AFD in Asia
AFD-EUDN 2012 Conference: Evaluation and its discontents, do we learn from experience in development? March 26th 2012, Paris
Our societies’ demand for the evaluation of economic policies has been evolving alongside a growing desire for transparency and accountability of decision-makers . This is within a context where persistent doubts exist regarding the efficiency of public spending. In the development sector, this is particularly apparent as development assistance has been heavily criticized due to its limited efficiency. The increasing budget constraints faced by many donors have also exacerbated the complexity of the task.
Nevertheless, the issue of evaluating public policies is neither a new idea, nor a novel practice. It becomes increasingly essential, however, to determine whether the evaluation task is properly conducted. We need to discuss whether the way evaluations are undertaken produces an accumulation of knowledge that is accessible to decision makers, or whether the context in which development policies are implemented severely reduces the usefulness of past experiences for designing future projects.
Can we learn from our own and others’ experiences in the field of development? If so, how can evaluation contribute and how is it that we seem unable to translate these experiences into practice? If not, what are the factors hampering the learning process?
Conference Center Pierre Mendès-France Ministère de l’Economie, des Finances et de l’Industrie , Paris
These twelve hydro-meteorological stations, inaugurated on 7 March at Can Tho in the Mekong Delta, will transmit the data collected directly to computer terminals to provide real-time information on the Mekong River’s water resources. This regional hydrological system, called Mekong-HYCOS, has been set up by the Mekong River Commission as the first information-sharing programme of its kind between the four member countries.
The inaugural ceremony for the Mekong hydro-geological stations took place in the presence of the French Ambassador to Vietnam, the Director-General of the Mekong River Commission, the AFD Director in Hanoi, and representatives from the Vietnamese Ministries for the Environment and Transport and the Can Tho local authorities.
Why has the Mekong Commission set up the Mekong-HYCOS hydrological system?
The project’s overarching goal is to promote sustainable development in the Lower Mekong basin, under an international cooperation agreement signed in 1995 between the four Mekong countries (Laos, Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam), which established the Mekong River Commission (MRC).
The specific target is to establish a reliable hydrological observation system for the region (virtually real time data collection and distribution) to be shared by all four member countries to monitor water resources in the Mekong Basin.
View of the Mekong at Can Tho (photo AFD - J.C. Pires)
The outcome will be:
- a functional and reliable system for real-time collection and transmission of hydro-meteorological data (rainfall, water levels) that will improve hydrological monitoring and forecasting along the Mekong River and its main tributaries
- improved data processing and archiving systems in each country
- shared databases and communication networks at regional level
- supply and distribution of hydrological information to users
- strengthened capacities for sustainable use of the water system in the long term.
The project therefore contributes to the Millennium Development Goals (MDG) and in particular to Target 1 of Goal 7 to ensure environmental sustainability: “to integrate the principles of sustainable development into country policies and programmes and reverse the loss of environmental”.
A sophisticated network for collecting and analysing data on water
Under the project, the Mekong Commission and its member countries selected 32 hydro-meteorological stations along the main tributaries of the Mekong and Tonle Sap rivers and in the Mekong delta.
A HYCOS hydro-meteorological station (photo AFD - M. Parent)
The stations have been upgraded with:
- automated devices for measuring water levels and rainfall
- a data storage platform
- a telemetry system for transmitting as much of the data collected as possible by satellite or other suitable means.
An unprecedented collaborative effort to share information between the four countries
Each of the four national hydrogeological services as well as the Mekong River Commission’s regional centre in Phnom Penh have been equipped with computer terminals to receive, process and archive the data transmitted by the measurement stations. All the receiving terminals have simultaneous access to all of the raw data.
This is the first time that the member countries (Vietnam, Thailand, Laos and Cambodia) have agreed to share data to such an extent. Real-time quality control of the raw data, acquired in virtually real time, ensures that they can be reliably used for flood forecasting by the Mekong River Commission and by the relevant national agencies: each country will be able to incorporate the data from upstream countries directly into their own forecasting system.
Transferring the know-how
A great many training activities were organised for the hydrological agencies in each country. These mainly followed the paired in-service training model, which is the most appropriate and effective system for the type of equipment installed.
Training was organised whenever an international expert was present in the region, at national level with local experts during each site visit and when the receiving stations (terminals) were being set up. Conventional training sessions and workshops were also organised to supplement the continuing training programme.
In Vietnam, the project financed 12 hydro-meteorological measurement stations and provided support on a diminishing scale to operations and maintenance.
Financing and implementation agencies
This 3M € Mekong-HYCOS project for the region is financed by the AFD (2 M€) and the French Global Environment facility (1 M€). It is implemented by the Mekong River Commission and the technical ministries in each of the four member countries, Laos, Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam. It is supported by scientific and technical expertise from the Institute for Development Research IRD) and the Compagnie Nationale du Rhône (CNR), and has received the scientific endorsement of the World Meteorological Organisation.
Entering the final project phase
The final project phase, now about to begin, will maintain the training effort for the stakeholders, introduce a regional policy for maintenance and processing of hydrological data and build up a stock of spare parts.
The postponement of project completion to the end of 2012 will enable the MRC to organise an event on the hydrology of the Mekong Basin, which will illustrate the project’s results (film, brochures, reports from users, etc.) and draw the attention of policy-makers to the issue of sustainable water supplies in the sub-region.
This 3 M€ project is financed by the AFD (2 M€) and the FGEF (1 M€).
To find out more on this regional project, go to the Mekong River Commission website
In January 2012, the AFD contributed 16 million dollars to financing for new methane plants at 8 production sites for cassava starch. The company operating the sites has installed a 23.6MW combined heat and power system using wastewater from the steep tanks adjacent to its production sites.
All of the renewable energy produced is used by the company’s production system, reducing its CO2 emissions by 534 000 tonnes a year. The project, costing a total of 41.3 million dollars, saves the company 5.3 million dollars a year in energy bills and brings in 2.7 million dollars from carbon credit sales (CDM).
It is using a 100 million dollar line of credit (non-concessional) provided to an Indonesian public bank in 2010. This line of credit is supporting energy management investments in energy efficiency, renewable energy and fuel-switching from oil to gas and coal, and is intended for public and private companies.
The line of credit is supporting the emergence of low-carbon projects, which are an essential component in Indonesia’s efforts to reach its ambitious targets for greenhouse gas emission reductions (the government has committed to emission reductions of 26 to 41% by 2020).
This is an emblematic project for Rajasthan, as it will be reorganising the city of Jodhpur’s water supply network in order to remedy the serious water scarcities it is experiencing. The project will help to improve living conditions for the city’s inhabitants as well as reducing greenhouse gas emissions by introducing large-scale energy-efficiency measures.
On the 2nd February, in Delhi, the AFD signed its first direct sovereign loan to the Indian government, amounting to 71.1 million euros. The financing agreement was co-signed by India’s Minister of Finance and the French Ambassador François Richier. The project agreement was signed with the Government of Rajasthan.
The reorganisation of the city of Jodhpur’s water supply network is an emblematic project for the State of Rajasthan, two thirds of which lies in the Thar desert. Serious water scarcities are being worsened by the dilapidated state of its hydraulic installations. The programme is expected to implement several components, including a complete overhaul of the water production and distribution system, energy efficiency measures, extended water supply coverage and management measures.
The project will significantly improve the living conditions of Jodhpur’s inhabitants, who only have water supplies for a few hours a day at present. It will also reduce greenhouse gas emissions by introducing large-scale energy efficiency measures, mainly for electro-mechanical equipment.
From left to right : Mr Prabodh Saxena (Joint Secretary, DEA) ; Mr François Richier (Ambassador of France) ; Mr Yves Guicquéro (Deputy Director, Department Asia, AFD)
The new premises of the Institut Pasteur in Lao PDR, over 95% financed by AFD, were inaugurated in Vientiane on 23 January. This research institute is the result of the Lao government’s commitment to fill an “epidemiological gap” and is the new link in the Institut Pasteur network in Southeast Asia.
Around a hundred personalities from different embassies (Japan, Luxembourg, United States, etc.), development partners (notably European Cooperation, Asian Development Bank and United Nations agencies) and ministries (Prime Minister’s Office and Ministry of Science and Technologies) attended the inauguration of the Institut Pasteur in Lao PDR by the Lao Minister of Health, in the presence of the President of the Institut Pasteur in Paris and the Director of AFD Vientiane.
Filling an existing “epidemiological gap”
The decision to create this establishment in Lao PDR came in response to the observation that an “epidemiological gap” existed when, between 2003 and 2005, there were outbreaks of SARS and avian flu and all the countries in the sub-region were mobilizing for the surveillance and control of these emerging and re-emerging diseases. At the time, this highlighted the lack of human, material and financial resources in terms of surveillance, the capacity to address current and emerging public health problems and research.
Health insurance and improving maternal and infant healthcare
The Lao Government therefore called on the Institut Pasteur in Paris and AFD’s support to finance the premises of the Institut under its project to support the Lao health sector. This project was financed by a €7 million grant to extend the national health insurance program, improve maternal and infant healthcare and support the fight against AIDS. This Institut Pasteur is part of the Institut Pasteur network in Southeast Asia (3 in Vietnam, one in Cambodia and now one in Lao PDR).
Promoting research and training
The two challenges now facing this institute are to promote a scientific and medical research program, along with the associated high-level training, and to generate and mobilize the financial resources required to make it sustainable. This will allow it to effectively fight against poverty and vulnerabilities and to contribute to socioeconomic development in the country.
The Ministry of Health is planning to set up a scientific hub comprising the Institut Pasteur in Lao PDR, Fondation Mérieux, the National Centre of Laboratories and Epidemiology, Wellcom Trust and the National Center of Malariology, Parasitology and Entomology. It also aims to gradually develop a research activity related to regional public health issues, develop training for students and researchers and promote local and regional partnerships.
"A very important moment in the history of Franco-Lao medical cooperation”
For the former Ambassador of France, Mr. Sénémaud, “This inauguration is a very important moment in the history of Franco-Lao medical cooperation, which has developed considerably in recent years thanks to the operations of a number of public and private stakeholders (...) Agence Française de Développement, the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which is financing an ambitious support program for higher education, as well as the Mérieux and Pierre Fabre Foundations, the Rhône-Alpes Region, the ESTHER Public Interest Group and several NGOs, such as Médecins du Monde, which are doing outstanding work here. We have thus built a cooperation hub around the University of Health Sciences. The Institut Pasteur is its latest component.”
€4.7m of financing secured:
AFD: (construction): €1.6m
Institut Pasteur in Paris (mainly salaries for IP Paris consultants): €1.1m
French Ministry of Health (microbiology equipment): €0.3m
Luxembourg (unearmarked use): €1.0m
Private foundations (Nam Theun 2 Health Program): €0.5m
Asian Development Bank (equipment): €0.2m