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buffalos, Africa, biodiversiy, natural park
In 2012, AFD launched a call for NGO projects on “Biodiversity and Development: sharing biodiversity benefits to help village communities”. Funded by the Sectoral Innovation Facility for Non-governmental Organisations (FISONG), the call for projects aimed to promote specific know-how and NGO innovation capacities. In early 2013, three NGO projects were selected in Tanzania, Niger and Madagascar

At their inception, these three projects received support to implement a harmonised monitoring system to facilitate final evaluations and capitalise on experience-sharing. While the three interventions had similar purposes, their intervention logics were different and tailored to their respective situations.

Relevant projects with mixed effectiveness and efficiency

The evaluation concludes that the projects implemented relevant interventions in the sense that they responded well to the needs of biodiversity conservation and local community development. However, their expected results were only partially achieved and the efficiency of some projects was questioned due to high management costs. Finally, the projects’ sustainability and impacts were difficult to evaluate, and variable depending on the sites, despite the methodological support provided for monitoring them.

Useful recommendations for NGOs and AFD
  • Ensure minimum good governance conditions

The two projects carried out in Niger and Madagascar show that minimum good governance conditions are key to the success of projects under public–private partnerships (the means to operate, enforce security, law and order and anticorruption measures). As NGO projects cannot take over the state’s sovereign functions, it is important to support public policies and the state’s capacities to uphold their commitments.

  • Establish a baseline to assess impacts

Despite the support for implementing a monitoring system before project inception, the NGOs did not manage to establish a detailed baseline. The evaluation recommends that AFD pay more attention to these baselines before approving financing. As the FISONG financing system requires NGOs to pay for these baselines with their own financial resources, the evaluation recommends that AFD design a suitable financing method allowing NGOs to produce them before project inception.

Further reading: Evaluation and cross-cutting capitalisation of the Biodiversity and Development FISONG. How to transition from specific examples to generic lessons?


  • Synergy between conservation and socioeconomic development, a change in scale

Although the three projects achieved biodiversity conservation results, it was more difficult for them to quantify the development-related results. This is explained by the overly small scale of most of the development activities compared to the size of targeted populations: a few guard jobs created for tens of thousands of inhabitants living on the periphery of the protected area and a few hundred beneficiaries of incomegenerating activities compared with the thousands of individuals affected by the restrictions on the use of resources in the protected area.

  • Tailor ambitions to the resources allocated

All project documents studied aimed to achieve conservation and development results in short time frames without necessarily taking into account the initial situation in the protected area from the outset. However, none of the projects achieved their ambitious objectives.

Yet, had their ambitions not been “oversized”, the NGO project initiators risked having their proposal rejected by the call-for-projects system. This competitive system in fact pushes NGOs to make highly ambitious proposals in the hope that their project will be selected. The evaluation recommends helping NGOs to adopt more reasonable objectives or developing multi-tranche financing to support interventions over longer time frames by using a results-based monitoring tool. The consultants thus suggest pairing these new types of funding with a graphic tool to monitor project progress. This tool would allow AFD to evaluate the advisability of continuing or halting its financial support in light of the interim results achieved.

3 projects and their results in brief

The project in Saharan Niger

Associating two NGOs and the national authorities, this project involved improving management at the Termit and Tin Toumma National Nature Reserve in the east of the country and offsetting the negative impacts of nearby oil block operations.

→ This project reduced the pressure of poaching, implemented nature reserve management tools and conducted numerous education and awareness-raising actions. Although it was impacted by major insecurity conditions triggered by terrorism, the project achieved various results in the area of biodiversity conservation. However, its management costs were high and the sustainability of results remain uncertain, as further international funding is now required.


The support project for new protected areas in Madagascar

Led by three conservation and development NGOs, this project aimed to develop consultation and management methods for two new marine, coastal and terrestrial protected areas in the north-west of the country.

→ The intervention succeeded in several ways: local governance was strengthened; income-generating activities were developed for local communities; protected area effects were monitored; and best practices were capitalised on and disseminated. Yet, these results are still greatly affected by poor public governance, the police being unable to travel to book locally identified offences and corruption.

The support project for wildlife corridors in Tanzania

Associating a French NGO and local NGOs, the project aimed to safeguard the wildlife moving between Lake Manyara and Tarangire National Parks by encouraging local stakeholders to develop “socioecological corridors”.

→ This project achieved many of its governance and development objectives. In particular, it led to a 37% reduction in the conflicts sparked by the damage that wildlife predators inflicted on farmers' livestock. The impacts on biodiversity conservation remain difficult to evaluate.

This article was originally published in the AFD 2017/2018 Evaluations Report