Conflict-Affected Area Rehabilitation Project: Project Completion Report
sector: Agriculture, Natural Resources, and Rural Development, Education, Energy, Health, Public Sector Management, Transport | country: Sri Lanka
At appraisal it was estimated that the project would be implemented over 4 years and be completed by December 2007. Due to the conflict, works could not be undertaken in the time envisaged, thus Loan 2043 was extended four times, to 31 March 2011, and Loan 2044 twice, to 31 December 2010. ADB needs to allow adequate time for planning, design, tendering, and construction of projects where a conflict is involved, as the incidence of security issues severely hampered the implementation of the project. Loan extensions cause extra work for the implementing agencies and ADB staff, and tend to discourage government agencies as they feel that their project is always behind schedule. In future, for similar projects under emergency or conflict situations, ADB needs to ensure that timetables are realistic.
The appraisal estimate for component A was that 500 km of roads could be rehabilitated with double-bitumen surface treatment. As a result of the government’s decision on national highways, the road surface was changed from double bitumen to asphalt concrete. This led to numerous contract variations and extensions. Therefore, rehabilitation of 500 km was reduced to 198 km. As for component B (power and electrification), it was fortunate that the Government of Norway agreed to cofinance it and that Japan Bank for International Cooperation (JBIC) agreed to undertake the Vavuniya-Kilinochchi transmission line, because otherwise the project would have had difficulty in meeting its objectives. In a major change in scope in 2006, funds released from component B thanks to the external assistance from Norway and JBIC were reallocated to component A. However, the scope of component A was reduced from 500 km to 300 km due to cost increases. Eventually, only 198 km of road could be completed. ADB needs to ensure that financial details, including cofinancing and assistance from other donors, are already in place at appraisal, as otherwise the possibility of not achieving project objectives becomes too high.
The executing agencies did not always submit their project completion reports on time, and not always in the format requested by ADB. The reports also did not contain sufficient information on government counterpart funds, which forced the project completion review mission (PCRM) to spend considerable time on obtaining the data from each executing agency. In the case of Ceylon Electricity Board (CEB), this proved extremely difficult, as the agency did not have adequate records dating back to the start of the project. This has been a common problem in several previous projects, where the executing agencies did not seem to be aware of how much was spent from government funds to the level of detail necessary to undertake a project completion report. ADB needs to ensure that the executing agencies for ADB projects collect and supply all data required in the project completion report; otherwise a PCRM spends too much time chasing such information.
In a project that involves several executing and implementing agencies, coordination between all agencies is of the utmost importance. While the national and provincial project coordinating committees (PCCs) did all that was possible to implement the project successfully, a more central unit for coordinating project activities would have improved implementation. The establishment of a dedicated project management unit (PMU) to facilitate the implementation and coordination with different government agencies should be considered for future projects of a similar nature, especially when they involve multiple sectors, multiple layers of governments, vast geographical areas, and other development partners.
The project completion report (PCR) noted that ADB should have allowed adequate time for planning, design, tendering, and construction of projects as the incidence of security issues severely hampered implementation of the project. ADB should have deferred project implementation or even the loan itself, until such time that security was restored on a permanent basis. This validation supports this lesson. It notes that the two loans were approved after the peace agreement was signed, although the situation still remained volatile and could be considered as unsuitable for project implementation.