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LESSONS:

Rawalpindi Environmental Improvement

sector: Water and Other Urban Infrastructure and Services | country: Pakistan

Alignment with overall reforms: The project only supported implementation of reforms in the participating towns and WASA in line with PLGO 2001 and urban policy actions agreed with the government for the project (para. 53). Ownership and commitment to reforms deteriorated in general and project implementation was adversely affected. Although these risks were identified in the project design, no flexibility was built into the design to respond to these external factors. Major urban reforms cannot be undertaken in isolation from the external environment; they require political will, incentives, flexibility in design, and critical mass within the system to champion such reforms.

Clarity of roles and responsibilities: The PPTA and the RRP identified overlap in administrative and geographic alignments of agencies such as WASA, town administrations, RDA, the Cantonment Board, and the CDG responsible for municipal and other urban functions (para. 55). The policy actions, PSC and PIRC established for the project were unable to address these gaps. Clarity of roles, and geographic, administrative, and sector alignment are prerequisites for effective urban governance and need to be addressed at the planning stage or should be part of project readiness checklist.

Inclusive implementation arrangements: The PPTA also identified and consulted key stakeholders, including private sector developers, DHA, and the Cantonment Board�accepting their role in influencing project scope and cost. However, no formal agreement was signed with these stakeholders (para. 54). Formal arrangements with key stakeholders on the scope and cost- sharing arrangement should be part of the design and planning stage, to avoid delays and confusion at the project implementation stage.

Addressing the fundamentals reforms upfront: Major governance issues of autonomy and incentives to perform, which plagued the key implementing agencies that were the urban service providers, were only captured piecemeal in the policy framework. This allowed these issues that were fundamental for the success of the project to be addressed (or not be addressed) during project implementation. The design also allowed major investment subprojects to be implemented without addressing these fundamental issues. All critical conditions that are fundamental to project success should be part of project readiness at entry.

Provision of optimal environment for change: The project design included community and private sector participation in the delivery of urban services, supported by some concrete small-scale activities. However, the project did not provide clear direction and adequate resources to deliver these activities (para. 46). Flexibility is important in the design of complex loans, but for this flexibility to be used effectively, additional capacity, a guiding framework, and resources should be included in the sector loan, with supporting technical assistance to guide the use of the resources. Secondly, private sector participation requires professional management at both public and private sector ends and economies of scale rather than a piecemeal approach in a few areas.

Ensuring quality in complex reform oriented projects: The consultants under the loan were hired through QCBS. The staff costs in the bids were inadequate for quality staff. This hiring process allowed weak firms to bid low and win the bids, without fully appreciating the tasks ahead. The request for proposal for complex sector loans should either be quality-based or include a bid rejection option in case of underbidding in QCBS.

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