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         Emergency drought recovery and mitigation project

Zimbabwe: Emergency Drought Recovery and Mitigation Project (Credit 2399-ZIM)

The Zimbabwe Emergency Drought Recovery and Mitigation project, supported by Credit 2399-ZIM for US$150 million equivalent, was approved in FY92, with the Government of Norway as cofinancier. The project was closed in FY95, one year later than expected, and at final disbursement (November 1995) US$28 million equivalent was canceled as external funding requirements were over-estimated. The Norwegian grant was never disbursed and ultimately was canceled. The Implementation Completion Report (ICR) was prepared by the Bank's Resident Mission in Zimbabwe. The borrower's evaluation of the project is appended to the ICR.

During the 1991/92 agricultural season, Zimbabwe was hit by the worst drought of the century. The drought caused severe food and water shortages, devastating small farmers. This project was designed specifically to provide timely financial resources for drought relief and recovery and thus to alleviate human suffering and restore productive capacity. The project was also intended to increase the resource flow to Zimbabwe and thereby mitigate the threat posed by the drought to it's recently adopted structural adjustment program. The project had six components: (i) importation of foodstuffs; (ii) agricultural recovery; (iii) related transport; (iv) emergency water supply rehabilitation; (v) drought relief and supplementary feeding; and (vi) institutional strengthening, especially for drought preparedness and mitigation management programs.

The project succeeded in alleviating human suffering through the provision of food and emergency supplies. A power component, added later to provide incremental electricity, was also successful. Other components were less satisfactory. The agricultural recovery component underachieved its targets, and the emergency water program was delayed. Institutional development was slight. Although general knowledge of drought preparedness and mitigation management was heightened, few concrete activities were undertaken. The credit met its resource transfer objective, being used flexibly for a positive list of imports. While local funding proved to be a constraint, external funding did not. This explains the credit cancellation at closing.

The Operations Evaluation Department (OED) agrees with the ratings in the ICR. Project outcome is rated as satisfactory. Sustainability is rated as uncertain because of the lack of follow-through in developing a comprehensive policy and institutional framework for drought preparedness and mitigation. Institutional development is rated as negligible. Bank performance is rated satisfactory, although the Bank was not fully effective with regard to institutional development and timely implementation.

The project's major lessons are that implementation planning should be an integral part of project design and, in an emergency context, a central project unit is valuable for guiding implementation. Also, as the ICR points out, project design should more clearly distinguish between relief, recovery, and mitigation activities, as each has different timing. Lastly, drought management should feature more clearly in the Bank's country assistance strategy.

The ICR is satisfactory and provides a clear and frank account of project implementation and outcome. The ICR and the borrower's comments were discussed at a joint government/Bank workshop in Harare before being finalized, improving the dissemination of evaluation findings and lessons. However, the other donors did not participate in this evaluation. With this reservation, OED regards this ICR process as best practice. No audit is planned.

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