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LESSONS:

Shifting Cultivation Stabilization Pilot Project

sector: Agriculture, Natural Resources, and Rural Development | country: Lao, People’s Democratic Republic

Implementation schedules must be realistic and recognize the capacity of local agency staff. Where a new approach is proposed, institutional rigidity (the ability to adopt change), which is common with top-down management systems, means considerably more time is needed to effect change.

Project designs should be flexible to allow changes as more appropriate methods for undertaking the same project interventions are recognized, e.g., the approach used to establish irrigation and water supply systems was changed from the original design to adopt approaches used by the United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime (UNODC) where labor is viewed as a beneficiary contribution rather than being paid for by loan funds.

Project start-up workshops are needed to improve the efficiency of project implementation office (PIO) staff in areas of financial and progress reporting, procurement, reimbursement of imprest accounts, and other implementation management matters.

The timely recruitment of consultants to support implementation can improve overall efficiency. Where two financiers are involved, recruitment for the two packages should be closely coordinated. Considerable effort can be saved by harmonizing reporting requirements to donors/financiers.

The appointment of counterpart staff to assist with project implementation should be made immediately upon loan effectiveness and their responsibilities under the project clarified to ensure their full commitment to project activities.

Regular reviews should be undertaken in a timely manner so that remedial action can be taken should the need arise.

Project designs in the Lao PDR should seek early commitment for essential project activities, such as the participation of counterparts during implementation. Provincial budgetary resources are still dependent upon national government allocations and are both scarce and in great demand by line agencies. Counterpart allocations are more readily made where local administrations appreciate the requirement for counterpart funds in advance.

To gain better access to the technical support services of national institutions, closer links need to be incorporated into the project management structure.

Access is a necessary prerequisite to other livelihood initiatives.

Where English language skills are limited among PIO and executing agency staff, administering a project from the country resident mission as early as possible after inception can provide efficiencies.

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