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         Agricultural Services Sector

The Burundi Agricultural Services Sector Project, supported by Credit 2024 for US$33.1 million, was approved in FY89. The Credit was closed on December 31, 1996, as planned, at which time an undisbursed balance of US$13.3 million was canceled. Co-financing was provided by the European Union (US$0.4 million), and Belgium Assistance (US$).8 million). The Implementation Completion Report (ICR) was prepared by the Africa Regional Office. While the ICR mission’s Aide-Memoire was discussed with the government, and attached to the ICR, no separate evaluation of the project was submitted by the Borrower. Neither is there an indication that the co-financers were asked to contribute to the ICR.

The project was a hybrid operation supporting policy and institutional reforms as well as a multitude of investment activities in the agricultural sector. The objectives of the policy component were to support the reform of the national input policy; to assist in the restructuring of provincial agricultural services; and to facilitate the reform of salary structure for agricultural staff. The objectives of the investment component were to develop Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock’s (MOAL) programming, budgeting, monitoring and sector management capabilities; to design and establish a national extension system; to strengthen agricultural research; to strengthen the cooperative movement and promote savings and credit; and to promote communal development and rural youth employment. However, with 6 components and numerous sub-components, involving 20 discrete activities and 8 implementing agencies, the project was simply too complex.

After initial start-up delays, progress was made with varying degrees of success. However, this was thwarted by protracted ethnic conflict and violence following the assassination of the president in October 1993 and the continued unstability and collapse of institutions made it impossible to continue with effective project implementation. Under these trying circumstance it is understandable that the project only partially met its objectives. The policy component resulted in the dissolution of the Regional Development Companies (RDCs) and the creation of provincial directorates with well-focused responsibilities. Some RDC-owned enterprises were privatized or commercialized. However, the measures taken to liberalize the fertilizer sector were insufficient to permit the development a private sector fertilizer distribution, while little progress was made in the commercialization of seed service activities. Reform of salary structures was aborted as it could not be pursued independently of wider civil service reforms. The investment component succeeded in developing public expenditure programming, budgeting and financial control tools and instruments for MOAL, and a monitoring and evaluation system was successfully tested in one province. However, these systems were not fully internalized and there was no effective transfer of skills from the technical assistance. The component resulted in the establishment of a structured, disciplined, national agricultural extension system; some useful research results were generated, but the planned Research Master Plan was not prepared, and the research institute fell into disarray as a result of the civil disturbances following the events of October 1993. Activities related to strengthening of the cooperative movement, and promotion of communal development, were delayed and few achievements made.

The ICR rates outcome as unsatisfactory, institutional development as modest, sustainability as uncertain, and Bank performance as unsatisfactory. The Operations and Evaluation Department (OED) endorses these ratings except for sustainability, which it rates as unlikely due to the only partial achievement of project objectives against a background of poor government commitment, lack of counterpart funds, minimal skills transfer and serious socio-political unrest.

The ICR draws some familiar lessons of which the most important are: there should be clearly defined benchmarks, monitorable indicators, and management and supervision arrangements for Technical Assistance (TA) activities in order to ensure effective use of expatriate consultants, and sustainable skills transfer; appropriate measures to allow timely project restructuring or cancellation should be adopted for projects operating in particularly risky environments. Furthermore, risk analysis during project design should involve social assessments, and generate indicators by which social risks could be monitored during implementation.

The ICR is satisfactory.

No audit is planned.

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