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The AER is an annual report by ADB’s Independent Evaluation Department (IED) that informs the ADB’s Board and Management on the performance of recent ADB operations.

The 2015 AER provided several lessons learned from ADB’s performance in country programming, sovereign and nonsovereign operations, and technical assistance. Further, it focused on urban water supply and sanitation operations in an annual series on sustainability analysis.

Here are some of the lessons culled from the 2015 AER.

Country Programs

Several lessons drawn from the evaluation work relate to the need to:

  • Make infrastructure investments more inclusive;
  • Connect interventions in different sectors in a country to improve synergy;
  • Integrate disaster risk management and vulnerability assessments;
  • Include knowledge services and technology facilitation in programs; and
  • Connect national and regional infrastructure programs.

Sovereign (Public Sector) Operations

The IED closely look at governance risk assessments and safeguard implementation, mainly in sovereign operations. The following are some highlights:

  • Governance risk assessments and risk management plans have been integrated into project design, but their quality is uneven.
  • The ADB’s Safeguard Policy Statement (SPS) is functioning adequately; there is no need for an update. Further efforts may be needed to make the approach to using country safeguard systems in projects more strategic.
  • Stronger peer review mechanisms are needed in some departments for category B (medium risk) projects.
  • Safeguard enforcement can improve further, with better project readiness for safeguard plan implementation, better quality and focus of monitoring reports, and timely disclosure of all safeguard monitoring reports as is required.

Nonsovereign (Private Sector) Operations

IED completed an evaluation of ADB’s Trade Finance Program (TFP), run by the Private Sector Operations Department (PSOD). The Management agreed to the recommendation to provide sufficient staff and more investment in technology so the TFP can operate as a routine program. The PSOD plans to introduce a new TFP strategy for 2015–2018, including a new design and monitoring framework (DMF). A key lesson from the evaluation is the importance of covering program objectives and targets fully in DMFs.

Technical Assistance Operations

The following are some of the key lessons in the report’s section on technical assistance (TA) operations:

  • TA is generally well-aligned with corporate and country program goals.
  • While Management agreed to emphasize innovation in TA, it did not want to put a target on innovative TA in the ADB results framework.
  • The need for more strategic use of TA is leading Management to form a TA committee and to put a cap on the number of TA.
  • Various countries made good progress in strengthening country safeguards system (CSS) through ADB TA on safeguards—and ADB should build on this progress through further TA.
  • The methodology for equivalence and acceptability assessments to initiate the use of CSS in ADB-funded projects has been well developed, but using it to do country safeguard reviews in preparation of country partnership strategies (CPSs) has not been made compulsory.
  • A review to decide how to proceed with moving to the use of CSS is needed.

Sustainability of Urban Water Supply and Sanitation (WSS) Operations

The lessons are divided into three sections according to financial, socioeconomic and environmental sustainability.

  • In terms of financial sustainability, project teams should/must:
    • Evaluate demand carefully;
    • Make realistic cost estimates and plan for operations and maintenance;
    • Be aware of the unwillingness to charge;
    • Uniformly understand the concept of willingness-to-pay;
    • Understand cost recovery, cash flow and tariffs; and
    • Consider a long-term view of cost recovery and embed it in a plan.
  • For socioeconomic sustainability:
    • Community participation is very important in many cases.
    • Effective training arrangements are needed.
    • ADB should emphasize capacity building efforts in WSS projects more than in most other projects.
  • For environmental sustainability:
    • WSS should be based on comprehensive water resource planning.
    • The role of integrated water resources management should be more prominent in water-scarce areas.
    • The approach to integrated water resource management in project design should be context driven.
    • Climate change needs to be addressed for sustainable development.

Read the full report and related documents here:

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