Blog post 5: Develop EbA project budgets that take into account the complexity and time-consuming nature of constructing ecological infrastructure

Posted on: 1 Aug 2019 / Submitted by: Diwen Tan

When the EbA South project was designed, it was assumed that government staff would have the time available and technical capacity to manage, over a period of five years, the implementation of relatively small areas of land – tens of hectares of degraded mangroves in the case of the Seychelles and hundreds of hectares of drylands and forests in the case of Mauritania and Nepal, respectively. As a result, full time project managers were not hired by the project, and government staff members were assigned the responsibility of managing the project on top of their normal duties. In retrospect, this was an error in project design because, irrespective of the size of the EbA intervention, there are invariably considerable socio-economic and biophysical complexities that need to be fully analysed before any on-the-ground interventions can commence. The experience of the project is that these analyses and the subsequent decision-making required, necessitate the full-time attention of an experienced project manager[1]. Government staff who have other responsibilities are, invariably, not in a position to provide this attention; and if they are tasked with managing the implementation of EbA interventions, there are likely to be considerable delays in activities on the ground. Several examples from the EbA South project, presented below, demonstrate the time-consuming nature of planning for and implementing EbA interventions.

In Nepal, it was difficult to identify appropriate land for planting multi-use forests despite there being thousands of hectares of degraded land in the project sites and despite local communities having indicated their support for having such forests on their land. The project’s nurseries were generating hundreds of thousands of seedlings as planned, yet when it came to planting the seedling, the communities reignited debates as to where it would be appropriate to plant the seedlings. There were invariably some community members who raised the potential trade-off of having more trees for products such as fruit, medicine and timber versus less grass in the degraded lands for grazing their cattle. Taking decisions on these complex economic trade-offs and managing the social dynamics required a lot of skilled management interventions by the local project manager.


[1] Including ecological knowledge and an in-depth understanding of EbA principles, planning, design and implementation.

Anthony Mills