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Mid-term evaluation of Sustainable Land Management Programme to Combat Desertification in Pakistan
Commissioning Unit: Pakistan
Evaluation Plan: 2018-2022
Evaluation Type: Project
Completion Date: 12/2018
Unit Responsible for providing Management Response: Pakistan
Documents Related to overall Management Response:
 
1. Recommendation:

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

Management Response: [Added: 2018/12/27]

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]
NCU, Environment & Climate Change Unit 2019/04 Overdue-Initiated
NCU to launch robust advocacy campaigns to get ISLM policies approved and implemented.
[Added: 2018/12/27]
National Project Coordinator, Provincial Project Coordinators, Project Policy and Communication Officer 2019/03 Overdue-Initiated 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]
Ministry of Climate Change, National Project Coordinator, Environment & Climate Change Unit 2019/06 Initiated History
2. Recommendation:

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]

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]
National Project Coordinator & Provincial Project Coordinators 2019/06 Initiated
Develop a course on SLM for inclusion in B.Sc. Agriculture Programme with universities
[Added: 2018/12/27]
National Project Coordinator & Provincial Project Coordinators 2019/06 Initiated
Develop a course on SLM for the Civil Service Academy
[Added: 2018/12/27]
National Project Coordinator & Provincial Project Coordinators 2019/06 Initiated
3. Recommendation:

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]

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]
National Project Coordinator/GIS Specialist/Land Use & Implementation Expert 2019/06 Initiated
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]
National Project Coordinator/GIS Specialist/Provincial Project Coordinators 2019/03 Overdue-Initiated
Land Use and Implementation Expert and PPCs to develop participatory Village Development Plans for all the villages in programme districts.
[Added: 2018/12/27]
Land Use & Implementation Expert/Provincial Project Coordinators 2019/06 Initiated
4. Recommendation:

Follow up on establishment of Decision Support System

Management Response: [Added: 2018/12/27]

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]
NCU 2019/03 Overdue-Initiated
5. Recommendation:

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]

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]
National Project Coordinator/Provincial Project Coordinators/Experts 2019/03 Overdue-Not Initiated
Hiring of Community Facilitators for placement in districts
[Added: 2018/12/27]
National Project Coordinator/Provincial Project Coordinators 2019/03 Overdue-Not Initiated
6. Recommendation:

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]

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]
National Project Coordinator/Provincial Project Coordinators/Experts UNDP Environment and Climate Change Unit GEF Regional Technical Advisor 2019/03 Overdue-Initiated
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]
National Project Coordinator/Provincial Project Coordinators/Experts 2019/03 Overdue-Initiated
7. Recommendation:

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]

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]
Ministry of Climate Change, National Project Coordinator, Provincial Project Coordinators 2019/03 Overdue-Initiated
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]
National Project Coordinator, Provincial Project Coordinators, Economic Affairs Division, UNDP Environment & Climate Change Unit 2019/06 Not Initiated
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]
National Project Coordinator, Provincial Project Coordinators 2019/03 Overdue-Initiated
8. Recommendation:

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]

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]
NPC to coordinate with UNDP as well as relevant provincial and federal entities 2019/04 Overdue-Not Initiated 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]
NPC/M&E Officer/PPCs/Experts/UNDP Environment & Climate Change Unit 2019/03 Overdue-Not Initiated
Record data on indicators following RS/GIS and maintain a database for verification
[Added: 2018/12/27]
GIS/RS Specialist & M&E Officers 2019/12 Initiated
Record gender dis-aggregated data, especially on socio-economic indicators, CBO Maturity Index and beneficiaries
[Added: 2018/12/27]
M&E Experts 2019/06 Not Initiated
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]
M&E Experts 2019/06 Not Initiated
Introduce participatory monitoring system engaging target communities
[Added: 2018/12/27]
M&E Experts 2019/06 Initiated
Develop a central online platform to share all the project documents, such as data, reports, plans, policies, meeting minutes, etc
[Added: 2018/12/27]
NPC/PPCs/IT/ Comm Officer 2019/03 Overdue-Initiated
9. Recommendation:

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]

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]
NCU and UNDP 2019/03 Overdue-Initiated
10. Recommendation:

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]

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]
NCU, UNDP CO 2019/03 Overdue-Initiated
11. Recommendation:

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]

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]
NPC/Communication Officer 2019/03 Overdue-Initiated
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]
PPCs/ Communication Officer 2019/03 Overdue-Initiated
12. Recommendation:

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]

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]
NPC/PPCs/Experts/UNDP CO 2019/03 Overdue-Not Initiated
13. Recommendation:

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.

SLM 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]

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]
NPC/PPCs 2019/03 Overdue-Initiated
Efforts be made to strengthen CBOs and get these registered with the government to carry on activities after GEF financing
[Added: 2018/12/27]
Ministry of Climate Change, NPC/PPCs 2019/12 Initiated
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]
NPC/PPCs//NPD, UNDP Environment & Climate Change Unit 2019/06 Initiated
14. Recommendation:

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]

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]
NPC/PPCs 2019/03 Overdue-Initiated
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]
M&E Officers/NPC/PPCs 2019/06 Initiated
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]
NPC/PPCs 2019/03 Overdue-Initiated
15. Recommendation:

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]

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]
NCU 2019/03 Overdue-Initiated

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