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

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Evaluation Plan:
2015-2020, Afghanistan
Evaluation Type:
Final Project
Planned End Date:
06/2019
Completion Date:
10/2019
Status:
Completed
Management Response:
Yes
Evaluation Budget(US $):
40,000

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Title Terminal Evaluation of the project ?Establishing integrated models for protected areas and their co-management in Afghanistan"
Atlas Project Number: 00076820
Evaluation Plan: 2015-2020, Afghanistan
Evaluation Type: Final Project
Status: Completed
Completion Date: 10/2019
Planned End Date: 06/2019
Management Response: Yes
Corporate Outcome and Output (UNDP Strategic Plan 2018-2021)
  • 1. Output 1.4.1 Solutions scaled up for sustainable management of natural resources, including sustainable commodities and green and inclusive value chains
SDG Goal
  • Goal 13. Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts
SDG Target
  • 13.2 Integrate climate change measures into national policies, strategies and planning
Evaluation Budget(US $): 40,000
Source of Funding: Project resources/ GEF
Evaluation Expenditure(US $): 40,000
Joint Programme: No
Joint Evaluation: No
Evaluation Team members:
Name Title Email Nationality
Nickolai Denisov Team Leader
Fatima Akbari National Team Member AFGHANISTAN
Surat Toimastov International Biodiversity Expert
GEF Evaluation: Yes
GEF Project Title: Establishing integrated models for protected areas and their co-management in Afghanistan
Evaluation Type: Terminal Evaluation
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
1.

3 Findings

3.1 Project design and formulation

EIMPA project directly supported national biodiversity as well as land management priorities and policies, and the overall design of the project appears to have been well in line with both the prevailing national policies and the views of the different stakeholders. No interviewed stakeholder expressed significant reservations about it. However, as considerable time has passed since project initiation, and people and institutions engaged with the project at the beginning have changed, it is natural that some of them see the optimal design of the project differently from how it was seen five years ago. The initial project design was evaluated at length during 2017 mid-term review. This terminal evaluation largely endorses its conclusions and focusses below on the details of particular importance, additional views expressed during interviews, and changes in project design undertaken in October 2017 – December 2018 following mid-term review recommendations.

Project results framework: outputs, outcomes and indicators

The project strategy and rationale as outlined in the project document and the results framework were overall coherent and logical in terms of the links between outcomes, objectives and the project’s overall goal. The linkages between outcomes, their indicators and the respective project activities were logical and generally comprehensive too. The objective and outcome indicators used in the results framework were generally SMART, and captured many of the important project results in particular in the conservation domain. However, as was also noted by the mid-term review, other impacts such as health benefits, reduced workload, reduced loss of livestock assets, positive impact on damage from natural disasters, improved awareness in communities were not well captured by the results framework. Apart from female representation in PAC, livelihoods indicators were not gender-specific / disaggregated. By the time of the mid-term review it became obvious that for political reasons the initially envisaged (under Outcome 1) establishment of a specialised Afghanistan Park and Wildlife Authority was not possible. Consequently the review recommended removing the respective targets and reallocating resources from Outcome 1 to other outcomes, as was consequently done. The mid-term review also noted certain overlaps between Outcomes 2 and 3, and recommended restructuring them to bring clarity and more distinctive focus. The resulting results framework, approved by the Project Steering Committee, was thus made more practical, attainable and logically consistent (cf. Table 1.1).

In the opinion of the terminal evaluation team, some of the project-result targets may have been overambitious in terms of what could be realistically achieved in the difficult institutional context of Afghanistan, and especially after it became clear that the target of establishing APWA was not attainable. This concerns, e.g., targets for the number of approved laws, regulations and management plans, but also improved socio-economic well-being of affected communities and generating of revenues from protected areas, as all of these were partly dependent on the anticipated institutional changes. The target of establishing a community institution in the Bamyan Plateau may also have been too ambitious given how late this target was introduced (see Monitoring and Evaluation below). High ambitions could be justified by WCS’s relatively long and successful experience with national conservation policy prior to the project, as well as by the reasonable expectation that the initially envisaged establishment of APWA would greatly facilitate the attainment of expected policy (and economic) results. It is also in any case commendable to see the bar set high in order to motivate stronger performance, as without daring not much can be achieved. However this also necessarily calls for a stricter judgement of project performance. 

In our view, the targets which were even only implicitly linked to the intended streamlining of institutional framework through the establishment of APWA should have been relaxed,similarly to how explicit APWArelated results were removed from the logical framework. Even though to some degree their achievement should have been and indeed was still possible due to the continued engagement with conservation of both NEPA and MAIL, uncertainties about how such responsibilities were to be shared undoubtedly made attainment of these targets much more difficult than anticipated. On the other hand, given the key role of community institutions in ensuring the long-term sustainability of results after project end, the quantitative targets for the increase of the institutional capacity of community councils may not have been ambitious enough. We also question the effectiveness of quantitative targets on the state of natural ecosystems and species (such as vegetation cover, rangeland conditions, or wildlife population counts) as reliable measures of project performance. The high natural variability of such conditions, exacerbated by the unfolding effects on climate change (e.g., strong nation-wide drought in 2018), makes the short duration of the project period insufficient for making direct conclusions about the impact of the project on natural ecosystems. Much longer time-series would be required to derive reliable conclusions of this kind. This said, indirect conclusions based on the available short time-series nonetheless point to positive impact, or at least do not allow to conclude otherwise.

The mid-term review noted a significant gap in that Outcome 3 did not have any elements explicitly related to managing and regulating grazing and livestock numbers, which arguably are the main underlying factors causing land degradation and human-wildlife conflicts. While we agree that such activities are barely visible on the indicator level, and this is an omission in the initial log-frame design, we note that de-facto restrictions on livestock are essential parts of protected area management plans developed with the help of the project. The project has also made significant efforts in promoting community-level activities to reduce other pressures on land and natural vegetation, such as reducing the collection of firewood, limiting / restricting hillside farming, and indeed planting trees.


Tag: Protected Areas Effectiveness Relevance Sustainability Programme/Project Design Results-Based Management Risk Management Data and Statistics Biodiversity

2.

3.1 Project design and formulation (continuation)

Lessons from other relevant projects incorporated into project design The project was built on a long-term engagement of WCS with NEPA and MAIL, both in two project regions and at the national level. In particular results and lessons from earlier, USAID-funded, projects were important, and EIMPA was a logical continuation of the then ongoing processes such as strengthening community institutions set up with WCS support (BAPAC, BACC, and WPA). The sustainable land management approaches and practices used in EIMPA were tested and promoted through previous projects too: e.g., the extensive experience with appended solar greenhouses in Bamyan of French NGO GERES was instrumental in shaping and informing WCS approach to this activity.


Tag: Local Governance Ownership Programme Synergy Programme/Project Design Strategic Positioning

3.

3.2 Project implementation

Adaptive management

The evaluation did not identify particular issues with adapting the management and implementation of the project to evolving circumstances. As an example, the details of specific interventions on the local level (tree planting, appended greenhouses) were all based on continuous dialogue discussions with communities, who in-turn were generally very appreciative of being asked what they wanted. A few initially unforeseen interventions, such as the introduction of female rangers and addressing solid waste management in BANP, came directly out of consultations with communities and / or BAPAC. One village in Bamyan reported that the project accepted the idea of changing material for appended greenhouses from imported to locally-produced (and also cheaper and stronger), which was both appreciated and allowed for more houses to be constructed. Considerable flexibility was shown in project response to mid-term review recommendations. In particular, as was witnessed by the evaluation team, the strengthening of public awareness activities and gender focus allowed to considerably improve awareness of the pubic and in particular school students and women during the last 14 months of the project. One governmental office commented that the mistake of pursuing the essentially political goal of establishing APWA could have been noticed earlier than at the time of mid-term review. This could have saved time and resources by focusing its attention on conservation policy rather than attempting to change the institutional set-up. It however remains unclear whether the respective indications were sufficient at the time to change the course of the project. A comment was also made about a certain lack of project flexibility in response to requests made in 2017 by governmental stakeholders through the mid-term review to re-design certain project activities – which was admittedly quite late in the project cycle.

Partnership arrangements In principle, the key relevant stakeholders were involved in project design and implementation on all levels: national, provincial and local. As already noted in the mid-term review, the project has made concerted efforts to involve stakeholders in decision-making and in enhancing their capacities. NEPA and MAIL were part of the PSC. Their provincial and district offices as well as community representatives form BACC, WPA, CDCs and CDC clusters have been actively involved in gathering information and feeding the development of protected areas management plans. The District Governor’s office and its Education Department in Wakhan was involved in conducting environment days at schools, and both district and provincial DAILs and NEPA offices have been involved in afforestation / watershed activities as well as in livestock vaccination campaigns in WNP.

Many interviewed governmental offices expressed strong satisfaction with their engagement in project activities. At the same time others did note that they would have liked to be more involved in certain aspects of the project, including wildlife surveys and work at the community level. One governmental office questioned the “NGO execution” mode in principle, i.a. for perceived high overhead, suggesting that it is best to be avoided in future GEF projects. Lack of international exchange of experience within the project, especially for governmental employees working at the operational levels (e.g. park rangers), was mentioned too. At the same time it is to be noted that the lack of clarity about the distribution of responsibilities between NEPA and MAIL for the management of protected areas was among factors limiting governmental involvement, as including both agencies in project activities would significantly increase costs as opposed to would-have-been APWA staff. At times this uncertainty also hindered the proactive engagement of both agencies, while due to high work load and a plethora of other responsibilities in particular local governmental offices were not always able to respond to invitations to take part in particular project activities. 


Tag: Effectiveness Efficiency Gender Equality Gender Mainstreaming Women's Empowerment Implementation Modality Partnership Civil Societies and NGOs

4.

3.2 Project implementation

Project finance

In the course of the project, WCS regularly prepared two financial reports: one following UNDP-GEF format, and one for WCS headquarters. Unqualified audits with recommendations for improvements were carried out annually by examining financial documentation available in Kabul.The evaluation team finds that sufficient financial controls were put in place to allow project management to make informed decisions regarding the budget and to allow for the timely flow of funds for payments. Similarly, the evaluation did not find evidence of departure from due diligence in the management of funds. Taking into account part of the budget still reserved for remaining UNDP-managed activities in 2019, the entire budget of the project has been spent, with some delays in comparison with the initial planning but well in line with the overall budget allocation and its revision approved by the PSC (Figure 3.1 and Table 3.1).


Tag: Protected Areas Efficiency Sustainability Global Environment Facility fund Government Cost-sharing Human and Financial resources Project and Programme management

5.

3.2 Project implementation

Monitoring and evaluation: design at entry and implementation

As discussed in section 3.1 above, project result indicators at objective and outcome levels were set in the project result framework at project onset, and partially revised in 2017 based on the findings and recommendations of the mid-term review. Baselines were established where possible, although some of them could only be established 1-2 years after project start. As mentioned above, the socio-economic data to be collected for monitoring lacked gender disaggregation, and many of the actual side benefits / impacts of the project were never monitored –which however has more to do with the design of the results framework and its targets than with monitoring and evaluation design per se. It is however worthwhile mentioning that expanding the results and targets in these directions would have implied considerable additional costs for monitoring their achievement, which would be prohibitive given the available budget. 

Responsibilities for monitoring were clearly articulated in project design, and WCS had a monitoring and reporting officer for performing these tasks. Mid-term and terminal evaluations were planned and budgeted as customary for GEF project implementation. Overall the evaluation team rates project monitoring and evaluation design as satisfactory. The established indicators were monitored throughout project implementation, and monitoring data were reported in PIRs and progress reports presented to and discussed at project steering committee meetings. The evaluation team did not find evidence of untimely or irregular reporting, and considers its quality sufficient.  


Tag: Biodiversity Protected Areas Effectiveness Gender Mainstreaming Monitoring and Evaluation Policies & Procedures Programme/Project Design Project and Programme management Results-Based Management Data and Statistics

6.

3.2 Project implementation

UNDP and Implementing Partner implementation / execution, coordination, and operational issues

The terminal evaluation team endorses the conclusions of the mid-term review concerning the generally efficient and timely implementation / execution of EIMPA project. WCS has carried out the project efficiently and with dedication in a difficult context, with delivery generally being comprehensive, on time, and delays mainly being due to external factors. Despite the known complexity of UNDP’s rules and procedures, WCS did not report or manifest serious compliance challenges, and both organisations made an extra effort to seek and provide the necessary clarifications, support and operational flexibility. While the project operated in the safest parts of Afghanistan in terms of the impacts of the ongoing armed confrontation, cooperation with WCS has still enabled UNDP to reach some of the most remote and underserved communities in Afghanistan including Wakhan, where UNDP cannot directly operate at all due to security limitations. Engagement with NEPA and MAIL has been consistent, strong, productive and mutually appreciated, although not without challenges discussed above (i.a. engagement in field activities and transfer of technical expertise still insufficient in view of some partners). Several operational issues observed during the mid-term review, such as the discrepancy between terms of reference and the actual tasks of some WCS staff members in Wakhan; the conflict of interest with a WCS staff member in Bamyan; the lack of WCS female staff in the field – have obviously been rectified and in our view did not in the end affect the overall delivery of project results. As discussed above, overall project monitoring captured most outcomes and impacts, while the reporting was timely and generally satisfactory. Outreach has been an inherent element of the project, and major efforts were made in that direction at both the national level (regular contributions to special events, fairs, meetings and campaigns) and the local level (in particular through schools and meetings with communities). The results of this work as witnessed by the terminal evaluation team, although not directly captured by project monitoring, are nonetheless very positive. Especially given the context of Afghanistan, hardly comparable to many other contexts in which development assistance operates, we rate both the implementation of the project by UNDP and its execution by WCS as satisfactory.


Tag: Effectiveness Efficiency Implementation Modality Operational Efficiency Partnership Results-Based Management

7.

3.3 Project results

Overall results

The rating of project results is primarily based on the indicators and targets selected for the project objective in the project results framework (Table 2.1). Out of three indicators, target for one was achieved above expectations: management capacities of NEPA / MAIL and the two community councils as measured by METT scores increased, respectively, from 42 and 24 to 60 and 40 percent. One could question the actual meaning of METT scores, and communities in both project regions still expressed certain level of dissent with respect to the lack of transparency of councils’ operations. Yet it is unquestionable that the council’s capacities have strongly benefited from project support, and in particular have grown in terms of attracting, managing and using external funds which is extremely important for the future sustainability of both the institutions and the co-management of the respective protected areas. The quantitative targets for land area protected and rangeland area co-managed have been achieved (and the indicator is above target for rangelands thanks to initially unforeseen project activities in the Bamyan Plateau). We would however argue that both targets are only partially reached. Even though all 4 protected areas have been declared as planned, and management plans for all of them have been drafted, the plan for the largest Wakhan National Park still lacks official approval / signature from the Government, while the revision of the management plan for Band-e Amir National Park was only approved in May 2019. 31 Therefore, even if management tools were largely in place, and two of the three officially approved plans in Wakhan will eventually be included into WNP – so that part of the latter can already be considered under proper management regime – so far only part of the territory declared as protected can be considered as fully managed. The same applies for the effective co-management of rangelands. Although the respective areas are declared protected and many on-the-ground activities have taken place to support and enforce the protection status (i.a. work with communities, rangers, citizens), in the absence of full coverage by approved and operational management plans co-management cannot be judged entirely effective. 


Tag: Protected Areas Relevance Global Environment Facility fund Gender Mainstreaming Rule of law SDG Integration

8.

3.3 Project results

Effectiveness and efficiency

While some stakeholders questioned in the interviews the efficiency of NGO execution mode in principle, others appreciated inherent NGO’s proactiveness. In the view of the terminal evaluation team, the choice of this mode was sufficiently justified at the time of project development and, despite obviously higher overhead costs, still offers numerous advantages such as high dedication and commitment of NGO implementing partners, their strong technical and field capacities, implementation and financial flexibility, and direct access to international experience and expertise. Moving to other alternative execution modes in the future is the question of political will and the ability of the Government to ensure institutional sustainability of project results in the longer term (see below).

With the well-established and functional execution and sufficient flexibility shown on all sides, overall reasonably costs-efficient implementation in the difficult context of Afghanistan, we rate project efficiency as satisfactory.

Even though not all formally set targets were attained (see above), objectively highly important results were achieved on the policy / institutional and the local / livelihood / ecosystem levels, and are obviously highly appreciated by most if not all interviewed project stakeholders. A number of issues, some of which were admittedly difficult to anticipate, nonetheless limited eventual project success. We judge project effectiveness as satisfactory.


Tag: Climate change governance Protected Areas Effectiveness Efficiency Gender Mainstreaming Implementation Modality Integration Ownership Policies & Procedures Results-Based Management Civil Societies and NGOs SDG Integration

9.

Sustainability

Sustainability may be among the more challenging dimensions of assessing EIMPA results. While their sustainability outlook is overall good and we rate it as moderately likely, in order to be achieved in reality will require targeted follow-up – which we discuss below as well as in the recommendations section.

Financial sustainability About half of governmental stakeholders interviewed during the terminal evaluation are confident that project results can easily be sustained in the most advanced BANP without further hands-on support from the international community. They rather prefer in the future more technically- and strategy-oriented international assistance, the later aimed at developing improved management models and approaches addressing fundamental issues that could not have been dealt with by EIMPA (land ownership, location of settlements within protected areas, business and investment models for managing and further developing them etc.). For less developed regions such as Wakhan and, in particular, the Bamyan Plateau where minimal investments have so far been made, a clear need is seen on the contrary to continue on the-ground international support. This is partially ensured through the follow-up snow leopard conservation project in Wakhan, financed by GEF-6 and to be implemented by UNDP and WCS, 32 and the EU-funded project on climate resilience in the Amu Darya river basin implemented by a consortium of WCS, AKF and GIZ, which covers Wakhan and the northern part of the Bamyan Plateau.


Tag: Climate Change Adaptation Climate change governance Protected Areas Tourism Sustainability Local Governance Country Government Capacity Building Advocacy

10.

Impact

As discussed above, the project has made a notable difference by mitigating pressures on natural ecosystems and strengthening safeguards for their protection, nationally and within project regions, by:

§ advancing conservation policy instruments and the Government’s environmental engagement;

§ helping establish management modalities for specific protected areas;

§ putting in place, strengthening and supporting ranger capacities there;

§ successfully restricting hunting, collection of mountain shrub and hill-side farming and proposing alternative / mitigating livelihood and business solutions there;

§ significantly raising the level of environmental awareness in protected areas and nationally.


Tag: Disaster Risk Reduction Emission Reduction Protected Areas Impact Country Government Inclusive economic growth Data and Statistics

Recommendations
1

UNDP to communicate advice to national and local stakeholders to conduct the following recommendations.

1.1 Adopt pending legislation and protected areas management plans

1.2 Declare the Bamyan Plateau a protected area 

1.3 Fully implement outstanding WCS recommendations for BANP management after 2018 

1.4 Address status of women rangers and female business opportunities in BANP 

2

UNDP to communicate advice to national and local stakeholders and WCS to facilitate action within the limits of available resources within continuing projects in target regions

2.1 Continue minimal monitoring of the sustainability of project’s community interventions and follow-up on the ground in EIMPA target regions  

2.2 Establish a functional PAC in Wakhan National Park 

2.3 Revisit procedures and practices at PACs and improve quality of community participation

2.4 Further improve gender balance at PACs 

2.5 Extend systematic environmental training to teachers and younger-grades’ students

2.6 Extend the ‘junior ranger’ programme from Wakhan to Bamyan 

2.7 Focus on the awareness of environmental costs vs. benefits among local communities 

3

UNDP to communicate advice to national and local stakeholders and UNDP and WCS to facilitate action within the limits of available resources within continuing projects in target regions

3.1 Fund-raise for follow-up implementation in BANP and for the establishment and management of the new protected area in the Bamyan Plateau

3.2 Professionalise MAIL ranger system (put rangers and professional ranger supervisors on the tashkil) and consider continued international support to it

3.3 Strengthen engagement with police for nature conservation

3.4 Ensure financial transparency and compliance of community councils and their leadership

3.5 Ensure full archiving of EIMPA project documentation with NEPA as GEF FP in Afghanistan 

4

4.4 Advice for longer-term consideration

These recommendations do not require immediate action and follow-up. Derived from lessons learnt from EIMPA and its evaluation, and once communicated to the Government and the donor community, they however can be useful for future conservation work in Afghanistan. Strategic-level advice for the Government, UNDP and the international donor community at large (table 4.3) is meant to inform future directions of conservation and livelihoods development in Afghanistan. 

Table 4.3 Strategic advice in the context of nature conservation in Afghanistan

Formalise NEPA-MAIL roles in conservation policy and management of protected areas

Facilitate NEPA’s unimpeded access to protected areas for the effective implementation of its conservation policy mandates such as monitoring, assessment and reporting

Clarify within the Government system the role of NEPA as GEF focal point Improve visibility / branding of the role of the Government in GEF (and other international) projects

Develop stronger capacities at MAIL for working on livelihoods and community-based management issues

Fully address in the conservation context issues such as land ownership, zoning and resettlements needs, business and investment models (e.g. public-private partnerships) for protected areas

Explore alternative sources of tourism revenues (e.g. international eco-tourism, trophy hunting in Wakhan)

Explore schemes for biodiversity valuation, incentives / income compensation for communities to address grievances due to conservation-related limitations on the use of natural resources Formalise the mechanism for returning tourism revenues to protected-area communities

Strengthen conservation-focussed partnerships with mainstream development organisations and hand-over to them community development issues within protected areas

Further explore synergies to advance the cause of conservation with the World Bank, UN, bilateral support programmes and through international climate-change commitments 

Specific advice based on lessons learnt from EIMPA and its evaluation (table 4.4), in our view, can be helpful for the design and implementation of other or similar projects in the conservation-development domain in future, in particular in Afghanistan but also beyond (for instance, in larger Central Asia).

Table 4.4 Specific advice for the design of other or similar projects

Fully integrate execution with NEPA and MAIL / their local offices (aim at unified task force solutions for specific activities), involve their staff in project and training, regularly exchange work plans Provide more flexibility in response to governmental partners Be very clear in managing community expectations, especially with ‘seed’ interventions (i.a. clearly explain that conservation projects do not run community institutions and development at large) Strengthen and sustain replication commitments of communities (corrals, greenhouses, afforestation) Strengthen technical advice to and follow-up with communities, leave behind written or graphical guidance materials for how to sustain and expand results (corrals, greenhouses, afforestation) Resolve contradictions between economic and socio-economic criteria for selection of sites / households for project interventions, and make them fully inclusive Put emphasis on directly consulting communities, including women, in advance of interventions Ensure the continuity of business conditions vs. one-off interventions supporting the development of specific businesses Increase the use of female staff and community members, better educated / trained community members, and local Government professionals in community relations and training Ensure international cross-fertilization of practices for lower-level / operational governmental staff (e.g., rangers) Further strengthen focus on women education (specific as well as general) and consider women-only approaches in awareness and livelihood activities to promote gender equity Promote proactive attitude of the staff of tourism centres, use graphical language on signboards. Consider increasing the use of TV and social media in awareness programmes.

Management Response Documents
1. Recommendation:

UNDP to communicate advice to national and local stakeholders to conduct the following recommendations.

1.1 Adopt pending legislation and protected areas management plans

1.2 Declare the Bamyan Plateau a protected area 

1.3 Fully implement outstanding WCS recommendations for BANP management after 2018 

1.4 Address status of women rangers and female business opportunities in BANP 

Management Response: [Added: 2019/10/30] [Last Updated: 2020/11/19]

UNDP acknowledges the need to finalize below recommendations. However, UNDP doesn’t control any implementation of following recommendations. UNDP will, however, communicate to the responsible parties for implementation of below recommendations

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
1.1. UNDP will communicate this regularly to the government (MAIL) for implementation and to adopt pending legislation and protected areas management plans.
[Added: 2019/10/30] [Last Updated: 2020/04/01]
UNDP in partnership with WCS 2020/03 Completed This was a communication recommendation which UNDP and WCS continues to do regularly. History
1.2. UNDP will communicate this regularly to the government (MAIL) for declaring the Bamyan Plateau as a protected area.
[Added: 2019/10/30] [Last Updated: 2020/04/01]
UNDP in partnership with WCS 2020/03 Completed This was a communication recommendation which UNDP and WCS continues to do regularly. The Bamyan Plateau has been declared as protected area already History
1.3. UNDP will communicate this regularly to the government (MAIL) for fully implementing outstanding WCS recommendations for BANP management after 2018
[Added: 2019/10/30] [Last Updated: 2020/04/01]
UNDP in partnership with WCS 2020/03 Completed This was a communication recommendation which UNDP and WCS continues to do regularly. History
UNDP will communicate this regularly to the government (MAIL) for addressing status of women rangers and female business opportunities in BANP
[Added: 2019/10/30] [Last Updated: 2020/04/01]
UNDP in partnership with WCS 2020/03 Completed This was a communication recommendation which UNDP and WCS continues to do regularly History
2. Recommendation:

UNDP to communicate advice to national and local stakeholders and WCS to facilitate action within the limits of available resources within continuing projects in target regions

2.1 Continue minimal monitoring of the sustainability of project’s community interventions and follow-up on the ground in EIMPA target regions  

2.2 Establish a functional PAC in Wakhan National Park 

2.3 Revisit procedures and practices at PACs and improve quality of community participation

2.4 Further improve gender balance at PACs 

2.5 Extend systematic environmental training to teachers and younger-grades’ students

2.6 Extend the ‘junior ranger’ programme from Wakhan to Bamyan 

2.7 Focus on the awareness of environmental costs vs. benefits among local communities 

Management Response: [Added: 2019/10/30] [Last Updated: 2020/11/19]

UNDP agrees with the recommendations. WCS can only contribute to the implementation of the recommendation in areas that they have funding. The government will be working on implementing the recommendations in all areas where possible. UNDP will regularly communicate the recommendations to government and stakeholders.

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
UNDP will communicate with the government (MAIL) to continue minimal monitoring of the sustainability of the project’s community interventions and follow-up on the ground in EIMPA target regions
[Added: 2019/10/30] [Last Updated: 2020/04/01]
UNDP 2020/03 Completed This was a communication recommendation which UNDP and WCS continues to do regularly. History
UNDP will communicate with the government (MAIL) to establish a functional PAC in Wakhan National Park.
[Added: 2019/10/30] [Last Updated: 2020/04/01]
UNDP and WCS 2020/03 Completed This was a communication recommendation which UNDP and WCS continues to do regularly. History
UNDP will communicate with the government (MAIL) to revisit procedures and practices at PACs and improve the quality of community participation.
[Added: 2019/10/30] [Last Updated: 2020/04/01]
UNDP and WCS 2020/03 Completed This was a communication recommendation which UNDP and WCS continues to do regularly. History
UNDP will advsie the government to further, improve gender balance at PACs.
[Added: 2019/10/30] [Last Updated: 2020/04/01]
UNDP and WCS 2020/03 Completed This was a communication recommendation which UNDP and WCS continues to do regularly. History
UNDP will communicate with the government (MAIIL) to extend systematic environmental training to teachers and younger-grades’ students.
[Added: 2019/10/30] [Last Updated: 2020/04/01]
UNDP and WCS 2020/03 Completed This was a communication recommendation which UNDP and WCS continues to do regularly. History
UNDP will advsie the MAIL on the extension of the ‘junior ranger’ programme from Wakhan to Bamyan.
[Added: 2019/10/30] [Last Updated: 2020/04/01]
UNDP and WCS 2020/03 Completed This was a communication recommendation which UNDP and WCS continues to do regularly. History
UNDP will advise MAIL to focus on the awareness of environmental costs vs. benefits among local communities.
[Added: 2019/10/30] [Last Updated: 2020/04/01]
UNDP and WCS 2020/03 Completed This was a communication recommendation which UNDP and WCS continues to do regularly. History
3. Recommendation:

UNDP to communicate advice to national and local stakeholders and UNDP and WCS to facilitate action within the limits of available resources within continuing projects in target regions

3.1 Fund-raise for follow-up implementation in BANP and for the establishment and management of the new protected area in the Bamyan Plateau

3.2 Professionalise MAIL ranger system (put rangers and professional ranger supervisors on the tashkil) and consider continued international support to it

3.3 Strengthen engagement with police for nature conservation

3.4 Ensure financial transparency and compliance of community councils and their leadership

3.5 Ensure full archiving of EIMPA project documentation with NEPA as GEF FP in Afghanistan 

Management Response: [Added: 2019/10/30] [Last Updated: 2020/11/19]

UNDP agrees with the recommendations. WCS can only contribute to the implementation of the recommendation in areas that they have funding. The government will be working on implementing the recommendations in all areas where possible. UNDP will regularly communicate the recommendations to government and stakeholders.

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
UNDP will communicate with the government to Fund-raise for follow-up implementation in BANP and for the establishment and management of the new protected area in the Bamyan Plateau. UNDP and WCS can only follow in Wakhan as part of existing funding. WCS could support out of existing funds some landscape management in part of the new protected area in the Bamyan Plateau (pending 1.2)
[Added: 2019/10/30] [Last Updated: 2020/04/01]
UNDP and WCS 2020/03 Completed This was a communication recommendation which UNDP and WCS continues to do regularly. History
UNDP will communicate with the government (MAIL) to professionalise MAIL ranger system (put rangers and professional ranger supervisors on the tashkil) and consider continued international support to it
[Added: 2019/10/30] [Last Updated: 2020/04/01]
UNDP and WCS 2020/03 Completed This was a communication recommendation which UNDP and WCS continues to do regularly. History
UNDP will communicate with the government (MAIL) to strengthen engagement with police for nature conservation.
[Added: 2019/10/30] [Last Updated: 2020/04/01]
UNDP and WCS 2020/03 Completed This was a communication recommendation which UNDP and WCS continues to do regularly. History
UNDP will communicate with the government (MAIL) to ensure financial transparency and compliance of community councils and their leadership.
[Added: 2019/10/30] [Last Updated: 2020/04/01]
UNDP 2020/03 Completed This was a communication recommendation which UNDP and WCS continues to do regularly. History
UNDP will communicate with the government (MAIL) to ensure full archiving of EIMPA project documentation with NEPA as GEF FP in Afghanistan
[Added: 2019/10/30] [Last Updated: 2020/04/01]
UNDP 2020/03 Completed This was a communication recommendation which UNDP and WCS continues to do regularly. History
4. Recommendation:

4.4 Advice for longer-term consideration

These recommendations do not require immediate action and follow-up. Derived from lessons learnt from EIMPA and its evaluation, and once communicated to the Government and the donor community, they however can be useful for future conservation work in Afghanistan. Strategic-level advice for the Government, UNDP and the international donor community at large (table 4.3) is meant to inform future directions of conservation and livelihoods development in Afghanistan. 

Table 4.3 Strategic advice in the context of nature conservation in Afghanistan

Formalise NEPA-MAIL roles in conservation policy and management of protected areas

Facilitate NEPA’s unimpeded access to protected areas for the effective implementation of its conservation policy mandates such as monitoring, assessment and reporting

Clarify within the Government system the role of NEPA as GEF focal point Improve visibility / branding of the role of the Government in GEF (and other international) projects

Develop stronger capacities at MAIL for working on livelihoods and community-based management issues

Fully address in the conservation context issues such as land ownership, zoning and resettlements needs, business and investment models (e.g. public-private partnerships) for protected areas

Explore alternative sources of tourism revenues (e.g. international eco-tourism, trophy hunting in Wakhan)

Explore schemes for biodiversity valuation, incentives / income compensation for communities to address grievances due to conservation-related limitations on the use of natural resources Formalise the mechanism for returning tourism revenues to protected-area communities

Strengthen conservation-focussed partnerships with mainstream development organisations and hand-over to them community development issues within protected areas

Further explore synergies to advance the cause of conservation with the World Bank, UN, bilateral support programmes and through international climate-change commitments 

Specific advice based on lessons learnt from EIMPA and its evaluation (table 4.4), in our view, can be helpful for the design and implementation of other or similar projects in the conservation-development domain in future, in particular in Afghanistan but also beyond (for instance, in larger Central Asia).

Table 4.4 Specific advice for the design of other or similar projects

Fully integrate execution with NEPA and MAIL / their local offices (aim at unified task force solutions for specific activities), involve their staff in project and training, regularly exchange work plans Provide more flexibility in response to governmental partners Be very clear in managing community expectations, especially with ‘seed’ interventions (i.a. clearly explain that conservation projects do not run community institutions and development at large) Strengthen and sustain replication commitments of communities (corrals, greenhouses, afforestation) Strengthen technical advice to and follow-up with communities, leave behind written or graphical guidance materials for how to sustain and expand results (corrals, greenhouses, afforestation) Resolve contradictions between economic and socio-economic criteria for selection of sites / households for project interventions, and make them fully inclusive Put emphasis on directly consulting communities, including women, in advance of interventions Ensure the continuity of business conditions vs. one-off interventions supporting the development of specific businesses Increase the use of female staff and community members, better educated / trained community members, and local Government professionals in community relations and training Ensure international cross-fertilization of practices for lower-level / operational governmental staff (e.g., rangers) Further strengthen focus on women education (specific as well as general) and consider women-only approaches in awareness and livelihood activities to promote gender equity Promote proactive attitude of the staff of tourism centres, use graphical language on signboards. Consider increasing the use of TV and social media in awareness programmes.

Management Response: [Added: 2020/11/16] [Last Updated: 2020/11/19]

Key Actions:

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