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Social Sector Rehabilitation

| country: Tajikistan | region: Central Asian Republics

Continual on-the-job training of executing agencies and project implementation staff should be conducted during implementation. Training of the project team in financial management and accounting – and the use of financial and accounting software systems – significantly increased the effectiveness and speed of project implementation.

The civil works highlighted the importance of timely coordination between civil works and procurement of equipment and supplies. Civil work contractors should be prequalified to ensure adequate quality of the works. Local level technical supervision over the civil works contributed tothe quality and efficiency of the works.

The discretionary grant fund (DGF) component demonstrated the value of local community involvement in rehabilitation of community facilities and development of community-level projects. The DGF-funded microprojects helped to create employment, promoted entrepreneurship, provided local communities with long-term sources of income, and confirmed that local community mobilizationhas strong potential to support development activities.

The government did not utilize fully the project steering committee (PSC) as a strategic and coordinating institution. The project stakeholders missed an opportunity to use the PSC meetings for proactive multilateral dialogue, coordination, and cooperation. Project implementation issues were resolved through informal bilateral contacts between the project management unit (PMU) and the concerned ministries. This highlighted the trade-off between the role of PSC as an institution for strategic planning, interagency coordination, and policy dialogue; and PSC as an additional level of project management.

The project underscored the importance of interagency coordination. Donor coordination and information sharing in future projects should be ensured through mechanismssuch as roundtables, workshops, and conferences. These would bring together international aid agencies working in the country’s social sector development.

The project was the first ADB loan project in Tajikistan. At the start of implementation, the executing agency, project management unit (PMU), project implementation units (PIUs), and other counterparts were unfamiliar with ADB’s operation procedures and guidelines. In addition to providing on-the-job training, the international consultants played an important role in developing staff capacity in the PMU and PIUs. The consultants contributed significantly to increasing the efficiency of project implementation. Moreover, they developed adequate technical specifications for equipment and supplies, and streamlined distribution of pharmaceuticals to rehabilitated health care facilities.

To allow ADB to respond to the urgent social sector rehabilitation needs in post-civil war Tajikistan, the project was designed quickly in an insecure environment. For these reasons, the project appraisal had three major shortcomings: (i) inadequate assessment of infrastructure rehabilitation needs, (ii) underestimated project costs, and (iii) inadequate assessment of implementation arrangements. The shortcomings in appraisal work contributed to implementation delays and other problems that had to be resolved during implementation. Despite those shortcomings, the timely and broad nature of the project catalyzed efforts to address the challenges in the country’s social sector. When processing similar projects in the future, recognition of possible trade-offs between timely processing, quality Project Design, and effective implementation will be important. Circumstances permitting, adequate assessment of implementation issues and arrangements is also critical.

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