While the key urban sector and executing agency for this project, the Ministry of Urban Development (MUOD), adopted a structure for GESI mainstreaming with separate budget head, this initiative faced challenges after the country’s administrative restructuring. There were no division offices and GESI units in the districts, and the sociologist’s position that used to support GESI activities was removed from the departments. Nevertheless, using the resource materials developed under this project as guide, the GESI-trained staff in the divisions can push for establishing and institutionalizing GESI in the new structure of the provinces and at the local level. This would require revising MOUD’s GESI operational guidelines 2013 to define the roles and responsibilities in all tiers of government.
Neither the ADB project team nor project coordination office could fully comprehend the financial management requirements and financial covenant issues raised during this project’s review missions. As such, they were unable to follow up on audit opinions and recurrent issues, leading to the recurrence of the same issues and delays in submitting the audited project financial statements This improved only with the inclusion of a financial management staff toward the project’s end.
Part of the project’s design innovation is the construction of modern SLS. The Nepalgunj SLS construction was successful due to continuous community engagement, cooperation among political leaders, and early implementation of a community development program targeted at communities living near the SLS. However, the SLSs in Janakpur and Siddharthanagar had to be dropped, as nearby communities did not agree to their construction. Due to haphazard operation of existing SLSs and dumping sites, there is a growing “not in my backyard” syndrome in these communities towards SWM facilities. Discord among local political leaders, inadequate coordination at inter-local level, and political misunderstanding disrupted stakeholder engagement and contributed to the two sites’ cancellation.
The initial design of this project was delayed and required modifications during implementation mainly due to the unavailability of information on existing underground utilities such as by plan profile and as-built drawings. Final designs were likewise not always comprehensive, necessitating variations for most contracts, resulting in both startup delays and contract modifications. In future, ADB should ensure that the scope of work of design consultants for urban development projects include an assessment of all existing utilities, including those underground. Also, that the consultants make every effort to meet their deliverables, comply with the agreed schedules and contract obligations, and respond to requests from client governments and ADB.
Providing fiscal resources was clearly urgent to ensure uninterrupted service and to reconstruct houses after the political disturbances. However, providing funds for undamaged but old water supply and sanitation systems was not as urgent and should have been completed as a separate project.
Despite fielding 13 missions, ADB failed to learn of the government’s efforts to undertake component 3B, indicating a possible lack of communication, which needs to be improved.
To avoid significant delays (4 years) in agreeing on compensation, careful consideration needs to be given to the following: (i) the location of the proposed house relocation site need to be close to the original houses; (ii) compensation rates offered should be higher due to cost inflation of construction materials; and (iii) the relocation sites need to be comparable.
Dissemination techniques were discussed during loan review missions (knowledge products including videos and information being available on the regional knowledge hub established by ADB and Tongji University as examples) but the PCR was silent on these initiatives.
This applies more for urban infrastructure development projects with interrelated components. Adequate preparations to deal with adverse scenarios arising from financial and technical risks can help deal with cancellations and delays in project components.
During a midterm review when project restructuring is required due to changes in scope, this permits necessary adjustments to project components while helping to ensure that a project remains relevant and its expected outcomes achievable.
For a multisector project designed for remote regions, it is important to undertake a systematic project-level economic analysis to appropriately capture and value the diverse benefits from such a type of project. Such a critical assessment helps refine the methodology, assumptions, parameters, and numeraires of a project-level economic analysis.