Mid-term Evaluation of the project "Establishing integrated models for protected areas and their co-management in Afghanistan"

Report Cover Image
Evaluation Plan:
2015-2019, Afghanistan
Evaluation Type:
Mid Term Project
Planned End Date:
12/2017
Completion Date:
12/2017
Status:
Completed
Management Response:
Yes
Evaluation Budget(US $):
40,000

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Title Mid-term Evaluation of the project "Establishing integrated models for protected areas and their co-management in Afghanistan"
Atlas Project Number: 00088001
Evaluation Plan: 2015-2019, Afghanistan
Evaluation Type: Mid Term Project
Status: Completed
Completion Date: 12/2017
Planned End Date: 12/2017
Management Response: Yes
Focus Area:
  • 1. Others
Corporate Outcome and Output (UNDP Strategic Plan 2014-2017)
  • 1. Output 2.5. Legal and regulatory frameworks, policies and institutions enabled to ensure the conservation, sustainable use, and access and benefit sharing of natural resources, biodiversity and ecosystems, in line with international conventions and national
Evaluation Budget(US $): 40,000
Source of Funding: Project resources/ Gef
Evaluation Expenditure(US $): 33,248
Joint Programme: No
Mandatory Evaluation: No
Joint Evaluation: No
Evaluation Team members:
Name Title Email Nationality
Abdul Rauf Meraj, National Team Expert AFGHANISTAN
GEF Evaluation: Yes
GEF Project Title:
Evaluation Type: Mid-term Review
Focal Area: Biodiversity
Project Type: FSP
GEF Phase: GEF-5
GEF Project ID: 4839
PIMS Number: 5038
Key Stakeholders: National environmental Protection Agency
Countries: AFGHANISTAN
Lessons
Findings
Recommendations
1

Revise project outcomes, activities, indicators, assumptions, risks and budget allocations to make them more realistic and better reflect the current context. (Relevant for Outcome 1, Outcome 2 and Outcome 3).

2

Enhance the involvement of GIRoA (MAIL/DAIL, NEPA) in project implementation. (Relevant for Outcome 2 and Sustainability).

3

Adjust PA management and governance structures to address current bottlenecks. (Relevant for Outcome 2)

4

Focus on enhancing the economic sustainability of PAs. (Relevant for Outcome 2 and Sustainability)

5

Deepen the engagement with communities (Relevant for Outcome 3)

6

Promote community ownership and independence. (Relevant for Outcome 3 and Sustainability)

7

Further enhance project management and staff capacities. (Relevant for Project implementation and adaptive management)

1. Recommendation:

Revise project outcomes, activities, indicators, assumptions, risks and budget allocations to make them more realistic and better reflect the current context. (Relevant for Outcome 1, Outcome 2 and Outcome 3).

Management Response: [Added: 2017/12/12]

The management acknowledges that there is a need to revise project outcomes, activities, indicators, assumptions, risks and budget allocations due to the fact that outcome 1 of the project cannot be achieved and the MTR recommendation is to replace the outcome 1 with addition of new PA.

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
Cancel all APWA-related outputs and indicators and rephrase Outcome 1 accordingly.
[Added: 2017/12/12] [Last Updated: 2018/04/21]
UNDP WCS 2018/01 Completed The APWA activities have been cancelled. This was presented to PSC and was approved.
Add outputs for preparing a future PA expansion linked to BANP and covering the Bamyan Plateau and Ajar Valley (see Annex 10).
[Added: 2017/12/12] [Last Updated: 2018/04/21]
WCS 2018/01 Completed A relevant activity under output 2 (PA Management) of project was added to work on preliminary activities for expansion of PA in Bamyan Plateau and Ajar Valley. PSC approved the revised logical framework with these changes.
Revise and restructure Outcome 2 and Outcome 3 and the related outputs/activities to ensure a clearer delineation between the two: Outcome 2 should focus on PA management and governance (institutions), Outcome 3 should focus on community SLM.
[Added: 2017/12/12] [Last Updated: 2018/04/21]
WCS 2018/01 Completed This was completed as part of MTR process, and presented in PSC meeting on 20 February 2018. PSC approved the revised logical framework with these changes.
Analyze the assumptions and risks and make them more accurate and comprehensive for the current context. Discuss revised assumptions with government partners at national and local levels.
[Added: 2017/12/12] [Last Updated: 2018/04/21]
WCS 2018/01 Completed This was completed as part of MTR process, and presented in PSC meeting on 20 February 2018. PSC approved the revised logical framework with these changes.
2. Recommendation:

Enhance the involvement of GIRoA (MAIL/DAIL, NEPA) in project implementation. (Relevant for Outcome 2 and Sustainability).

Management Response: [Added: 2017/12/12]

The project acknowledges and agrees to the need of GIRoA involvement in project implementation. While this has been addressed to an extant till now, especially in soft project activities (trainings, reports, management plans, etc.), there are challenges to doing so in physical activities on the ground. Mainly due to the fact that MAIL and NEPA have limited presence in the two parks.

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
Involve DAIL (e.g. BANP Park Authority) staff more proactively in community activities as a means to strengthen their relationship with communities and to build their capacities.
[Added: 2017/12/12] [Last Updated: 2018/04/24]
WCS,MAIL,DAIL, Park Authority 2018/03 Completed WCS will involve DAIL and NEPA more (especially in BANP) in project activities such as surveys and work with communities.The plan for this year is completed and this action was presented to MAIL and NEPA. This will continue till end of the project.
Strengthen/enhance the inclusion of Biodiversity Project activities in MAIL/DAIL and NEPA annual work plans, especially at provincial and district levels.
[Added: 2017/12/12] [Last Updated: 2018/04/24]
MAIL, NEPA 2018/03 Completed MAIL and NEPA will work with WCS to add the project activities in their annual work planning. This will be done during MAIL and NEPA annual work planning exercise scheduled for early 2018. This was presented to all stakeholders including MAIL and NEPA in PSC meeting to which they have agreed. Project plans are being integrated in MAIL/NEPA’s plan accordingly.
Create closer linkages between the MAIL and WCS ranger systems (especially in WNP) with a view towards full integration.
[Added: 2017/12/12] [Last Updated: 2018/04/30]
WCS, MAIL 2018/12 Initiated This will be communicated to MAIL for further action. Moreover, WCS will advocate for this through steering committee. The way forward will be agreed upon after the steering committee meeting.
Once there is clarity on the future responsibility for PA management, train NEPA and/or DAIL staff at the PA level.
[Added: 2017/12/12] [Last Updated: 2018/04/30]
WCS, MAIL, NEPA 2018/12 Initiated This will be communicated to WCS. An action plan and list of trainings will be developed. The delivery of the training will be dependent on the availability of funds and the clarity of PA responsibility.
Engage more with police and justice at the provincial and district levels to enhance awareness and promote better enforcement.
[Added: 2017/12/12] [Last Updated: 2018/04/30]
WCS, NEPA 2018/12 Initiated WCS and NEPA will communicate this at central level as well as at local level within the outreach and coordination activities.
3. Recommendation:

Adjust PA management and governance structures to address current bottlenecks. (Relevant for Outcome 2)

Management Response: [Added: 2017/12/12]

The project management acknowledges that PA management and governance structures need to be adjusted, however, this is entirely out of the Project’s influence. The approval and endorsement of management plans are lengthy processes and out of project’s controls.

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
Approve/endorse the draft BANP Management Plan (stakeholders should discuss whether to finalize the management plan even if revenue management mechanisms have still not been clarified).
[Added: 2017/12/12] [Last Updated: 2018/09/25]
MoF 2018/12 Initiated During this quarter, the project facilitated the visits of high ranking delegates, including the Director General of NEPA and his team, and Director General of NRM/MAIL and his team to visit BANP and to finalize the management plan. The delegates convened multiple meeting with Bamyan Governor, provincial Council, representatives of local civil society organizations and BAPAC members to facilitate the BANP Management Plan. During this visit they held the 56th BAPAC meeting. At this meeting the government presented the BANP management plan, after a long discussion, in principle all parties agreed to sign the BANP Management Plan up on some minor revisions. Currently, the plan is with Bamyan DAIL Director to collect signature and send to Kabul for finalization.
Give women rangers in BANP the same status and title as their male colleagues (they should not be “cleaners”).
[Added: 2017/12/12] [Last Updated: 2018/04/30]
MAIL 2018/03 Completed MAIL will work with its partners supporting PAs in annual work planning sessions to ensure this recommendation is applied. The recommendation has been passed to MAIL during annual work planning sessions. MAIL promised to take action accordingly.
Establish three subcommittees under WPA (for Big Pamir, Little Pamir, and Wakhan Valley) that meet more frequently than WPA.
[Added: 2017/12/12] [Last Updated: 2018/07/23]
WCS WPA 2018/12 Not Initiated The team is deployed in WNP but not yet started this action. This will be implemented by end of 2018
Professionalize DAIL ranger system: a) put all rangers on the tashkil, and b) employ professional ranger supervisors, which are not from the communities, on the tashkil.
[Added: 2017/12/12] [Last Updated: 2018/04/24]
MAIL, MoF 2018/03 Completed The recommendation will be communicated to MAIL and MoF through steering committee meeting. A way forward will be agreed upon the presentation of recommendation.
Ensure rangers are operating/patrolling during winter.
[Added: 2017/12/12] [Last Updated: 2018/04/24]
WCS, MAIL 2018/03 Completed The recommendation will be communicated to MAIL through steering committee meeting. A way forward will be agreed upon the presentation of recommendation.
Establish a designated Park Authority for WNP (like for BANP).
[Added: 2017/12/12] [Last Updated: 2018/04/24]
MAIL,NEPA 2018/03 Completed The recommendation will be communicated to MAIL and NEPA through steering committee meeting. A way forward will be agreed upon the presentation of recommendation.
Set up a permanent police outpost in BANP.
[Added: 2017/12/12] [Last Updated: 2018/04/24]
Governor (MoI) 2018/03 Completed The recommendation will be communicated to governor and MoI through provincial bilateral meetings.
4. Recommendation:

Focus on enhancing the economic sustainability of PAs. (Relevant for Outcome 2 and Sustainability)

Management Response: [Added: 2017/12/12]

The project acknowledges the need to enhance the economic sustainability of PAs. The project outcome 1 (the establishment of Afghanistan Parks and Wildlife Authority) was aiming to work on this issue. Now that APWA cannot be established, this is out of project influence and controls. Having said that, the project partner, NEPA has worked with Ministry of Finance and President’s office to address this issue. The result of it is that MOF has agreed to reimburse the revenue collected in PAs back to communities through the government already established mechanisms.

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
Analyze/map the economy in BANP and WNP, incl. a) the tourist economy, b) the agriculture and livestock economy, and c) how the concession fees collected are spent in BANP – consider engaging international consultants.
[Added: 2017/12/12] [Last Updated: 2018/04/24]
NEPA, MAIL (Governor) 2018/03 Completed The recommendation will be communicated to the responsible parties in steering committee meeting. A way forward will be agreed upon the presentation of recommendation.
Use the analysis/mapping of the BANP economy for revising the entrance fees and concession fees in the draft BANP Management Plan.
[Added: 2017/12/12] [Last Updated: 2018/04/24]
NEPA, MAIL,BAPAC 2018/03 Completed The recommendation will be communicated to the responsible parties in steering committee meeting. A way forward will be agreed upon the presentation of recommendation.
Provide GIRoA (incl. MoF) with opportunities to learn from international best practice for NP revenue management (e.g. international consultants, peer exchange).
[Added: 2017/12/12] [Last Updated: 2018/04/24]
WCS 2018/03 Completed The recommendation will be communicated to the responsible parties in steering committee meeting. A way forward will be agreed upon the presentation of recommendation.
Establish a strategy for how NP revenue can be used as an incentive for eco-friendly livelihoods in BANP, with a preference given to more remote and disadvantaged communities
[Added: 2017/12/12] [Last Updated: 2018/04/24]
MAIL NEPA BAPAC 2018/03 Completed The recommendation will be communicated to the responsible parties in steering committee meeting. A way forward will be agreed upon the presentation of recommendation.
Establish and implement a system, which ensures that NP revenues are ring-fenced for investment in PA protection, management and development (e.g. separate PA account at MoF, revenue management at PA level).
[Added: 2017/12/12] [Last Updated: 2018/04/24]
MAIL NEPA MoF 2018/03 Completed The recommendation will be communicated to the responsible parties in steering committee meeting. A way forward will be agreed upon the presentation of recommendation.
5. Recommendation:

Deepen the engagement with communities (Relevant for Outcome 3)

Management Response: [Added: 2017/12/12]

The management acknowledges further need to engage more with the local communities. The project IP is working in the areas since 2007 but still the involvement can be improved. It is worth noting that there are challenges to this mainly in Wakhan PA. The Wakhan PA is quite large and access to some communities is problematic due to the remoteness and rough terrain in the area.

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
Expand and deepen the EEP to promote a better understanding of: a) ecosystems, b) how environmental degradation and loss of biodiversity affects human lives, and c) climate change risks, adaptation and how healthy ecosystems can enhance resilience. Focus on fewer schools and communities (in priority areas and where there is good responsiveness), especially in WNP, to develop a model for a deeper engagement.
[Added: 2017/12/12] [Last Updated: 2018/09/25]
WCS 2018/09 Completed Based on the MTR recommendation, the project improved the EEP materials. The revised version of the EEP focuses on limited and key communities and schools and the output of the future EEP will be specific and measurable. The first round of the training (Earth and Ecosystem) has been completed and reported in the past quarter and the second round (Wildlife, Adaptation and Food chain) and third round (Natural Resources Protection) of the revised EEP is implanted in during this quarter and will be reported.
Consider focusing on selected “model” communities – e.g. communities which show a high degree of responsiveness or communities with direct contact with wildlife. These can later be used as examples for other communities and community mobilisers.
[Added: 2017/12/12] [Last Updated: 2018/09/25]
WCS 2018/09 Completed The project reduced number of schools in WNP from 14 to 7; BANP from 7 to 5.
prioritize livelihoods interventions, where WCS has a unique added value (e.g. predator-proof corrals) over intervention types also implemented by other NGOs (e.g. tree planting in Wakhan).
[Added: 2017/12/12] [Last Updated: 2018/09/25]
WCS 2018/12 Initiated Corrals survey has been conducted and the team has identified location of new corrals to be constructed and community ones to be repaired during the next reporting period.
Include poverty and social criteria in the selection of households for demonstration projects.
[Added: 2017/12/12] [Last Updated: 2018/04/24]
WCS 2018/03 Completed The household selection criteria will be revised to include the poverty and social criteria.
Develop a stronger gender approach and increase efforts to involve women in project activities.
[Added: 2017/12/12] [Last Updated: 2018/07/23]
WCS 2018/12 Not Initiated WCS is committed to develop a comprehensive gender inclusion and women empowerment guideline to promote engagement of women in overall activities of the project. This will be done during the field season in third quarter.
Agree with CDCs to also work directly with other parts of the community, e.g. by working with “champions” for community mobilization and by holding community meetings during winter (when all people are in the village).
[Added: 2017/12/12] [Last Updated: 2018/04/24]
WCS 2018/12 Not Initiated This will be communicated to CDCs and WCS will ensure in their future plans to incorporate this to the level possible. This is a strategic recommendation and can go beyond project timeline.
Form a WCS-development NGO strategic partnership joint implementation providing a comprehensive (area-based) package linking environmental protection and livelihoods, building on the unique strengths and added value of each partner.
[Added: 2017/12/12]
WCS, UNDP 2018/12 Overdue-Initiated WCS and UNDP to look for opportunities. UNDP/GEF SGP can be explored as entry points. This is a strategic recommendation and can go beyond project timeline.
6. Recommendation:

Promote community ownership and independence. (Relevant for Outcome 3 and Sustainability)

Management Response: [Added: 2017/12/12]

: The management acknowledges the need to promote community ownership and independence and will consider further measures to ensure this. The project agrees to prioritize the communities who have replicated the project work as incentives. However, it is worth noting that since only one year of project is left, not all the recommendations can be achieved. This is merely due to the fact that this recommendation requires changing the behavior of people which might not be possible in one year timeframe.

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
Make clear to communities that WCS cannot cover everything but only provide examples and the more the communities do themselves, the more WCS can add value by focusing on things the communities truly cannot do themselves.
[Added: 2017/12/12] [Last Updated: 2018/09/25]
WCS 2018/09 Completed During the first quarter of 2018, WCS management team discussed this matter further. The recommendation was elaborated and shared with the WNP and BANP teams. The team delivered the message to the communities. The recommendations are implemented during 2018 AWP and this discuss with the community will continue until end of the project.
Ensure that community contributions are part of all community projects (e.g. in the form of labor, provision of materials, transport). Stop paying communities for non-specialized labor inputs to community projects, as this should be their own contribution.
[Added: 2017/12/12] [Last Updated: 2018/09/25]
WCS 2018/12 Initiated As a common practice, the project provides financial support to communities to revive corrals while communities provide labors cost. Under tree plantation intervention, the project provided saplings for communities while communities planted the saplings and took responsibilities of stand management and care. The project will further encourage communities to contribute throughout the project. Given the fact that the project is in the final year, this recommendation will be taken under serious consideration in the upcoming projects.
Condition community projects on replication commitments (e.g. when WCS constructs a corral, the community could be requested build a second corral).
[Added: 2017/12/12] [Last Updated: 2018/09/25]
WCS 2018/12 Initiated WCS is encouraging communities to replicate the project initiatives. However, communities in WNP are very poor and will not be able to construct new or even revive old corrals, therefore, the project provides financial support to communities to revive corrals and community provide labors.
Calculate the annual financial costs of losing livestock to predators at village level in WNP and compare with the costs of establishing predator-proof corrals – and use findings in community discussions on the value of investing their own resources in corrals.
[Added: 2017/12/12] [Last Updated: 2018/04/30]
WCS 2018/12 Initiated WCS to conduct a quick analysis using proxy indicators to estimate such cost analyses. The WNP team will be deployed soon in the field and will undertake necessary actions as advised.
When communities report poaching and other illegal activities to WCS or GIRoA, report back to communities on the action taken by GIRoA and WCS to address the activities reported.
[Added: 2017/12/12] [Last Updated: 2018/07/23]
WCS MAIL NEPA 2018/12 Initiated The WNP team currently undertaking predation survey. The result will feed in to calculate the annual financial costs of losing livestock due to predation.
Establish inventive mechanisms that reward communities for taking initiative and doing things on their own – e.g. by focusing support on more responsive communities.
[Added: 2017/12/12]
WCS 2018/12 Overdue-Initiated This will be communicated to MAIL and NEPA through steering committee meeting. A possible outline of such mechanisms will be prepared. This is a strategic recommendation and its implementation may go beyond the project timeline.
Assess alleged un-kept promises made earlier to communities in Wakhan and come up with a strategy for re-establishing WCS’s reputation.
[Added: 2017/12/12]
WCS 2018/12 Overdue-Initiated WCS to try to establish what sort of un-kept promises are alleged to have been made if substantiated will clarify for the communities the reason/justification behind such un-kept promises. Moreover, the WCS staff will be reminded not to make any promises that are outside WCS and projects’ capacities. This is a strategic recommendation and its implementation may go beyond the project timeline.
Engage in a dialogue and coordination with other NGOs working in Wakhan to reach an agreement on how NGOs can empower communities and counter donor/NGO dependency, e.g. by agreeing on the need for community contributions.
[Added: 2017/12/12]
WCS 2018/12 Overdue-Initiated WCS to initiate some contacts with other NGOs but the available NGOs specially in Wakhan are limited. WCS to prepare a list of NGOs that would be suitable partners. This is a strategic recommendation and its implementation may go beyond the project timeline.
Put as a condition for any support provided to communities with WFP Food for Work that the communities themselves contribute to other community-development or environmental protection interventions.
[Added: 2017/12/12]
WCS 2018/12 Overdue-Initiated The community contribution policy would be revisited and communicated to communities as well as partners like WFP. This is a strategic recommendation and its implementation may go beyond the project timeline
7. Recommendation:

Further enhance project management and staff capacities. (Relevant for Project implementation and adaptive management)

Management Response: [Added: 2017/12/12]

The management agrees with the findings of the MTR and will focus on implementation of the recommendations given. The management has already taken steps to address the issue of WCS field staff capacity building in next year’s workplans.

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
Review staff job descriptions/ToR and the tasks they actually carry out and ensure they match.
[Added: 2017/12/12] [Last Updated: 2018/04/24]
WCS 2017/12 Completed WCS will review the TORs and job descriptions of all staff as the 2018 annual work planning exercise
Ensure that staff do not have any conflict of interest between their personal investments and the mandate/role of WCS. If there is a conflict of interest, change the staff member’s tasks and/or work location as appropriate and ensure they do not have access to information that in any way could serve their personal interests. Communicate this to relevant partners.
[Added: 2017/12/12] [Last Updated: 2018/04/24]
WCS 2017/12 Completed WCS to include a conflict of interest clause in all contracts. Necessary actions need to be taken if any staff member is found to have any conflict of interest.
Enhance technical capacity development for WCS field staff, especially those recruited in the communities, e.g. vis-à-vis: a) ecosystem services, b) how environmental degradation and loss of biodiversity affects human lives, c) climate change risks and adaptation and how healthy ecosystems can enhance resilience, and d) gender. Options include training and exchanges visits between the two field teams.
[Added: 2017/12/12] [Last Updated: 2018/04/24]
WCS 2018/03 Completed WCS will plan technical capacity building sessions for all field staff over the winter. Moreover, such sessions will be held in the field during the field season by central teams.
Make sure that the monitoring and reporting duly capture and present livelihood impacts (e.g. reduction in respiratory disease, reduced workloads, reduced livestock loss), including non-monetary impacts, in a gender disaggregated manner – they should not be treated only as outcomes, but as impacts in their own right.
[Added: 2017/12/12] [Last Updated: 2018/04/24]
WCS 2018/01 Completed WCS to review their reporting mechanisms and communicate this recommendation to all project staff. Moreover, some proxy indicators will be developed to measure such indirect impacts of the project.
Expand the scope of external audits to include field visits and verification of costs and expenses.
[Added: 2017/12/12] [Last Updated: 2018/07/23]
UNDP 2018/06 Completed The assessment is completed and waiting for final report.
Improve the gender balance internally in WCS (by employing more women for technical positions).
[Added: 2017/12/12]
WCS 2018/12 Overdue-Initiated WCS will review their HR and recruitment policies to encourage female to apply. However, the project’s remote locations pose a challenge for implementation of this recommendation.
Enhance the winter presence (e.g. to conduct meetings with communities) and to ensure that WCS ranger are active during winter.
[Added: 2017/12/12]
WCS 2018/12 Overdue-Initiated WCS will review its winter operations policy to assess the feasible under future grants of maintaining some form of ranger presence over that period. This is a strategic recommendation, and its implementation may carry over to after project timeline.

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