Environment Capacity Development Projects in Selected South Asian Countries

Evaluation Document | 31 December 2010
This report assesses ADB support for environment capacity development in South Asia, using selected technical assistance (TA) projects as case studies. It provides an insight into more effective capacity development from both environment and general TA.


This technical assistance performance evaluation report assesses ADB support for environment capacity development in South Asia, using selected technical assistance (TA) projects as case studies. Assessment is based on the relevance, effectiveness, efficiency, and sustainability of the TA projects' contribution to the countries' capability to manage their environment in line with their own and ADB's environment policy. In addition, this report endeavors to provide an insight into more effective capacity development from both environment and general TA. The evaluation also considers the extent to which ADB's assistance has helped South Asia, in particular India and Sri Lanka, develop own environmental safeguard systems and procedures, and bring them close to international good practice.

Key findings

  • Start-up delays of up to 10 months affected most TA projects. Despite the knowledge that ADB is unable to influence the approval process in the respective governments, TA design (timing, fielding of consultants, disbursement, etc.) did not anticipate and suitably counter these initial delays.
  • Continuity of personnel and ownership affected implementation. Ownership by ADB and the executing agency becomes a critical element in generating planned outcomes and sustaining them.
  • Donor coordination was an important element of TA delivery. Smart donor coordination has an impact on the results of the TA. This was demonstrated on more than one occasion in the TA projects evaluated.
  • Enabling conditions such as incentives for small and medium-sized enterprises to go beyond compliance and adopt cleaner production as a production efficiency measure under the environmental management TA in India to convert an output to a useful outcome were not present. All TA projects produced outputs of good quality; however, the conditions that would turn them into a more useful product were not always present.
  • The TA projects ended with no significant follow-up. This resulted in a loss of momentum, poor uptake of the outputs that were produced, and consequently few to no outcomes
  • Further support to country safeguard systems in Sri Lanka will give it a new lease of life in a post-conflict environment bringing it to forefront of development planning.
  • Collaboration between central and state or provincial environmental agencies could have been improved by the TA projects.
  • While capacity-development assistance from ADB more recently has focused on supporting implementation of national climate change action plans to South Asian countries, ADB needs to continue to stay engaged with strengthening of country safeguard systems in both India and Sri Lanka, as the former seeks further economic growth and the latter unravels ambitious infrastructure development plans in a post-conflict environment.

Lessons for environment capacity development technical assistance

  • Environmental agencies need long-term sustained assistance.
  • Sector-specific environment capacity development stands a better chance of success if associated with a project or a program.
  • Municipal CDM projects have long-term development benefits.
  • Access to primary data is essential for robust environmental scrutiny.
  • Decentralization of environmental assessment without adequate institutional capacity at provincial levels leads to inefficiencies.

Lessons for general capacity development technical assistance

  • Unduly broad terms of reference tend to weaken TA focus.
  • Shared responsibility for cluster TA management is ineffective.
  • Infrequent dialogue with TA counterparts affects performance.
  • Absence of a mandate reduces the executing agency's efficacy in knowledge transfer through the TA.


The following recommendations on TA formulation are provided for consideration of ADB Management during the country partnership strategy formulation in India and Sri Lanka.

Develop a programmatic approach to environment capacity-development TA. TA projects should be appropriately sequenced or phased to support country and sector assessment strategy and road maps with clearly identifiable performance indicators. Greater participation of the government in the development of such TA program should be encouraged.

Draw on ADB resident missions for design and implementation of environment capacity-development TA and country safeguard systems. More use of ADB resident mission staff should be considered both at design and implementation stages to ensure ownership and continuity of TA outcomes in particular for cluster projects.

Assist in building strong environmental governance to ensure transparent and cost-effective TA outcomes. ADB should support improved environmental governance to ensure transparent and cost-effective TA outcomes, reducing the cost of environmental compliance while achieving its quality objectives.