World Bank: PRDP-Bicol on right track in implementation of projects
By Connie Destura LEGAZPI CITY --- A World Bank official said the Philippine Rural Development Project (PRDP) is right on track in implementing projects in the Bicol region. PRDP executives, together with World Bank officials from the National and Project Support Office-South Luzon, recently visited Bicol to measure the performance of two of its projects in terms of achieving its development objectives, effectiveness of tools being used and the Department of Agriculture’s readiness to mainstream the project efforts. The two projects are I-REAP or Investments in Rural Enterprises and Agriculture and Fisheries Productivity and I-BUILD or Intensified Building up of Infrastructure and Logistics for Development. Emily Bordado, Department of Agriculture (DA) regional information chief, in a phone interview Thursday last week said the World Bank team conducted a two-day simultaneous physical inspection of infrastructure and enterprise development subprojects in the region. “For I-BUILD, the team conducted a walk-through and inspection of the Rehabilitation/Improvement of Pistola-Tablon Road with 3 Units Bridges in Oas, Albay; the Rehabilitation of San Isidro to Pag-oring Nuevo Farm-to-Market Road (FMR) in Libmanan, Camarines Sur, and the Construction/Rehabilitation of Pinagwarasan to Lanot FMR,” she said. For I-REAP, it conducted a consultation dialogue with the proponent groups of microenterprise subprojects in Sorsogon namely the Rural Improvement Club (RIC) of Bagacay and the Carayat Seaweed Farmers Association in Gubat, Sorsogon and the Samahan ng Mangingisda ng Gimaloto (SAMAGI) in Barangay Pamurayan, Sorsogon City. The PRDP team also had a dialogue with the members of the Tunay Tapat Lahing Pilipino Cooperative (TTLPC) in Libon, Albay. Food and Agriculture Organization Natural Resource Management (NRM) Officer Jim Hancock led the stakeholders’ consultation dialogue in the Municipal Fish Sanctuary and Marine Reserve of Matnog in Barangay Calintaan in Matnog, Sorsogon. The activity dubbed “Midterm Review Mission” was capped with a plenary session and group discussion per component and unit together with the World Bank experts. “Overall, the entire project is doing quite well in terms of progress. You’ve come a long way in just three years of implementation. You now start to see subprojects on the ground happening so that’s really nice to see,” World Bank Task Team Leader Frauke Jungbluth said. She lauded the difference made by joint technical reviews in reducing the time to process subprojects. “It was a great innovation that has been started,” Jungbluth added. However, she said that during the field visits, the team had seen problems and bottlenecks in project implementation particularly on the quality of the workmanship for I-BUILD subprojects. She said the project could still be improved by applying lessons learned in planning and implementing more I-BUILD subprojects. She emphasized the value of integrating drainage and slope protection in the design of new roads and ensuring that local government units take their role in the operations and maintenance of completed roads. In terms of I-REAP implementation, Jungbluth shared that challenges are beginning to arise with the onset of project activities. She said that a key to move forward is the project’s contribution to put them into a sustainable path. “We don’t want to have at the end of the project a lot of subprojects that failed because of issues that cropped up early on that we could have done something about,” she added. Jungbluth reminded PRDP implementers to learn from the lessons and bring them in to make the processes go smoother to avoid delays and variation orders or retrofitting of things. “For the next three years it really means putting all of these on the ground in the best possible way, with the best quality and impact and then measuring these. What the data showed us for now is that you’re in a good path towards achieving the project development objectives,” Jungbluth said. The World Bank official furthered that in the next three years, they want to see subprojects such as quality infrastructures and viable and sustainable enterprises completed in a good way. Moreover, she expressed keenness on the Project’s I-PLAN component using the PCIPs to converge with other institutions that leverage funds. Dr. Elena B. Delos Santos, DA regional director and PRPD project director, expressed her confidence that with the activities during the recent World Bank mission, the outputs will be the region’s guide in improving its strategies and efforts towards the enhancement of the implementation and attainment of project goals and objectives in Bicol. The three-day Midterm Review Mission of the PRDP implementation in South Luzon held in Bicol was the last leg of similar activities conducted in three other clusters in the country namely North Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao. On its third year of implementation, Bicol has 11 approved Value Chain Analyses, seven approved PCIPs and seven Interagency Memorandum of Understanding signing activities conducted to institutionalize PCIP implementation. The region also has 18 approved I-BUILD subprojects amounting to P1.35 billion which will benefit 36,499 individual beneficiaries. Likewise, Bicol has 22 approved I-REAP subprojects worth a total of P66.17 million with a total of 17,324 beneficiaries. PRDP is a six-year World Bank-assisted development project being implemented by the DA. It aims to raise farmers’ income and establish an inclusive, market-oriented and climate-resilient agri-fishery sector through partnerships with LGUs and convergence with the private sector in providing key infrastructure, facilities and technology.