Environment Management Technical Assistance Projects to Selected Central Asian Republics
ADB's program of technical assistance to the Central Asian Republics for strengthening their institutions and capacity to monitor and manage their environment started in March 1997. A total of 14 TA grants have been extended to the CARs to help improve environmental management, including regional technical assistance projects.
This study focuses on six country-specific TA projects and two regional TA projects in Kazakhstan, Kyrgyz Republic, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan. They were among the first TA projects given to the four countries in the field of environmental management.
Summary of findings
While environmental monitoring standards in the region needed to be improved, the link between the TA projects and ADB's country strategies was weak. No TA program was provided for environmental protection; the country strategies stated that other international funding agencies would address this issue. Given the absence of an environmental platform in the country programs, all the TA projects, except for one, appear to have been supply driven, formulated when funding from either the Government of Finland or Japan Special Fund became available.
The collective impact of these TA projects was to increase awareness of environmental managers to international best practice and enhance their capacity to undertake monitoring and data management. However, capacity remains weak. The collective rating of the TA projects to the four countries is "partly successful."
Key issues and lessons
- Funding agency coordination should go beyond individual project implementation and consider the areas each development partner could best focus on to promote the efficient and effective use of resources.
- A regional solution is required to address transboundary issues and manage transboundary protected areas.
- Training needs are many and varied within each country and across the region. Importantly, the benefits of successful training-of-trainers programs can only be sustained if the programs are institutionalized in the agencies' human resource development program and an annual budget is committed.
- The TA projects had no direct linkage with the country operational strategy, the country strategy and program, and country environment assessments (which came much later). If the interventions had been sequenced such that country environmental assessments were prepared and a roadmap that included a TA program drawn up on the basis of findings, then a strategy for intervention could have been implemented.
- Sufficient consultation with government agencies, development partners, and nongovernment organizations would help ensure the TA design promotes country ownership.
- The effectiveness of TA depends greatly on the quality, skills, and the degree of familiarity with local conditions of TA consultants.
- Few ADB review missions are recorded. Communication between the consultants and ADB was done mostly by e-mail. While this arrangement did not impede TA implementation, it becomes a problem when ADB staff changes are frequent and continuity of supervision is compromised. Involvement of the resident missions has the potential to improve supervision and continuity.
- Follow-on TA projects should ensure that systems and equipment are being utilized and the skills to work these systems have already been built in the institutions.