: Moderately Satisfactory

b. Quality of supervision:
The project was very fast-disbursing (as should be the case with emergency operations), disbursing 90% of its funds within the first five months of the project (see Section 11b, Disbursement, below). When there was a disbursement bottleneck due to insufficient documentation, the Bank team came up with a solution for Sonali Bank Limited (see Section 11b, Disbursement below). The Bank team ensured proper financing management when it became clear that the implementing agency needed support, (see Section 11b, Financing Management, below).


The ICR mentions that there was continuity between the preparation and supervision teams. One of the three co-TTLs and the fiduciary team involved in preparation of the project remained during project implementation. There was also continuous interaction between the Bank team, the implementing agency and IOM.

One shortcoming of supervision was that the evaluation activities recommended by the mid-term review (type of intervention required to address market failures that currently exist for unskilled and semi-skilled labor overseas) were not implemented. Given the emergency nature of the operation, it was not feasible to include this type of impact evaluation in the project. The ICR acknowledges that though this is a valid concern in emergency situations, "it would have been feasible to implement assessment activities after emergency activities were completed. This could have possibly included inter alia post implementation process audits, a beneficiary assessment, and analysis of the situation of Bangladeshi workers in other countries at risk of conflict." (ICR, p. 15). According to the Project Team, this should have been incorporated in project design and that the one year project implementation did not allow time for such rigorous evaluations.

Quality of Supervision Rating: Satisfactory

Overall Bank Performance Rating: Moderately Satisfactory

9. Assessment of Borrower Performance:

a. Government Performance:
The Government moved quickly to request assistance from the Bank when it was clear that IOM lacked sufficient resources to cover the expenditures of returnees. The Government also advanced funds for repatriation in order to prevent interruption of the airlift. Emergency resources were mobilized to provide each returnee with Taka 1,000 (equal to about $12.60) for transportation from bus terminals to their homes. In addition, the Government advanced funds for cash grants due to expected delays in the Designated Account replenishment (see Section 11b, Disbursement, below).

Government Performance Rating: Highly Satisfactory

b. Implementing Agency Performance:
The implementing agency was the Bureau of Manpower, Employment and Training (BMET) under the Ministry of Expatriates' Welfare and Overseas Employment (MOEWOE) The BMET efficiently managed all activities of the IOM. It also managed the beneficiary bank accounts by Sonali Bank Limited without receiving any service fee. It was responsible for establishing procedures for repatriation and reintegration. All audited financial statements were submitted on time "with no significant accounting issues." (ICR, p. 23). Financial management was satisfactory "albeit with significant bank support." (ICR, p. 23) since the implementing agency did not have adequate financial management capacity (see Section 11b, below). Implementation of the cash grant was facilitated by BMET providing space for call and verification centers for the Grievance Committee (for the cash grant).


The ICR noted was that although formal reporting requirements were not complied with, regular informal updates were provided to the Bank. The Project Team clarified the difference between formal and informal reporting. BMET did not provide formal reports to the Bank since IOM was providing both the Borrower and the Bank with weekly updates on cash transfers.

Implementing Agency Performance Rating: Satisfactory

Overall Borrower Performance Rating: Satisfactory

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

a. M&E Design:
This fast-disbursing emergency operation needed only a simple monitoring framework with two main indicators and three intermediate indicators. Only the immediate impact of the interventions were monitored (such as, how many workers returned), not longer term objectives (such as, the number of migrants reintegrated into the labor market). There were no indicators measuring livelihood restoration which is mentioned in the project objectives. As mentioned in Section 8b, above, the mid-term review recognized the gap in not including longer term objectives in the M&E framework and recommended an evaluation to address market failures existing in the overseas employment market for unskilled and semi-skilled labor.

b. M&E Implementation:
The implementing agency, BMET, was responsible for reporting on the number of documented and eligible returnees under the project. IOM provided weekly informal email updates to BMET and the Bank team on key performance indicators.


IOM submitted flight details and lists of passengers to monitor the first main indicator (repatriated migrant workers who arrived safely at he airport in Dhaka). IOM developed an MIS system to capture data on beneficiaries and payments. IOM and BMET provided lists of workers who received cash payments. These lists were reconciled with pre-existing lists of returnees and the list of cash recipients issued by the disbursing bank. This was used to monitor the second main indicator (repatriated migrant workers who received the one-time cash grant). The three intermediate monitoring indicators (percent of repatriated migrant workers who have proof of photo ID, TV and newspaper advertisements launched to inform about cash grants and livelihood activities, and cash transfer system established through banks) achieved their targets.

a. M&E Utilization:
The MIS established for monitoring the indicators could be used to facilitate a similar program should an emergency arise in the future. The Sonali Limited Bank now has advanced capacity in-house to rapidly disburse cash to beneficiary accounts. The BMET has been institutionally strengthened with knowledge, software, hardware and the Cash Grant Procedures manual.

M&E Quality Rating: Substantial

11. Other Issues:

a. Safeguards:
No environmental or social safeguards were triggered by this project. It was classified as Environmental Category C (no adverse impacts identified). No environmental assessment action was required. It did not trigger OP 4.12 Involuntary Resettlement since the resettlement in this case was voluntary repatriation, not involuntary.

b. Fiduciary Compliance:
Financial Management. The ICR notes that the implementing agency did not have adequate financial management capacity and hiring a financial management specialist was "problematic" (p. 16). This is not further explained in the ICR. It was left to the Bank supervision team to ensure proper financial management. Unaudited financial statements were submitted though some were late. It is unclear from the ICR if audits were timely and unqualified, but the Project Team confirmed that all audits were submitted on time and were unqualified. There were random checks of the cash grants by the Bank supervision team, but the ICR notes that "it would have been beneficial to include independent third-party process audits, particularly of the cash grant to further increase transparency and accountability" (p. 16). BMET did not provide formal reports to the Bank since IOM was providing weekly reports.

Procurement. The entire credit was encompassed in a single non-consultancy services contract with IOM. This is consistent with Bank guidelines for emergency operations which include use of rapid procurement methods, such as direct contracting, for procurement of services of qualified UN agencies (ICR, p. 13). IOM was qualified on migration and in the delivery of cash transfers which speeded up project implementation and increased efficiency. The procurement plan consisted of one US$40 million (the entire IDA credit) direct contract with IOM for implementation of all project activities. According to the ICR (p. 16), the procurement activity was carried out in compliance with the Bank's policy and procedural requirements.

Disbursement. As this was an emergency operation financing activities retroactively, 90% of funds were disbursed within the first five months of implementation. (ICR, p. 22).

Disbursement of the cash grant was prepared by IOM and approved by the Government and the Bank. It included details of the public education campaign, logistics for distribution of the cash grant, and methodology for ensuring the proper identification of eligible beneficiaries. A comprehensive database from the registration or returnees conducted at the airport was developed by IOM to ensure smooth disbursement of the cash grant. Despite this, there were disbursement bottlenecks identified in the Mid-term Review. The Ministry of Expatriates' Welfare and Overseas Employment (MOEWOE) did not have sufficient documentation on bank transactions to submit withdrawal applications. This led to fund shortages in the Designated Account. This was rectified when the Bank team recommended that beneficiaries be certified based on the Sonali Bank's transaction register and the list of beneficiaries on a daily basis.

c. Unintended Impacts (positive or negative):
Institutional strengthening was not a project component but this project resulted in building up the implementing agency. The Bureau of Manpower Employment and Training (BMET) now has the software, hardware, Cash Grant Procedures Manual and an MIS to facilitate implementation of a similar program in the future.

As a result of this emergency operation, IOM Geneva established an Emergency Migration Fund to respond to future emergencies and affected migrant workers.

d. Other:
Though livelihood restoration of returnees was not part of this project (due to a longer and more complex implementation period than desired for an emergency operation), the Bank did develop two Japanese Social Development Fund (JSDF) grants. As part of the next phase, one JSDF grant will focus on facilitating migration (so returnees can continue to provide much-needed remittances), and the other will focus on improving labor market outcomes within the country. The Bank ensured speedy submission of these two grant proposals in order to facilitate restoration of returnees livelihoods.

Sonali Bank Limited converted Libyan currency to local currency at no charge. This was not included as part of the project design.



12. Ratings:

ICR
IEG Review
Reason for Disagreement/Comments
Outcome:
Highly Satisfactory
Highly Satisfactory
 
Risk to Development Outcome:
Negligible to Low
Moderate
Risk to livelihood restoration remains since the project did not address this fully. 
Bank Performance:
Satisfactory
Moderately Satisfactory
Quality at entry was MS due mainly to lack of attention to livelihood restoration. 
Borrower Performance:
Satisfactory
Satisfactory
 
Quality of ICR:
 
Satisfactory
 
NOTES:
- 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:
Lessons from ICR

1. Simplicity of project design. This project was implemented quickly the way an emergency should be due to the linear simplicity of its design, clearly defined activities, and an easily identifiable target group.
2. Experience acquired during an emergency could be used to provide similar assistance elsewhere. In this project, even though it was only for a one-time cash grant, the manual developed for the cash allowance could serves as a "guiding document for future emergencies." (p. 25).The BMET has developed experience in repatriation and delivery of cash transfers through this project.
3. The Bank should do some preparation work even for emergency operations. Rigorous analytic work need not inform design but, "the Bank needs to take stock of the situation." (ICR p. 24). In this case a beneficiary assessment would have been informative and not necessarily slowed down project implementation. Other assessments of workers in other conflict countries and sustainable social protection for migrant workers would also have been useful.
4. High returns are possible without incurring high administrative costs. The administrative costs were only 2% of the direct costs of repatriation and reintegration.

14. Assessment Recommended?

Yes
Why?
An assessment may be useful to conduct the evaluation recommended in the mid-term review (see Section 3b, above). It would also be useful to evaluate the JSDF grants that follow-up on what this project was not designed to do (see Section 8b, above).

15. Comments on Quality of ICR:

This was a concise and well-written ICR. It was candid about what was not done, such as a beneficiary assessment, process audit, and other analytic work that would have been useful in understanding the situation of migrant workers in a country that is so dependent on remittances.

A shortcoming was the lack of details on fiduciary compliance. Procurement and disbursement were covered in the ICR but there was no clear statement on how many audits were late and if audits were unqualified, though this was cleared up for IEG by the Project Team.

a. Quality of ICR Rating: Satisfactory

(ICRR-Rev6INV-Jun-2011)
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