Canadian Consulting Engineer

African Development Bank Project Assessment Procedures

October 1, 2005
By Canadian Consulting Engineer

In 1999, the African Development Bank decided to review its procedures for assessing the impacts of projects that it considers for financing. The bank wanted the procedures to better reflect its socia...

In 1999, the African Development Bank decided to review its procedures for assessing the impacts of projects that it considers for financing. The bank wanted the procedures to better reflect its social and environmental policies. It sought to integrate cross-cutting factors, such as poverty, gender and stakeholder participation into the assessment process. A further objective was to harmonize its procedures with those of other major financial international institutions, including the World Bank.

For this purpose, the bank issued a call for tenders which was won by Tecsult International of Montreal. Thanks to Tecsult’s work, the bank acquired practical and adapted tools that allow it to integrate sustainable development concepts into the projects it funds. The ultimate goal is also to reduce poverty and protect the cultural and natural heritage of the African people.

The African Development Bank’s Environmental and Social Assessment Procedures developed by Tecsult are recognized worldwide as innovative. No other multilateral development bank has a single set of project impact assessment procedures that cover such a broad range of issues. The procedures have already been applied in the evaluation of more than 200 projects. As well, their application by all the bank’s partners on the African continent demonstrates a successful transfer of Canadian expertise.

Rigour with flexibility

Tecsult’s multidisciplinary team took on a major and complex challenge. It analyzed and synthesized all the procedures of the other multilateral development banks. It reviewed the African Development Bank’s policies and guidelines and consulted the bank’s experts to develop a product that met their expectations. The team had to account for the needs and restrictions of the bank’s regional member countries. And it needed to formulate project assessment procedures that incorporated environmental and social dimensions, while being very practical and adapted to the specific context of Africa.

Tecsult carried out the project in two phases over a period of more than three years, from August 2000 to December 2003. In Phase 1, the consultant team reviewed and updated the bank’s environmental assessment procedures to broaden their scope and integrate social issues. In Phase 2, the team developed sectoral assessment guidelines. These integrate the environmental and social dimensions into nine sectors of activity related to infrastructure and natural resources management. The sectoral guidelines propose a rigorous work method for reviewing and analyzing a project’s impacts while remaining flexible to the specific requirements of each project.

To improve access to the procedures and guidelines for all experts from the bank and the regional member countries, Tecsult provided the client with an internet-compatible interface so that the documentation can be consulted on the bank’s web site.

The project team set up by Tecsult was composed of environmental and social assessment practitioners endowed with vast work experience in Africa and familiar with the requirements of international institutions. This team also included sectoral experts to address the many types of projects funded by the bank, particularly those related to infrastructure, such as roads, dams, and power transmission lines. The team’s multidisciplinary approach made it possible to meet the mandate’s very complex requirements. The bank pointed out in a letter of satisfaction that “Tecsult appointed high profile experts who demonstrated great professionalism and flexibility in order to reconcile different points of view and to find solutions integrating various concerns expressed by the Bank’s officials.”

The mandate was carried out to the client’s satisfaction within the budget and on schedule. In 2004, the bank received the Institutional Award of the International Association for Impact Assessment for its efforts in promoting sustainable development.

Name of project: African Development Bank Environmental and Social Assessment Procedures

Award-winning firm: Tecsult, Montreal (Andr Julien, P. Eng., Manon Circ, M.A., Pierre Lgar, M.ATDR, Charles Morissette, M.Env.)

Client/Owner: African Development Bank


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