As noted in the project description above, the proposed project will be implemented in two phases with each phase having a number of subprojects. Locations and other details of the subprojects are yet to be defined This uncertainty at the time the project is being prepared for presentation to the Bank’s Board of Executive Directors, Bank environmental assessment policy requires the borrower to prepare an Environmental and Social Management. Framework (ESMF) which sets out a mechanism for assessment of the environmental and social impacts of all program subprojects, and identifies in general the mitigation, monitoring and institutional measures to be taken during implementation and operation of the program to avoid, minimize or offset adverse environmental and social impacts. This ESMF therefore provides the expected guidelines and defines the procedures whereby environmental and social impact assessments (ESIAs) and/or environmental and social management plans (ESMPs) will be prepared and implemented for each STCRSP subproject as and when required.
approach and methodology
This report was prepared on the basis of a comprehensive assessment of potential environmental and social impacts related to, or as a consequence of the proposed project. This included:
Conducting a review of studies and reports on the Liberian Tree Crop Sector and other documents and publications relevant to the STCRSP (ref: Annex B: List of References).
Conducting fact-finding workshops throughout the seven counties (see Annexes B, C and D – List of Stakeholders Consulted and Stakeholder Workshop Report) involving representatives of the main STCRSP stakeholders (e.g. farmers – both tree crop and other, concession holders, plantation growers, processing companies, county council representatives, district committee representatives, etc.). In Monrovia the participants were ‘higher level’ representatives of relevant Government departments, academic & research institutions, donors, NGOs, etc. The objectives of these workshops was to identify the environmental and social issues related to the target crops and included issues related to investment, crop production, field management, processing and marketing, as well as producer issues such as access to land, investment and operating capital and availability of labor.
Collection of baseline data at the county level in the cocoa, coffee, rubber and oil palm growing areas. This includes relevant physical, biological, and socio-economic conditions as well as an assessment of anticipated impacts and any non-related current and proposed development activities which could be relevant to decisions about project location, design, operation, or mitigatory measures.
Identifying and assessing the typical environmental and social impacts of the types of investments that will be supported by the proposed STCRSP. This included need and options for mitigating, monitoring and managing any potentially negative impacts likely to result from the proposed project. Potential impacts included
Contamination of the local and downstream environment as a result of soil erosion (particularly during the replanting phase of the project), use and misuse of agro-chemicals, and on-farm processing
The socio-economic benefit of the project to communities and possible impacts (negative and positive) on youth and women, increase in migrant labor, improvement in communication network d road network, and access and availability of land for development.
The impact of the project on availability and accessibility of land and labor.
Interests of local communities and stakeholders in the project as well as their expectations of project benefits.
Identifying pest and pesticide management issues relevant to the STCRSP through a review current pesticide practices in the project areas, an evaluation of the appropriateness of any existing IPM plans.
Identifying and assessing potential wider community impacts as a result of the STCRSP. This includes potential adverse impacts related to riverine contamination from agricultural & processing operations, impact on ground water portability, and impact on marine environments;
Identifying current and planned environmental management systems being adopted by the tree crop processing or milling companies linked to the project beneficiaries, an appraisal of compliance and implementation issues, and consequent environmental implications arising due to the implementation of the STCRSP.
A review of current environmental practices affecting tree crop development, and particularly those affected by implementation of the STCRSP, including forest and habitat protection considerations, pesticide use, soil erosion and watercourse contamination by crop processing and agricultural practices.
Assessment of the capacities of the government, non-governmental organizations, and other private entities on environmental assessment and monitoring.
Assessment of the risk of significant conversion or degradation of critical forest and natural habitats areas within, adjacent or downstream of target counties that might occur due to Project activities. Amongst others, the following topics were assessed:
Issues related to the establishment of any new smallholder tree crop blocks and potential impacts on food gardens (i.e. if food gardens being abandoned to establish tree crop blocks are new gardens therefore being established in areas of critical forest or natural habitat areas);
Aspects related to the upgrading and improvement of roads that provide access to smallholder tree crop blocks.
Environmental implications of the socio-economic pressures associated with potential scarcity of land for gardens in tree crop project areas.
Which areas of critical habitat and forests should be avoided to ensure inadvertent conversion of natural forests that are critical to wildlife/human?
Identify where tree crops can be safely established that do not convert any critical habitats.
Assessment of potential impacts of climate change.
Due to the delay in mobilization of the Consultancy and the need to have the report available for the World Bank Review team in early August, the stakeholder consultation was not as comprehensive as the Terms of Reference envisaged. Never-the-less a good stakeholder view has been achieved, which with on farm/plantation field visits, allowed the ESMF team to make a realistic assessment of potential beneficial and adverse impacts of the proposed project on the Physical, Biological and Human Environments in and adjacent to the target communities.
The ESMF team worked without the benefit of two studies: a) the identification of the specific target communities and b) the detailed socio-economic assessment of those communities. These two studies were envisaged in the ToR to have been completed by the time of the ESMF team visited, but had yet to commence, thus the field visit and workshop reports are representative of the broad target areas rather than specific to the likely first communities to participate. This will not unduly reduce the value of this report, as adequate information has been gathered to give a realistic assessment of what might be expected. It does mean though that there may be need for further assessment in some of the future subproject selection process.