Final Evaluation of the Oman Fisheries Development Project (Project No. 272-0101.1)
Final evaluation of a 1983-1989 project to develop Oman's fishery sector by strengthening the technical capabilities of the Directorate General of Fisheries (DGF). The project's impact on DGF institution building and the development of Oman's fishery sector has been minimal. Major problems were the project's unrealistically ambitious design and lack of an institutional management component, and erroneous assumptions about the commitment of the Government of Oman and DGF management. Other problems included: the use of host country contracting, which only exacerbated administrative problems at the DGF; significant professional differences between the two project contractors; and less than rigorous oversight by the Omani-American Joint Commission (OAJC). Weak management and lack of political will at the DGF prevented the adoption of appropriate policies and regulatory decrees and created numerous administrative and logistical obstacles to institution-building efforts. In addition, the DGF was and is structurally incapable of supporting effective fishery development. Lines of authority and responsibility for program planning and execution are poorly defined or non-existent, and mechanisms for promoting coordination are ineffective. As a case in point, the tenuous relationship between the DGF's central office and the Director of Fisheries for the Southern Region impeded the integration of the national and southern regional programs. Training activities, though critical to project design, were poorly planned and largely ineffective. A considerable amount of the training was unstructured and based on informal contact with counterparts; in only a few cases (e.g., statistics) was this kind of training successful. Off-shore, long-term, non-degree training proved expensive and, given the qualifications of participants, generally inappropriate. Extension efforts were impeded by lack of a realistic strategy and of motivated DGF extensionists knowledgeable about traditional fisheries. Marketing efforts were misconceived, and the substantial investment by the government in infrastructure and by the project in TA resulted in little tangible benefit. The statistics program focused on generating stock assessment rather than production data, while project research was constrained by lack of personnel, support, and of the problem- solving approach needed for long-term impact. The following lessons were learned. (1) Given Oman's weak administrative base, project assistance is staff-intensive and thus inconsistent with OAJC's mandate. If such assistance is continued, OAJC staff should be supplemented with contractors. (2) Sector development programs such as this should identify a clear set of objectives and concentrate on a limited number of constraints. (3) In the absence of strong management skills in the implementing agency, A.I.D. direct contracting is the most effective means of providing TA. (4) Further investment in Oman's fisheries sector should be reconsidered unless there is a significant increase in DGF's commitment.