|1. Project Data:
ICR Review Date Posted:
|Community Action Program (pac2)
Project Costs(US $M)
Loan/Credit (US $M)
|Agriculture and Rural Development
Cofinancing (US $M)
Board Approval Date
|General agriculture fishing and forestry sector (36%), Sub-national government administration (28%), General education sector (12%), General water sanitation and flood protection sector (12%), Health (12%)|
|Decentralization (33% - P)
Other rural development (17% - S)
Municipal governance and institution building (17% - S)
Participation and civic engagement (17% - S)
Rural services and infrastructure (16% - S)|
||ICR Review Coordinator:
||George T. K. Pitman
||Christopher David Nelson
|2. Project Objectives and Components:|
The project was the second phase of a four-phase 12-year Adaptable Program Loan: the Community Action Program (CAP, 2003-2015). The program aimed at sustained poverty reduction and improved local governance through empowering communities and local governments to improve natural resource and ecosystem management, and to raise levels of health, education, and food security, thereby stimulating economic growth (page 3, of the first-phase PAD). The second phase aimed to consolidate and scale up first-phase achievements, by extending the project’s interventions from 54 to 108 rural communes (or 40% of Niger’s communes).
According to the Project Document (p. 7), the IDA Financing Agreement (p.6), and the GEF Financing Agreement (P107841, p.6), the Project Development Objective of the second phase was to:
"improve rural communes’ capacity to design and implement in a participatory manner Communal Development Plans (CDP) and Annual Investment Plans (AIP) in order to enhance rural livelihoods."
The Global Environment Objective according to the Project Document (p. ix) was:
This is an IDA-GEF blended project. In such projects, IEG only assesses achievement of the Bank’s development objectives. GEF objectives are assessed and rated only if they are stand-alone GEF projects.
“to reduce land degradation and promote sustainable land management (SLM) in Niger, leading to improved human well-being and increased provision and productivity of local and global ecosystem services such as agricultural production, increased vegetative cover on cropland and rangeland, and carbon sequestration.”
b. Were the project objectives/key associated outcome targets revised during implementation?
(A) Capacity Building (Appraisal cost: US$7.63 million, actual cost: US$6.44 million).This component would focus on strengthening: (i) the capacities of communes and communities; and (ii) the institutional and legal framework for local and community development.
(B) The Local Investment Fund (Appraisal cost: US$31.80 million, actual cost: US$23.92 million).
A1. Capacity Building for Communes and Communities: the project would finance strategic activities that would strengthen the administrative, technical and fiscal capacity of selected communes to handle their institutional mandates as stipulated in the Decentralization Law, to use decentralized and participatory procedures in planning, designing, implementing, and managing their own development, through efficient partnerships with grassroots communities. The project activities would be beneficiary-specific and would support capacity building for both communes and local communities. Specifically, the sub-component would finance inter alia: (i) a communication strategy to help beneficiaries understand project objectives and intervention mechanisms and share good practices and a communication strategy and tools adapted to grassroots communities’ training on their roles and responsibilities, including local governance control, (ii) sensitization of elected officials and local stakeholders on existing Decentralization Laws; (iii) capacity needs assessment at the communes and communities levels, and the development of a capacity assessment plan for local development management including on decentralization, financial resource management, participatory diagnostic and planning, micro project design and execution; (iv) training activities on participatory planning, fiduciary management and participatory monitoring and evaluation, and (v) study tours and other learning and knowledge sharing activities. The project would also support specific activities aimed at addressing sustainable land and natural resources management issues at the local level, including: (i) sensitization workshops, training and support to communal and community stakeholders in main streaming sustainable land management in the local development process; (ii) training on the sustainable land management methodological guidelines and on the BioCF transaction operational procedures; and (iii) setting up and operationalizing communal land tenure committees. Finally, the project would organize workshops for local service providers on community based procurement requirements, participatory processes and technical requirements of key sectors.
A2. Capacity-Building for Institutional and Legal Framework on Community Development. The project would finance studies, training, study tours and workshops for key national institutions with the mandates on decentralization, local and community development and environmental monitoring. Specifically, the project would help (i) Ministry of Interior, Security and Decentralization, and High Commission for State Modernization to clarify, update, and finalize legal texts on local governance, intergovernmental transfers, and fiscal decentralization; (ii) Ministry of Planning and Community Development to update the communal planning guide and establishment of communal database; (iii) Ministry of Agriculture Development to set up and operationalize an effective M&E system for integrated management of the various programs of the Rural Development Strategy; and set up the various steering committees of the Rural Development Strategy at the national and regional levels; and (iv) Ministry of Environment and the Fight against Desertification to supervise the implementation of sustainable land management activities, the development of a sustainable land management Knowledge Information System and a monitoring and information System and the implementation of the Niger’s Country Strategic Investment Framework, and to identify necessary actions to address sustainable land management and climate change concerns in Rural Development Strategy programs.
(C) Project Coordination, Management, Monitoring and Evaluation (Appraisal cost: US$4.87 million, actual cost: US$8.46 million).
The project would finance the Local Investment Fund, which has demonstrated its efficiency during phase 1, to channel grants to communes and grassroots communities to enable them to finance socio-economic micro-projects, income generating and land and natural resource management activities. Given that the Government is in the process of setting up a decentralized basket funding mechanism for local and community development, it is expected that once reforms in form and substance satisfactory to the International Development Association (IDA) to ensure the effective and efficient local funding mechanisms are in place, the funds in Local Investment Fund would be transferred directly into the commune’s budgets through the new system and managed using public accounting principles. The midterm review would assess progress and readiness of the basket funding mechanism, and a decision would be made at that point with respect to the channeling of the relevant funds of the IDA Financing through this mechanism.
This component would support: (i) the administrative and financial management; and (ii) result based monitoring and evaluation system of the performance and impact of the project.
d. Comments on Project Cost, Financing, Borrower Contribution, and Dates
According to the Project Document (Annex 5) the total project cost at appraisal was estimated to be US$44.97 million. The actual project cost was US$39.42 million. The ICR (Annex 1) notes that the overall utilization of funds (88%) reflects the changes between the United States Dollar and SDR and the differences between the funds disbursed by the financiers. The actual cost of project coordination and management exceeded the original budget by more than 174%. This cost overrun was covered mainly by reducing the funds available for Component B (Local Investment Fund) (ICR, p. 35).
This is an IDA-GEF blended project. The IDA Grant of US$30.00 million decreased to US$29.96 million due to US$/SDR exchange rate variation and by closing US$28.85 million had been disbursed and US$39,686 was cancelled. The Global Environment Facility provided a Grant of US$4.67 million under project P107841 of this amount US$4.66 million was disbursed and US$8,197 was cancelled at closing.
At appraisal the Government was estimated to contribute US$6.60 million of counterpart funding compared to an actual contribution of US$3.34 million (51% of appraisal estimate). Local communities were estimated to contribute US$4.26 of cash and in-kind contributions compared to an actual contribution of US$3.23 million (76% of appraisal estimate).
Dates. The project closed as scheduled at appraisal.
|3. Relevance of Objectives & Design:|
a. Relevance of Objectives:High.
- Niger is characterized by a widely dispersed rural population in a fragile natural environment. Almost 80% of the population is rural, two-thirds of which live in absolute poverty. At completion objectives remain highly relevant and consistent with the Government's Economic and Social Development Plan 2012–2015. The plan calls for focusing internal and external effort on: (i) food security; (ii) governance and security; (iii) human capital development; and (iv) infrastructure development.
- Project objectives were and remain relevant to the Bank's country strategies. The FY08-11 CAS objectives were organized under two pillars: i) accelerating sustainable growth that is equitably shared by maintaining macroeconomic stability and strengthening competitiveness, sustainable management of natural resources, the investment climate, and economic infrastructure; and ii) developing human capital through equal access to quality social services and improving preparedness to deal with natural disasters. Population growth and Governance were cross-cutting issues affecting both pillars. Project objectives are also aligned with the objectives of the Bank’s Strategy for Africa that emphasizes enhancing competitiveness and resilience through improved natural resource and environment management.
- Objectives are also in agreement with the World Bank's most current strategic document on Niger (La Banque mondiale au Niger; Consultations pour l’élaboration de la Stratégie de partenariat Niger – Banque mondial, October 2012) which underscores the need to develop Niger’s human resources, and details the population’s vulnerability to climatic variability.
b. Relevance of Design:Substantial.
Overall, the project design provides a clear and logical link between inputs, outputs and the expected outcomes. Support for capacity building was relevant to better manage local governments and strengthen decentralization efforts; strengthening the capacity of communes and communities to design and implement local development plans; and developing and building institutional and legal framework for local and community development. Given the high level of poverty, matching grants to communes and grassroots communities to enable them to finance socio-economic micro-projects, income generating and land and natural resource management activities were relevant. The third component details project management and M&E activities.
Design could have benefited from providing guidance to local communities to better prioritize their development plans and to implement and monitor the sustainability of their activities.
Design also underestimated the readiness of regional, departmental, and local administrators to handle tasks related to the implementation of the project. It is also not clear why the supervision of the project was under the Ministry of Agriculture while the project was mainly geared towards decentralization and communal development.
|4. Achievement of Objectives (Efficacy) :|
To enhance rural livelihoods through improving the capacity of the Communes to design and implement in a participatory manner Communal Development Plans and Annual Investment Plans: Modest
- By project completion 75% of the project beneficiaries of income-generating activities had their income increase by 30%. This exceeds the target of 60% from a baseline of zero. Apart from reporting the share of beneficiaries with increased incomes the ICR provides no other evidence on the source of increase in incomes so attribution is difficult. There is no counterfactual; while the second-phase project extended the APL phase-I interventions from 54 to 108 rural communes, or 40 percent of Niger’s communes, there is no information on how incomes have changed outside the project areas. There is, however, good evidence that the majority of income-generating activities are profitable (as discussed in section 5) so there is a chance the project's activities could be the source - but we do not really know.
- The ICR (p. 42) asserts that the 627 income-generating microprojects (of which half of the beneficiaries were women) are credited with creating rural employment and revenue. While these outcomes are plausible, there is no quantifiable evidence of the impact of income-generating microprojects on rural livelihoods such as actual number of individual benefiting from the different types of project or household income improvements with and without the project.
- The 427 environmental microprojects provided cash-for-work payments that were very important during the recent famine years. Overall, the ICR states that the project distributed CFAF 1.4 billion in cash-for-work payments to assist some 61,000 families. Subsequently, using a report prepared at the end of the project (Rapport-Bilan, prepared by the project implementation unit), the Task Team stated that the beneficiaries of cash-for-work were 515,065 individuals - 297,126 men and 217,939 women.
- The project-financed microprojects also aimed to improve the rural poor’s access to social services by 2% in 50% of all project communes and this included schools and health centers and water supplies. By project completion increased coverage of 2% had been achieved by 65% of project communes for education; 55% percent for health facilities; and 83% for drinking water. However, there is no information on how improved social services enhanced rural livelihoods and the surveys reported in the ICR.
- There were 627 revenue generating microprojects such as land improvement, construction and stocking of agricultural and livestock input shops, provision of agricultural equipment, veterinary services, purchase of irrigation wells and pumps, construction and stocking of cereal banks, purchase of different types of cattle and small livestock, building of grain mills, agricultural production programs.
- There were 472 natural resource management microprojects that enhanced rural employment and sustainability of income-generating land. These covered land preparation for bio-carbon sequestration, reforestation, ravine reconstruction, pasture rehabilitation, animal transit routes, and marshland improvement.
- 62 communes out of a target of 164 over a baseline of 59 have functioning land registration committees, some of which already started processing land transactions.
- A total of 1,502 microprojects were implemented, 1,464 were completed by September 30, 2012, and 38 were still being implemented compared to a target of 1,518. Ownership of these microprojects by beneficiaries was demonstrated by their contribution to financing which was 5% (in-kind) for natural resource management microprojects, 10% (in-kind) for socioeconomic microprojects, and 20% (in cash) for revenue-generating microprojects.
- Much of second-phase investments went into natural resources management (23.8%) and capacity building and institutional strengthening (19.6%), while about equal amounts of investments supported income generation actives (17.6%) to improve rural incomes and also to prop up basic social infrastructure in the communes (17.5%). Income generation activities accounted for more than half of the subprojects.
- 403 socioeconomic microprojects contributed to enhancing livelihoods through access to health and education and better market access. Microprojects included new and rehabilitated classrooms and equipment, literacy centers, maternity centers, HIV/AIDS training, different types of wells, hygienic latrines, community centers, market shelters, animal markets and abattoirs, and feeder roads.
- 2,288 local elected officials and communal administrative staff were trained in management of communal (civil) works, 39 persons received training outside Niger in auditing microprojects, local development, decentralization, and results-oriented management, and 892 staff received training in sustainable land management, environmental and social safeguards, and rural area management.
- The project met its quantitative capacity building targets for rural communities. Local communities acquired capacity to plan, implement, and monitor projects derived from their local development and investment plans. By project completion, 92% percent of the population in target communities was satisfied with the way the Communal Development Plans had been implemented using the Annual Investment Plans compared to a target of 63% and baseline of 13%. However, rural communities could have benefitted from guidance on how to better prioritize their development plans.
- A total of 164 Commune Development Plans were prepared and verified (one for every participating commune)
- 2,213 micro project dossiers were analyzed in 141 departmental and regional committee meetings; and 1,946 were approved.
- A total of 1,449 financing agreements between the project and communities were signed (for cereal banks, the agreement sometimes covered the entire commune, which explains why the number of signed agreement is sometimes smaller than the number of implemented projects).
- 163 communes of the 164 covered under the project have been assisted to implement at least one micro-project and 70 communes have implemented at least 10 micro-projects each.
- 821 management committees have been established and trained and are functioning.
- 132 systems of M&E for communes have been established and are functioning.
GEO: to reduce land degradation and promote sustainable land management (SLM) in Niger.
The project started a process to reduce land degradation and promote sustainable land management in Niger. By project completion, 118 out of 164 of the targeted communes (72% compared to a target of 60%) had more than 200 additional hectares of land that were protected and reclaimed.
- The project financed 472 natural resource management microprojects which covered land preparation for bio-carbon sequestration, reforestation, ravine reconstruction, pasture rehabilitation, animal transit routes, and marshland improvement.
- By project completion a total of 32,202 ha were reclaimed and protected compared to a target of 15,472 ha and a baseline of 5,591 ha. The ICR (p. 12) notes that the area of improved land which was to be planted with Acacia trees—was modified from 24,000 hectares to 8,000 hectares at midterm to correspond to the funds available.
Progress towards the third phase of the APL
- Triggers for the third-phase project were:(i) the legal texts on the implementation of the Code Général des Collectivités Locales are adopted and disseminated; and (ii) the equity fund for local governments is set up and operational.
- The phase two project met the triggers for a third-phase project and the third phase has been Board approved on May 24, 2013.
Economic and Financial Efficiency:
The PAD did not include an economic analysis or a financial rate of return for the project as a whole. This is mainly due to the nature of project activities, such as capacity building, which cannot be quantified in monetary terms. The project also financed demand driven microprojects that could not be analyzed in advance. In addition, many non-monetary benefits associated with the type of investments financed by the project (such as sustainable land and natural resource management, education, health, etc.) are difficult to quantify.
The PAD cites the profitability of agricultural and pastoral activities reported under the rural Development Strategy action plan as a benchmark for similar activities financed by the project. The cash flow analysis indicates an overall profitability of the program, ranging from 24% for agricultural activities to 25% for agro-pastoral activities at the end of the tenth year. By way of comparison, a recent study on the development and management of investments made under the Special Program, which is financed by the Government, shows that the internal rate of return (IRR) is between 22% and 46% for irrigated microprojects.
For the same reasons mentioned above, the ICR did not include economic or financial analyses for the project as a whole. Instead a separate review of the financial results and an economic analysis of a sample representing 52 of the revenue-generating microprojects – an 8% sample of these type of projects and a 4% sample of all projects – was based on actual outcomes. The financial analysis of microprojects showed that all types of microprojects (except village grain mills) are sufficiently or even highly profitable investments, with an internal financial rate of return (FRR) varying from 23% to 61% at a discount rate of 4%. Cereal Banks which accounted for half of the microprojects (285 out of 627) had a 31% FRR. The average FRR was estimated to be around 30%. However, the cost of in-kind contributions was not included in the computations, and it is not clear why the economic analysis used a relatively low discount rate (4%).
There are some concerns that cast doubt on the efficiency of the project. A study by the National Institute of Statistics in Niger found that there are wide variations in costs of microprojects in terms of average cost per family, the ICR (p. 35) reports that such variations would be investigated under the third phase. The Task team subsequently reported that the economic and financial analysis conducted for the third-phase project indicates that the average cost of micro-projects per family varied from: U$3.50 per household for IGRs, US$3.40 per household for sustainable land and water management activities and US$2.80 per household for socio-economic structures.
Institutional and Administrative Efficiency:
The actual administrative cost of project coordination and management exceeded appraisal by 174%. The ICR (p. 35) notes that such increment was due to the incorporation of other activities under the project and to be able to increase the staff available for M&E and field operations. The Task Team subsequently stated that "the project coordination and management costs exceeded appraisal amounts in large part due to additional costs associated with (i) reaching a greater number of communes (164) than originally targeted (108) - a third of which were in remote areas - and (ii) changes in locally elected officials as a result of the 2010 coup d’état. The changes in locally elected officials required the hiring of additional field agents to ensure capacity reinforcement for commune-level M&E." Accordingly, the cost overrun was not due to administrative inefficiency, but rather reflecting the project being the victim of its own success." This cost overrun was covered mainly by reducing the funds available for Component B (Local Investment Fund) which was mainly geared to activities that would contribute to improving rural livelihoods.
Political interference delayed the appointment of the Central and regional coordination Units staff and caused a delay of six months. Additionally, partial and irregular counterpart funding seriously affected implementation of some activities.
Overall efficiency is rated Substantial
a. If available, enter the Economic Rate of Return (ERR)/Financial Rate of Return at appraisal and the re-estimated value at evaluation:
* Refers to percent of total project cost for which ERR/FRR was calculated