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Water articles are written by ADB staff and external contributors on various water issues, reforms, and good practices.

Finding the Facts

ADB Review [ December 2005 ]

ADB follows a careful process for conceiving and designing projects. A project in Afghanistan’s Western Basins region illustrates the process By Grant Curtis Taking a “good idea” and turning it into a fully designed and costed project entails much work. The Afghanistan Western Basins Water Resources Management Project, awaiting approval, is a good example of this careful and often lengthy process. The project is a part of the Asian Development Bank (ADB)’s support to Afghanistan’s agriculture and GREEN VALLEYS Green fields irrigated through work done under the Western Basins Project natural resources sectors—for which ADB is the lead donor— and will further reinforce the policy framework developed through ADB’s Agricultural Sector Program Loan, which was approved in 2004. Conceived to improve irrigated agricultural and water resource management in the Western Basins Region, the project was first identified in Afghanistan’s 2003–2005 Country Strategy and Program Update (CSPU). It was later scoped out in a concept paper in the following year’s CSPU. A brief factual summary of the project was then posted on ADB’s website. The project has a strong economic justification: up to 70% of Afghans work in agriculture, which underpins up to 60% of the overall economy. Irrigated agriculture accounts for up to 85% of the total agricultural output in some years. “Developing water resources and improving the productivity of irrigated agriculture is paramount to sustain Afghanistan’s economic growth and address rural poverty. As agriculture uses 95% of the country’s developed water resources, any enhancement of irrigated agriculture must necessarily be undertaken in parallel with strengthened water resources management,” says Tom Panella, senior water resources specialist in ADB’s Agriculture, Environment, and Natural Resources Division of the South Asia Department. GETTING STARTED To assist in project design, ADB first advertised a planned project/program preparatory technical assistance (PPTA) contract in August 2003, on its “Opportunities” website. It then formally approved a $1.2 million PPTA in October 2004, with a further $776,000 in cofinancing from the Government of Canada. The PPTA was used to undertake technical studies, institutional analyses, and a capacity needs assessment to prepare an investment project for integrated water resources management and irrigated agricultural development in the Hari Rud and Murghab River basins.
_______________________________ *This article was first published online at ADB's Water for All website in 2005: http://www.adb.org/Documents/Periodicals/ADB_Review/2005/vol37-6/finding-facts.asp.

Through such PPTA grants, ADB works with countries to develop projects for ADB financing. It hires consultants or firms to work with the government staff to undertake a feasibility study, who then work with other stakeholders, including project participants and beneficiaries, civil society, affected people, and other development partners. ADB closely monitors the consultants’ work through periodic written reports, review missions, and meetings and other consultations. The consultants’ final draft PPTA is reviewed at a tripartite meeting attended by representatives of the government, ADB, and the consultants. ADB and the government review and comment on the PPTA, make revisions, and ideally come to consensus on the project design. If the project entails resettlement, or might harm indigenous peoples or the environment, safeguard assessments and mitigation procedures are prepared. In draft form, the results are made available to affected people prior to or during consultations and again after the documents are finalized. For the Western Basins project, the PPTA was undertaken by Agrisystems Ltd. (United Kingdom) in partnership with SMEC International Pty Ltd, Australia. The PPTA team provided some 74 personmonths of expertise in a range of disciplines including irrigation engineering, watershed management, on-farm water management, agricultural support services, agricultural economics, land titling, environment, gender, indigenous peoples, resettlement, environment, and institutional and capacity development and training. Between December 2004 and July 2005, the Herat-based PPTA team investigated all aspects of the project and conducted discussions with ministry and provincial department staff, ADB sector specialists, project participants (including women), other people who might be affected by the project, civil society, and development partner agencies. Tripartite meetings were held to discuss the team’s inception report, a midterm progress report, as well as the team’s overall findings as collected in the final PPTA report. As is usually the case, the PPTA team also prepared a draft project document and proposed the overall project budget. FACT-FINDING A PPTA exercise is followed by an ADB loan fact-finding mission, during which ADB project staff, consultants, and government counterparts finalize a proposed project’s scope, components, implementation arrangements, and budget. Attention also is given to detailed assessment of the economic, financial, social, and other expected benefits and impacts, associated risks, and specific assurances or other conditions for ADB support. During loan fact-finding, the project’s design and monitoring framework is finalized, with careful attention to the anticipated impact and performance targets.

For the Western Basins project, Mr. Panella scheduled the loan factfinding mission to immediately follow the final tripartite meeting. In this way, members of the fact-finding mission were able to meet with key members of the PPTA consultant team to discuss project details. Rather than depending only on the PPTA materials, the fact-finding mission was able to directly discuss the findings and recommendations of the PPTA exercise. Joint site visits also allowed PPTA consultants and their government counterparts to explain project design features, including the proposed rehabilitation of different types of irrigation structures, the nature of civil works required, modalities for undertaking such work to bolster rather than undermine traditional community institutions, and range of related activities. Capacity development needs were also discussed. The output of the loan fact-finding is a draft project and loan document that is left with the government for comment. This serves as the basis for a report and recommendation of the President that is reviewed at a formal ADB management review meeting, where interdepartmental comments on a proposed project are considered and potential problems or areas that might need further confirmation with the government are identified. FINAL APPRAISAL Following the meeting, a final project appraisal mission is usually fielded, although it may be waived if there are no outstanding issues. For the Western Basins Water Resources Management Project, a new consultant team was fielded to further scrutinize and finalize the project’s implementation arrangements, costs, and safeguard assurances. The appraisal mission undertook further in-depth discussion with the government and also made a final set of field visits to confirm technical details as well as the project’s overall approach. The appraisal mission’s findings were incorporated in a further revised project document. Following the appraisal mission, the project and loan (and/or grant) documents are again circulated within ADB for interdepartmental review and comment prior to a staff review committee (SRC) meeting. The SRC meeting determines whether the project is ready for formal negotiation with the government prior to being submitted to ADB’s Board of Directors. Having been developed through this detailed process, the Western Basins Water Resources Management Project is expected to be reviewed by ADB’s Board of Directors in late 2005. If approved by the Board, the Western Basins Project will consist of a $60.5 million loan and $14.5 million Asian Development Fund grant. It is expected that cofinancing from the Government of Canada and the Islamic Development Bank will offset some of the overall loan amount.

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