PROJECT PERFORMANCE ASSESSMENT REPORT ‘BRAZIL ECOSYSTEM RESTORATION OF RIPARIAN FORESTS IN SÃO PAULO’ (TF-55091) April 16, 2014 (http://wwwwds.worldbank.org/external/default/WDSContentServer/WDSP/IB/2014/04/25/000442464_20140425103812/Rendered/PDF/871050PPAR0P0880090Box385188B00OUO090.pdf)
What was the problem the World Bank loan addressed - summarize it in your own words, don't copy and paste from the report.
The city of Sao Paulo is home to two critical environmental biomes, the Atlantic Rainforest and the Cerrado. Since the city is very populous and has a lot of agricultural activities, these two ecosystems are threatened by both large scale agriculture (15% of national agricultural produce) and small scale agriculture.
The aim of this project was to mitigate against and reduce land degradation processes in ecosystems that are next to the rivers (riparian) and those near agricultural lands while encouraging sustainable land use systems.
The second objective was to mitigate against, and reverse land degradation along riparian and agricultural ecosystems through fortifying the policy, regulations, economic and institutional incentives by encouraging sustainable land use activities.
These objectives were intended to reduce loss of plant and animal biodiversity caused by human activities, as only 13% of these lands is occupied by native vegetation. Other positive secondary effects of these objectives include: a reduction in soil erosion, a reduction in flash floods and conservation of aquatic populations that are adversely affected by the negative effects of sedimentation.
What is the status of the loan - has the project been deemed successful (and why), again in your own words.
Despite the fact that the project objectives were relevant, the project design was not was neither effective nor efficient in mitigating against or reducing land degradation. This is because it focused solely on the techniques of riparian restoration without looking at the causes of riparian land degradation. The project design failed to move from the known to the unknown, which is the easiest way to solve a problem. This knowledge would have enabled the borrower to come up with a more viable project design that would have produced a better project outcome.
The project was implemented by several agencies mainly the Secretariat of Environment, Sao Paulo, several agencies and institutions and the Secretariat of Agriculture. There was no clear mechanism of how these agencies were meant to work together, this lead to differences in priorities, schedules and poor communication. These differences and inefficiencies lead to delays in the implementation of the project’s objectives. They also created bottlenecks that had a negative effect on the flow of information and response to issues encountered during the course of the project.
What assurance information does the report indicate was gathered, again in your own words?
The bank ensured that the objectives of the project were congruent with the Global Environmental Objectives (GEO’s). This assures the bank that the project is relevant to its key objectives but also to the objectives of its development partners.
The borrower showed the bank the pilot project that had already commenced and was already producing results. This assured the bank that the project was viable and capable of producing results.
The bank sent monitoring and evaluation teams at the beginning of the project, during the project and after the project so as to get assurance of the viability, continuity and results of the project. The bank has also involved other partners such as the Independent Evaluation Group (IEG) to monitor and evaluate its projects during and after the project implementation time. This gives the bank assurance that the project is viable and it is being implemented as per the agreement.
What problem is being addressed by the funded project
The project aims to reduce the degradation of the riparian ecosystems in Sao Paolo, Brazil. This degradation is caused by intensive agricultural activities, both small scale and large scale, which are encroaching on the riparian ecosystem.
The project also aims to change the policy, economic and institutional framework in Brazil so as to mitigate against and reduce the occurrence of the degradation of the riparian ecosystem.
If left to fester, this problem will lead to the extinction of natural plant and animal biodiversity, increased soil erosion, increased flooding and changes in weather patterns.
What is the independent evaluation of the outcomes of the project as indicated in the report you read?
The evaluation outcome of this project was that it was ‘moderately unsatisfactory’. The independent evaluation cited issues such as over ambitious project objectives, incongruence between the project objectives and the project design and lack of proper co-ordination among the various agencies charged with implementing the project.
All was not lost though since the project had some positive achievements at the policy formulation level since it midwifed an implementation in the environmental laws of Brazil. Some strides were also made in the seedling planting of native tree species though the effect cannot be measured now since these trees take years to grow.
What assurance support or data seems to have been gathered to provide the basis for the report?
First, there was continuous monitoring and evaluation from all the stakeholders throughout the project cycle. The borrower, the bank and the Independent Evaluation Group carried out monitoring and evaluation activities to ensure that the project was going on.
The bank thoroughly examined the project at the proposal stage to ensure that its objectives were viable and in line with the objectives of the bank and its partner institutions.
The bank also visited the pilot project site to ensure that the project was viable.