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Thursday, July 25, 2024

Liberia: World Bank’s Multimillion Fisheries Project Faces Collapse

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By Festus Poquie

Substantial risk is associated with the overall management of the World Bank-funded fisheries projects in the country due to poor financial and procurement practices, combined with a lack of adequate supervision.

The project’s progress and implementation performance are being downgraded to “Moderately Satisfactory” and “Unsatisfactory” due to financial management issues and lengthy delays in their resolution, as well as other implementation problems, the Bank said in an April 2024 review obtained by the Oracle News Daily.

In multiple instances, millions of dollars awarded in contracts to improve the value addition of fish and fish products stalled, while funding intended to strengthen women’s participation in the fisheries sector did not reach the intended beneficiaries. Fish data collection and monitoring and evaluation are also on the decline, the report said.

Based on the observed anomalies, the Bank is deploying a restructuring mission in September this year to revive the project and prevent the country from losing additional financing.

The report highlighted several cases of project failure and mismanagement, including the diversion of funds meant for the construction and equipping of the NaFAA headquarters building, as well as delays in completing the Environmental and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA) and the geotechnical studies.

The report also raised concerns about the significant delays in the implementation of the matching grants program for strengthening women’s participation in the fisheries sector, with the grant manager, Conservation International, facing delays in completing the grants manual and the needs assessment and training manual development.

The Bank has acknowledged the need for an in-depth review to assess the overall project performance, including operational aspects, and to identify concrete actions and corrective measures to help the project achieve its expected development objectives.

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