BURKINA FASO: Sahel Integrated Lowland Ecosystem Management
Project Number: P070871
Country: Burkina Faso
Project Name: Sahel Integrated Lowland Ecosystem Management
STAP Reviewer: Dr. J. Michael Halderman, Independent Consultant, Berkeley, California
Date: March 10, 2002
Scientific and technical soundness of the project.
The proposed project, Sahel Integrated Lowland Ecosystem Management (SILEM), has been thoroughly and well designed following appropriate technical and scientific principles. SILEM (also referred to in this STAP review as the “project”) aims to contribute to sustainable mitigation and alleviation of rural poverty in Burkina Faso by improving the natural resource base. It will provide at local and national levels a combination of skills, knowledge and investment resources to carry out integrated lowland ecosystem management to achieve local and global environmental benefits.
SILEM will complement the “baseline” Community-Based Rural Development Project (CBRDP, credit agreement signed in June 2001). The CBRDP is a follow up to the Environmental Management Project (Programme National de Gestion des Terroirs project), a community-based land management approach to natural resource management (IEM). CBRDP is part of the National Program for Decentralized Rural Development of Burkina Faso (PNDRD), a major national program aimed at implementing the Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper. SILEM will be “fully blended” into CBRDP, although the GEF funds will be tracked separately for accounting and reporting purposes. The activities of SILEM will be fully integrated into CBRDP and support its five components: (1) local capacity building, (2) local investment fund, (3) institutional capacity building, (4) land tenure security pilot, and (5) program coordination.
Technical and scientific aspects relating to integrated ecosystem management (IEM) in selected lowland sites of Burkina Faso are sound. The (a) choice of IEM as the basis of the approach under this project and (b) the blending of SILEM into the CBRDP in order to achieve local and global environmental benefits are particularly appropriate. The integrated projects place heavy emphasis on a community-driven development (CDD) approach. This reflects the accurate recognition that decentralized, participatory approaches to rural development, poverty alleviation and natural resource management are far more effective and sustainable than other approaches. In view of the inter-linking of the IEM and CDD elements, and other aspects discussed below, the project fits well under GEF’s Operational Program # 12.
Identification of the global environmental benefits and/or drawbacks of the project.
Burkina Faso is in the early stages of what might become a “revolution” in the management of natural resources. There is reportedly strong commitment from the Government and widespread support from the donor community to bring about major changes in IEM aimed at overcoming difficult environmental challenges while simultaneously reducing poverty on a sustainable basis.
The SILEM project is intended to continue for 15 years (2002 – 2017) in three phases: (1) four years to test components and instruments, (2) five years to confirm and consolidate, (3) six years of expansion. During the first phase, the project will primarily support an integrated approach aimed at the rehabilitation of degraded lowland ecosystems in six “Sahel desert margin” northern provinces. During phases two and three, the project will scale up and replicate activities in other provinces of the country, particularly in areas with natural habitats of global importance. SILEM will complement the CBRDP in an effort to achieve considerably greater local, national, regional and global environmental benefits than the CBRDP alone could achieve. The US$ 4.5 million currently requested from GEF for the “GEF Alternative” is for the first phase.
SILEM will focus on promoting integrated ecosystem management in carefully selected lowland sites (100 in the first phase, 200 in the second phase, 300 in the third phase) to remove pressure on these fragile lowland ecosystems. The project aims to achieve the following objectives related to global environmental benefits: (a) build capacity for sound IEM planning and management to achieve both developmental and environmental goals; (b) reduce and reverse land degradation and desertification; (c) better conserve biodiversity (agro-biodiversity in particular) at ecosystem, species and genetic levels; (d) increase carbon storage capacity and reduce greenhouse gas emissions; (e) reduce, and to some extent reverse, the deterioration of international waters (Volta and Comoe rivers and tributaries).
Project fit within the context of GEF goals, operational strategies, programme priorities and relevant conventions.
The SILEM project fits well with the criteria listed above. This GEF-funded project incorporates the principles, and is directed towards achieving the potential benefits, of Integrated Ecosystem Management described in Operational Program # 12. Both social and economic factors are integrated into ecosystem management. Project activities at all levels are intended to be flexible and to incorporate lessons learned into project management. The Adaptable Program Loan (APL) instrument of the baseline CBRDP permits flexible, long term funding. The designs of both SILEM and CBRDP already incorporate lessons learned from the Programme National de Gestion des Terroirs project, the predecessor of CBRDP, a good sign. Participatory approaches are at the heart of these fully blended projects. The GEF-funded project aims to develop an enabling policy environment, strengthen relevant institutions, and make investments based on the principles of integrated ecosystem management. The SILEM project also fits well with Operational Program # 13, Conservation and Sustainable Use of Biological Diversity Important to Agriculture. The SILEM project addresses, and promotes synergies between, the GEF focal areas of land degradation, biodiversity conservation, climate change and international waters. The project accords with the UN Convention to Combat Desertification (CCD), the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), and the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).
Several West African countries confront similar inter-related problems related to rural poverty and degraded natural resources. At one point, it was intended that there be a regional program combining World Bank and GEF resources covering Burkina Faso, Mali, Niger and Senegal. Difficulties encountered during efforts to set up this regional project suggested that there could be significant implementation problems. It was therefore decided to develop national projects, with the possibility of some regional coordination. This reviewer supports the decision to develop national projects in order to eliminate the likelihood of implementation problems with a regional program. In addition, separate national projects allow (even encourage) experimentation with somewhat different approaches to achieve similar developmental and environmental objectives. The present set up could foster healthy competition between the projects. Effective exchange of information and experience between the projects should be encouraged, with mechanisms established to facilitate this exchange.
Replicability of the project.
The project design has many well thought out and innovative elements. If SILEM successfully implements its proposed activities, there would be considerable scope to replicate the approach in other parts of Burkina Faso, as well as in nearby countries with similar ecological and socioeconomic conditions. The project will carry out M&E activities that should provide information and analyses useful to replicating successful activities. There will be: (a) an internal M&E system shared with the CBRDP, (b) and “indigenous IEM M&E system” for use by rural communities themselves, and (c) a scientific M&E system with sustainable process indicators for assessing changes in ecosystem management patterns on a local or national level, (d) a pilot national natural resources accounting system. The project will also support an Environmental and Social Impact Assessment office within the Project Coordination Unit. Every 2-3 years there is to be external M&E activity by a team of national and international experts. The project’s M&E system will include basic tools to assess whether the identified mitigation measures have been implemented and are effective. Given the above factors, it would be useful if the project would develop a strategy to replicate its most successful activities by providing information useful to others interested in following its lead.
(Anticipated Effectiveness and) Sustainability of the project.
The project has many well considered elements specifically aimed at achieving sustainability. The crucial importance of capacity building in regard to achieving sustainability is discussed under point 11 below. The project’s Capacity Building component includes innovative efforts to achieve financial sustainability through “financing partnerships” between rural communities and external public and private sector partners. The Local Investment Funds component is limited to about 100 villages (about 05% of the 2000 villages targeted by CBRDP) during the first phase, a necessary step in focusing project activity. The investments aim at reviving and protecting village lowland ecosystems to allow for sustainable land use intensification in limited areas and to achieve other environmental objectives. The project will also support applied IEM studies and IEM research-development or operational research at provincial and regional levels. The project’s third component is aimed at institutional capacity building at local, provincial and national levels. (SILEM/CBRDP deliberately work with and build on national institutions at various levels in their efforts to achieve project success and sustainability.) SILEM will support the creation of an enabling environment, including the establishment of an IEM Policy Forum. The project will also address the crucial issue of land tenure security in the lowlands, including helping the poor to gain access to reliable land conflict resolution mechanisms.
Project designers are clearly aware of a number of risks that may be encountered during implementation, and these risks are presented in the project document. This reviewer was thinking of these very issues as he read the report. The designers seem more confident about their risk mitigation measures than is this reviewer, perhaps reflecting the differences in roles of designers and reviewers. Decentralization is one example. The document explicitly states that the success of SILEM depends on the successful achievement of the political and administrative decentralization process, and the first risk deals with this issue. The risks here may be underestimated. Effective devolution of the responsibility for IEM to local governments and communities will be necessary for CBRDP/SILEM to function as planned and to achieve sustainability. Decentralization and devolution can be complicated and difficult processes, and problems could significantly impede project performance. The condition that the required legal text be issued before negotiations is appropriate.
In regard to community-driven development, three key points should be kept in mind: (a) highly skilled, well trained individuals are needed at the interface with local communities, (b) efforts should be taken to identify early on communities with real (if latent) potential to successfully carry out community-based activities, (c) elite capture at all levels is a real possibility. The project designers seem aware of these points, but there is a risk that what is planned as a community based approach to IEM / IEM could be subverted into a top down exercise. The need for high quality service providers is critical. In addition, the rural communities in Burkina Faso are highly stratified (see number 10 below), and achieving effective participation by the poor and women may not be easy. If not already done, it would be useful to develop well tailored criteria and procedures to enable communities to target the poor and women for project purposes, and to establish effective control mechanisms to ensure that these activities are carried out.
Linkages to other focal areas.
The SILEM project is multi-focal, covering land degradation, biodiversity conservation, climate change and international waters.
Linkages to other programmes and action plans.
The GEF-financed SILEM project will be fully integrated into the IDA-funded baseline project, the Community-Based Rural Development Project. The CBRDP is part of and supports the National Program for Decentralized Rural Development in Burkina Faso (PNDRD) which implements the Government’s decentralized rural development strategy. The PNDRD is coordinated by the National Forum that aims to evaluate and harmonize experiences and approaches to decentralized rural development in the country. It is intended that there be a gradual transfer of PNDRD coordination responsibilities to the regional directorates for studies and planning (DREPs). The CCTPs will be the PNDRD’s coordination entities at the provincial level. The CBRDP and SILEM will support the regional and provincial entities.
Several sectoral strategies and action plans have been developed in Burkina Faso, but they have not yet been operationalized and implemented at local levels. SILEM will contribute to the implementation of existing IEM and IEM strategies and action plans, including the National Environment Action Plan, National Soil Fertility Management Strategy and Action Plan (the Government’s top priority action plan for the agriculture sector), National Desertification Action Plan and the National Biodiversity Strategy.
The two blended projects, SILEM and CBRDP, will have linkages to the National Natural Ecosystem Management Program (PAGEN or PRONAGEM, both acronyms are used in the documents) currently being prepared that focuses on wildlife biodiversity conservation inside specific, officially protected natural wildlife habitats. Several other development programs with potential linkages are listed in the project documents, including the Netherlands and DANIDA funded Local Development / Burkina Sahel Program (PSB).
Other beneficial or damaging environmental effects.
The rationale for GEF to fund the SILEM is that the project would focus its resources on achieving significant local, national, regional and global environmental objectives. In the absence of the SILEM project, the baseline IDA-funded CBRDP would achieve only limited environmental objectives. As explained in this STAP review, this rationale is sound. No damaging environmental effects have been identified.
The project will affect and/or be influenced by a wide variety of actors, many of them involved in the country’s “revolution” in the management of natural resources. The stakeholders (existing and proposed) include: the joint SILEM/CBRDP Project Coordination Unit, the Ministry of Agriculture / Programme National De Gestion Des Terroirs, the National Program for Decentralized Rural Development (PNDRD), the National Forum that coordinates the PNDRD, the National Environmental Management Council (CONAGESE), Government officials involved with the action plans mentioned under point 8 above, the National Natural Ecosystem Management Program, bi-laterals funding CBRDP and their programs, regional directorates for studies and planning (DREPs), provincial PNDRD coordination entities (CCTPs), NGOs, producers organizations, South-North financing partnerships and Finance Facilitation Office, Comites Villageois de Gestion de Terroir (CVGTs), Comites Inter-Villageois de Gestion de Terroirs (CIVGTs), Comites d’Action Specifique (CASs), community-based organizations (CBOs), environmental pressure groups, and federations of IEM committees.
There are also the 100 local communities (in the first phase) that are highly stratified by caste, gender, kinship and age. Given the large number of government and other organizations, officials, technical experts, consultants and others involved in SILEM and CBRDP, it may be quite a challenge to achieve genuine participation on the part of stratified rural communities, especially by the poor and by women.
Significantly, the project will support a Policy Forum every year, or every second year, at the national or regional level. This Policy Forum will be a round table discussion between representatives of IEM stakeholders to identify IEM policy constraints and to propose necessary policy reforms. Consensus policy action plans will be issued each year, or every second year, and their implementation will be monitored by elected policy task forces or by specific civil society pressure groups.
SILEM / CBRDP fully recognize and emphasize the need for capacity building at various levels for the projects to achieve their objectives, particularly in regard to sustainability. SILEM will support (27% of total GEF funds) capacity building in: (1) integrated ecosystem management / land use planning capacity, including the construction of a GIS data base and piloting the use of GIS tools in its intervention sites; (2) support to “extraordinary IEM governance bodies” (as needed) at local, regional and national levels to promote environmental protection at all levels; (3) educating policy makers and the general public (rural communities in particular) on environmental issues and solutions through awareness raising and dissemination of IEM action plans, and community exchange of experience and knowledge (including IEM conflict resolution and social peace keeping); (4) sustainable IEM financing (including South-North financing partnerships and a Finance Facilitation Office) and local IEM financing mechanisms. The project intends to build capacity to create an enabling environment that will facilitate the adoption and sustainability of appropriate IEM practices. This includes assisting rural communities, interest groups and the government with the identification and implementation of needed policy instruments and reforms.
The project has a broad, sound approach to capacity building. As the project progresses, however, it will be necessary to carefully assess the relevance, quality and impact of the training and other capacity building efforts to ensure their effectiveness and to make adjustments where necessary.
Innovativeness of the project.
The Sahel Integrated Lowland Ecosystem Management project is a particularly innovative and promising effort aimed at overcoming serious environmental problems in rural Burkina Faso. SILEM represents a carefully designed approach to effectively promote integrated ecosystem management in specific lowland sites in order to achieve local, national, regional and global environmental benefits. This project will fully blend GEF financing into the baseline project funded by IDA, bi-lateral donors, local stakeholders and the Government of Burkina Faso. The integrated projects will promote community-driven development in attempts to achieve their environmental objectives, promote sustainable development and reduce poverty. This creative and comprehensive approach is fully consistent with the principles and goals of the GEF’s Operational Program # 12.
Annex 4 b: Response to STAP Roster Technical Review
BURKINA FASO: Sahel Integrated Lowland Ecosystem Management
The STAP review was largely positive, highlighting the solid design, technical soundness, innovative approach, and complementarities with the baseline project (the CBRDP) for achieving local and global environmental benefits.
The principal concerns raised by the reviewer had to do with (1) implementation risks (in particular, blockages in the decentralization process) and (2) ensuring adequate stakeholder involvement in highly stratified rural communities and avoiding elite capture of the project. The baseline project acknowledges and addresses both of these risks.
With respect to decentralization, the risk to the first phase of the SILEM project is low. In 1998, responsibility for the management of non-protected resources was devolved to local communities with the adoption by the Council of Ministers of the TOD (Textes d'Orientation sur la Décentralisation). The main objective of the baseline project (CBRDP) is to assist the government in operationalizing this legal document by empowering local communities through the transfer of investment funds and by providing the capacity building necessary to manage those funds and execute their own development (and resource management) strategy. Triggers for the second phase of the baseline project are mostly linked to progress on the decentralization agenda. Legal texts allowing the transfer of resources to locally representative bodies (the CVGT and CIVGT) already exist -- they were a condition of negotiations for the CPDRP.
In terms of stakeholder involvement and elite capture, there was substantial national involvement in the preparation of both the baseline project and the SILEM, at all levels (community, province, national government) and from public, private and NGO sectors. The legal text related to the creation of the CVGT and CIVGT explicit stipulates the manner in which representatives must be selected and the overall composition of the committee. The diagnostic tools used by the CBRDP staff are participatory and all private service providers working with the project will be trained in the use of those tools. This does not, of course, ensure participation, nor eliminate the possibility of elite capture. However, a rigorous qualitative and quantitative M&E system was designed for the baseline project. It includes (i) participatory, community managed modules as well as (ii) statistical in-depth household and community survey modules and (iii) scientific plot / ecosystem level data collection modules. These modules are designed to track indicators of environmental, household welfare and institutional change and should (along with regular supervision) allow us to avoid elite capture and ensure participation.