Clima East Pilot Project "Sustainable management of pastures and forest in Armenia to demonstrate climate change mitigation and adaptation benefits and dividends for local communities" Mid-Term Evaluation

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Evaluation Plan:
2010-2015, Armenia
Evaluation Type:
Mid Term Project
Planned End Date:
12/2015
Completion Date:
09/2015
Status:
Completed
Management Response:
Yes
Evaluation Budget(US $):
6,600

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Title Clima East Pilot Project "Sustainable management of pastures and forest in Armenia to demonstrate climate change mitigation and adaptation benefits and dividends for local communities" Mid-Term Evaluation
Atlas Project Number: 00085981
Evaluation Plan: 2010-2015, Armenia
Evaluation Type: Mid Term Project
Status: Completed
Completion Date: 09/2015
Planned End Date: 12/2015
Management Response: Yes
Focus Area:
  • 1. Others
Corporate Outcome and Output (UNDP Strategic Plan 2014-2017)
  • 1. Output 1.3. Solutions developed at national and sub-national levels for sustainable management of natural resources, ecosystem services, chemicals and waste
Evaluation Budget(US $): 6,600
Source of Funding: EU
Joint Programme: No
Joint Evaluation: No
Evaluation Team members:
Name Title Email Nationality
Josh Brann Evaluation Consultant ak.brann@gmail.com
Mark Anstey Evaluation Consultant manstey1@googlemail.com
Josh Brann Evaluation Consultant ak.brann@gmail.com
Mark Anstey Evaluation Consultant manstey1@googlemail.com
GEF Evaluation: No
Key Stakeholders: UNDP CO, Government of RA, Local Communities
Countries: ARMENIA
Lessons
Findings
Recommendations
1 Relevant activities to systematically capture experience and lessons learned and ensure use: It is recommended that the project needs to develop a set of specific and systematic activities aimed at ensuring: a. the results of the project are critically evaluated and key lessons and experience of relevance for replication and for policy development are identified, b. document these experiences and lessons in format relevant for different stakeholders (local communities, national government, other development partners, regional / international interested parties), c. pursue dissemination approaches that maximize penetration and uptake of project experience.
2 Project duration extension: Considering the delayed start of the project no-cost extension to mid-2017 is recommended. This additional period will cover the delay in the project start. More importantly it will allow essential time for evaluating the project results and outputs, ensuring proper monitoring of the pilot sites and documenting project experiences and lessons learned.
3 Ensure capacity and conditions for sustained application of community forestry and pasture management plans: Critical to sustainability of forestry and pasture initiatives of the project will be the participatory development of management such plans. However, as critical will be support to the initial application of such plans. This requires supporting the plans adjustment in the face of real world realities learned during practical application, building capacity to apply such adaptive management, and identifying what factors or potential barriers need to be addressed in order to facilitate sustainability. The project needs to factor in these issues to relevant activities in 2015 and 2016.
4 Build on potential of Advisory Board to mainstream results into policy: The project needs to seek ways in which to maximize uptake of experience and lessons learned into National policy and programmes. It is recommended that the Advisory Board?s potential role in this process should be assessed and means to maximize the potential identified.
5 Ensure experience and lessons are mainstreamed to relevant UNDP programme: the experience from the project, particularly in terms of baseline assessment, stakeholder engagement and the combined ecosystem and socio-economic approach to rural development, have relevance to a range of UNDPs aims and mandate. Ensuring that the results and experience of the project are not ?type cast? as purely ?environmental? and that they are applied in other projects is important and ways to ensure this should be identified.
6 Evaluation and realistic assessment of CC mitigation benefits of the project: Re-occurring issues for all the pasture pilots is a. the meaningfulness of any data that can be generated during their time frames regarding carbon sequestration resulting from improved management / rehabilitation, b. realistic conclusion on mitigation benefits of improved pasture use. It is recommended that, given the CC mitigation (as well adaption) objectives of the project, a balanced evaluation of the realistic carbon sequestration benefits of the Armenia project specifically, and pasture land use improvements generally, is undertaken.
7 Inter-pilot information and exchange visits: There are many potential benefits to be gained from project teams and stakeholders exchanging information and experiences, including visiting and gaining insight into the situations on the ground of other pilot sites and the means / approaches used to address them. In this context Armenia and Moldova perhaps have the closest correlation in terms of forestry activities and Armenia and Azerbaijan / Georgia in terms of pasture. Ways in which to take advantage of relevant experience in those countries needs to be followed up and utilized if relevant.
8 Improve Practical Functionality of ClimaEast official Website: All pilot projects expressed having had difficulties and problems with uploading materials produced by the project to the ClimaEast Website. It is recommended that means by which to improve ease of use should be developed in collaboration with projects and other users.
9 Increased engagement with Policy project national and regional representatives to try to find entry points for policy impact: Currently there seems few practical entry points by which the policy project can utilize the Pilot project results (in Armenia and other countries). The development of the national NAPA might be one such opportunity if that is foreseen to be supported by the policy project (not clear during MTE mission). Possibly this could be achieved via inclusion into Advisory board meetings (if not already members). However, direct meetings to discuss the practical possibilities and opportunities might also be considered. It is recommended that approaches and ways should be looked into in collaboration with the Policy Project
1. Recommendation: Relevant activities to systematically capture experience and lessons learned and ensure use: It is recommended that the project needs to develop a set of specific and systematic activities aimed at ensuring: a. the results of the project are critically evaluated and key lessons and experience of relevance for replication and for policy development are identified, b. document these experiences and lessons in format relevant for different stakeholders (local communities, national government, other development partners, regional / international interested parties), c. pursue dissemination approaches that maximize penetration and uptake of project experience.
Management Response: [Added: 2016/02/16] [Last Updated: 2016/02/16]

The recommendation is relevant and acceptable.

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
1.1. It is already incorporated into the project work-plan that 6 months before the project end the internal assessment & evaluation of implemented activities concentrating on the lessons learnt will be conducted; publication and dissemination of analytical materials, including lessons learnt analysis will be practiced with consideration of the wider stakeholders.
[Added: 2016/02/16]
Project Team, Regional Coordinator 2015/12 Completed
1.2. the Project will make use of different communication channels in digital & print versions (e.g. analytical reports, movie, national and local TV, leaflet, articles, event highlights etc.), including Clima East Regional website update, UNDP in Armenia official website update, Clima East Pilot Project FB page etc. for a wider dissemination of the analytical paper.
[Added: 2016/02/16] [Last Updated: 2016/02/18]
Project Team, Regional Coordinator No due date No deadline established
2. Recommendation: Project duration extension: Considering the delayed start of the project no-cost extension to mid-2017 is recommended. This additional period will cover the delay in the project start. More importantly it will allow essential time for evaluating the project results and outputs, ensuring proper monitoring of the pilot sites and documenting project experiences and lessons learned.
Management Response: [Added: 2016/02/16] [Last Updated: 2016/02/16]

The recommendation is relevant and acceptable. The project no-cost extension was discussed with the Clima East Pilot Projects regional coordination unit in September 2015 followed by the project current work-plan and budget analysis which revealed that 9 months no-cost extension is relevant considering the project developments and challenges. Upon confirmation from the EU the project will allocate the extended period mostly for extensive evaluation of the project outputs and results, extended monitoring of the rehabilitation pilot sites, documenting and sharing project experiences and lessons learned and project operational closure, as well as defining follow up opportunities.

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
Project no-cost extension will be applied upon confirmation from the EU along with the project work-plan and budget revision to plan activities and allocate funds for the period till end of September 2017.
[Added: 2016/02/16] [Last Updated: 2017/10/26]
CE Pilots regional team, UNDP CO, Project team 2017/11 Completed Project no-cost extension approval from EU was received on 28 June 2016 setting the end date for all Clima-East Pilots in seven countries pilots as 31 December 2017. Project no-cost extension till October 2017 was approved in December 2016 and the respective budget revision was signed. In August 2017 the project end date was set as 30 November 2017. History
3. Recommendation: Ensure capacity and conditions for sustained application of community forestry and pasture management plans: Critical to sustainability of forestry and pasture initiatives of the project will be the participatory development of management such plans. However, as critical will be support to the initial application of such plans. This requires supporting the plans adjustment in the face of real world realities learned during practical application, building capacity to apply such adaptive management, and identifying what factors or potential barriers need to be addressed in order to facilitate sustainability. The project needs to factor in these issues to relevant activities in 2015 and 2016.
Management Response: [Added: 2016/02/16] [Last Updated: 2016/02/16]

The recommendation is relevant and acceptable. Five rotational grazing plans were developed with participatory approach, later being approved by the community ?Avagani? (Elderly Councils) in 2015. Training on implementation of the plans and regular monitoring of plans? implementation have been ensured.

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
3.1. For 2016 the Project foresees development of comprehensive pasture management plans for target communities with consideration of rehabilitated settings of pasture infrastructures and surface rehabilitation. Trainings covering sustainable pasture management will be ensured.
[Added: 2016/02/16] [Last Updated: 2017/10/26]
Project team 2017/12 Completed Comprehensive pasture management plans (PMP) for five target communities in RoA Gegharkunik region are developed to replace the rotational grazing plans developed back in 2015. The PMPs are discussed with community administrations along with respective trainings conducted. The PMPs are subject to approval by the community councils in 2017. History
3.2. Current set of activities include training for Tsovak community administration and residents on maintenance of the newly planted forest belt. Besides, the development of the forest belt management plan for Tsovak community will be ensured along with training on its application.
[Added: 2016/02/16] [Last Updated: 2017/10/26]
Project team 2017/12 Completed Tsovak community forest plantation management plan is developed and discussed with Tsovak community administration along with respective training conducted. The plan is subject to approval by the community council in 2017 History
3.3. The Project will work closely with local community Administrations and Avagani (Elderly Councils) for adaptive management capacity building as part of planned trainings for 2015-2016.
[Added: 2016/02/16] [Last Updated: 2017/10/26]
Project team 2017/12 Completed The project closely cooperated with administrations and councils of five target communities in planning and implementation of pasture and forest rehabilitation pilots, related trainings on mountain ecosystems management and well as development and implementation of pasture and forest management plans. History
4. Recommendation: Build on potential of Advisory Board to mainstream results into policy: The project needs to seek ways in which to maximize uptake of experience and lessons learned into National policy and programmes. It is recommended that the Advisory Board?s potential role in this process should be assessed and means to maximize the potential identified.
Management Response: [Added: 2016/02/16]

The recommendation is relevant and acceptable.

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
The Project continues seeking the support of the established multi-stakeholder Advisory Board as a valuable resource to trigger the project experience and results? dissemination on national levels. The project coordination unit will emphasize the need for more proactive actions by the Advisory Board at the planned meetings and bilateral cooperation with members.
[Added: 2016/02/16] [Last Updated: 2017/10/26]
Project team 2017/12 Completed The most significant concepts, findings and results related to the implementation of pasture and forest pilots in the scope of the project were discussed at the Advisory Board meetings conducted over the project implementation period. Experts and stakeholder representatives from Advisory Board were involved in discussions of specific subjects related to project implementation and project results sustainability. History
5. Recommendation: Ensure experience and lessons are mainstreamed to relevant UNDP programme: the experience from the project, particularly in terms of baseline assessment, stakeholder engagement and the combined ecosystem and socio-economic approach to rural development, have relevance to a range of UNDPs aims and mandate. Ensuring that the results and experience of the project are not ?type cast? as purely ?environmental? and that they are applied in other projects is important and ways to ensure this should be identified.
Management Response: [Added: 2016/02/16]

The recommendation is relevant and acceptable. Currently UNDP applies the synergetic collaboration in-between the projects with emphasis on environmental and community development components. The Project cooperates with ongoing UNDP projects & programmes, specifically potential synergies are envisioned with the ?ENPARD? and ?Integrated Support to Rural Development: Building Resilient Communities? projects. The cooperation with GEF SGP resulted in approval and implementation of the ?Clima East Plus? project in the same target area.

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
5.1. The methodology for carbon stock accounting in forest will be replicated in the upcoming UNDP-GEF SLM/SFM REDD+ project.
[Added: 2016/02/16] [Last Updated: 2017/10/26]
UNDP CO 2017/12 Completed The methodology for carbon stock assessment and monitoring accounting in forest developed in the scope of the project over 2016-1017 was shared with UNDP-GEF SLM/SFM project, which has already taken up follow up activities in this sector. History
5.2. The project will further practices (i) sharing of its experience, particularly in national and local stakeholder engagement and the combined environmental and socio-economic approach to rural development with relevant projects in the UNDP country office as well as (ii) learning the experience of other completed and ongoing relevant UNDP projects.
[Added: 2016/02/16] [Last Updated: 2017/10/26]
UNDP CO 2017/12 Completed The project shared its experience and lessons learned in the rehabilitation of mountain ecosystems implemented in cooperation with national and local stakeholders with respective projects in UNDP country office and well as learned experience of other respective projects History
6. Recommendation: Evaluation and realistic assessment of CC mitigation benefits of the project: Re-occurring issues for all the pasture pilots is a. the meaningfulness of any data that can be generated during their time frames regarding carbon sequestration resulting from improved management / rehabilitation, b. realistic conclusion on mitigation benefits of improved pasture use. It is recommended that, given the CC mitigation (as well adaption) objectives of the project, a balanced evaluation of the realistic carbon sequestration benefits of the Armenia project specifically, and pasture land use improvements generally, is undertaken.
Management Response: [Added: 2016/02/16]

The recommendation is relevant and acceptable.

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
The applied methodology of carbon stock accounting in soil and vegetation is targeted to identification of country specific and reliable carbon calculation system to evaluate real CC mitigation benefits. The project will ensure use of international experience in a realistic evaluation of the carbon sequestration benefits following the implemented pasture and forest rehabilitation pilots to assess the improvements towards climate change mitigation and formulation of realistic recommendation for adoption of national carbon stock accounting system.
[Added: 2016/02/16] [Last Updated: 2017/10/26]
Project team 2017/12 Completed The project used international experience in this specific sector. Particularly an International Consultant hired to support respective activities was well experienced in similar activities in EU countries. History
7. Recommendation: Inter-pilot information and exchange visits: There are many potential benefits to be gained from project teams and stakeholders exchanging information and experiences, including visiting and gaining insight into the situations on the ground of other pilot sites and the means / approaches used to address them. In this context Armenia and Moldova perhaps have the closest correlation in terms of forestry activities and Armenia and Azerbaijan / Georgia in terms of pasture. Ways in which to take advantage of relevant experience in those countries needs to be followed up and utilized if relevant.
Management Response: [Added: 2016/02/16]

The recommendation is relevant and acceptable.

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
The Project coordination unit has been using the opportunities of pilot projects regional events and will continue so to share and learn experience from counterparts. The project will make sure of further use of the Clima East Regional website updates from different country pilots.
[Added: 2016/02/16] [Last Updated: 2017/10/26]
Regional Coordinator 2017/12 Completed The project coordination unit participated in seven regional events organized in the scope of Clima East Pilots over 2013-2017 including pilot site visits, shared its experience and learned experience of the pilots. The project regularly reviewed information on events and implementation of other Clima East Pilots available at the Clima East regional website as an additional source to learn experiences of other pilots as well as Clima East policy project. History
8. Recommendation: Improve Practical Functionality of ClimaEast official Website: All pilot projects expressed having had difficulties and problems with uploading materials produced by the project to the ClimaEast Website. It is recommended that means by which to improve ease of use should be developed in collaboration with projects and other users.
Management Response: [Added: 2016/02/16]

The recommendation is relevant and acceptable.

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
The project overcome the initial difficulties with uploading info onto Clima East regional website through the help of the website support staff and established successful cooperation. Information on the events and news as well as necessary documents are timely updated on the website. The "Help Desk" section of the website was used upon necessity. The project will further make sure to regularly upload information on news and events onto Clima East regional website.
[Added: 2016/02/16] [Last Updated: 2017/10/26]
Project team, CE Regional team 2017/12 Completed . The project regularly posted information on project events and implementation at the Clima East regional website to update the partner projects. History
9. Recommendation: Increased engagement with Policy project national and regional representatives to try to find entry points for policy impact: Currently there seems few practical entry points by which the policy project can utilize the Pilot project results (in Armenia and other countries). The development of the national NAPA might be one such opportunity if that is foreseen to be supported by the policy project (not clear during MTE mission). Possibly this could be achieved via inclusion into Advisory board meetings (if not already members). However, direct meetings to discuss the practical possibilities and opportunities might also be considered. It is recommended that approaches and ways should be looked into in collaboration with the Policy Project
Management Response: [Added: 2016/02/16]

The recommendation is partially relevant and acceptable.

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
The National Coordinator of the Clima East Policy Project has been involved in some of the main discussions and events organised by the pilot project. The Clima East National Focal Point is a member of the Advisory Board. Further the National Coordinator will be also involved in the Advisory Board meetings. Besides the project regularly kept informed the RoA Ministry of Nature Protection on the project progresses. However, more feedback and proactive communication from the Policy Project is advisable.
[Added: 2016/02/16] [Last Updated: 2017/10/26]
Project team, Clima East Policy Project Team 2017/12 Completed At the national level, Armenia’s Clima East pilot project was in regular bilateral communication with the National Coordinator of the Clima East Policy Project to share information about the projects and ensure participation in the events organized by both projects. In addition, direct meetings between Clima East pilot project and the National Coordinator of the Clima East policy project were conducted. The National Coordinator of the Clima East policy project was in the list of invitees for the pilot project Advisory Board meetings. Cooperation between Clima East policy project and seven Clima East pilot projects at the regional level has been coordinated by Clima East Pilots Coordination Unit. However, despite the additional efforts undertaken at the regional level, no clear mechanisms and platforms for effective cooperation between pilot and policy projects were made available from the very beginning, while cooperation mechanisms between country pilots were established and functioned. History

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