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LESSONS:

Flood Damage Rehabilitation Project in Bangladesh (Loan 1666-BAN[SF])

| country: Bangladesh

Response time appears to be a key aspect of effective emergency assistance. ADB appraisal required 15 weeks after the appraisal mission to make the loan effective. While it is noted that this is the shortest practical time, future appraisals could look at standardizing measures to trim this down further. Such measures could include creating a procedure at Bangladesh Resident Mission (BRM) for collecting information immediately after the disaster and feeding it into a standardized template for approval.

The Project had included a large number of contract packages that were found to be difficult to procure as well as implement. This led to contract award delays that were compounded by some of the executing agencies (EAs) following different procurement practices. Future emergency assistance projects should limit the number of contract packages by awarding larger contracts. The Operations Evaluation Mission (OEM) has been given to understand that the ADB emergency assistance project in 2004 is in line with this principle of reducing the number of contract packages.

On average, construction work started at the earliest 12 months after the floods had receded, and the restored infrastructure’s benefits could not be made available before 18 months. The next rainy season interrupted the work and delayed implementation further. Planners of emergency assistance projects should be aware of these factors to ensure more realistic implementation schedules.

The early appointment of BRM to administer the Project proved effective. BRM’s role in hosting quarterly project steering committee (PSC) meetings, as well as frequent meetings with each EA, contributed greatly to project success. This implies that emergency assistance projects could be better implemented when administered from the resident missions.

Loan covenants requiring borrowers to insure project facilities are not practical for projects of this magnitude involving multiple subprojects. Such covenants can be complied with only when a project has fewer subprojects. This should be discussed during loan negotiations.

Emergency assistance projects have consistently rehabilitated infrastructure to preflood levels to restore normal economic activity quickly. However, the restored facilities remain prone to, and are generally damaged by, subsequent floods. A consensus is emerging that rehabilitation after an emergency such as a flood should consider upgrading the infrastructure rather than merely restoring it to preflood levels. Current ADB policy for emergency assistance loans requires that the immediate short-term recovery phase be followed by long-term rehabilitation and reconstruction programs. These programs should consider upgrading infrastructure facilities. In effect, a specific link needs to be provided between the recovery and reconstruction phases. Such a link could be by way of including project preparatory technical assistance (TA) in the recovery phase or expanding the role of consultants in the recovery phase to plan the upgrading. Future emergency assistance loans could incorporate specific packages to

(i) provide emergency assistance in restoration of works,
(ii) provide TA to review cases for upgrading,
(iii) provide TA to study and design the upgrading works, and (iv) firm up arrangements for funding the upgrading works.

During the 1998 emergency assistance, ADB’s loan had been used for a number of small repair projects in education, leading to difficulties in coordinating them and delaying implementation. Such repairs could typically form part of relief activities immediately after the floods, when other public buildings are being restored. The larger projects in transport and water supply and sanitation are more capital intensive, and the Government could use ADB funding more effectively by channeling it into these sectors. This does not in any way imply that ADB should reduce its involvement in education but merely urges ADB and the Government to give closer attention to prioritizing the sectors that will receive emergency assistance and capital.

Emergency assistance projects are typically spread all over the country. The disparate nature of the EAs and the resulting record-keeping activities make it difficult to locate the subprojects funded by ADB. This issue is further aggravated when the project performance evaluation report is conducted 4-5 years after project completion. Besides the difficulty of locating records, most EA officials have been transferred or are unavailable for various reasons. Operations Evaluation Department’s (OED) project performance evaluation report could, therefore, be conducted within 2 years of project completion to ensure precise assessment.

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