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Implementation Completion Report (ICR) Review - Irrigation Rehabilitation Emergency Project


  
1. Project Data:   
ICR Review Date Posted:
06/30/2014   
Country:
Armenia
PROJ ID:
P116681
Appraisal
Actual
Project Name:
Irrigation Rehabilitation Emergency Project
Project Costs(US $M)
 58.68  58.51
L/C Number:
L7768
Loan/Credit (US $M)
 48.00  48.00
Sector Board:
Agriculture and Rural Development
Cofinancing (US $M)
 0.00  0.00
Cofinanciers:
Board Approval Date
  07/28/2009
 
 
Closing Date
06/30/2011 06/30/2013
Sector(s):
Irrigation and drainage (90%), Public administration- Agriculture fishing and forestry (10%)
Theme(s):
Rural services and infrastructure (100% - P)
         
Prepared by: Reviewed by: ICR Review Coordinator: Group:
Hassan Wally
George T. K. Pitman Christopher David Nelson IEGPS1

2. Project Objectives and Components:

a. Objectives:
According to the Project Appraisal Document (PAD, p. 7) the Project Development Objectives (PDOs) were to:


    "(i) improve efficiency of water use in two selected irrigation schemes; and (ii) foster immediate rural employment."

The Loan agreement (p. 5) stated that the project objectives were to:
    "(a) improve efficiency of water use in two selected irrigation schemes; and (b) foster immediate rural employment."

The project was restructured in June 2011 when additional fiance was added to the project and the development objective and key indicators were modified. The Loan Agreement for additional financing (p. 4) stated that the objectives of the revised project were to:
    "(a) improve water use efficiency in the selected irrigation schemes; and (b) foster immediate rural employment."
The revised development objectives in the Additional Finance Project Paper (p.1)were to:
    "(i) improve water use efficiency in the selected irrigation schemes; and (ii) foster immediate rural employment, to reflect the geographical expansion of project activities."

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

If yes, did the Board approve the revised objectives/key associated outcome targets? Yes

Date of Board Approval: 06/17/2011

c. Components:

1. Rehabilitation of Primary Canals in Talin and Armavir Irrigation Schemes (Appraisal cost: US$48.98 million, actual cost: US$50.09 million). This component would finance rehabilitation of 83.81 kilometers (km) of primary canals (main and branch canals) in these two schemes, namely Talin Irrigation Scheme (59.01 km) mainly in Aragatsotn and Armavir Marzes and Armavir Irrigation Scheme (24.80 km) in Armarvir Marz. The component includes: (i) civil works for the primary canal rehabilitation (US$31.51 million); (ii) consultancy services for supervision of rehabilitation works (US$1.57 million). The costs of rehabilitation of primary canals in both systems mainly include concrete lining of the canal sections. Rehabilitation of all canal related structures are financed by the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) under separate and independent arrangements.

2. Project Management and Institutional Activities (Appraisal cost: US$4.93 million, actual cost: US$3.74 million). The Component would finance two sub-components: (a) Project management, including monitoring activities, and audits (US$1.36 million); and (b) institutional strengthening (US$1.89 million). The first sub-component would make available the resources needed for implementing the Project and to conduct financial audit of the Project, of the Araks-Akhuryan Water Supply Agency and of Water User Associations (WUAs). The second sub-component would finance selected institutional strengthening activities that are deemed to be particularly relevant for the progress of the ongoing reform based on Participatory Irrigation Management principles. These relevant activities are: (i) sustain the Water User Associations Support Group that would continue to train WUAs and would complete drafting of irrigation maps for all WUAs in the country; (ii) conduct an institutional strengthening study of the WUAs; (iii) Pilot a Water Users Federation.

After restructuring another component was added to the project:

3. Rehabilitation of on-farm irrigation network (Appraisal cost: US$4.02 million, actual cost: US$3.93 million). This component aimed to rehabilitate selected tertiary canals. Nineteen communities of Lori, Shirak, Gegharkunik and Armavir marzes would benefit from improved water conveyance over about 2,500 hectares. Beneficiary farmers would co-finance investment costs (contributions collected by the Millennium Challenge Corporation would be made available before tendering). The component would also finance consultancy services for rehabilitation works.

d. Comments on Project Cost, Financing, Borrower Contribution, and Dates
Project cost.

    At appraisal the project had an estimated total cost of US$36.3 million (PAD, Annex 3). At project completion the ICR (Annex 1) reported that total project cost was US$57.76 million. The difference in total project cost is due to restructuring the project where an additional US$18.0 million of IBRD financing was approved based on the rapid pace of implementation.
Financing.
    At appraisal the project was expected to receive US$30.0 million IBRD financing. Another US$18.0 million IBRD financing were approved at restructuring. At project completion US$48.00 million had been disbursed and USS$10,730 was cancelled.
Borrower Contribution.
    At appraisal the borrower was expected to contribute US$6.33 million of counterpart funds. At the time of restructuring the borrower contributed US$6.62 million. According to the Project Paper (p. i) for additional refinancing the borrower was expected to contribute US$3.4 million and beneficiaries were expected to contribute US$0.2 million. At project completion total borrower contribution was US$10.00 million of counterpart funds and beneficiaries contributed US$0.24 million.
Dates.
    The project was restructured on 06/17/2011 (13 days before the original closing date). The amount disbursed at restructuring was US$29.42 million which represents 61% of total disbursed IBRD financing . As a result of this, the project was extended by 24 months to close on 06/30/2013. Such extension was needed to "scale up the reach and impact of project activities and help mitigate the ongoing effects of economic and financial crisis and the resulting unemployment (ICR, p. vi)."


3. Relevance of Objectives & Design:

a. Relevance of Objectives:
High.
Agriculture in Armenia contributes 20% of GDP and provides employment for about 40% of the country's active population. Excluding livestock, more than 80% of the agricultural Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is produced on irrigated areas. Hence any further deterioration in the irrigation infrastructure would significantly decrease the country's agricultural production and negatively impact rural employment and economic growth (PAD, p. 1).

At project completion both the revised and original objectives remain highly relevant and are in agreement with Armenia's Development Strategy (ADS) 2013-2025 which clearly articulates the need for policies that accelerate sustainable economic growth and reduce poverty, including eliminating extreme poverty. Objectives were highly relevant to the country’s development program which specifically articulates that “irrigation systems will continue to remain a priority for public investments."

Finally, revised objectives are in line with the Bank's current Country Partnership Strategy (CPS) for Armenia for FY2014-FY2017 which aims to boost prosperity and reduce poverty through accelerated economic growth and job creation. Relevance of objectives is also emphasized in the in CPS where it specifically states that ongoing irrigation projects would be instrumental in restoring and enhancing the sustainability of irrigation systems and strengthening the participatory management of the networks through Water Users Associations, including greater representation of women.

b. Relevance of Design:
Original design (Substantial).
This included a clear statement of objectives that specified project areas and intended activities. To achieve the project objectives, the design featured a main component that would focus on rehabilitation of primary canals through concrete lining in two regions in the country. Design also would support capacity-building activities to strengthen participatory irrigation management. The original design is simple with well targeted activities and demonstrates a clear and logical connection between the project inputs, outputs and intended outcomes. However, design was ambitious to pilot a water users association federation given the nascent water user association development in the country, and this activity was eventually dropped. Design also unrealistically aimed to reduce water losses by 19.5%, so that after project rehabilitation works, seepages would be at 3% compared to 22.5% before project intervention. This reduction proved to be a "relatively unrealistic" target and had to be adjusted to an attainable target of 15-16% (ICR, p. 7).
Revised design (Substantial).

    This included the same statement of objectives, but emphasized the geographic extension of project activities from two to six regions of the country. To achieve such extension, design featured an additional component that would expand the geographic scope of project activities-mainly to rehabilitate selected tertiary canals. The revised design relied on the same results framework, but some targets were revised to reflect the broadened scope of works. For example: the volume of water savings was increased from 97 to 131 million cubic meters (MCM) (35% percent increase); temporary employment was increased from 9,000 to 16,000 person/days (77% increase); potential permanent employment created was increased from 2,400 to 3,250 jobs (35% increase); and value of wages paid was increased from US$4.5 million to US$8.2 million (81% increase). To maximize potential for labor employment creation, design ensured that the six marzes selected for project support represented the top 50 percent of the poorest regions in Armenia and such marzes received about 90% of project investments; the three poorest marzes receiving about 40 percent of total investments.
    Both the original and revised design could have benefitted from more attention to the technical designs of the rehabilitation works funded by the project to prevent any costly design revisions. In a further communication, the project team explained that project activities were limited to canal lining and that team experts raised concerns about problems with existing structures.


4. Achievement of Objectives (Efficacy) :


Although the project was restructured, the PDO before and after restructuring remains almost the same, except for increasing the geographic coverage of the project and increasing some outcome targets to reflect the broadened scope of the project.
Original objectives: (i) improve efficiency of water use in two selected irrigation schemes; and (ii) foster immediate rural employment

(i) to improve efficiency of water use in two selected irrigation schemes: Substantial

Outcome:
  • The rehabilitation works funded by the project reduced water loss due to seepage from 22% at appraisal to 7% by project completion. In addition, the rehabilitation works in primary and secondary canals is expected to restore/improve irrigation water supply to nearly 50,000 ha of land and bring about 6,551 ha of new land under irrigation. By project completion, about 118,000 water users now have access to reliable and secure irrigation water.
  • The ICR (p. 13) highlights that field evidence indicate that canal re-lining led to significant reduction in the time take to provide irrigation water to farmers. For example, farmers in the Armavir irrigation scheme indicated that before project rehabilitation on a particular 26 km canal stretch it took 40 hours for the water to travel from the canal head to the tail end; compared to 12 hours after project rehabilitation works.
  • Farmers are also able to reduce the overall cost of irrigation as a result of project intervention due to greater reliance on gravity to supply irrigation water rather than pumping. Together the impacts of the project and its predecessor project reduced the electricity used per cubic meter of water delivered to farmers from 0.39 kWh to 0.29 kWh, a reduction of 26%.
  • The ICR (p. 14) reports that the project activities are gradually leading to "improvements in overall agricultural production/productivity in the project areas". Also, the ICR states that evidence from the field indicate that some farmers are moving to cultivating high value crops such as vineyards as there is a greater reliability of irrigation water. The ICR (p.34) shows that the area under vines increased from 10.7% to 12.5%, and that of orchards from 19.7% to 23.1%; conversely the area under winter wheat fell (from 18.3 to 10.8%). as did that under vegetables (from 14.3% to 12.9%).
  • Also, there concerns on the design of some infrastructure schemes that were only discovered at the final stages of implementation. For example, the ICR (p. 7) reports that:
        "there were inadequate energy dissipating structures (such as stilling basins) in canals in the Talin scheme on steep slopes which could lead to high flow velocity, causing difficulties not only with flow regulation, but also result in spillovers. Also, there were limited numbers of cross regulators along main canals in the scheme which limited the capacity for water control."
    That said, the ICR (p.7) also notes that the potential for overtopping of canals only relates to 150 m of a 37 km long secondary canal, and the Borrower agreed to undertake essential mitigating works from the state budget.
Outputs:
    By project completion the following outputs were achieved:
      • Total irrigation area as a result of rehabilitation works on main/secondary canals reached 83,210 ha compared to an original target of 35,570 ha and a revised target of 83,210 ha over a baseline of 28,275 ha.
      • 56,295 ha were provided with irrigation and drainage service compared to an original target of 53,507 over the baseline of 49,744 ha.
      • Rehabilitation of 82.58 km of primary canals (main and branch canals) in two marzes (Armavir and Aragatsotn).
      • 6.93 km of earthen canals were rehabilitated in the same marzes.
      • 44 WUAs had Geographic Information System software in place and operational (100% of original target) compared to 18 at baseline. The ICR (p. 29) notes that project resources were not used for this activity as it was agreed to transfer this to MCC.
      • 44 business plans for water user associations were developed compared to none at baseline (100% of actual target).
(ii) To foster immediate rural employment: Substantial

Outcomes:

  • The project succeeded in providing immediate rural employment opportunities to rural communities. The temporary employment enabled farmers to generate income mostly because job creation was in the winter months where farmers are seasonally inactive. The project infused about US$8.6 million of resources within communities. According to the ICR (p. 13) such infusion had a significant local multiplier effect through stimulating demand for local goods and hence positively impacting the local economy.
  • The ICR provides no quantitative or qualitative evidence other than employment numbers generated by the project. In the absence of such data, it is challenging to gauge the actual impact of the project on the local economy.

Outputs:

    By project completion the following outputs were achieved:
      • 18,410 temporary jobs created compared to zero at baseline and original target of of 9,000 and a revised target of 16,000.
      • 4,000 permanent agricultural jobs were created compared to zero at baseline and an original target of 2,400 and revised target of 3,250.
Revised Objectives: (i) improve water use efficiency in the selected irrigation schemes; and (ii) foster immediate rural employment, to reflect the geographical expansion of project activities.

(i) To improve water use efficiency in the selected irrigation schemes: Substantial

Outcome:
  • Same as discussed under outcome for original objective (i).
  • In addition, more efficient irrigation reduced the total annual energy use from 234,700 kWh (average 2004-2006) to 125,100 kWh (average 2019-2012). While some of this reduction was due to changing crops and irrigated area, unit volume energy costs declined from 0.39 kWh to 0.29 kWh over the same period.

Outputs:

In addition to the above mentioned outputs for original objective (i) the following outputs were delivered by project completion:
  • 58.0 km of primary canal were rehabilitated in total of six marzes.
  • 51.29 km of tertiary canals were rehabilitated in total of 19 communities grouped in eight water user associations.

(ii) To foster immediate rural employment, to reflect the geographical expansion of project activities (substantial).

Outputs:

Same as the above mentioned outputs for original objective (ii).

Outcomes:

Same as discussed under outcome for original objective (i).


5. Efficiency:

Economic and Financial Efficiency


    Ex-ante
      • The Project Paper at appraisal included an economic analysis that is only based on the benefits stemming from restored irrigated land as a result of rehabilitation of the primary canal. Social benefits stemming from short-term employment under the Project were not included. The analysis estimates that 7,300 hectares are expected to return to production as a result of increasing irrigation water availability by about 70 million cubic meters a year. Crop budgets are based on a set of five principal crops within each of the system areas.
      • The overall economic rate of return (ERR) of the Project was estimated at 19.5%, using a discount rate of 12.0% percent, the Project Net Present Value (NPV) amounts to US$48.50 million.
      • The two areas covered under the project show different ERRs, the Armavir investments were expected to yield an ERR of 28.4% while in Talin the estimated ERR was 15.0% since it was expected to have significantly higher investments and lower potential yields,
    Ex-post
      • The ICR analysis estimated the (i) the incremental production from the lands where irrigation water supply was restored; (ii) the increased yields on those irrigated areas where water provision was improved (mainly on the tail-end sections) and (iii) the increased production value due to changes in cropping patterns on the irrigated lands, as water became more reliable and failure crop risks are being reduced. The economic analysis relied on estimates from the aggregate cropping patterns evolution and the crop’s financial budgets, with few adjustments to the existing market prices. Unskilled labor was adjusted with a 0.7 conversion factor (CF) given the relatively high level of underemployment in rural areas. The cost of irrigation water was adjusted with a CF of 1.7 resulting in an economic price of 18.7 Armenian Dram per cubic meter
      • The ICR estimated the overall ERR of the Project at 21.2%, using a discount rate of 12%, the project economic NPV US$82.4 million.
      • The ICR (p. 16) notes that the improvements in irrigation infrastructure by this project as well as by the preceding Irrigation Development Project (P055022) led to a decrease in electricity used per cubic meter of water delivered to farmers from 0.39 KWH on average between 2004-2006 to 0.29 KWH on average between 2010-2012. However, such energy savings were not quantified for the specific irrigation schemes in the project. Finally, a sensitivity analysis of the expected results show that the Project would have a positive result even in the most unlikely adverse situations.
Administrative and Institutional Efficiency

    Output targets were generally exceeded and most activities were completed within the budget. The contract unit costs on average were smaller than the estimates by about 16% (ICR p.9). This was mainly a consequence of the economic crisis in the construction sector that introduced higher competition for the limited number of potential contracts. These savings were sufficient for all the civil works variation orders; and after signing all variation orders, there were still savings in the range of almost US$4 million. This allowed the project to finance additional civil works, including a 7.0 km long earth section of the Armavir canal and small additional sections in the Talin canal.
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
Coverage/Scope*
Appraisal:
Yes
19.5%
100%
ICR estimate:
Yes
21.2%
90%

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

6. Outcome:

    Original Project (satisfactory). Relevance of objectives was rated high and relevance of design was rated substantial. Objectives were in agreement with Government's priorities and design was simple with measurable indicators. Efficacy for both the first and second objectives was rated substantial. The project succeed in improving irrigation efficiency and created employment opportunities in rural areas. Efficiency was rated substantial.

    Restructured Project (satisfactory). Relevance of objectives was rated high and relevance of design was rated substantial. Objectives were in agreement with Government's priorities and design was simple with measurable indicators. Efficacy for both the first and second objectives was rated substantial. The project succeed in improving irrigation efficiency and created employment opportunities in rural areas. Efficiency was rated substantial.

    The overall project outcome is based on the average of these ratings, weighted by the amount of the total loan disbursed before (61%) and after (39%) restructuring, as follows:

    Outcome – original objectives = Satisfactory (5) X .61 =3.05
    Outcome – revised objectives = Satisfactory (5) X .31 =1.55

    Total: 4.6, which rounds to 5, or Satisfactory.

    a. Outcome Rating: Satisfactory

7. Rationale for Risk to Development Outcome Rating:

Risk to Development Outcome is Low. The Government has reinforced its support for the irrigation sector due to its vital importance to agriculture in the country. Also, the Bank- funded Irrigation System Enhancement Project signed in July 2013, would contribute to the sustainability of the outcomes achieved under the Project and would strengthen the capacity and improve the performance of the Water User Associations.

a. Risk to Development Outcome Rating: Negligible to Low

8. Assessment of Bank Performance:

a. Quality at entry:
In response to the Government request, the Bank prepared the original project as an emergency operation to provide a rapid response and to put in place measures to mitigate or avert the potential effects of crises in countries at high risk (OP/BP 8.0). The project was prepared in three months. It featured a simple flexible design with measurable indicators. This enabled swift intervention on the ground as evidenced by the disbursement of 14.3% of credit in the first month of implementation. Design had a limited focus on institutional strengthening and some activities for federating water user associations ended being not implemented as they would only mature in the medium- to long-term.Design had a simple and practical M&E system that enabled straightforward measurement of the impact of the project activities. The additional financing relied on the same design to scale-up the impact.
However, the project design set an unrealistic target on reduction in water loses which was later scaled back after implementation. Also, there should have been a critical technical review of the MCC infrastructure design of irrigation schemes that were used by the project. There are also concerns on the comprehensiveness of institutional arrangements for monitoring of environmental safeguards.

Quality-at-Entry Rating: Moderately Satisfactory

b. Quality of supervision:

The Bank team closely supervised the project implementation and maintained a regular and constructive dialogue with the Project implementation unit, Government, as well as communities. Supervision missions were conducted on average twice per year which enabled close interaction with the project implementation team. The team was proactive in resolving implementation issues and follow-up actions were agreed upon in detail with counterparts. In an attempt to improve reporting on safeguards the the Bank’s safeguard specialist undertook frequent and rigorous site visits and diligently assessed and ensured compliance with environmental requirements.

Quality of Supervision Rating: Satisfactory

Overall Bank Performance Rating: Moderately Satisfactory

9. Assessment of Borrower Performance:

a. Government Performance:

The Government was committed and supportive of the project at both the preparation and implementation stage. Counterpart financing amounts were provided on time. This contributed to satisfactory disbursement performance.

Government Performance Rating: Satisfactory

b. Implementing Agency Performance:

The State Committee for Water Management (SCWM) had overall responsibility for project implementation. The project implementation unit is housed within SCWM and oversaw project management, coordination and monitoring. The implementation unit has experienced staff who closely followed Bank guidelines and prepared detailed progress reports that were furnished to the Bank in a timely manner. Civil works procurement contracts were highly satisfactory where all contracts tendered before the project became effective. This enabled immediate implementation as soon as the project became effective. Even so, the implementation unit was weak on handling environmental supervision. This weakness was offset by the Bank's safeguard specialist ensuring compliance at construction sites. To address the Bank's concerns, the SCWM agreed to raise canal walls on a 150 meter stretch of a 37 km secondary canal at a cost of $7,000 from the state budget to prevent any overtopping. It also agreed to carry out field observations on water depths on main irrigation canals to collect reliable data to determine the appropriate locations for control structures on main canals which would subsequently be installed with financing from the state budget.

Implementing Agency Performance Rating: Moderately Satisfactory

Overall Borrower Performance Rating: Moderately Satisfactory

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

a. M&E Design:

M&E design was simple and enabled measurement of project impacts. The design featured three outcome indicators, two of them were geared to measure the impact of rehabilitation of irrigation schemes through water savings and increment in irrigated land. The other indicator was geared to measure the impact of the project on rural employment and the value of wages generated as a result of project activities.

b. M&E Implementation:

The ICR does not provide much detail on M&E implementation. It is assumed that M&E activities were successfully implemented.

a. M&E Utilization:

The ICR does not provide much detail on M&E utilization. By project completion there seems to be abundant data collected through M&E activities to gauge the impact of the project.

M&E Quality Rating: Substantial

11. Other Issues:

a. Safeguards:

The project was classified as Environmental Category B (Partial Assessment) under OP/BP4.01 Environmental Assessment (OP4.01);in addition three other safeguard policies were invoked: Involuntary Resettlement (OP 4.12), Pest Management (OP 4.09) and Projects on International Waterways (OP 7.50). The project undertook a public awareness campaign on good pest and pesticide management, but no Pest Management Plan was prepared as it was deemed unnecessary. Also, notification of project activities to riparian countries was not made as an exemption for this had been granted by the Regional Vice President. Environmental supervision by the implementing agency was weak throughout the project and the quality of some environmental reports was questionable, in addition, all reports lacked an analytical narrative on the status of safeguards compliance. Even so, the ICR (p. 10) reports that "compliance with provisions of the safeguards was satisfactory throughout the life of the project."

b. Fiduciary Compliance:

Financial Management. The staff at the implementation unit are experienced in the implementation of World Bank-financed projects. Quarterly Interim unaudited Financial Reports for the project were always received on time and were acceptable to the Bank. Project financial statements were received on time and received unqualified opinion by audits (ICR, p. 11).No major issues were raised by the auditors in the management letters for the project audit.

However, financial statements prepared by beneficiary entities such as water user associations were mostly issued modified opinions when audited due to accountability and internal control issues observed. The project implementation unit followed up with beneficiary entities on the implementation of auditors’ recommendations to ensure that these were adequately addressed.

Procurement. The project implementation unit was staffed with two procurement specialists to handle the large number of contracts under the project. Both specialists have extensive experience with the Bank's procurement guidelines. This enabled them to effectively handle their responsibilities. Procurement activities were also coordinated with the accounting department of the implementation unit which enabling a fast-track procurement process. The ICR (p. 11) reports that procurement activities under the project was satisfactory.

c. Unintended Impacts (positive or negative):
Positive. In the villages of Gosh and Aragats 20-30 households were affected by water seepage from deteriorated canal linings. Such seepage would compromise the structural integrity of houses and increase indoor humidity which encourages mold formation. The repair of canal linings through the rehabilitation works under the project reduced water seepage and the houses in the vicinity of irrigation canals were no longer in danger of water damage.

d. Other:
None.



12. Ratings:

ICR
IEG Review
Reason for Disagreement/Comments
Outcome:
Satisfactory
Satisfactory
 
Risk to Development Outcome:
Negligible to Low
Negligible to Low
 
Bank Performance:
Satisfactory
Moderately Satisfactory
Moderate shortcomings at appraisal required scaling-back some targets and MCC proposals should have been more thoroughly checked. 
Borrower Performance:
Satisfactory
Moderately Satisfactory
Moderate shortcomings in the application of safeguard procedures. 
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:
The following lessons are emphasized in the ICR:
  • Projects that are simple in design and singularly focused perform well and have a high likelihood of achieving their objectives. The project design was guided by the fundamental principle of rapidly commencing project activities and generating rural employment to the maximum extent possible to address the growing threat of poverty from the prevailing economic and fiscal crisis. The project comprised two straight-forward, well targeted components that lent themselves to swift and efficient implementation. Also, the benefits of simple projects are relatively easy to disseminate among the local populations which stimulates a high degree of buy-in and support.
  • Addressing priority needs of local populations is critical for the successful implementation of rural development projects. By targeting the most pressing needs of the local communities, the project generated much support and good will among the local populations which ensured its success right from the start. In this context, placing local people at the center of the whole implementation process has the added benefit of encouraging and enhancing beneficiary participation in decision making in rural development assistance efforts. This results in better designed projects that have a higher likelihood of implementation success.\
  • Projects prepared rapidly must have in-built flexibility to respond to emerging needs and situations. Projects prepared on a fast track basis often have limited time for detailed preparatory work and adequate due diligence. This opens the door to encountering issues during project implementation that the team might not have faced had there been sufficient time for thorough preparatory work. It is therefore critical that a strong element of flexibility is built into project design so that project activities can be adjusted and issues that may arise during implementation can be addressed rapidly and appropriately.
  • Irrigation Projects can provide an important safety net for rural populations, especially during times of economic downturn. The project demonstrated that irrigation projects can serve as a significant source of public employment. Irrigation projects do not necessarily need to be designed as capital-intensive efforts. A labor-intensive design is in fact preferable under certain circumstances, such as times of economic downturn, when rural populations are facing rising unemployment and loss of incomes.
  • Establishing and strengthening Water User Associations (WUAs) is a long-term undertaking. While organized user groups are essential for solving irrigation management problems and sustaining the physical infrastructure of the system, there is no ‘blue-print,’ one-size fits all institutional model for setting up a WUA. Given the complex and diverse management problems of irrigation systems, establishing and strengthening WUAs is a time intensive effort that requires several years of sustained support by the Government.

14. Assessment Recommended?

No

15. Comments on Quality of ICR:

The ICR provides a thorough yet concise coverage of project activities. It includes a number of evidence-based lessons that reflect the project experience. The ICR provides a logical discussion on the achievement of the project outcomes and includes a relevant analysis of efficiency. However, the ICR could have shed more light on the implementation and utilization of M&E. Also, the ICR should have followed the guidelines on outcome ratings regarding formally restructured projects.

a. Quality of ICR Rating: Satisfactory

(ICRR-Rev6INV-Jun-2011)
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