Mid-term evaluation of Sustainable Land Management Programme to Combat Desertification in Pakistan

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Evaluation Plan:
2018-2022, Pakistan
Evaluation Type:
Mid Term Project
Planned End Date:
10/2018
Completion Date:
12/2018
Status:
Completed
Management Response:
Yes
Evaluation Budget(US $):
30,000

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Title Mid-term evaluation of Sustainable Land Management Programme to Combat Desertification in Pakistan
Atlas Project Number: 00075848
Evaluation Plan: 2018-2022, Pakistan
Evaluation Type: Mid Term Project
Status: Completed
Completion Date: 12/2018
Planned End Date: 10/2018
Management Response: Yes
UNDP Signature Solution:
  • 1. Sustainable
Corporate Outcome and Output (UNDP Strategic Plan 2018-2021)
  • 1. Output 1.1.2 Marginalised groups, particularly the poor, women, people with disabilities and displaced are empowered to gain universal access to basic services and financial and non-financial assets to build productive capacities and benefit from sustainable livelihoods and jobs
  • 2. Output 2.4.1 Gender-responsive legal and regulatory frameworks, policies and institutions strengthened, and solutions adopted, to address conservation, sustainable use and equitable benefit sharing of natural resources, in line with international conventions and national legislation
SDG Goal
  • Goal 12. Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns
  • Goal 13. Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts
  • Goal 15. Protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, and halt and reverse land degradation and halt biodiversity loss
SDG Target
  • 12.4 By 2020, achieve the environmentally sound management of chemicals and all wastes throughout their life cycle, in accordance with agreed international frameworks, and significantly reduce their release to air, water and soil in order to minimize their adverse impacts on human health and the environment
  • 13.2 Integrate climate change measures into national policies, strategies and planning
  • 15.2 By 2020, promote the implementation of sustainable management of all types of forests, halt deforestation, restore degraded forests and substantially increase afforestation and reforestation globally
Evaluation Budget(US $): 30,000
Source of Funding: GEF
Evaluation Expenditure(US $): 25,874
Joint Programme: No
Joint Evaluation: No
Evaluation Team members:
Name Title Email Nationality
Andras Derbant Evaluation Consultant
Dr. Chaudhry Inayatullah Evaluation Consultant
GEF Evaluation: Yes
GEF Project Title: Sustainable Land Management Programme to Combat Desertification in Pakistan
Evaluation Type: Mid-term Review
Focal Area: Land Degradation
Project Type: FSP
GEF Phase: GEF-5
GEF Project ID: 4754
PIMS Number: 4593
Key Stakeholders: GEF, Ministry of Climate Change, Provincial Planning and Development Departments
Countries: PAKISTAN
Lessons
Findings
1.

3. Findings

3.1 Project strategy

3.1.1 Project design

As per Project Document (Chapter 2.2), the Project was approved under the GEF 5 Land Degradation Focal Area Strategy, Objective 2 “Forest Landscapes: Generate sustainable flows of forest ecosystem services in drylands, including sustaining livelihoods of forest dependant people”, in particular 2.1 “An enhanced enabling environment within the forest sector in dryland dominated countries”, and 2.2 “Improved forest management in drylands”, and Objective 3 “Integrated Landscapes: Reduce pressures on natural resources from competing land uses in the wider landscape”, in particular 3.1 “Enhanced cross-sector enabling environment for integrated landscape management” and 3.2 “Integrated landscape management practices adopted by local communities”. Semi-structured interviews with relevant key informants and the analysis by the MTR Team uniformly confirm that the Project design remains consistent with GEF priorities. The results of semi-structured interviews in unison agree that the project design remains consistent with national priorities. Particularly, the declared emphasis of the new Government of Pakistan to restore large tracts of forest landscapes through the Plant4Pakistan initiative further increases the relevance of the project design in the context of national priorities according to those interview partners, who discussed about the new initiative.UNDP priorities are laid down in the UNDP Common Country Programme, which explicitly states the SLMP II in the Results and Resources Framework. The Project remains an important part of the UNDP Pakistan Environment and Climate Change project portfolio, as evidenced through two relevant interviews.


Tag: Natural Resouce management Efficiency Relevance Global Environment Facility fund Government Cost-sharing Programme/Project Design Results-Based Management

2.

3. Findings

3.1 Project strategy 

3.1.2 Strategic results framework

The MTR Team suggests that the Project should consult the Benazir Income Support Programme as well as the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics to have updated figures for the 2015 baseline level. In the assessment of the MTR Team, Indicator 1 is not specific, as it implies a causal relationship between the introduction of SLM practices and the reduction of land degradation, which however may not be straightforward. In addition, land degradation is difficult to quantify. Indicator 2 is divided into three components, describing progress against targets to introduce SLM technologies in a) forests, b) sand-dunes, and c) rangelands. The baselines for these indicators could not be reconstructed through document analysis and semi-structured interviews. Similarly, the PC-1 aggregated provincial end-of-project targets for SLM activities amount to 1,850 ha in forests and to 61,200 ha in rangelands, whereas the corresponding Project Document objective level end-of-project target states 56,500 ha for forests and 112,700 ha for rangelands. Semi-structured interview and two Focus Group Discussions in unison indicated that the differences between the two targets reflect the presumed community-based up-scaling from forest nurseries and grass seed enclosures, leaving the MTR Team to conclude the questionability of the end-of-project targets for Indicators 1 and 2. Besides, the Project Document (Chapter 2.6, Table 8) foresees monitoring of these indicators using satellite image analysis. Two key informants agreed that the detectability of very young plantations using remote sensing requires high-resolution remote sensing images that are very costly to procure. Even with their use, rangeland improvement activities and first or second-year afforestation are not detectable through remote sensing. Therefore, the MTR Team concluded that the Indicator does not comply with the Trackability criterion.


Tag: Environment Policy Natural Resouce management Efficiency Project and Programme management Results-Based Management Theory of Change Country Government Data and Statistics

3.

3. Findings

3.1 Project strategy 

3.1.2 Strategic results framework (continuation)

Outcome 1 The Project Document (Part III) defines three indicators under Outcome 1, including 5) the number of provincial land use policies under implementation, 6) the number of sectoral policies that integrate SLM principles, and 7) the establishment of Desertification Control Cells as institutions that are mandated to carry SLM at national and provincial levels (Exhibit 8). According to personal observation of the MTR Team, human capacity, effective knowledge management and institutional maturity are important components of an enabling environment to support the upscaling of SLM, but no indicator captures these aspects. According to personal observation of the MTR Team and the results of an interview with the concerned key informant, Indicator 5 is not specific, as the ownership over a policy is vaguely defined. According to the MTR Team and the key interview partner, Indicator 6 is not specific, as it does not explicitly limit the sectoral policies to agriculture and forests, whereas the end-of-project target does this. While the end-of-project target implicitly quantifies eight sectoral policies (2 policies - agriculture and forest - in four provinces), the indicator does not specifically state this, leaving potential room for misinterpretation. At the same time, the end-of-project target excludes other potentially relevant policies, such as water, livestock, drought, climate change and rangeland policies. In the personal observation of the MTR Team, Indicator 7 did not meet the measurable criterion, as it does not specify what a “functioning” Desertification Control Cell entails. DCC functionality should be measured by the degree of fulfilling its mandate; i.e. the number of guidelines developed and applied for mainstreaming SLM principles into provincial and sectoral development planning and budget allocations, the level of implementation of a common monitoring and evaluation system for SLM in compliance with Pakistan’s UNCCD commitments defined in the NAP, and the number of guidelines for land allocation to different land uses developed and applied. The Indicators is not timely, at it is defined as a target for end of year 1 instead of the end of the project.


Tag: Effectiveness Efficiency Local Governance Monitoring and Evaluation Project and Programme management Results-Based Management Data and Statistics

4.

3. Findings - 3.1 Project strategy -3.1.2 Strategic results framework (continuation)

Outcome 3 Five indicators, several of which have sub-ordinate indicators, capture progress towards the achievement of Outcome 3 according to the Project Document (Part III). These include 10) community participation in SLM activities, 11) engagement in the implementation of soil and water conservation, 12) engagement in rangeland restoration, 13) engagement in forest restoration, and 14) community engagement into sustainable financing of SLM interventions and into businesses relying on SLM. The SMART assessment based on document analysis and personal observation of these indicators is presented in The MTR Team was unable to reconstruct indicator baselines using document analysis and interviews with key informants and therefore assessed their specificity as questionable, since a direct comparison with end-of-project targets is not appropriate. Based on personal observation of the MTR Team, the end-of-project targets for Indicator 10 (particularly 10.b), 11, are 13 are not ambitious, considering the financial resources devoted to the Project. For such a project, the end project target should be 100,000 plus. Indicator 10 captures community participation in SLM through the number of villages and the number of households engaged in implementing SLM activities. Based on personal observation of the MTR Team, the term “village” is not specific, as it may mean revenue village, which is a cluster of small hamlets, but it also may mean the hamlets themselves. While the number of villages is a relevant indicator, the number of households is largely redundant with the three subsequent indicators (Indicator 11: number of farms engaged in soil conservation, Indicator 12: percentage of livestock owners participating in rangeland restoration agreements, and Indicator 13: percentage of households participating in dryland afforestation activities). In addition, Indicator 13 is not specific as it does not define, whether the figure refers to the community or the district level. However, the MTR Team assumes that the indicators refers to the % of households in target districts.


Tag: Natural Resouce management Effectiveness Efficiency Gender Mainstreaming Local Governance Results-Based Management Risk Management Data and Statistics

5.

3. Findings - 

3.2 Progress towards results

3.2.1 Progress towards outcomes analysis

The Project had a delayed start and continues to suffer from administrative complexities, particularly related to financial disbursement, as evidenced in unison by two Focus Group Discussions, key informant interviews and document analysis. Nevertheless, document analysis and personal observation confirm that the Project managed to deliver substantial results towards the achievement of the project objective, as summarized in Exhibit 11. Progress towards two objective level indicators could not be assessed, as the concerned indicators were not monitored by the Project. Therefore, the rating “moderately satisfactory” is conservatively assigned for Progress towards achieving the project objective.According to document analysis of the PIRs and a key informant, project reporting does not aggregate data at the level of indicators defined in the strategic results framework. Instead, the PIRs report spatial achievements at the activity level as specified in the strategic results framework of the PC-1 (e.g. number of ha served by water harvesting ponds, number of ha of fruit orchards established, number of ha of oasis forests established, number of ha of energy plantations established, etc.). From these records inconsistently reported against indicators, the MTR Team aggregated the area benefitting from SLM practices attributable to rainfed farmland (Indicator 1), forests (Indicator 2.a), sand dunes (Indicator 2.b), and rangelands (Indicator 2.c). The assessment of spatial achievements reported in the PIRs could not be transparently demonstrated to the MTR Team, neither through the analysis of available documentation, nor through the four concerned interviews and the two concerned Focus Group Discussions, raising questions about the credibility of the reported figures (for details see Chapter 3.3.4). From the data reported in the PIR 2018, the MTR Team reconstructed the midterm status of Indicator 1 as 279,590 ha, which includes the baseline of 100,000 ha of unknown origin, as referenced in the Project Document (Part III).


Tag: Forestry Natural Resouce management Effectiveness Project and Programme management Results-Based Management Data and Statistics

6.

3.2 Progress towards results

3.2.1 Progress towards outcomes analysis

Indicative budget in the Project Document: US$ 669,994.00 Revised budget: US$ 1,406,755.00 Actual costs incurred to this Outcome until MTR (September 15th, 2018): US$ 649,881.13 Based on unanimous agreement of four interviews, instead of provincial Integrated Land Use Policies, the Project drafted provincial SLM policies that provide guidance to mainstream SLM into relevant provincial sectoral policies. At the same time, interviews and document analysis confirm progress towards the establishment of Desertification Control Cells at the National level and in Punjab Province, and a delay in other provinces (for details refer to Exhibit 12). Overall, the progress towards achieving Outcome 1 is considered moderately satisfactory by the MTR Team. 


Tag: Natural Resouce management Effectiveness Integration Policies & Procedures

7.

3.2 Progress towards results

3.2.1 Progress towards outcomes analysis (continuation)

Mainstreaming of SLM into key provincial sectoral policies As per three key informants and document analysis, the revision process to mainstream SLM principles into provincial sectoral policies, particularly for agriculture and forests was started through the drafting of the provincial Integrated Sustainable Land Management Policies that contain guidelines for sectoral policies to mainstream SLM. The four PCUs will initiate the revision of relevant sectoral policies once the ISLMPs have been finalized. Given the sequential programming and the fact that the revision process has not yet started makes the achievement of the end-of-project target for Indicator 6 more challenging than anticipated in the interpretation of the MTR Team.

Desertification Control Cells The Project Document (Part III) defines the establishment of Desertification Control Cells at national and provincial levels as a target for the end of year 1. As opposed to that, the PC-1 defines the establishment as an end-of-project target, preceded by a sequential recruitment of various staff positions. As evidenced by five key informants and document analysis the establishment of the Desertification Control Cells is on track with the milestones defined in the PC-1 at thefederal level and in Punjab. In Baluchistan and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, the recruitment of staff positions is behind schedule, while in Sindh no steps towards the establishment of the Cell has been set. 


Tag: Natural Resouce management Effectiveness Efficiency Human and Financial resources Integration Knowledge management Policies & Procedures Awareness raising Capacity Building

8.

3.2 Progress towards results

3.2.1 Progress towards outcomes analysis (continuation)

Capacity building at grassroots level Capacity building at the grassroots level focused on a range of locally relevant topics. The pool of capacity building topics included the concept of SLM, drivers and issues of land degradation, restoration options, practical approaches to SLM in dryland regions, soil pollution, species diversification, indicator species, rainwater harvesting, irrigation technologies, integration of climate and water smart technologies, rainwater harvesting, high-efficiency irrigation systems, drip irrigation, water conveyance systems, nursery management, rangeland management, integrated pest management, soil conservation, check dams, etc. In total, the Project built the capacities of 1198 farmers as indicated by document analysis, one Focus Group Discussion and two key informants (Annex 8: Capacity building, knowledge management and awareness ). Master’s course in SLM The Project signed an MoU with Pir Meher Ali Shah Arid Agriculture University Rawalpindi in July 2017 to develop a M.Sc. course on SLM by December 2018. The course will be offered from the academic year 2019/20 onwards as evidenced by one interview.


Tag: Effectiveness Communication Knowledge management Awareness raising Capacity Building Data and Statistics

9.

3.2 Progress towards results

3.2.1 Progress towards outcomes analysis (continuation)

Documentation of indigenous knowledge The Project produced a report with detailed documentation of indigenous knowledge related to traditional best practices of SLM. In several instances, the Project proposed the propagation of these best practices in the field, as indicated by two key informants.Workshops/seminars The Project organized a number of seminars as platforms to enable exchange of knowledge and to raise awareness on various topics related to SLM. These included events on the UNCCD on the World Day to Combat Desertification conducted at Tando Jam Agriculture University in Sindh and at Pir Meher Ali Shah Arid Agriculture University Rawalpindi as indicated by a key informant. Two further informants stated that these seminars contained special events targeted at the media (Annex 8: Capacity building, knowledge management and awareness ).

Field demonstration days The Project organized field demonstration days in each Province with participation of government technical staff, NGOs, community representatives and academic and research organization according to the information provided by the NCU in Annex 8: Capacity building, knowledge management and awareness . Two interview partners agreed that these events proved very useful in demonstrating best practices and sharing of experience and knowledge between project stakeholders.

Awareness raising Document review indicated that the Project produced 13 press releases on the observation of the World Day to Combat Desertification, on Steering Committee meetings, seminars and training workshops. Additionally, the Project produced 14 high-quality videos on various aspects of SLM in different geographic settings of the four Provinces and conducted specific awareness raising events (Annex 8: Capacity building, knowledge management and awareness Error! R eference source not found.).Indicative budget in the Project Document: US$ 499,330.00 Revised budget: US$ 611,544.00 Actual costs incurred to this Outcome until MTR (September 15th, 2018): US$ 293,778.26 Until the MTR, the Project put moderate emphasis on achieving targets under Outcome 2. As evidenced by the relevant documents and confirmed by four interview partners, the Project developed final drafts of three and is in the process of finalizing one further District Land Use Plan whereby it is considered to be marginally on track to achieve the end-ofproject target for Indicator 8. Furthermore, a detailed concept note was prepared for the development and operationalization of the SLM Information and Decision Support System, which the MTR Team considers to be insufficient progress towards the achievement of the end-of-the project target for Indicator 9 (Exhibit 14).


Tag: Natural Resouce management Effectiveness Knowledge management Technology Capacity Building Data and Statistics Civil Societies and NGOs

10.

3.2 Progress towards results

3.2.1 Progress towards outcomes analysis (continuation)

Output 2.2: Climate-resilient SLM Decision Support System developed and implemented using GIS and Remote Sensing The SLMP II developed a detailed concept note for the SLM Decision Support System. The concept note outlines the specifications of the SLM DSS with a high level of detail, including needs assessment, dataset requirements, the development of the DSS application and its integration, geodatabase, training and support requirements. The concept note can be directly converted into a Terms of Reference to procure services for the development of the DSS. However, as per two key informants, this has not yet been done and progress is further constrained by the unwillingness of the custodians of GIS, remote sensing and other data including the Meteorological Department, Pakistan Forest Institute, Soil Survey of Pakistan, Geological Survey of Pakistan, Provincial Agriculture, Irrigation and Forest Departments, as well as National and Provincial Disaster Management Authorities to share these with the Project.

Indicative budget in the Project Document: US$ 2,307,968.00 Revised budget: US$ 1,585,818.00 Actual costs incurred to this Outcome until MTR (September 15th, 2018): US$ 866,773.76 The Project put strong emphasis towards on-ground implementation of SLM activities in communities, even though the budget was substantially reduced, as evidenced by a key informant. Most targets of community participation in SLM activities is on target to be achieved. However, the Project has not yet started to ensure the financial sustainability of SLM in the concerned communities. The achievements of targets under Outcome 3 are summarized in Exhibit 15. The MTR Team could not ascertain the transparent aggregation and monitoring by the Project of the figures reported in the PIRs under Indicators 10-13.


Tag: Natural Resouce management Effectiveness Efficiency Sustainability Technology Data and Statistics Civil Societies and NGOs

11.

3.2 Progress towards results

3.2.1 Progress towards outcomes analysis (continuation) -Output 2.2: Climate-resilient SLM Decision Support System developed and implemented using GIS and Remote Sensing 

The MTR mission reviewed project activities in the field in all four provinces: In Sindh, the MTR visited visited Raj Muhammad Rajar and Chato Mangrio in Sanghar District. In Raj Muhammad Rajar, the project has provided a tube well with engine supported water lifting. The Focus Group Discussion confirmed that the intervention was highly successful with the establishment of an orchard of about half an acre in which lemon, jaman (Syzigium cumini), watermelon, half an acre of fodder plantation, and another half an acre of cotton. The discussion indicated that the 650 saplings provided showed 50% mortality. Overall, the community was extremely happy with the project interventions, which they considered a very good adaptation to drought. The Focus Group Discussion also indicated confidence about the positive project impacts on household income levels. In Chato Mangrio, the project provided a groundwater tube-well, sprinkler irrigation system and one acre of guar (Cyamopsis tetragonoloba), which the community up-scaled by planting three further acres of own resources. It was informed that at this place the ground water table is 60-70 feet deep. A few newly planted eucalypts were also observed and 30 lemon plants were also planted. The Focus Group Discussion confirmed that the community was pleased with the project intervention and urged to provide more resources. At the time of the MTR, it was observed that the tube well pump was not working and the community informed that they did not have funds for the repair. In the interpretation of the MTR Team, this points towards weaknesses in community ownership and empowerment, potentially linked to the limited presence of the Implementing Partner SAFWCO in the community, as indicated by a key informant. The visit to Umerkot was cancelled by the NCU and the MTR visited the GEF Small Grants Programme, where the use of Moringa plantations as an economic and healthy alternative was proposed to the Project. Furthermore, the GEF/SGP offered the Project to use this network of small local NGOs, rather than sub-contracting project activities to large NGOs.


Tag: Natural Resouce management Effectiveness Technology Data and Statistics

12.

3.2 Progress towards results

3.2.1 Progress towards outcomes analysis (continuation) -Output 2.2: Climate-resilient SLM Decision Support System developed and implemented using GIS and Remote Sensing (continuation)

In Baluchistan, the MTR mission visited a previously established large olive plantation of 6,500 trees in Qila Saifullah, to which the Project provided drip irrigation on one acre. The owner of this plantation informed he was expanding his olive nursery given the high demand for the autonomous up-scaling of growing this plant in the area. In an effort to increase value addition, the Project provided an olive oil extractor to one large farmer, which was not yet installed at the time of the MTR. The MTR mission observed a water pond at Rishin Spintakai village, Pishin, which it considers a highly successful intervention in the drought prone area. The cost of the water pond was USD 6,000, one third of which was contributed by six beneficiary farmers to irrigate apple orchards. In Bostan village, the mission observed glandulous being grown by drip irrigation in a tunnel of about 600 square meters, which is considered as a good demonstration of shift from high water to low water delta plants. In Pishin, the mission visited nurseries of the Forest Department. The SLMP II has provided 3 tunnels in which seedlings of forest and fruit trees were grown. In one tunnel about 24,000 seedlings are grown. The commonly grown plants are almonds, grapes, tamarix, saltbush, pistachio, wild almonds, maple, mulberry, etc. The Forest Department sells these seedlings to visiting farmers.In Punjab, the MTR mission conducted a Focus Group Discussion with Implementing Partners in Chakwal District. The discussion confirmed the strong support of IPs for the Project and highlighted the implemented activities under Outcome 3, which included the establishment of 18 CBOs, the construction of water conveyance systems, water ponds, rangeland improvement and dry afforestation activities. 


Tag: Effectiveness Technology Data and Statistics

13.

3.2 Progress towards results

3.2.2 Remaining barriers to achieving the project objective

Substantial barriers remain that hinder the achievement of the project objective. Some of the remaining barriers include:

Lack of institutionalization of key project outputs: i) Land use planning: The Project has not yet removed the barriers for cross-sectoral multi-level planning to guide land management. Instead of the concerned provincial Integrated Land Use Policies that should establish land use planning as a policy instrument at district and community levels, the Project drafted provincial Integrated SLM Policies that have a subordinate and sectoral focus to land use planning. It is moderately unlikely that the remaining policy barrier to institutionalize land use planning can be removed in the remaining project lifetime of two years. ii) Capacity building: The barrier of limited capacities as a condition to create an enabling environment for SLM remains. Capacity building efforts continue to remain a project driven agenda and the Project has not yet removed the barrier of institutionalizing capacity building by developing training modules in collaboration with government in-service training institutions and to mainstream the trainings into their agenda. iii) SLM networks: The barrier of isolated, sectoral approaches to land management and development will likely not be removed if the coordination platform of SLM Networks is not installed as a permanent platform with secured, regular funding from government sources.


Tag: Natural Resouce management Challenges Effectiveness Partnership Policies & Procedures Capacity Building

14.

3.3 Project implementation and adaptive management

3.3.1 Management arrangements

National Steering Committee The National Steering Committee (NSC) has convened five times since project start (Exhibit 16), as evidenced by the review of the minutes of NSC meetings. The first two NSC meetings were held at short intervals, at project start and immediately preceding the Inception Workshop. Until the beginning of 2017, NSC meetings were held approximately bi-annually and from then the frequency dropped to annual meetings. Two key informants indicated that an NSC meeting is scheduled after the completion of the MTR. The NSC meetings were chaired by the Executing Agency (MoCC) and attended by UNDP, MoCC, EAD, P&DD, the Ministry of Science and Technology, the Ministry of Food Security and Research, and by PPDs and PPCs in case they were available. The NSC meeting records are relatively short and do not always list the attendance. They provide a brief presentation of the key issues discussed (mostly related to the release of co-financing and the approval of AWPs) and of the resolutions that were passed. In a similar manner, Provincial Steering Committees coordinate project implementation in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and Punjab with similar mandates and a comparable agenda as the NSC. They are considered to be effective in guiding project implementation in the respective provinces (Exhibit 16) as indicated by two key informants and a Focus Group Discussion. However, a key informant confirmed that no Project Steering Committee meetings were held in Baluchistan and Sindh, implying that these fundamental project supervisory and coordination instruments have not been constituted in these provinces. In the interpretation of the MTR Team, this likely directly relates to the considerably weaker progress in these provinces as compared to the other two, as well as to the lack of engagement in project implementation of government line departments in Sindh. The Project is advised to constitute the PSCs in these two provinces without delay


Tag: Efficiency Global Environment Facility fund Oversight Partnership Procurement Project and Programme management Results-Based Management Strategic Positioning

15.

3.3 Project implementation and adaptive management

3.3.1 Management arrangements (continuation)

Executing Agency and Implementing Partners The Executing Agencies for the SLMP II are the Ministry of Climate Change, Government of Pakistan, as well as the Provincial Planning and Development Departments of the Provincial Governments of Baluchistan, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, Punjab, and Sindh and their roles are defined in the Project Document (Chapter 1.9, Table 7), as described in Exhibit 6. The Executing Agencies provide high quality managerial inputs to the Project, primarily through senior government officials acting as National and Provincial Project Directors. However, operational risks are not always adequately managed, when signatory positions are left unmanned causing delays in project implementation, as evidenced through document analysis of PIRs and unanimous agreement of all concerned key informants.In addition, the Executing Agencies signed Memoranda of Understanding with Implementing Partners for the implementation of certain project components as listed in Annex 9: Memoranda of Understanding with Implementing Partners. According to two key informants, in Baluchistan and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa no NGOs can be engaged inimplementation due to security restrictions in these Provinces. On the other hand, interviews with three key informants were in agreement that no provincial government agencies could be as Implementing Partners in Sindh due to the low rates budgeted for the implementation of field-based activities in the PC-1 for this province. This is a bottleneck, which requires immediate rectification. The implementation of project activities is facilitated by staff recruited through the federal and provincial governments as part of the process of converting the NCU and the PCUs into National and Provincial Desertification Control Cells. The timeframe of staffing various positions of the National Desertification Control Cell is spelled out in the PC-1, according to which it is on track. At the same time, the Government of Punjab recruited two technical officers, who form the core team of the upcoming Provincial Desertification Control Cell of Punjab. Both document analysis and interviews with four key informants confirm that the remaining provinces lag behind their commitments to fill staff positions of the Desertification Control Cells.


Tag: Efficiency Gender Equality Gender Parity Women's Empowerment Human and Financial resources Ownership Partnership Project and Programme management Risk Management

16.

3.3.1 Management arrangements (continuation)

3.3.2 Work planning The GEF CEO Endorsement was signed on October 3rd, 2013 after which it took one and a half years to sign the Project Document on May 5th, 2015, as evidenced by the concerned documents. The NPC was recruited in August 2015, while the recruitment of the remaining NCU and PCU staff was delayed due to administrative procedures in connection with hiring project staff in Pakistan. A key informant informed that because of this and due to project start during the financial year 2015/16, most project activities were initiated with a delayed start and took off only in the financial year 2016/17. At the time of the MTR, incomplete staffing of project positions continues to pose a bottleneck in project implementation and this issue has not been adequately addressed (refer to chapter 3.3.1). Delayed project start had a cascading effect on delayed signing of MoUs with Implementing Partners, most of whom were brought on board only in 2017, as indicated by the review of MoU documents and information provided by the NCU. Annual Work Plans were prepared using standard UNDP formats. The compilation of AWPs from the four provinces and their integration into the overall AWP requires substantial coordination efforts, but the process has been well mainstreamed, as informed through three interviews. However, three interviews indicated that AWPs proved to be overambitious and could not be realized to a large extent in most years (, requiring budget reallocations on a number of occasions.


Tag: Natural Resouce management Challenges Efficiency Global Environment Facility fund Project and Programme management Results-Based Management

17.

3.3 Project implementation and adaptive management

3.3.1 Management arrangements (continuation)

3.3.3 Finance and Co-finance

Financial expenditures Document analysis indicated that between the project start and the MTR (September 15th, 2018) the financial expenditures incurred to the GEF grant amounted to US$ 1,802,567.64, equivalent to 47.55% of the available grant. The MTR was conducted exactly after the completion of the third project year, when according to the Project Document (Part IV) 58% of the budget was supposed to be spent. With this, the overall expenditure of the GEF grant at MTR is 20% below expectation, considering the strategic budget in the Project Document (Part IV). At the same time, substantial budget revisions took place against the budget stated in the Project Document (Part IV) in favour of Outcomes 1 and 2 at the cost of Outcome 3 and Project Management. As per analysis of the Combined Delivery Reports, from 2017 onwards, several project management related expenses (e.g. 73410 - Maintenance and Operation of Transport Equipment, 73105 – Rent, etc.) were booked under Outcomes 1 – 3 instead of Project Management. According to the revised budget, expenditures for Outcome 1 are below expectation, whereas for the remaining Outcomes and Project Management expenditure is above expectation, implying linear spending. Details of financial expenditure under the GEF grant are presented in Exhibit 18.


Tag: Efficiency Global Environment Facility fund Government Cost-sharing Project and Programme management Results-Based Management

18.

3.3.1 Management arrangements (continuation)

3.3.3 Finance and Co-finance

Co-financing The total co-financing committed during CEO Endorsement Request amounted to US$ 18,080,737, of which US$ 4,455,000, equivalent to 25% have materialized until the MTR as per information provided by the NCU (see Annex 11: Co-financing table). UNDP released only 21% of the committed co-financing as per Combined Delivery Reports, which according to a key informant can be explained by significantly decreased core resources across the UNDP due to budget cuts arising from the global UN reform process. As per information by the NCU, until the MTR, the Government of Pakistan contributed 25% of the grant and 23% of the parallel co-financing committed during the CEO Endorsement Request. While the Federal Government and the Government of Punjab’s delivery were closer to the expectations at MTR (48% and 45% respectively), other Provincial Governments, particularly Sindh with 0% and Baluchistan with 8% delivery was negligible. Three key informants and document analysis confirmed that Government of Sindh released budget at the closing of fiscal year 2017-18, which could not be utilized and lapsed. Document analysis indicates that the parallel co-financing amounts stated in the UNDPGEF Project Document (opening page) and the PC-1 differ substantially with US$ 6,000,000 vs. US$ 2,865,000 (PKR commitments converted to US$ at 101.9 exchange rate). According to one Focus Group Discussion and four against one key informants, the flow of Federal Government funds (PSDP) is constrained by administrative hurdles of the government system, which leads delays in fund release at times until the end of the concerned utilization period. Given that funds not utilized within the concerned financial year need to be returned, this leads to a situation, in which most of the funds cannot be utilized. It is recommended that the Project explores the UNDP cost-sharing mechanism to expedite fund release, while maintaining government ownership through government official signatories for the utilization of these funds.


Tag: Natural Resouce management Efficiency Government Cost-sharing Local Governance Project and Programme management

19.

3.3.4 Project-level Monitoring and Evaluation Systems

The M&E Systems of the Project were prepared with standard UNDP-GEF components consisting of the inception report, PIRs, quarterly and APRs, an MTR and final evaluation. A separate M&E plan was not prepared by the Project. Additionally, progress towards GEF corporate results is monitored using the GEF Land Degradation Tracking Tool that was prepared at project development and immediately preceding the MTR. The M&E System is budgeted with US$ 100,000, which corresponds to 2.6% of the GEF grant. This is considerably lower than the minimum 5% target for GEF 6 projects. The M&E budget contains expenses for the inception workshop (US$ 3,000), monitoring of objective-level indicators by an external institution (US$ 10,000), annual status reports (US$ 2,000), technical reports (US$ 5,000), MTR (US$ 30,000), terminal evaluation (US$ 35,000), financial auditing (US$ 10,000), and field monitoring visits (US$ 5,000). The M&E plan listed but did not make any financial allocations towards the monitoring of outputs and implementation. The M&E is led by one Deputy Chief, Planning & Monitoring in the NCU, who is supported by one M&E Officer in the PCU Punjab. As per four key informants, the Governments of Baluchistan, KP and Sindh have not met their targets of recruiting an M&E Officer each, which poses considerable challenges for monitoring.


Tag: Efficiency Knowledge management Monitoring and Evaluation Project and Programme management Results-Based Management

20.

3.3.5 Stakeholder engagement and Partnerships

The Project Document listed stakeholders and their roles in Table 7 and a more detailed stakeholder engagement plan in Annex 2. The Project Document also defined that the stakeholder engagement plan should be finalized along with a gender mainstreaming strategy during the Project Inception Workshop, for which the MTR Team could not find any evidence. However, the Project leveraged all key partnerships most essential for project implementation.The two-tier structure of the Project at national and provincial levels defined stakeholder engagement. Frequent Steering Committee meetings at both levels provide a proof of intensive engagement of government stakeholders in the Project, which is a major strength of the Project except for Sindh Province. Here, the engagement of government stakeholders is limited to the Executing Agency PP&DD. The Project established SLM Networks in all four provinces and these platforms have proven to be very effective in engaging stakeholders, allowing networking and enabling mutual learning. National and provincial government stakeholders remain fully supportive of the project objectives and except for Sindh play a very active role in project decision-making and implementation. 


Tag: Efficiency Gender Mainstreaming National Regional Oversight Partnership Policies & Procedures Project and Programme management Awareness raising Coordination Civil Societies and NGOs

21.

3.3.6 Reporting

Three PIRs have been finalized since project start (2016, 2017, 2018) and their submission was timely. The PIRs have mainly addressed operational and organization challenges related to the frequent change of government officials and of project signatories that negatively impacted project delivery. The latest PIR 2018 assigned “moderately satisfactory” to the Development Objective Progress and “satisfactory” to Implementation Progress. The MTR Team noted that PIRs do not report quantitative achievements aggregated at the level of indicators and reported achievements refer to SLMP II achievements only and do not integrate the baseline values. Additionally, PIRs do not mention the lack of Project Steering Committees in Baluchistan and Sindh.As per PCOM requirements, the Project submits Quarterly and Annual Progress reports that report progress against the Quarterly and Annual Work Plans. In addition, the UNDP CO mandates the submission of monthly progress reports by the NCU in an effort to improve delivery. Adaptive management changes are well documented with regard to administrative matters (e.g. changes in signatories and staff turnover), but not well with shifts in project targets (e.g. with the shift of focus from land use policies to sustainable land management policies under Output 1.1). The MTR Team could not locate any documentation of the lessons learnt from adaptive management changes, particularly related to the removal of bottlenecks in project implementation.


Tag: Effectiveness Efficiency Communication Knowledge management Project and Programme management Results-Based Management

22.

3.4 Sustainability

Sustainability is considered as the likelihood of continued benefits after the GEF funding ends. Under GEF criteria each sustainability dimension is critical, i.e., the overall ranking cannot be higher than the lowest one among the four assessed risk dimensions. The likelihood that project results will be sustained after GEF funding ceases has been enhanced by the achievements of the project by midterm. The ATLAS risk logs reported in the PIRs 2017 and 2018 state organizational risks related to the high turnover in key project management positions and operational risks related to delayed disbursement of funds due to frequent change of signatories to jeopardize project sustainability. While these risks remain critical, the MTR Team suggests that the ATLAS project risk log should be updated with risks in the following UNDP risk categories: 1. socio-economic risks (1.2gender discrimination, 1.3 loss of biodiversity, 1.4 climate change, 1.5 community health and safety), 3. operational (3.1 complex design, 3.6 poor monitoring and evaluation), and 6. regulatory risks (6.2 critical policies or legislation fails to pass or progress in the legislative process).


Tag: Natural Resouce management Efficiency Sustainability Global Environment Facility fund Resource mobilization Human and Financial resources Risk Management

23.

3.4 Sustainability (continuation)

3.4.2 Socio-economic risks

The Government of Pakistan’s commitment to combating land degradation and to restore (forest) landscapes remains a clearly expressed and highly publicized priority and has received an even stronger focus after the formation of the new government, as unanimously confirmed by three interview partners. Government agencies retain strong ownership over SLMP II and its achievements and it is likely that this ownership remains sustainable. Similarly, local communities and farmers retain a very high level of interest and ownership over SLM technologies as indicated by two Focus Group Discussions and personal observation. Even though the Government’s strong commitment is positive for the sustainability, this may pose limited risks to the sustainability of SLMP II investments in general. In the past, the Government of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa implemented the Tree Tsunami Project, through which approximately over one billion seedlings were planted in the province. The new Federal Government has rolled out the same project as Plant4Pakistan in Punjab, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and Baluchistan, whereby every year two billion trees will be planted. The MTR views this action as an opportunity, as well as threat for the SLMP II. Government resources devoted to SLM may be entirely channelled towards forest landscape restoration and particularly to the new Plant4Pakistan initiative, which follows a more top-down, mission mode approach as compared to the bottom-up planning and implementation approaches propagated by the SLMP II. With the support of UNDP, the NPD and other key stakeholders, positioning the SLMP II to guide larger government initiatives represents an opportunity to ensure the socio-economic sustainability of results. Particularly the Project’s planning tools (District and Village Land Use Plans) and institutions (SLM Networks, Desertification Control Cells, CBOs) should be positioned to provide guidance to the Plant4Pakistan initiative. 


Tag: Natural Resouce management Sustainability Gender Mainstreaming National Regional Risk Management Country Government Inclusive economic growth Data and Statistics Vulnerable Women and gilrs

24.

3.4 Sustainability (continuation)

3.4.3 Institutional framework and governance risks

The federal and provincial governments fully recognize the importance of SLM and of the need to create permanent cross-sectoral institutions to coordinate SLM activities and interventions. Accordingly, the Project made good progress towards the establishment of permanent institutional frameworks and governance mechanisms for SLM. The institutions established by the Project include the Desertification Control Cells, the SLM Networks, and of the CBOs at the community level. The sustainability of these institutions is not yet fully assured, even though for at least (some of) the Desertification Control Cells it is likely that they will remain as permanent institutions after project closure. Furthermore, the Project established governance mechanisms for land use planning at the community and district levels that appear unsustainable at present. Pakistan’s UNCCD NAP explicitly states the Desertification Control Cells at federal and provincial levels as institutions coordinating the implementation of the NAP and the federal and several provincial governments have set clear actions towards the establishment of these Cells as permanent institutions. Of the five governments, two are fully on track against the milestones of their commitments, two are somewhat behind the milestones, and one has set no actions so far. Even though the various governments have met most of their commitments to recruit staff for the Desertification Control Cells, these positions are contract-based and not yet permanent positions. However, the conversion of a contract position into a permanent position is likely as opposed to the conversion of a project position into a permanent position, which is not possible. While the establishment of the Desertification Control Cells appear largely sustainable at MTR, the Cells lack clear institutional mandates and leadership. For the time being, their visibility remains limited and they appear as integral parts of the SLMP II structures. The sustainability of SLM Networks is less likely than of the Desertification Control Cells, even though the sustainability of the latter will have positive implications on the sustainability of the former. At the time of the MTR, the SLM Networks remain a project-driven agenda and no steps have been initiated to establish them as permanent platforms for knowledge sharing, networking and coordination among SLM stakeholders. The sustainability of CBOs is not ensured at the stage of the MTR. The existence of these organizations is not legally mandated, which implies that the process of Village Land Use Planning, which these institutions carry may not be sustainable either.


Tag: Natural Resouce management Sustainability Human and Financial resources Policies & Procedures Project and Programme management Risk Management Capacity Building Coordination

25.

3.4 Sustainability (continuation)

3.4.4 Environmental risks to sustainability

The Project focuses on halting and reverting land degradation by propagating SLM technologies and approaches. Until the MTR, the Project up-scaled SLM technologies to 260,000 ha of farmland, rangeland and forest land. The environmental risks of the Project are limited and include i) the use of exotic and/or invasive species, ii) excessively propagating ground water-based irrigation which may lead to a decline of ground water reserves, and iii) the use of fossil fuel engines for water lifting. The Project did not propagate the use of any invasive species but permitted the IPs the use of the exotic, but naturalized Eucalyptus camaldulensis in locations, where suitable fast-growing domestic species could not be found. In Saeedabad village, D. I. Khan, Sesbania planted by the SLMP II and Eucalyptus planted by the Tsunami Tree Project are grown side by side by the Forest Department. The close proximity of Eucalypts with high water use may have potential negative impacts on the water availability and survival of Sesbania.


Tag: Environmental impact assessment Natural Resouce management Risk Management

26.

3.2.1 Progress towards outcomes analysis (continuation from Finding 6)

Integrated Land Use Policies According to interviews with three key informants and document analysis, the Project took a two-stage approach for i). Initially, Integrated Land Use Policy Frameworks at the provincial level were developed to provide a strategic structure for developing Integrated Land Use Policies at provincial level by specifying the policy environment, the contents, which the policies target to regulate and the policy process. The frameworks were completed based on a series of stakeholder consultations. Interviews with two key informants indicated that the Project encountered challenges in pursuing the Integrated Land Use Policies and instead decided to focus on provincial Integrated Sustainable Land Management Policies (ISLMP) as a second step. These policies are to guide sustainable land management in four provinces, providing for guidance on technical and administrative measures as well as guidelines to mainstream SLM principles into sectoral policies to ensure optimal utilization of land resources. The Project supported the development of drafts for four provincial policies basedon a series of stakeholder consultations. At MTR, the policies were in stage of finalization of the drafts, with final stakeholder comments being incorporated. The Sindh provincial government lamented the shift of focus from Land Use Policies to ISLMPs and expressed concern about the thoroughness of past stakeholder consultations, which the Project is working on resolving in consultation with the concerned departments. Four key informants indicated that given the large number of existing draft policies that have not been endorsed over long periods in the past, progress towards the achievement of the end-of-project target for Indicator 5 needs to be interpreted with care.


Tag: Forestry Natural Resouce management Effectiveness Local Governance Policies & Procedures

Recommendations
1

Outcome 1: Strong enabling environment at national and provincial levels supports up-scaling of SLM practices

R1. Re-focus on provisions of provincial Integrated Land Use Policies and utilize unique opportunity to mainstream SLM into provincial sectoral policies

The provincial Integrated SLM Policies (ISLMPs) the Project works on at present miss to address the barrier of uncoordinated and uncontrolled land allocation and conversion to other land uses in their current form. The ISLMPs introduce land use planning as a separate recommendation for each land-based sector. This sectoral approach does not comply with the essence of land use planning as an integrated, cross-sectoral planning tool. Additionally, the lack of legal institutionalization of land use planning as envisaged through the provincial Integrated Land Use Policies threatens the sustainability of land use planning under Outcome 2.

It is highly recommended that the Project revisits the targets defined in the Project Document and refocuses its attention towards the above target and introduce land use planning as a binding decisionmaking mechanism that guides land conversion and allocation to the most optimal use, as also suggested by the Sindh Government.

The new federal government declared that each government department needs to revisit and draft its own policy until the end of 2018. This represents an unprecedented opportunity for the Project to promote its targets to mainstream SLM into provincial sectoral policies

It is recommended that the Project establishes linkages with all relevant land-based departments in the four provinces and proposes to support them in reviewing their sectoral policies by the end of the year as mandated by the federal government. The support should specifically focus on mainstreaming SLM principles into the most relevant sectoral policies (agriculture, forest, soil conservation, water, livestock, environment) following the recommendations of the draft provincial ISLMPs

2

Outcome 1: Strong enabling environment at national and provincial levels supports up-scaling of SLM practices

R2. Institutionalize capacity building on SLM for professionals as foreseen in the Project Document: The Project Document calls for the creation of a formal certifiable SLM in-service training program consisting of at least 15 training courses and with clear competence standards and accreditations for government professionals.  However, the Project’s capacity building efforts do not follow an institutionalized approach as part of an overall capacity building curriculum and will not be sustainable beyond the project lifetime unless urgent midcourse corrections are taken. The MoUs signed with academic and research organizations relate to an M.Sc. course, scientific inputs and the organization of awareness raising seminars, but do not institutionalize the Project’s in-service training components. The training manual provides the learning contents of the training component but does not embed learning into an institutionalized framework. It is recommended that the developed courses are combined in a formal training program and mainstreamed into the agenda of in-service training institutions of relevant line departments.

3

Outcome 2: Effective, targeted, and adaptive implementation of SLM Land Use Planning & Decision Support System

R3. District and Village Land Use Plans to include appropriate operationalization tools: At present, the land use plans developed by the Project have a very sound technical knowledge base, but lack operationalization and ownership by their implementers. The stakeholders of the planning process are not documented, clear action plans with timelines, responsibilities, required funding and its sources are missing. The by-laws of land use are not agreed upon and documented and the governance of the planning process remains unclear, including monitoring, validity and revision procedures. In order to convert the land use plans into documents effectively in the position to guide land use, the MTR Team recommends that land use plans are operationalized to comply with the above criteria

 

4

Outcome 2: Effective, targeted, and adaptive implementation of SLM Land Use Planning & Decision Support System

R4. Follow up on establishment of Decision Support System

A detailed concept note was developed for the Decision Support System, but this was not followed up by establishing the system. One of the bottlenecks is the lack of willingness by custodians of spatial data to make them available to the Project. The NCU, supported by the NPD, the NSC members and UNDP should lobby and formally request the concerned agencies at the highest level to make the data available.

5

Outcome 3: On-the-ground implementation of climate-resilient SLM activities is up-scaled across landscapes

R5. Facilitate community engagement and enable effective coordination at the community level through community facilitators: The Project’s outreach at the community level remains limited, largely as a result of wide geographic spread, very limited human resources at the level of Provincial Coordination Units and no regular presence at the district and community levels.  Project activities are essentially sub-contracted to Implementing Partners and coordination between these activities is not always ensured (e.g. land use planning carried out after the implementation of SLM activities in the field in several instances).  Sub-contracting to NGOs is not a sustainable option of social mobilization.  In particular, the CBOs require backstopping in terms of capacity building and institutional strengthening in preparation for activities of the community SLM funds. The MTR Team recommends that two community facilitators, one of whom should be female, should be hired in each District to carry out the above tasks.  Upon completion of the Project, these staff should become staff of the Desertification Control Cells

6

Project Implementation & Adaptive Management

R6. Validate and adjust project strategic results frameworks and remove inconsistencies: Consider the findings spelled out in the report and the relevant specific recommendations  to revise the Project’s strategic results framework. It is particularly recommended to verify baselines and in cases where this is not possible to use absolute indicators that do not rely on questionable baselines. Current indicators miss to monitor progress towards important components of an enabling environment that include institutional capacities for SLM. The use of an SLM capacity scorecard and of a CBO Maturity Index as additional indicators and the replacement of household income by the Poverty Scorecard are recommended. Subsequently, it is recommended that the Government of Pakistan PC-1 is revised to eliminate discrepancies between the strategic results frameworks in the UNDP-GEF Project Document and the PC-1. Additionally, the MTR recommends ensuring that the Provincial PC-1s follow the same logical hierarchy as the UNDP-GEF Project Document.  The process should also be used to revise the rates proposed for the field implementation of SLM technologies wherever necessary, particularly in Sindh and that the umbrella PC-1 and the provincial PC-1s are consistent over responsibilities of staff hire

7

R7. Finalize and strengthen management arrangements:

 

The Provincial Steering Committees of Baluchistan and Sindh did not conduct meetings until midterm. This raises important questions about how the functions of these project supervisory instruments, such the approval of annual work plans, and budgets, etc. are filled in these provinces.  Furthermore, the lack of the Steering Committee as a coordination platform between Implementing Partners likely contributes to the weak project delivery observable in these provinces and the lack of ownership of policies and plans developed by the project.  Furthermore, it may partially explain the lack of government line department engagement in project implementation in Sindh. 

Weak project management structures and on-ground delivery in certain provinces call for a more proactive engagement of the National Coordination Unit to support project implementation both at the level of the Provincial Coordination Units as well as in the field.  A more proactive engagement of the NCU is also required in terms of providing technical guidance for the implementation of activities under the provincial components of the Project.

At midterm, the Project still has not filled all positions, partially due to administrative hurdles and partially due to ambiguity over responsibilities of staff hire by UNDP or provincial funds stemming from inconsistencies of the umbrella and the provincial PC-1s.  In terms of sustainability, particularly the positions of the Desertification Control Cells are of importance. 

It is recommended that the Provincial Steering Committees are constituted and take up their roles as stipulated in the Project Document without further delay.

The MTR recommends preparing a strategy to finalize staff recruitment, including an agreement over the financial sources of staff hire and prompt completion of the hiring process.  At the same time, the MTR Team additionally recommends to re-appropriate funds to the recruitment of 2 community facilitators per district one of whom should be female (see Recommendation C.1).  Responsibilities over staff hire need to be consistently revised in the PC-1 (refer to Recommendation D.1).

It is also recommended that the Project drafts a strategic plan to strengthen management arrangements in the provinces to provide stronger NCU support to the PCUs in the removal of bottlenecks affecting project implementation as well as through technical inputs in field implementation

8

R8. Strengthen the monitoring and reporting system: 

For a decentralized project involving multiple implementation partners, it is imperative that monitoring & evaluation and reporting procedures are consistent and effectively coordinated.  The Project has considerable scope to improve its monitoring and to a lesser extent its reporting system:

  • The financial allocations to monitoring are half of the GEF rule of thumb and should be increased. 
  • Unfilled monitoring positions at the provincial level should be filled and the capacities of monitoring staff should be built.
  • The monitoring system requires a comprehensive database to track all project activities/achievements/impacts and this should be linked with a GIS database to allow spatially explicit monitoring and reporting
  • Monitoring of impact indicators through remote sensing should be followed up on where this is technically feasible (e.g. questionable visibility of young afforestation on high-resolution satellite images).
  • Monitor socio-economic, gender-specific and environmental (e.g. impacts of Eucalypt plantations and water lifting schemes on ground water tables) impact indicators
  • Introduce participatory monitoring engaging target communities
  • Monitor Output level (process) indicators as stated in the Project Document (Table 9)

Project data and documents are not readily available at the NCU (particularly those related to the provincial levels) and therefore it is recommended to establish a central online depository and file sharing platform to enable transparent sharing of information between project stakeholders

9

R9. Improve risk management: 

Adhere to the provisions of the Project Document, follow the results of the Environmental and Social Screening and consider the findings of the MTR by updating the risk log with the following UNDP risk categories:

  1. Social and environmental risks: particularly 1.2 Gender discrimination, 1.3 Loss of biodiversity and unsustainable use of natural resources, 1.4 Climate change, 1.5 Community health and safety,
  2. Operational risks: particularly 3.1 complex design, 3.6 poor monitoring and evaluation, and

Regulatory risks: particularly 6.2 critical policies or legislation fails to pass or progress in the legislative process

10

R10. Streamline financial procedures

Project delivery lags behind largely due to administrative hurdles of getting funds released on time, particularly for season-bound activities such as tree planting.

  • It is recommended that project stakeholder consider applying the UNDP cost sharing approach for the government co-financing, i.e. that PSDP and ADP funds are routed through UNDP channels to the concerned provinces.  Government ownership needs to be retained by maintaining the NPD/PPDs as signatories for funds routed through UNDP.
  • Additionally, alternate government signatories should be included for financial disbursement in all provinces and at federal level to ensure that the absence of signatories does not hamper project implementation.

At present the Federal and Provincial Governments charge income tax and GST on the co-financing contributed by them, effectively reducing the amount of co-financing by 50%.  This in-transparent reduction of the co-financing contribution should be discontinued

11

R11. Strategize communication and follow up on key provision of knowledge management: 

Project communication does not follow a clearly operationalized communication plan.  In order to increase the visibility of the Project, to position the Project as a guidance to the Plant4Pakistan initiative (see Recommendation E.3) and to attract further funding, the communication strategy should be updated.  The strategy should focus on changes in the stakeholder landscape, identify target groups of communication, the communication mix appropriate for each target group, the periodicity of communication, clear time frames, responsibilities and resource requirements.  The communication plan should be clearly linked to monitoring milestones and monitored by the concerned project unit.  Besides, the visibility of the Project in the field should be increased by erecting signboards at all the locations, in which activities were funded by the Project.  This will also be instrumental in distinguishing the Project’s activities from those of the previous projects and Tree Tsunami Project in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and of the up-coming Plant4Pakistan initiative.

Furthermore, it is recommended that the SLM Information System is put in place.  The Project Document stipulates the SLM Information System to consist of i) detailed information on the Project ii) an online depository of SLM related information on Pakistan, and iii) of a web-GIS interface that presents available spatial information on land degradation and SLM in Pakistan and related to the Project.  So far, the Project partially achieved the first and second elements and has not achieved the third element.  It is recommended that the project website should be updated to include a web-GIS interface on land degradation and SLM

12

R12. Update stakeholder engagement plan

The Project Document mandates the development of a stakeholder engagement plan, which was not followed up on. It is advisable to build upon the lessons learned during the first half of the project and develop an updated stakeholder engagement plan. The PMU should coordinate this, ensuring effective engagement and collaboration with key enabling stakeholders and with existing initiatives (e.g. Plant4Pakistan initiative).  Focus should be given on the engagement of government stakeholders in Sindh, and on NGO engagement in other provinces.  Stakeholder engagement should also focus on establishing linkages with public or private, domestic, bi- or multi-lateral donors that could potentially provide continued financing to the Project.  Thereby the Project should aim to mobilize funds, tap into Corporate Social Responsibility funds from the corporate sector, especially targeting the oil and gas companies in Sanghar and coal mining companies in Nagarparkar.

13

R13. Focus on institutionalization of governance mechanisms and on sustainability of institutions introduced by the Project

The Project introduced institutions including i) Desertification Control Cells at the national and provincial levels, ii) SLM Networks at the provincial level, and iii) CBOs at the village level.  At the same time, governance systems, incl. i) land use planning at the district and ii) the village level were introduced.  Of these, only the Desertification Control Cells are likely going to be sustainable, unless the Project initiates actions to institutionalize the others.

RSLM Networks should be established as a permanent platform with clear mandate and regular government funding and placed under the coordination of the Desertification Control Cells with an objective to advocate solutions for land degradation and desertification.  CBOs at the village level have to be formally registered and their capacity built and strengthened.  The formation of CBO platforms at the district level is recommended to facilitate exchange among the CBOs and to provide for more effective representation of their interests.  Governance of land use planning needs to be legally institutionalized through the Integrated Land Use Policies approved by the concerned provincial cabinets (see Recommendation A.1)

14

R14. Mainstream gender and social equity into project implementation

The Project efforts to mainstream gender are not fully satisfactory.  Additionally, the Project should focus more strongly on promoting disadvantaged groups and relatively less developed districts.

  • The Project should adhere to the provisions of the Project Document and the recommendations of several PIRs to develop a gender strategy.
  • Similarly, gender specific indicators should be collected in the course of monitoring.
  • The MTR Team recommends that the design of the SLM funds should contain special provisions to reserve certain proportion of the funds or to provide other advantages for females. 

Disadvantaged groups should be paid special attention to when deciding on the beneficiaries of project activities

15

R15. Present SLMP II as guidance to the implementation of the government’s Plant4Pakistan initiative

The SLMP II, in particular i) its land use planning components at the district and village levels, ii) the institutions it established (CBOs, Desertification Control Cells, SLM Networks), and iii) best practices of on-the-ground forest landscape restoration should be positioned to provide guidance to the Plant4Pakistan initiative.  The Plant4Pakistan initiative follows a strong top-down approach and therefore the SLMP II can promote its sustainability by contributing holistic planning, bottom up governance and institutionalized expert advice to the large government initiative.  UNDP should present the SLMP II accordingly as part of its project portfolio to the Government, and the NPD as the main coordinator of the Plant4Pakistan Initiative may consider this recommendation.

16

R16. Agree upon dates of terminal evaluation and of project closing

The official start date of the project is May 5th, 2015, the date when the MoCC and UNDP signed the project document. This document indicates March 31st, 2020 as the closing date implying a 5-year project period. There are, however, some conflicting indications of the closing date. For instance, the PIR 2018 reports April 20th, 2020 as the closing date, whereas other sources state August 2020, based on a 60-month period from the time of hiring the NPC. While the project inception workshop was held in September 2015, recruitment of most project staff and the implementation of activities effectively started from the financial year 2016/17 (July 1st 2016). Given the late start and delays in progress due to administrative and operative hurdles, the MTR Team considers that a 60-month period starting from July 1st, 2016 would be a reasonable project duration. This would put the project closure to June 30th, 2021. Accordingly, the MTR Team recommends the terminal evaluation to be conducted in November/December 2020. 

1. Recommendation:

Outcome 1: Strong enabling environment at national and provincial levels supports up-scaling of SLM practices

R1. Re-focus on provisions of provincial Integrated Land Use Policies and utilize unique opportunity to mainstream SLM into provincial sectoral policies

The provincial Integrated SLM Policies (ISLMPs) the Project works on at present miss to address the barrier of uncoordinated and uncontrolled land allocation and conversion to other land uses in their current form. The ISLMPs introduce land use planning as a separate recommendation for each land-based sector. This sectoral approach does not comply with the essence of land use planning as an integrated, cross-sectoral planning tool. Additionally, the lack of legal institutionalization of land use planning as envisaged through the provincial Integrated Land Use Policies threatens the sustainability of land use planning under Outcome 2.

It is highly recommended that the Project revisits the targets defined in the Project Document and refocuses its attention towards the above target and introduce land use planning as a binding decisionmaking mechanism that guides land conversion and allocation to the most optimal use, as also suggested by the Sindh Government.

The new federal government declared that each government department needs to revisit and draft its own policy until the end of 2018. This represents an unprecedented opportunity for the Project to promote its targets to mainstream SLM into provincial sectoral policies

It is recommended that the Project establishes linkages with all relevant land-based departments in the four provinces and proposes to support them in reviewing their sectoral policies by the end of the year as mandated by the federal government. The support should specifically focus on mainstreaming SLM principles into the most relevant sectoral policies (agriculture, forest, soil conservation, water, livestock, environment) following the recommendations of the draft provincial ISLMPs

Management Response: [Added: 2018/12/27] [Last Updated: 2021/02/07]

UNDP and NCU agree to this recommendation and will coordinate with Project Board and Provincial Planning and Developments to develop ISLM policies acceptable to the Provincial Governments.

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
NCU to engage Policy, and Land Use and Implementation Experts to revise the provincial sectoral policies accordingly for approval by the Provincial Governments.
[Added: 2018/12/27] [Last Updated: 2019/09/25]
NCU, Environment & Climate Change Unit 2019/08 Completed Policy, and Land Use and Implementation Experts to revise the provincial sectoral policies have been engaged by the NCU History
NCU to launch robust advocacy campaigns to get ISLM policies approved and implemented.
[Added: 2018/12/27] [Last Updated: 2019/09/30]
National Project Coordinator, Provincial Project Coordinators, Project Policy and Communication Officer 2019/09 Completed NCU has launch robust advocacy campaigns to get ISLM policies approved. History
The Ministry of Climate Change to endorse revised policies and ensure alignment with the policies of Federal and Provincial Governments and facilitate approval process
[Added: 2018/12/27] [Last Updated: 2019/07/21]
Ministry of Climate Change, National Project Coordinator, Environment & Climate Change Unit 2019/06 Completed The integrated sustainable land management policies (ISLMP) prepared for the provinces are already catering for the alignment of sectoral policies (of federal and provincial governments). The Ministry of Climate Change has endorsed these ISLM policies. History
2. Recommendation:

Outcome 1: Strong enabling environment at national and provincial levels supports up-scaling of SLM practices

R2. Institutionalize capacity building on SLM for professionals as foreseen in the Project Document: The Project Document calls for the creation of a formal certifiable SLM in-service training program consisting of at least 15 training courses and with clear competence standards and accreditations for government professionals.  However, the Project’s capacity building efforts do not follow an institutionalized approach as part of an overall capacity building curriculum and will not be sustainable beyond the project lifetime unless urgent midcourse corrections are taken. The MoUs signed with academic and research organizations relate to an M.Sc. course, scientific inputs and the organization of awareness raising seminars, but do not institutionalize the Project’s in-service training components. The training manual provides the learning contents of the training component but does not embed learning into an institutionalized framework. It is recommended that the developed courses are combined in a formal training program and mainstreamed into the agenda of in-service training institutions of relevant line departments.

Management Response: [Added: 2018/12/27] [Last Updated: 2021/02/07]

Agree with the Recommendation to institutionalize capacity building on SLM for professionals as foreseen in the Project Document

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
Develop short-courses for the Agricultural Extension Departments and Pakistan Forest Institute
[Added: 2018/12/27] [Last Updated: 2019/07/21]
National Project Coordinator & Provincial Project Coordinators 2019/06 Completed The field-based training manual/course on "Dry Ecosystem in Pakistan" has been developed, shared with the Agriculture Extension departments and Forest Institute. The training manual/course is under implementation. History
Develop a course on SLM for inclusion in B.Sc. Agriculture Programme with universities
[Added: 2018/12/27] [Last Updated: 2019/07/21]
National Project Coordinator & Provincial Project Coordinators 2019/06 Completed The course on SLM has been developed in collaboration with Pir Mehr Ali Shah Arid Agriculture University, Rawalpindi, Pakistan for inclusion in the B.Sc. Agriculture program. History
Develop a course on SLM for the Civil Service Academy
[Added: 2018/12/27] [Last Updated: 2019/12/23]
National Project Coordinator & Provincial Project Coordinators 2019/12 Completed The relevant courses have already been developed for Agriculture Extension departments, Pakistan Forest Institute and B.Sc. Agriculture program. The courses have been customized and shared with Civil Services Academy. History
3. Recommendation:

Outcome 2: Effective, targeted, and adaptive implementation of SLM Land Use Planning & Decision Support System

R3. District and Village Land Use Plans to include appropriate operationalization tools: At present, the land use plans developed by the Project have a very sound technical knowledge base, but lack operationalization and ownership by their implementers. The stakeholders of the planning process are not documented, clear action plans with timelines, responsibilities, required funding and its sources are missing. The by-laws of land use are not agreed upon and documented and the governance of the planning process remains unclear, including monitoring, validity and revision procedures. In order to convert the land use plans into documents effectively in the position to guide land use, the MTR Team recommends that land use plans are operationalized to comply with the above criteria

 

Management Response: [Added: 2018/12/27] [Last Updated: 2021/02/07]

Management agrees to include appropriate operationalization tools while developing District and Village Land Use Plans

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
GIS Specialist to revise the existing land use plans and indicate various uses of land, for example, area for urban centers, agriculture, forests, etc. Further, the operationalization of strategy/tools for implementation should be clearly elaborated in the plans.
[Added: 2018/12/27] [Last Updated: 2019/07/22]
National Project Coordinator/GIS Specialist/Land Use & Implementation Expert 2019/06 Completed The Land Use Plans (LUP) developed at the district and village levels, clearly differentiate among various land uses (area for urban centres, agriculture, forests, etc.). The planned targets are already part of these LUPs. History
The District Land Use Plans be made in full consultation with the District Governments and arrangements be made for the use of Decision Support System by the District Governments
[Added: 2018/12/27] [Last Updated: 2019/05/21]
National Project Coordinator/GIS Specialist/Provincial Project Coordinators 2019/03 Completed The key stakeholders were represented by the involvement of district governments in developing the District Land Use Plans. Village Land Use Plans are community-based participatory plans and inputs of the concerned communities were taken through community representatives and local Community-Based Organisations. These plans are being operationalised by Provincial Coordination Units in line with the evaluation recommendations and National Coordination Unit is supporting the process. History
Land Use and Implementation Expert and PPCs to develop participatory Village Development Plans for all the villages in programme districts.
[Added: 2018/12/27] [Last Updated: 2021/01/31]
Land Use & Implementation Expert/Provincial Project Coordinators 2021/01 No Longer Applicable [Justification: SInce, the project has been operationally closed by 31 Dec 2020, so status of this action will be checked under Terminal Evaluation.]
History
4. Recommendation:

Outcome 2: Effective, targeted, and adaptive implementation of SLM Land Use Planning & Decision Support System

R4. Follow up on establishment of Decision Support System

A detailed concept note was developed for the Decision Support System, but this was not followed up by establishing the system. One of the bottlenecks is the lack of willingness by custodians of spatial data to make them available to the Project. The NCU, supported by the NPD, the NSC members and UNDP should lobby and formally request the concerned agencies at the highest level to make the data available.

Management Response: [Added: 2018/12/27] [Last Updated: 2021/02/07]

Agreed, a pending activity yet to be completed under the AWP 2018/2019

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
Speed up development of Decision Support System
[Added: 2018/12/27] [Last Updated: 2019/09/30]
NCU 2019/09 Completed The meeting was held with UNDP on the subject wherein it was decided that since the project is due for its closure in 2020, the merits/ demerit of this particular activity will be analyzed during the development of new project cycle. History
5. Recommendation:

Outcome 3: On-the-ground implementation of climate-resilient SLM activities is up-scaled across landscapes

R5. Facilitate community engagement and enable effective coordination at the community level through community facilitators: The Project’s outreach at the community level remains limited, largely as a result of wide geographic spread, very limited human resources at the level of Provincial Coordination Units and no regular presence at the district and community levels.  Project activities are essentially sub-contracted to Implementing Partners and coordination between these activities is not always ensured (e.g. land use planning carried out after the implementation of SLM activities in the field in several instances).  Sub-contracting to NGOs is not a sustainable option of social mobilization.  In particular, the CBOs require backstopping in terms of capacity building and institutional strengthening in preparation for activities of the community SLM funds. The MTR Team recommends that two community facilitators, one of whom should be female, should be hired in each District to carry out the above tasks.  Upon completion of the Project, these staff should become staff of the Desertification Control Cells

Management Response: [Added: 2018/12/27] [Last Updated: 2021/02/07]

Management agrees to facilitate community engagement and enable effective coordination at the community level through community facilitators

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
The sub-contracting be done to the extent where the relevant expert is not available in the project team, otherwise it should be completely avoided
[Added: 2018/12/27] [Last Updated: 2019/05/21]
National Project Coordinator/Provincial Project Coordinators/Experts 2019/03 Completed The recommendation is well noted and is already being practiced. History
Hiring of Community Facilitators for placement in districts
[Added: 2018/12/27] [Last Updated: 2019/09/30]
National Project Coordinator/Provincial Project Coordinators 2019/09 Completed Community facilitators were hired in the due course and placed in districts History
6. Recommendation:

Project Implementation & Adaptive Management

R6. Validate and adjust project strategic results frameworks and remove inconsistencies: Consider the findings spelled out in the report and the relevant specific recommendations  to revise the Project’s strategic results framework. It is particularly recommended to verify baselines and in cases where this is not possible to use absolute indicators that do not rely on questionable baselines. Current indicators miss to monitor progress towards important components of an enabling environment that include institutional capacities for SLM. The use of an SLM capacity scorecard and of a CBO Maturity Index as additional indicators and the replacement of household income by the Poverty Scorecard are recommended. Subsequently, it is recommended that the Government of Pakistan PC-1 is revised to eliminate discrepancies between the strategic results frameworks in the UNDP-GEF Project Document and the PC-1. Additionally, the MTR recommends ensuring that the Provincial PC-1s follow the same logical hierarchy as the UNDP-GEF Project Document.  The process should also be used to revise the rates proposed for the field implementation of SLM technologies wherever necessary, particularly in Sindh and that the umbrella PC-1 and the provincial PC-1s are consistent over responsibilities of staff hire

Management Response: [Added: 2018/12/27] [Last Updated: 2021/02/07]

The recommendation is valid and there are discrepancies among the PC-1 and Project Document, which should have been aligned before. However, at this stage, where the project is quite close towards its Terminal Evaluation, following the specific recommendation of MTR team will further slowdown the project implementation as the PC-1 revision itself is a time-taking process. The CO instead would recommend NCU to find a balance between the two documents in joint consultation with the relevant provincial entities and UNDP Pakistan

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
Programme Team to review the baseline and end of project targets for various indicators and come up with realistic number for achievement by the close of the project. The targets should also be mentioned in absolute numbers, including the new indicators proposed by MTR
[Added: 2018/12/27] [Last Updated: 2019/09/30]
National Project Coordinator/Provincial Project Coordinators/Experts UNDP Environment and Climate Change Unit GEF Regional Technical Advisor 2019/09 Completed The SLMP continued its second phase since 2015, the project couldn't revise its target during the last year of its project execution, i.e. 2019. However, it will be ensured that new project cycle will have clear indicator baselines as well as end of project year target. History
Programme Team to follow the same hierarchy of results framework as for the umbrella PC-1/ProDoc. Once the baseline are set and new indicators are included, the revised PRF has to be endorsed by the RTA and the submit to RTA to facilitate approval from UNDP-GEF Directorate. However, major downscaling of targets be avoided
[Added: 2018/12/27] [Last Updated: 2019/09/30]
National Project Coordinator/Provincial Project Coordinators/Experts 2019/09 Completed No new revised project results framework was developed given this is the last year of project execution. however, it will be ensured that if there is a new project cycle, MTR recommendations will be considered during development of the new project results framework. History
7. Recommendation:

R7. Finalize and strengthen management arrangements:

 

The Provincial Steering Committees of Baluchistan and Sindh did not conduct meetings until midterm. This raises important questions about how the functions of these project supervisory instruments, such the approval of annual work plans, and budgets, etc. are filled in these provinces.  Furthermore, the lack of the Steering Committee as a coordination platform between Implementing Partners likely contributes to the weak project delivery observable in these provinces and the lack of ownership of policies and plans developed by the project.  Furthermore, it may partially explain the lack of government line department engagement in project implementation in Sindh. 

Weak project management structures and on-ground delivery in certain provinces call for a more proactive engagement of the National Coordination Unit to support project implementation both at the level of the Provincial Coordination Units as well as in the field.  A more proactive engagement of the NCU is also required in terms of providing technical guidance for the implementation of activities under the provincial components of the Project.

At midterm, the Project still has not filled all positions, partially due to administrative hurdles and partially due to ambiguity over responsibilities of staff hire by UNDP or provincial funds stemming from inconsistencies of the umbrella and the provincial PC-1s.  In terms of sustainability, particularly the positions of the Desertification Control Cells are of importance. 

It is recommended that the Provincial Steering Committees are constituted and take up their roles as stipulated in the Project Document without further delay.

The MTR recommends preparing a strategy to finalize staff recruitment, including an agreement over the financial sources of staff hire and prompt completion of the hiring process.  At the same time, the MTR Team additionally recommends to re-appropriate funds to the recruitment of 2 community facilitators per district one of whom should be female (see Recommendation C.1).  Responsibilities over staff hire need to be consistently revised in the PC-1 (refer to Recommendation D.1).

It is also recommended that the Project drafts a strategic plan to strengthen management arrangements in the provinces to provide stronger NCU support to the PCUs in the removal of bottlenecks affecting project implementation as well as through technical inputs in field implementation

Management Response: [Added: 2018/12/27] [Last Updated: 2021/02/07]

Management agrees with the recommendation

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
Constitute Provincial Steering Committees and organise its meetings as mentioned in the ProDoc to seek approval of work plans, expenditures, and for coordination to implement activities and to create ownership of the project
[Added: 2018/12/27] [Last Updated: 2019/05/21]
Ministry of Climate Change, National Project Coordinator, Provincial Project Coordinators 2019/03 Completed The SLMP II project's requisite committees/forums already exist in the provinces and meet as and when required. Public Development Working Party (PDWP) serves as the project board History
Develop a mechanism to provide a proactive support by NCU to the PPCs to expedite implementation as well as provide technical support where deemed necessary
[Added: 2018/12/27] [Last Updated: 2019/05/21]
National Project Coordinator, Provincial Project Coordinators 2019/03 Completed Mechanism has been in place since program's Phase-II inception, NCU thereby providing technical support for all activities and documentation History
Re-appropriate funds to recruit two community facilitators per district [one of whom should be female] so that the communities are provided adequate support
[Added: 2018/12/27] [Last Updated: 2019/07/22]
National Project Coordinator, Provincial Project Coordinators, Economic Affairs Division, UNDP Environment & Climate Change Unit 2019/06 No Longer Applicable [Justification: Community facilitation is already done by the provincial entities like CBO directorate in KP and PRSP in Punjab. Similarly, Sindh and Balochistan are following the same model. At this stage, project document and available resources don’t allow to hire these new positions.]
History
8. Recommendation:

R8. Strengthen the monitoring and reporting system: 

For a decentralized project involving multiple implementation partners, it is imperative that monitoring & evaluation and reporting procedures are consistent and effectively coordinated.  The Project has considerable scope to improve its monitoring and to a lesser extent its reporting system:

  • The financial allocations to monitoring are half of the GEF rule of thumb and should be increased. 
  • Unfilled monitoring positions at the provincial level should be filled and the capacities of monitoring staff should be built.
  • The monitoring system requires a comprehensive database to track all project activities/achievements/impacts and this should be linked with a GIS database to allow spatially explicit monitoring and reporting
  • Monitoring of impact indicators through remote sensing should be followed up on where this is technically feasible (e.g. questionable visibility of young afforestation on high-resolution satellite images).
  • Monitor socio-economic, gender-specific and environmental (e.g. impacts of Eucalypt plantations and water lifting schemes on ground water tables) impact indicators
  • Introduce participatory monitoring engaging target communities
  • Monitor Output level (process) indicators as stated in the Project Document (Table 9)

Project data and documents are not readily available at the NCU (particularly those related to the provincial levels) and therefore it is recommended to establish a central online depository and file sharing platform to enable transparent sharing of information between project stakeholders

Management Response: [Added: 2018/12/27] [Last Updated: 2021/02/07]

Management agrees with the recommendation

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
Recruit M&E Officers in provinces and build their capacities to monitor activities as per the Results Framework
[Added: 2018/12/27] [Last Updated: 2019/09/30]
NPC to coordinate with UNDP as well as relevant provincial and federal entities 2019/09 Completed Since the recruitment of separate M&E officers is not possible in the limited budget and the fact that the project is coming to an end soon, the existing M&E officer was mandated to speed up monitoring of project activities as per AWP 2019. History
Develop a robust M&E system; defining of methodologies for the collection of ProDoc indicators and data collection as per frequency of data collection given in the ProDoc
[Added: 2018/12/27] [Last Updated: 2019/05/21]
NPC/M&E Officer/PPCs/Experts/UNDP Environment & Climate Change Unit 2019/03 Completed A comprehensive M & E system is in place, which included QPRs as per UNDP requirements. However, for more detailed data collection and reporting, further steps have been introduced and collected data is being reported through the recently introduced monitoring dashboard at the MoCC level History
Record data on indicators following RS/GIS and maintain a database for verification
[Added: 2018/12/27] [Last Updated: 2019/09/30]
GIS/RS Specialist & M&E Officers 2019/12 Completed The relevant data on indicators is being maintained for verification. History
Record gender dis-aggregated data, especially on socio-economic indicators, CBO Maturity Index and beneficiaries
[Added: 2018/12/27] [Last Updated: 2019/07/22]
M&E Experts 2019/06 Completed The project has already institutionalised the collection and reporting of gender dis-aggregated data related to its partner CBOs, beneficiaries and the relevant socio-economic indicators. History
Regularly monitor the environmental effects, such as ground-water levels in mega- plantations and those close to eucalyptus or conocarpus plantations of tree tsunami project
[Added: 2018/12/27] [Last Updated: 2019/07/22]
M&E Experts 2019/06 Completed The project officials both at federal and provincial level are sensitive to the environmental effects of project activities or by the partner organisations in target districts. Regular monitoring is done by the project in this regard. History
Introduce participatory monitoring system engaging target communities
[Added: 2018/12/27] [Last Updated: 2019/07/22]
M&E Experts 2019/06 Completed The activities implemented in partnership with the communities are documented both by the Implementing Partners as well as the concerned community organisations; having an intrinsic monitoring system at the community level. History
Develop a central online platform to share all the project documents, such as data, reports, plans, policies, meeting minutes, etc
[Added: 2018/12/27] [Last Updated: 2019/05/21]
NPC/PPCs/IT/ Comm Officer 2019/03 Completed Central online platform is in place in form of programme website and is being revamped presently to make it more effective History
9. Recommendation:

R9. Improve risk management: 

Adhere to the provisions of the Project Document, follow the results of the Environmental and Social Screening and consider the findings of the MTR by updating the risk log with the following UNDP risk categories:

  1. Social and environmental risks: particularly 1.2 Gender discrimination, 1.3 Loss of biodiversity and unsustainable use of natural resources, 1.4 Climate change, 1.5 Community health and safety,
  2. Operational risks: particularly 3.1 complex design, 3.6 poor monitoring and evaluation, and

Regulatory risks: particularly 6.2 critical policies or legislation fails to pass or progress in the legislative process

Management Response: [Added: 2018/12/27] [Last Updated: 2021/02/07]

Management agrees with the recommendation

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
Update the risk log as per UNDP risk categories [social and environmental risks, operational risks, and regulatory risks]
[Added: 2018/12/27] [Last Updated: 2019/05/22]
NCU and UNDP 2019/03 Completed The risk log is updated and NCU provides inputs to UNDP as and when required related to the risk log History
10. Recommendation:

R10. Streamline financial procedures

Project delivery lags behind largely due to administrative hurdles of getting funds released on time, particularly for season-bound activities such as tree planting.

  • It is recommended that project stakeholder consider applying the UNDP cost sharing approach for the government co-financing, i.e. that PSDP and ADP funds are routed through UNDP channels to the concerned provinces.  Government ownership needs to be retained by maintaining the NPD/PPDs as signatories for funds routed through UNDP.
  • Additionally, alternate government signatories should be included for financial disbursement in all provinces and at federal level to ensure that the absence of signatories does not hamper project implementation.

At present the Federal and Provincial Governments charge income tax and GST on the co-financing contributed by them, effectively reducing the amount of co-financing by 50%.  This in-transparent reduction of the co-financing contribution should be discontinued

Management Response: [Added: 2018/12/27] [Last Updated: 2021/02/07]

The CO agrees with the fact mentioned above. This will be brought into the notice of the project board for discussion

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
Point to be included for discussion at Project Board/ PSC meeting
[Added: 2018/12/27] [Last Updated: 2019/09/30]
NCU, UNDP CO 2019/09 Completed After discussions with the government, the suggested recommendation was not found applicable due to separate systems of the government and UNDP for funds release/ disbursement. Since the PSC has not happened, UNDP has sent a letter to the Secretary Ministry of Climate Change (IP) requesting to speed up the delivery rate. History
11. Recommendation:

R11. Strategize communication and follow up on key provision of knowledge management: 

Project communication does not follow a clearly operationalized communication plan.  In order to increase the visibility of the Project, to position the Project as a guidance to the Plant4Pakistan initiative (see Recommendation E.3) and to attract further funding, the communication strategy should be updated.  The strategy should focus on changes in the stakeholder landscape, identify target groups of communication, the communication mix appropriate for each target group, the periodicity of communication, clear time frames, responsibilities and resource requirements.  The communication plan should be clearly linked to monitoring milestones and monitored by the concerned project unit.  Besides, the visibility of the Project in the field should be increased by erecting signboards at all the locations, in which activities were funded by the Project.  This will also be instrumental in distinguishing the Project’s activities from those of the previous projects and Tree Tsunami Project in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and of the up-coming Plant4Pakistan initiative.

Furthermore, it is recommended that the SLM Information System is put in place.  The Project Document stipulates the SLM Information System to consist of i) detailed information on the Project ii) an online depository of SLM related information on Pakistan, and iii) of a web-GIS interface that presents available spatial information on land degradation and SLM in Pakistan and related to the Project.  So far, the Project partially achieved the first and second elements and has not achieved the third element.  It is recommended that the project website should be updated to include a web-GIS interface on land degradation and SLM

Management Response: [Added: 2018/12/27] [Last Updated: 2021/02/07]

Partially agree with the MTR team’s recommendation that the project should proactively be engaged with stakeholders and increase its visibility. However SLMP has already developed its communication strategy during the course of its implementation. The CO instead would advise NCU to effectively implement the already devised strategy.

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
Initiate effective implementation of the project’s communication strategy in light of ‘Plant4Pakistan’ initiative of the Govt. which should be included in AWP 2019 and be regularly monitored
[Added: 2018/12/27] [Last Updated: 2019/05/21]
NPC/Communication Officer 2019/03 Completed Appropriate collective interventions already being explored with ‘Plant4Pakistan’ initiative of the Govt. and other such projects in light of the SLMP Communications Strategy History
Installing signboards in the field to enhance programme visibility to make the programme activities distinct from the SLMP-I, Tree Tsunami and Plant4Pakistan projects
[Added: 2018/12/27] [Last Updated: 2019/09/30]
PPCs/ Communication Officer 2019/09 Completed The recommended sign boards have been installed for enhanced visibility of the project. History
12. Recommendation:

R12. Update stakeholder engagement plan

The Project Document mandates the development of a stakeholder engagement plan, which was not followed up on. It is advisable to build upon the lessons learned during the first half of the project and develop an updated stakeholder engagement plan. The PMU should coordinate this, ensuring effective engagement and collaboration with key enabling stakeholders and with existing initiatives (e.g. Plant4Pakistan initiative).  Focus should be given on the engagement of government stakeholders in Sindh, and on NGO engagement in other provinces.  Stakeholder engagement should also focus on establishing linkages with public or private, domestic, bi- or multi-lateral donors that could potentially provide continued financing to the Project.  Thereby the Project should aim to mobilize funds, tap into Corporate Social Responsibility funds from the corporate sector, especially targeting the oil and gas companies in Sanghar and coal mining companies in Nagarparkar.

Management Response: [Added: 2018/12/27] [Last Updated: 2021/02/07]

Agree with the first half of the recommendation: SLMP to develop stakeholders engagement plan whereas resource/funds mobilization from oil and gas companies is out of the scope of the projects—hence to be omitted from herein

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
The programme will review the existing stakeholder engagement plan to identify where the linkages need improvement and its expansion to include new partners/donors (for funding) as recommended by the MTR, particularly in Pakistan, Plan4Pakistan project, NGOs, multi-bi-lateral donors and corporate sector
[Added: 2018/12/27] [Last Updated: 2019/09/30]
NPC/PPCs/Experts/UNDP CO 2019/09 Completed The SLMP stakeholder engagement plan has been updated as recommended by MTR. History
13. Recommendation:

R13. Focus on institutionalization of governance mechanisms and on sustainability of institutions introduced by the Project

The Project introduced institutions including i) Desertification Control Cells at the national and provincial levels, ii) SLM Networks at the provincial level, and iii) CBOs at the village level.  At the same time, governance systems, incl. i) land use planning at the district and ii) the village level were introduced.  Of these, only the Desertification Control Cells are likely going to be sustainable, unless the Project initiates actions to institutionalize the others.

RSLM Networks should be established as a permanent platform with clear mandate and regular government funding and placed under the coordination of the Desertification Control Cells with an objective to advocate solutions for land degradation and desertification.  CBOs at the village level have to be formally registered and their capacity built and strengthened.  The formation of CBO platforms at the district level is recommended to facilitate exchange among the CBOs and to provide for more effective representation of their interests.  Governance of land use planning needs to be legally institutionalized through the Integrated Land Use Policies approved by the concerned provincial cabinets (see Recommendation A.1)

Management Response: [Added: 2018/12/27] [Last Updated: 2021/02/07]

This is subject to funding allocation by provincial governments in ADP however, the following actions are advised

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
Establish SLM Network as permanent platform with clear mandate and regular government funding and build their capacity
[Added: 2018/12/27] [Last Updated: 2019/09/30]
NPC/PPCs 2019/09 Completed Approval of ISLM policies is in process at the provincial level and NCU is providing all required technical support. The SLM Networks will continue depending on the government position and capacity for future funding. History
Efforts be made to strengthen CBOs and get these registered with the government to carry on activities after GEF financing
[Added: 2018/12/27] [Last Updated: 2019/12/23]
Ministry of Climate Change, NPC/PPCs 2019/12 Completed The needful has been done, i.e. CBOs strengthened and registered with the pertinent government authorities to continue activities after GEF financing is exhausted History
Make consistent efforts to get the Land Use Planning Policies approved by the concerned provincial governments and follow up for their institutionalisation and implementation
[Added: 2018/12/27] [Last Updated: 2019/12/23]
NPC/PPCs//NPD, UNDP Environment & Climate Change Unit 2019/12 Completed UNDP continued its efforts to get the Land Use Planning Policies approved by the concerned provincial governments. Several consultation sessions were held and relevant departments were sensitized however given the mandate to approve the policy is with the provincial governments and not UNDP, this action stands completed. UNDP will keep the follow-up to ensure provincial governments approve the policies but cannot guarantee success in its efforts. History
14. Recommendation:

R14. Mainstream gender and social equity into project implementation

The Project efforts to mainstream gender are not fully satisfactory.  Additionally, the Project should focus more strongly on promoting disadvantaged groups and relatively less developed districts.

  • The Project should adhere to the provisions of the Project Document and the recommendations of several PIRs to develop a gender strategy.
  • Similarly, gender specific indicators should be collected in the course of monitoring.
  • The MTR Team recommends that the design of the SLM funds should contain special provisions to reserve certain proportion of the funds or to provide other advantages for females. 

Disadvantaged groups should be paid special attention to when deciding on the beneficiaries of project activities

Management Response: [Added: 2018/12/27] [Last Updated: 2021/02/07]

Agree with the fact that adherence to gender strategy is weak and was indicated in the PIR, which the project needs to take up immediately. Following key actions are suggested.

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
Develop gender mainstreaming strategy
[Added: 2018/12/27] [Last Updated: 2019/05/21]
NPC/PPCs 2019/03 Completed A comprehensive Gender analysis of the programme has been completed which includes a gender mainstreaming strategy with recommendations that are being incorporated in the program nomenclature History
Gender specific indicators data should be collected in the course of monitoring and the reports should be based on gender dis-aggregated data
[Added: 2018/12/27] [Last Updated: 2019/07/22]
M&E Officers/NPC/PPCs 2019/06 Completed The project has already institutionalised the collection and reporting of gender dis-aggregated data related to its partner CBOs, beneficiaries and the relevant socio-economic indicators. History
The design of SLM funds should strongly consider giving advantages/opportunities to females and disadvantaged groups, therefore, criteria for selection of communities and beneficiaries be revised
[Added: 2018/12/27] [Last Updated: 2019/09/30]
NPC/PPCs 2019/09 Completed The program already follows a minimum of 20 percent female representation. Further, SLM Funds criteria / TORs reflect inclusion of the disadvantaged groups along with female and youth. History
15. Recommendation:

R15. Present SLMP II as guidance to the implementation of the government’s Plant4Pakistan initiative

The SLMP II, in particular i) its land use planning components at the district and village levels, ii) the institutions it established (CBOs, Desertification Control Cells, SLM Networks), and iii) best practices of on-the-ground forest landscape restoration should be positioned to provide guidance to the Plant4Pakistan initiative.  The Plant4Pakistan initiative follows a strong top-down approach and therefore the SLMP II can promote its sustainability by contributing holistic planning, bottom up governance and institutionalized expert advice to the large government initiative.  UNDP should present the SLMP II accordingly as part of its project portfolio to the Government, and the NPD as the main coordinator of the Plant4Pakistan Initiative may consider this recommendation.

Management Response: [Added: 2018/12/27] [Last Updated: 2021/02/07]

Agreed. UNDP has already been putting SLMP-II while presenting its portfolio to the government and other stakeholders. It will continue doing so.

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
This will be brought into the notice of the National Project Director and discussed in the upcoming Project Board Meeting
[Added: 2018/12/27] [Last Updated: 2019/05/21]
NCU 2019/03 Completed UNDP has already been presenting SLMP II in its portfolio to the government and other stakeholders and will continue doing so History
16. Recommendation:

R16. Agree upon dates of terminal evaluation and of project closing

The official start date of the project is May 5th, 2015, the date when the MoCC and UNDP signed the project document. This document indicates March 31st, 2020 as the closing date implying a 5-year project period. There are, however, some conflicting indications of the closing date. For instance, the PIR 2018 reports April 20th, 2020 as the closing date, whereas other sources state August 2020, based on a 60-month period from the time of hiring the NPC. While the project inception workshop was held in September 2015, recruitment of most project staff and the implementation of activities effectively started from the financial year 2016/17 (July 1st 2016). Given the late start and delays in progress due to administrative and operative hurdles, the MTR Team considers that a 60-month period starting from July 1st, 2016 would be a reasonable project duration. This would put the project closure to June 30th, 2021. Accordingly, the MTR Team recommends the terminal evaluation to be conducted in November/December 2020. 

Management Response: [Added: 2021/02/04] [Last Updated: 2021/02/07]

Key Actions:

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