The Asian Development Bank (ADB), which is the main financing institution of the Integrated Natural Resources and Environmental Management Project (INREMP), conducted a field review mission from September 17, 2018 to October 4, 2018 to monitor the progress of the project, discuss the technical and financial status as well as the challenges requiring immediate solutions, update the project administration manual, and write out an action plan for the next three months to keep track of the project’s target for the current year.
The review mission looked into the performance of the project in the four priority Upper River Basins (URBs). With respect to the Natural Resources Management (NRM) component of the project, the mission team visited agroforestry sites in Bauko, Mountain Province; in Danao, Bohol; and in Kibawe, Bukidnon. The team also inspected a reforestation area in Bontoc, Mountain Province and commercial tree plantation and reforestation areas in Lanao del Sur. For the Rural Infrastructure (RI) subproject, the team witnessed the ongoing access road rehabilitation in Kibawe, Bukidnon; in Buenavista, Bohol; and in Bauko, Mountain Province.
Under the project’s Livelihood Enhancement Support (LES), women members of San Carlos Association for Rehabilitation of Environmental Denudation (SCARED) in Danao, Bohol demonstrated to the team the manual production of cassava chips, camote juice, camote jam, and camote ketchup. To the north, the team stopped by the coffee processing facility of Madchikom Coffee Producers Cooperative in Sagada, Mountain Province.
Results and findings
A meeting was held on October 19, 2018 to discuss the findings of the review mission. Presiding the discussion was Atty. Jonas Leones, Undersecretary for Policy, Planning, and International Affairs of the DENR. In attendance was Dr. Jiangfeng Zhang, Director of Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture Division of ADB. Heads of the project implementing unit, representatives from Regional Coordinating Offices, partner agencies namely, the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA), the Department of Finance (DOF), the Municipal Development Fund Office (MDFO), the Department of Agriculture (DA), the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), the National Commission for Indigenous Peoples (NCIP), and project’s consultants were also present.
Mr. Takeshi Ueda, ADB’s Principal Natural Resources and Agriculture Economist and Mission Leader, presented and discussed his team’s overall findings in all sites under consideration. He was joined by Senior Operations Officer Cecile Ramiro; Operations Officer Karen Chua; Associate Safeguards Officers Judy Vermudo (for Resettlement) and Edwin Lara (for Environment).
There was solid commitment and dynamic cooperation of people’s organizations (POs/IPOs) involved in project implementation across all URBs. The general sentiment felt was that the assistance made by the Regional Project Coordinating Office (RPCOs), the Provincial Project Management Offices (PPMOs) and Watershed Management and Project Coordination Offices (WMPCOs) to the POs/IPOs strengthened project implementation.
As of October 15, 2018, the overall physical progress of the project was pegged at 33% against an elapsed period of 72.6% from its approval. The strengthening of engaged POs in project implementation was the most notable achievement for Project Component 1: Establishing river basins and watershed management and investment plans. The Rural Infrastructure (RI) subproject, which falls under Project Component 2: Increasing smallholder and institutional investments in conservation and enhancing URB productivity in forestry, agriculture, and rural sectors, showed steady progress despite the demanding requirements for environmental and social safeguards. Likewise, the Natural Resources Management (NRM) subproject made substantial improvement with a little more than half of its overall targets already accomplished.
Moreover, 38,941 participants (45% of which are female) at the PO and LGU levels benefitted from trainings conducted for and by the project. A GIS-based Decision Support System (GDSS) was also developed and put into operation for project management and monitoring.
A Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) was worked out to address various issues that were deemed to have negatively affected project implementation.
Undersecretary Jonas Leones commended the team for successfully carrying out the review. (INREMP/ Irish Viola Santa Ana)