Khulna-Jessore Drainage Rehabilitation Project (Loan 1289-BAN[SF])

Evaluation Document | 30 November 2007

Evaluates the performance of the Khulna-Jessore Drainage Rehabilitation Project, aimed to increase agricultural production and create on-farm employment by rehabilitating existing drainage infrastructure in Khulna-Jessore in Bangladesh.

The main aim of the Project was to reduce poverty through increased agricultural production and creation of on-farm employment in the project area. This was to be achieved by

  • mobilizing beneficiary participation in the design, implementation, and subsequent operation and maintenance (O&M) of the project facilities

  • rehabilitating the existing drainage infrastructure to reduce congestion and protecting the project area from tidal and seasonal flooding

  • providing support for the expansion of agricultural extension services that was necessary as flooded lands were returned to productivity

  • improving management of fisheries in polder areas to ensure a continuing supply of noncommercial fishes caught and consumed primarily by the poor.

Summary of Findings

  • The Project was rated as unsuccessful, bordering on partly successful. It was rated as partly relevant, less effective, inefficient, and unlikely sustainable.

  • Continued tension between local stakeholders and the lead Executing Agency from the beginning of the Project due to opposing perspectives on the solutions to drainage congestion problems. The tension caused more than three years of delay in project implementation.

  • Inadequate analysis and lack of appreciation for indigenous knowledge systems for reducing drainage congestion and the Executing Agency's resistance to adopting nonstructural solutions in favor of structural solutions contributed to the rift between the local people and the Executing Agency.

  • The membership in the water management groups had dropped to 15% in 2007 from 37% at the time of project completion as a result of the lack of an active common agenda and program to bind the groups together.

  • The two key livelihood supporting components-agricultural development and fisheries management in polder areas-were poorly resourced, weakly coordinated, and ineffectively implemented, leading to the decision to drop both components from the Project during redesign.

  • The O&M of drainage infrastructure and river channels was less than satisfactory. Heavy silt deposition in drainage canals and riverbeds caused active rivers to dry up and clogged the regulators with silt deposits. The assumption to generate funds for O&M by annually leasing government-owned land proved unrealistic because the ownerships of these lands were contested by private owners and land available for leasing was grossly inadequate to generate required revenues for O&M by the water management associations formed under the Project.

  • The socioeconomic survey undertaken during the evaluation found that the Project and non-project (control) areas were impacted by several development activities, including an increase in cropping intensity. However, these benefits were not attributable to the Project because two key components were dropped from the project scope.

  • The project area households had access to nearly twice as much land as the control area households, which remained more or less the same at evaluation as it was at the time of project formulation. Fewer landless individuals were observed in the control area than in the project area.

  • The household members in both project and control areas were broadly similar when the $2 per day poverty line norm was applied. Poverty was widespread. More than half of the project area landless households and more than 80% of the fisherfolk and farming households earned less than $2 per day.

Lessons Identified

  • A holistic analysis of the drainage congested region is a prerequisite for determining the scope of a project. A partial solution does not necessarily result in the intended project benefits where the interconnectivity and dependency of the project area rests on events and geomorphological conditions elsewhere.

  • Project design often tends to be rushed and, in the process, several critical issues are overlooked or undermined. A project that involves the livelihood of a large number of people, particularly the disadvantaged groups and stakeholders, requires much time for robust consultation and full consideration of local indigenous knowledge systems to arrive at a socially acceptable solution.

  • Nongovernment organizations and civil society groups fall broadly in three categories: (i) knowledgeable and sincerely committed to the cause and plight of poor and vulnerable people adversely affected by drainage congestion and flooding, (ii) looking for business opportunities or contract work, and (iii) capitalizing on the plight of affected people and seeking external recognition and personal benefits. It is crucial for a public institution to work with the first group and forge a strong development partnership with them for the benefit of local people.

  • Continuous O&M is a necessary precondition to keep river and drainage channels open. Adequate provision for that must be built into national budgets, if not funded from other sources.

  • An active partnership between public institutions and local stakeholders is critical to develop a sustainable O&M mechanism.

  • An effective grievance redress mechanism is needed so that project-affected people can voice their concerns without any fear of reprisal. Such a mechanism ought to have transparent provision for fair compensation to the adversely affected population.

  • ADB and the executing agency need to have a more proactive role in complex public sector projects, supported by active involvement of local government representatives and establishment of a more cohesive basis for stakeholder organization and participation.

  • The agreed-upon procurement plan and its updates should be followed and monitored to avoid processing delays, unnecessary splitting of large contracts into small ones, and procurement of goods and works that are not identified for the Project.

  • The project implementation arrangements in the Project Administration Memorandum should be spelled out in detail, including roles and responsibilities of concerned stakeholders, a pragmatic coordination mechanism, and accountability of the different parties including ADB headquarters, resident missions, executing agencies, implementing agencies, contractors, and consultants.
<ul> <li>Overall Assessment Methodology</li> <li>Table of Contents</li> <li>Basic Data</li> <li>Executive Summary</li> <li>Map</li> <li>Introduction</li> <li>Design and Implementation</li> <li>Performance Assessment</li> <li>Other Assessments</li> <li>Issues, Lessons, and Follow-up Actions</li> <li>Appendixes</li> </ul>