Despite the involvement of multiple actors in different locations and limited time to evaluate an EU-funded programme to support management of protected areas and ecosystems in Chad, the NIRAS team managed to produce recommendations on how to improve and keep the programme going.
Nestled in northeastern Chad, the Ennedi Nature and Cultural Reserve is a 40,000 square kilometer natural sandstone masterpiece, sculpted over the centuries by wind and water, creating a magnificent landscape marked by cliffs, canyons and natural arches. The permanent presence of water in this desert landscape has created a Saharan paradise that supports wildlife and human life.
Far to the south lies Zakouma National Park, one of the last remaining intact Sudano-Sahelian ecosystems on the African continent. The site extends over an immense plain of 3000 km2 in the Salamat region and preserves an integral part of the fauna and flora of the entire province. The area is considered important for wildlife because it is inhabited by one of the largest elephant herds in Africa as well as 50% of the world's population of Kordofan giraffe.
Both areas are part of the EU-funded programme "Support to the concerted management of Protected Areas and Fragile Ecosystems of Chad (APEF)” that aims to ensure a concerted approach to conservation, management and networking of several protected areas and fragile ecosystems with high ecological, cultural and tourism value in Chad.
percent of the world's population of Kordofan giraffes live in the Zakouma National Park
An evaluation with multi-level assistance
A NIRAS team of experts recently conducted a mid-term evaluation of the programme including visits to both sites over a one-month period. The assignment, however, proved to be rather complex as the programme involves several projects carried out by multiple actors in different locations and under distinct contractual arrangements. Although these separate components take different forms and focus on different themes, they all aim to contribute to the conservation of biodiversity in Chad in general, while seeking to improve the living conditions of the populations located within the project's area of influence.
Despite the complex nature of the programme, evaluations were conducted at two out of three of the intervention sites. The team put a lot of effort into travelling to and from numerous locations, defying the pandemic, postponements of the mission, and time restraints related to the beginning of the monsoon season.
“Our perseverance paid off as we were able to uncover programme elements that were obstacles to achieving the desired results in a timely and efficient manner.” says Stéphane Bouju, Team Leader of the evaluation. For each element that posed as a bottleneck or point of weakness, the team proposed avenues of improvement, set out approaches that seemed more suitable, and suggested possible changes that would ensure the programme’s success.
“We did this for each of the stakeholders involved – donor, government, operators, civil society,” Stéphane notes.
He is particularly proud of the team’s efforts in training the programme managers monitors – both at the level of programme coordination and at the level of project operators. This meant that they could better frame the continuation of the programme and improve the monitoring points.
To Stéphane, external evaluation is a way to point out risks and opportunities that the programme implementers operators or even the client do not see because they are focused on their own problems: “Sharing a new vision or a different interpretation of the situation allows the client to enlarge the field of possibilities, see new solutions, share the result of various experiences, but also fix uncertainties and hesitations about what is going well or what needs to be changed. This makes it possible to give impetus to new dynamics, organise new, more effective arrangements, and confirm choices, but also identify pitfalls and shortcomings and remedy them rapidly.” Stéphane finds this to be all the more obvious in a mid-term evaluation like the one they completed. In this way, the groundwork is laid for a successful and even enhanced continuation of the programme in its second term.