This evaluation is one of two country portfolio evaluations conducted in 2011 examining Global Environment Facility (GEF) support in the Latin America and the Caribbean region. Nicaragua was selected primarily on the basis of its comparatively diverse, large, and mature GEF portfolio and because of its status as one of the poorest countries in the Western hemisphere, making it particularly vulnerable to global market trends and price fluctuations as well as to climate variability.
Nicaragua’s participation in the GEF started during GEF-1 in 1996. The GEF portfolio in Nicaragua accounts for $32.27 million in support and $165.24 million in of cofinancing. Climate change and biodiversity are the most frequently targeted focal areas in terms of number of projects. The evaluation was presented to the GEF Council in June 2012 as a part of the Annual Country Portfolio Evaluation Report 2012 (ACPER 2012).
Results, Effectiveness, and Sustainability
- Capacity development has been a strong component in all projects with sustainable achievements, establishing an adequate enabling policy environment for future larger scale actions.
- In the biodiversity focal area, goals have tended to be overambitious, leading to unfulfilled expectations for actual results and impacts; modest progress toward impacts can be reported.
- Climate change mitigation projects have, on the whole, been successful in yielding both environmental and socioeconomic benefits, particularly through the promotion of renewable energy in isolated rural communities.
- Adaptation to climate change is not well mainstreamed in the GEF Trust Fund portfolio, nor is it a focus of GEF project interventions, even though it is increasingly a central priority for Nicaragua.
- Support in the land degradation and persistent organic pollutants focal areas is promising in terms of progress toward impact. Efforts in both areas are still at an early stage, but to date, they have achieved the majority of key outcomes.
- Integrated land use–based approaches are not fully taken into account in GEF interventions in Nicaragua, particularly in terms of ensuring that biodiversity concerns are mainstreamed into other GEF focal areas.
- Despite current efforts, institutional capacity at the local level, particularly of civil society actors, remains a challenge.
- The financial and economic sustainability of results, particularly in the biodiversity focal area, remains a challenge. Local benefits are essential for sustainability.
- The three completed GEF-supported biodiversity initiatives ceased operation once funding ended. Projects that have sustained actions and results beyond project completion are in the climate change focal area.
- Overall, GEF support has been relevant to national human development/sustainable development strategies and environmental priorities, international conventions, regional processes, and the GEF mandate.
- Project processing times are generally twice as long for full-size projects as for medium-size projects in Nicaragua.
- Monitoring and evaluation information is used inconsistently throughout the portfolio to enhance project performance. Combined with weak GEF Agency supervision, this shortcoming has been an impediment to the efficiency and effectiveness of several projects.
- There has been significant involvement of actors from various sectors in GEF projects. The extent of coordination among them was mixed.
To the GEF Council
- In highly vulnerable countries, the GEF should put more effort into mainstreaming adaptation to climate change in project design in all focal areas and to building synergies with adaptation actions funded by other donors.
To the GEF Council and the Government of Nicaragua
- Avoid overly ambitious project designs and ensure an adequate focus on building the institutional and financial capacity of local actors needed to help secure the sustainability of results.
To the Government of Nicaragua
- Working closely with the GEF Agencies, provide for proper baseline, monitoring, and evaluation data in project implementation and at the national level.
Related Council Documents