The combination of programmatic policy-based assistance and TA support provided under this initiative proved to be effective and should be continued. The lack of qualified and experienced local consultants had been a recurring issue, and the Ministry of Health (MOH), the executing agency, continued to face a shortage of sanctioned staff. By giving consultant support to key departments of MOH, the TA contributed to knowledge transfer and capacity building for these departments, and to stronger coordination across the MOH and other ministries.
Effective implementation of system reforms, given their long-term horizon, requires phased support from development partners. The multiple tranche arrangement employed by this program ensured satisfactory progression as a precondition for continued ADB assistance and strengthened the government’s accountability for the reforms.
The policy actions pursued under this program were developed in an open, participatory manner. They were fully aligned with the country’s Health Sector Reform Strategy and Health Sector Development Plan. The participatory development and full alignment of the reform program with the country sector strategy and development plan ensured strong and broad ownership and commitment from the government, and with the assistance of development partners, strengthened policy dialogue and coordination.
Social safeguard designs initially underestimated the resettlement impacts, omitted right-of-way compensation requirements, and proposed unsuitable mitigation measures such as voluntary land donations. As a result, the project was non-compliant with social safeguards requirements for 26 months. Safeguards implementation came into better shape, following the reconduct of detailed measurement survey of losses and execution of a resettlement corrective action plan in 2018. Although some issues remained pending as of project physical completion in 2019, these were eventually resolved with the resumption of discussions between ADB and the EA in 2020. The experience highlights the importance of an accurate assessment of potential impacts and EA/IA safeguards capacity and EA/IA training and capacity building to ensure proper safeguards design and implementation. Context-sensitive issues such as the suitability of voluntary land donations, should be carefully weighed and agreed with the EAs/IAs at the early stage of project implementation.
The ADB grant-financed module 1 was completed more than two years ahead of the KEXIM loan-financed modules 2 and 3. However, because of the interdependence of the three transmission modules, module 1 cannot be operationalized without the completion of modules 1 and 2. The risk of procurement and implementation delays in the co-financed components should have been considered in the project design. When project components can be made technically independent, this option should be used to avoid delayed benefits.
Cost overruns initially led to the removal of one transmission line, but a shorter line was added once it was confirmed it could be completed using the project’s available financing envelope. These overruns were caused mainly by higher than envisaged materials costs. For example, between 2009 and 2011 copper prices increased by about 54%, aluminum by about 44%, and steel by about 30%. The overruns could have been mitigated by a thorough assessment of the relevant international market conditions and the incorporation of results into the project cost estimates.
The project had two turnkey contracts procured through international competitive bidding: (i) an ADB-financed $12.6 million contract, open to contractors from all ADB member countries, and (ii) the KEXIM-financed $34.82 million contract, open only to contractors from Korea. The ADB-financed contract, once awarded, was implemented smoothly. However, the KEXIM-financed contract encountered difficulties to the contractor’s limited experience in the Lao PDR, which caused delays in conducting surveys, fine-tuning technical designs, obtaining various approvals, and preparing the contractor environmental management plan.
Extended five times, the completion of this project was 5.5-year behind schedule. Delays occurred because of low project readiness and weak procurement capacity of the executing agency. As a result, against the procurement plan to award all transmission works contracts in quarter 4 of 2012, the ADB-financed contract for module 1 was awarded in quarter 2 of 2014 while the contracts for modules 2 and 3 financed by the government of Korea through the Korean Export and Import (KEXIM) Bank was awarded in quarter 2 of 2016. Contract awards could have been accelerated if the project was design or procurement ready at approval. In future, ADB and the government should identify and mobilize adequate resources to prepare detailed engineering designs and corresponding safeguards documents to launch procurement as early as possible.
The project has been annually audited by independent external auditors. However, APFS covering only the physical implementation period may not capture all project-related expenses and loan disbursements. To facilitate the reconciliation of ADB records with the APFS on which the auditors have provided a qualified opinion, financial auditing was continued until project financial closure.
Not all safeguards monitoring reports were submitted under this project and the ADB loan disbursement records and latest audited project financial statement (APFS) remained unreconciled at project completion review mission. These non-compliances may have been mitigated through the participation of safeguards and financial management staff in review missions.
The need for some project outputs can decline over time, leading to changes in scope. Such changes should be documented and reflected in the DMF to ensure that they are properly considered and would not compromise the validity and reliability of project monitoring reports and performance evaluation.
Since some of the capacity building-related components under output 2 were linked to the transmission line and substation components under output 1, no separate arrangements for consultant engagement were made for output 2. With the project management unit (PMU) focusing on output 1, the two output 1-related capacity building activities were implemented. The others were not also due to the changed needs during implementation, but this was not brought to ADB’s attention. In the absence of consultants, the EA should have included staff from relevant divisions in the PMU to at least help in output 2 progress reporting.
In the initial stages of the project, the absence of a safeguards consultant resulted in the EA unable to submit some semiannual safeguards monitoring reports. This was timely rectified and based on the monitoring reports produced during implementation, the project did not come across safeguards issues significant enough to alter its outcome or outputs.
Although it traversed mostly rural and agricultural land, the construction of a new transmission line under this project was objected to by some locals. The objections were manifested between April 2017 and March 2018, delaying construction by 226 days. The issue was cleared when the High Court came out with a verdict in favor of the executing agency (EA). The experience highlights the importance of engaging in extensive stakeholder consultations and information dissemination early enough to address issues and concerns that may impede implementation. Mitigation measures, including minimizing the slack time and cost implications of objections and complaints, should also be mapped out and implemented as soon as possible.
Against an estimated $183.2 million, the total project cost at completion amounted to $202.1 million. The cost increase was prompted by minor modifications to the technical design of the project components. The modifications also required a longer implementation period than estimated at loan appraisal. The modifications enhanced system stability and reliability and made the project more relevant. They were addressed through loan reallocations and a 6-month extension in loan closing.
Designs prepared for the schools under this project can be prototypes for rehabilitating or constructing schools with community emergency shelters throughout the country. In fact, the Ministry of Education and Training is already using these designs for two secondary schools under a World Bank-financed project.
While the original and revised project design and monitoring frameworks were reasonable, the impact statement could have been nuanced to reflect the specific support provided to the education sector. The outcome and shelter-related output indicator should have been specific to the project schools to correlate with project inputs and overall objectives. The gender action plan (GAP) design could have included more quantitative indicators and activity targets for enhanced monitoring and evaluation. As GAP activities occurred later in the project cycle, baseline data could have been collected midway for refining the GAP targets during the midterm review. Regular GAP monitoring could have been strengthened, as this data would have further strengthened project management.
It is unclear why a covenant was necessary to ensure the use of single-source consultant recruitment. The method may not always save time, as the need to negotiate remuneration rates poses a significant risk of offsetting the time savings from bypassing advertising and shortlisting.
During project preparation, community consultations were held at each school, but testimonials indicate that some community members felt the final design did not fully consider their suggestions. Better feedback to communicate information about why certain design suggestions were not adopted could have addressed this problem. It could also have made the community feel more included and strengthened their ownership of the project. Based on project experience, community outreach activities in future similar interventions in Vanuatu should involve (i) separate consultation sessions for males and females, with workshops scheduled on days when women are not undertaking care or income-generating activities; (ii) consultations with local communities on strengthening project sustainability; (iii) awareness-raising activities to achieve a common understanding on the basis for final design criteria and special design features; and (iv) prioritized needs-based institutional capacity building at the local level for a stronger first response to disasters, especially in remote areas.
Infrastructure investments based on build-back-better principles and capacity development support provided by this project contributed to strengthening disaster resilience at the local level. The post-completion review found that increasing school enrolment numbers can help to channel sufficient funds to facilities’ operation and maintenance. In addition, future projects can help improve schools’ operational sustainability through measures such as combining schools for administrative efficiencies and exploring opportunities for schools to generate additional revenue. There is also need for a national strategy and operational plan to strengthen the disaster resilience of school assets, including a holistic assessment of other school infrastructure needs.
This program’s results framework and targets were closely aligned with PLN’s key performance indicators (KPIs), which were based on PLN’s RUPTL, 2015–2024 and Indonesia’s National Medium-Term Development Plan (RPJMN), 2015–2019. PLN has established KPIs in its corporate plan and has regularly reflected these in its annual reports. The close alignment between the PLN’s KPIs and the program’s results framework and targets encouraged the PLN to achieve the DLI targets. Power utility companies in other countries would benefit from similar arrangements that are beneficial for the attainment of both the program and corporate performance targets.
completion, six of the seven safeguard PAPs were achieved. The implementation of the safeguard PAPs has improved the capacity of PLN, especially at the unit level, to manage environmental and social impacts. By excluding 190 circuit-kilometer (ckm) of medium-voltage lines in the indigenous peoples’ area and 428.19 ckm of medium-voltage lines and 284.98 ckm low-voltage lines in the key biodiversity areas, the PAPs minimized the risks to ADB safeguards compliance. But the exclusion also eliminated indigenous peoples’ access to program benefits. In the upcoming review of ADB’s Safeguard Policy Statement, the provisions for this modality could consider how significant risks associated with government-funded programs could be better addressed.
The RBL modality tested in Indonesia through this program came out successful and easier to implement with lower transaction costs. It was flexible enough and allowed the PLN to select investments based on its changing requirements even during program implementation. Therefore, it is well suited to large power systems where demand and the technology available can change within a short time. By focusing on aggregate outputs and result areas as opposed to monitoring each contract, the program was able to support PLN in an effective programmatic manner.
Monitoring the progress against targets of PLN’s broader Sumatra program, which the RBL supported, was not considered part of the RBL administration responsibility. Therefore, the threats posed by the lack of financing for the broader program and the subsequent removal of some of its major components were not sufficiently tracked down and addressed under the RBL. It is important for future RBL programs to include in their monitoring all associated interventions that could have an impact on their implementation to enable necessary actions to be taken promptly to address deficiencies and/or avoid negative unintended consequences.
Some of the DLI targets and baselines set during program preparation were found to be conservative or inconsistent. Adjustments were made during implementation to make them more realistic. The target on energy sales was significantly affected by external factors beyond PLN’s control, including lower economic growth than anticipated under the PLN’s Power Supply Business Plan (RUPTL), energy subsidy removal, and the changing costumer consumption behavior. The experience has highlighted the importance of (i) setting DLIs that are within program control and not vulnerable to external factors, (ii) setting ambitious but achievable targets based on historic trends and EA/IA capacity, and (iii) having enough flexibility to adjust to changes in the external environment.