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LESSONS:

Women’s Health Project

sector: Health | country: Pakistan

Before a similarly complex and large-scale project is prepared, particularly in a country with difficult socioeconomic conditions, a detailed analysis of the potential risks of implementing such a project should be carried out.

A well-thought-out conceptual design is a key to the success of any project. In this case, the project design seems to have overestimated the capacity of the executing agencies (EAs), and relied too heavily on nongovernment organizations (NGOs) to carry out the social mobilization and health education components, without gauging their capability and integrity.

The Project had too many subcomponents for each component, many of which took the guise of activities within the subcomponents. As a result, the resources were too thinly spread to cover everything, thus diluting the impact of the Project in the target communities. A narrower project scope with clearly focused interventions could have brought about better results and helped achieve the goal of the Project.

A system of accountability must be clearly defined for all parties involved and effective mechanisms for controlling leakages should be put in place to offset private interests.

A project coordination unit (PCU) that is well integrated with an appropriate organic unit of the EA will be more effective than a stand-alone structure with a short life.

The loan should not be made effective unless full-fledged PCUs, each staffed by a competent and experienced project team, have already been established. Start-up delays can thus be minimized.

Effective monitoring and evaluation tools are essential for an assessment of the progress and impact of project implementation. In the Project, too many indicators were selected for benefit monitoring and evaluation (BME), assumed data sources were inappropriate, and major surveys were unrealistically left to government financing.

To ensure the recruitment of the most suitable experts, detailed terms of reference, relevant qualifications, the level of technical competence, and previous work experience in similar geographical situations and social structures should be specified for potential consultants.

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