Fisheries Development and Management Project
Summarizes ad hoc interim evaluation (XD-ABF-037-A) of a project to strengthen the capacity of the Omani Directorate General of Fisheries Resources (DGFR) to improve the management of Oman's marine fisheries. The project design overestimated the absorptive capacity of the DGFR. Its most serious flaw was a last minute decision to reduce the life of the project from 8 to 5 years, and the budget from $40 million to $20 million without adjusting objectives or scope. This mistake was complicated by numerous erroneous assumptions. In direct contradiction to the recommendations of the final evaluation of the precursor Fisheries Development Project, the design assumed that the DGFR had sufficient staff for the project to undertake offshore training and in-country technology transfer (involving a TA team of eight) simultaneously. In fact, the DGFR was unable to provide suitable counterparts, especially for the Resource Management and the Planning, Programming, and Budgeting components, even prior to the scheduled departure of 47 long-term trainees. The design also wrongly assumed strong political support within the DGFR for administrative reorganization and management upgrading, but such support is lacking among senior officials, in part because they perceive, correctly, that their budgeting and management processes cannot be radically altered without concomitant policy changes within the Ministries of Finance and Civil Service. Finally, the design assumed that the DGFR is politically committed to enforcing more stringent fisheries management. As a matter of fact, the Government lacks the political will to regulate domestic industrial and small-scale fishing (the latter alone accounts for 85% of the catch). Fines for violators are low and prosecution rare. Moreover, the Project Paper and the contract lack a clear implementation strategy, i.e., one which highlights the major milestones to be reached each year and specifies which activities are critical to project success. This, along with a lack of shared vision among key players, has hindered implementation. For example, the DGFR viewed the project as primarily a training effort, while the contractor saw it as an institutional development activity. Several key deliverables are behind schedule, while those deliverables that have been produced on time tend to be minor and of uneven quality. Contractor performance on the personnel development component was particularly weak. In sum, the evaluation concluded the project should be redesigned to emphasize DGFR personnel development (the component receiving the greatest support from the host country), eliminate the Planning, Programming, and Budgeting component, and de-emphasize fisheries management and research activities. A clear implementation strategy should be developed, the composition of the TA team should be adjusted, and its size reduced.