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Evaluations and Impact of GEF IW:LEARN

by Mish Hamid last modified Dec 04, 2012 11:29 AM
This pages captures facts and figures associated with IW:LEARN, along with it is impacts over several phases of the project and finally, all the independent evaluations conducted of the project.

GEF IW:LEARN's Results in Facts & Figures

This first section covers the results of IW:LEARN over its multiple phases, mainly in terms of project/activity outputs. It is a bit of a challenge to compile these statistics, given how many different ways they have been aggregated (by the different projects even within those individual phases). We have done our best to present this data as accurately as possible. It is mostly valid through 2009. If you have any questions or want to see the underlying information please write info(at)iwlearn.org.

Knowledge Management: www.iwlearn.net

Number of knowledge products/documents on the website: 3,717 documents (17/01/12)
(Google Analytics) September 2008 to December 2011Number of presentations on the website: TBD
Number of IW portfolio and partner contacts: 1,261 individuals and 472 organizations (17/01/12)
Number of project profiles: 224 (17/01/12)
Average # unique monthly visits: 6,540 (1 May 2011 - 31 Dec 2011)
View the monthly GoogleAnalytics report for IWLEARN.NET
View graph: 01 Sept 2008 - 31 Dec 2011

Portfolio-Wide Learning: Biennial GEF International Waters Conferences

Number of portfolio-wide meetings conducted: 5
Total number of attendees: 1290 (IWC 1-5)
Average number of countries represented: 72 (IWC2-5)
Average number of projects represented: 69 (IWC2-5)

Technical Support Services: Website Toolkit

Number of Website Toolkits in operation: 26 active, 17 dormant or in preparation
Number of IW Project Websites archived: 39

Project-Project Learning Exchanges/Twinning Exercises

Number of Project-Project Exchanges: 22
Number of direct beneficiaries: 53 (not including 2 workshops)
Number of GEF IW Projects Directly Involved: 32

Targeted Training

Number training workshops held on IW Management Issues: 23 (incl 2 project project exchanges)
Number of traning workshops held on Information and Technology issues: 15
Number of people attending all workshops: 691
Number of projects (total attending all workshops): 129

Regional Dialogue Processes

Number of dialogues and roundtables conducted: 6
Number of people attending: TBD (average about 50)

Outreach: Information, Capture, Synthesis and Dissemination

A Handbook on Governance and Socioeconomics of Large Marine Ecosystems
Turning the Tide: Sustaining Earth's Large Marine Ecosystems
Public Participation Handbook - coming
Communicating for Results: A Communications Planning Guide for International Waters Projects
Book of Abstracts: Managing Shared Aquifer Resources in Africa
Gender and Water Online Exhibit, Final Report
30+ IW Experience Notes series: www.iwlearn.net/experience
8 capacity building documents concerning transboundary water management in the Western Balkans available at www.watersee.net
GEF Biennial International Waters Conference Reports, please visit the individual pages for these: IWC2009, IWC2007, IWC2005, IWC2002, IWC2000
Project-Project Exchanges, including final reports: http://www.iwlearn.net/exchange
All training workshops and their final reports are available at the events page.
All newsletters available at the outreach page.

Support to Global Dialogues

Number of dialogues supported: 7
Number of people-projects attending: 2


Independent Evaluations of IW:LEARN

  • Pilot Phase Midterm Evaluation
  • Pilot Phase Terminal Evaluation
  • Operational Phase Midterm Evaluation
  • Operational Phase Final Evaluation - There were two phases to this evaluation, Phase I covered the UNDP project component and took place from July to November 2008, Phase II added the UNEP  component of the project. The TORs of phase II are similar to that of phase I with a few modifications to take into account the lessons from phase I. The 2nd consultant consolidated the reports of phase I and II into one report.

    GEF IW:LEARN Impacts

    This section discusses the larger and more complex issue of IW:LEARN’s impacts since its inception more than a decade ago. This section does not profess to account, or even be able to account for all the impacts and catalytic outcomes as a result of the various phases of the project and their activities. This stems from a variety of issues, ranging from the fact that many such impacts were never properly tracked or followed-up on, many realities have changed (particularly for the tools developed early on in the project and other reasons. Our stakeholders generally don’t automatically record or send a message each time IW:LEARN has directly or indirectly benefitted them at a given moment.

    Ultimately however, we do possess a wealth of individual assessments from IW stakeholders in all of the IWC evaluations, workshop evaluations, exchange mission reports and more. Unfortunately, most of this is anecdotal and ad hoc. Thus there are literally hundreds and thousands of “micro-impacts”, i.e. at the individual stakeholder level, on file. It becomes more difficult to discuss the macro-impacts of IW:LEARN. It would be very easy to refer to the many stakeholder surveys & evaluations, all of which affirm the utility and benefit, and yes, the positive impact of IW:LEARN via questions like “did X event benefit you”. At this macro-level there is a lot of evidence from the IW portfolio that IW:LEARN has had a positive if not significant impact on portfolio-wide learning, efficiency and capacity-building.

    The following impacts, again by service line, are just a sampling and consolidation of data & reporting from independent mid-term and terminal evaluations, PIR and APPRT reporting, project-project exchange mission reports, workshops and other event evaluations. The following is only an attempt to begin tracking such impacts.

    First some general points from the Operational Phase Terminal Evaluation:


  • “In answer to a set of questions in the email questionnaire (sent to over 200 GEF IW practitioners in 2008) regarding achievement of the projects objectives and not taking into account those who said they did not know, 54% said that the project had strengthened transboundary water management, facilitated learning, captured and disseminated lessons, fostered structured learning and replication, and enhanced technical capacities.” (Operational Phase Terminal Evaluation, p44)
  • “The catalytic role played by IW:LEARN has already been alluded to (see Section 4.2.2 of the evaluation). The project has triggered a number of similar activities and these are well documented Annex 13 of the evaluation. It is gratifying to note that the catalytic effects of the project continue. For example, the PCU has recently had an enquiry from the ILO regional office in Bangkok which has expressed an interest in adapting the IW:LEARN website toolkit for their own use; while IUCN has advised the PCU that a number of follow-up learning events have emerged from the Iguacu Workshop on the use of Environmental Flows (a key management tool promoted by IW:LEARN). These include: four training workshops in Panama; a Role Play workshop in Guatemala on basin governance reform/flows; and a series of three workshops planned in Brazil to bring together government and hydropower operators. Additionally, UNDP's Climate Division has recently launched an 'Adaptation Learning Mechanism' project which benefited from feedback and consultation with IW:LEARN in its project design. The catalytic function as carried out by IW:LEARN, has been Highly Satisfactory.” (Operational Phase Terminal Evaluation, p50)
  • From the same survey as before, IW:LEARN stakeholders also answered the following questions
    • To what extent has Transboundary Water Management been strengthened by IW:LEARN?: 54% significantly
    • Has the Project facilitated learning and information sharing among GEF stakeholders?: 59% significantly, 29% partly
    • Did the Project effectively capture and disseminate the lessons from the IW projects?: 40% significantly, 33% partly
    • Did Project activities foster structured learning and efficient replication of lessons among the GEF projects and cooperating agencies?: 25% significantly, partly 44%
    • Did the Project enhance the technical capacity of the recipients?: 45% significantly, 36% partly


    Knowledge Management: www.iwlearn.net

    • 77.4 % GEF IW project staff indicated they use iwlearn.net (survey done in March ‘09). N.B. an Increase of 8.4% from 2008
    • As of 2008, the IW:LEARN website has received 1.3 million hits – including 27,000 unique visitors – from more than 120 countries since it became operational. One in ten visitors bookmarked the website.

    Data Sources: Operational Phase Terminal Evaluation

    Portfolio-Wide Learning: Biennial GEF International Waters Conferences

    • Overall, participants of the 5th Biennial GEF International Waters Conference (IWC5) considered the event a success (3.84). They found it directly applicable to their work functions (3.7) and that it allowed sufficient time for networking (3.6). To a lesser extent, they felt it enhanced their understanding of results-based management (3.2) and that it communicated strategies for mainstreaming climatic variability and change (3.2).
    • Participants considered GEF IWC4 a success (overall rating of 3.9/5). They found it directly applicable to their work functions (3.6/5), that it helped them learn how other projects are delivering results (3.8/5), that it increased their understanding of innovative methods (3.3/5), and ways to increase project effectiveness (3.4/5). Moreover, it provided enough time for informal networking (4.0/5) and an atmosphere consistent with knowledge sharing and communication (4.0/5).


    Technical Support Services: Website Toolkit

    • Over 30 GEF IW projects now are able to disseminate their news, information and events in a simple, easy-to-use fashion (where as before almost none of the portfolio did this).
    • Distance Learning Information Sharing Tool (DLIST) (www.dlist.org): One major impact was the DLIST project (Distance Learning and Information Sharing Tool). The tool connects thousands of stakeholders of the Benguela Current Large Marine Ecosystem, and resulted from a workshop conducted in 2001 in South Africa & Namibia in partnership with the World Bank, AJH Environmental Services, EcoAfrica. The workshop involved training 5 local specialists and applying the training to the creation of an interactive web-site that supports the Benguela Current LME Project.

    Project-Project Learning Exchanges/Twinning Exercises

    • A GEF IW:LEARN investment of $40000 leveraged an additional $120000, allowing for up to 8 total targeted workshops (project-project exchanges) in the Southeast Europe region
    • IW Communications Manual drafted by and for GEF IW projects
    • The Web 2.0 Technologies Exchange highlighted new information management tools and provided concrete recommendations for (a) improvement of existing platforms (WaterWiki, IW:LEARN, DLIST) and/or (b) creation of new (UNDP, UNSSC-Wiki) platforms for CoP-management, KM, on-line collaboration, etc. (c) possibly using and integrating different tools and approaches, as well as an Experience Note on Fostering Online  Communities of Practice - DList-Benguela
    • Two targeted workshops focus on IWRM and Stakeholder Engagement in SE Europe, resulted in inputs to the development of the Lake Skadar stakeholder involvement plan.
    • From the Lusophone TDA-SAP exchange hosted by Brazil ANA resulted in a  program of collaboration between ANA and OKACOM.

    Exchange Anecdotes

    • Attending this exchange was highly beneficial to the Namibian delegation and OKACOM members as a whole and is definitely recommended that similar milestone exchange be attended in the future. Therefore, exchange of this nature not only provide the platform for delegates to share views and perceptions, but they also gain valuable insight from the ANA experiences of experts on issues related to integrated water resources management pertinent to their basins that OKACOM can apply to the Okavango River Basin.
    • Because of there isolation from other projects many of the Pacific IW Coordinators are confused about GEF/IW approaches. This sort of exchange would have been very beneficial earlier in the Pacific IW project cycle.
    • This first exchange created a useful dialogue that needs to be supported through similar exchanges in the future. The initial workshop provided a great way of assessing needs and opportunities for using communications to improve GEF/IW projects – this opportunity should not be missed.
    • The Danube-Black Sea Nutrient Exchange (6th Conference)  delivered a set of recommendations on the types of indicators which can be utilized to measure results of the Partnership’s attempt to reduce the impact of nutrient pollution, in particular on the Danube River and Black Sea. The conference led to improved networking, coordination and experience sharing among the stakeholders of the Black Sea - Danube strategic partnership.
    • From the Coastal Tourism Exchange, one participant wrote that the exchange provided new guidelines on our approaches, will help to organize meetings with mayors surrounding new protected areas, what tourism/ecotourism can do for us, find ways to encourage local people to create their own ecotourism products instead waiting foreigners to do it on their place.

    Targeted Training

    • In the Eastern Europe workshop in 2006, “Regional knowledge-sharing & networking”, 94% of participants wrote they would be able to use the knowledge obtained in their work and/or to pass it on to other specialists. Half indicated the workshop was [4] “very useful” or [5] “extremely useful” in identifying good practices and lessons learned (3.9 average).
    • Partnership with InWEnt also lead to replication of the Athens-Petersberg Process in a new GEF IW UNDP MSP (approved & launched Sept 2007) in support of AMCOW and Africa Water Vision 2025 which buildt on basin dialogues to engage parliamentarians and media, integrate groundwater and climate considerations.
    • Partnership with UNECE helped leverage additional resources to deliver 3 workshops in a series, "Capacity for Watershed Cooperation" (legal basis; info exchange and participation; joint monitoring and assessment, including early warning and alarm systems) to Eastern Europe, Caucuses and Central Asian nations, in context of EU Water Initiative and the UNECE Transboundary Water Convention.
    • IUCN regional workshops for river basin projects (Economic Valuation in Africa, E-Flows in LAC, PES in Asia/Pacific) were also offered to lake basin and aquifer projects (and to all LME projects for PES) to promote regional learning exchange and establishment of on-going peer networks; IUCN distributed VALUE, FLOW and PAY toolkits to GEF IW stakeholders at IWCs & regional workshops, will develop additional toolkits - RULE (water governance reform), NEGOTIATE, (multi-stakeholder platforms) and SHARE, which will integrate the toolkits into a transboundary framework ensuring closer alignment to the priorities of GEF IW.
    • Economic valuation initiatives proliferated across GEF portfolio, after a series of workshops on the topic. Application of ecosystem valuation in decision making on proposed inter-basin transfers for Lake Chad. Incorporation of ecosystem valuation into environmental planning in the Nile Basin. Using ecosystem valuation to challenge dam EIAs in the Volta basin.
    • After the Hanoi 2008 Payment for Ecosystems Workshop, outcomes included design of new projects on sustainable financing of watershed and coastal management in Vietnam, Thailand and the Philippines, inclusion of payments for ecosystem services in local government water quality action planning,     piloting of lessons in payments for ecosystem services from watershed management in coastal and marine areas
    • Participants of the Coral Reef structure learning indicated benefits from sessions, including: greater access to lessons learned and best practice information arising from GEF Lessons Learned web site, toolkit CD and best practice guidelines. Direct dissemination of best practices to stakeholders at Koh Chang, Thailand (GEF-IW South China Seas Project); Integration of science and best management practices gathered from GEF Lessons Learned with new science from CRTR.
    • Success of IWLEARN regional thematic workshops led to demand for replication at national and basin levels; Workshops have been written into IUCN regional demonstration strategies in East Africa, Southern Africa and Central America, for implementation with partners; Repetition of workshops also being led by GEF projects, for example by IW-CAM, preparing regional flows workshop; IUCN-WANI Phase 2 includes a learning component that will develop partnerships needed to support learning utilising an expanded toolkit series.
    • UNEP GPA produced 500 copies of IW:LEARN Handbook on LME Governance and Socioeconomics, circulated to over 100 nations' ministry reps at IGR-2 (Beijing 2006),
    • GEF IW BCLME and MACEMP projects, among others, circulated LME Handbook to their partners/constituents
    • 7 LME workshop participants responded to the four month post workshop progress report, indicating 23 of their recommendations had been accepted by management, w/4 integrated into management plans (and 2 more expected to be)
    • Pipeline GEF Coral Triangle Initiative-Learning project receives direct technical assistance from at least 3 GEF IW projects to integrate learning services on a demand-driven basis into project design via IW:LEARN side event.
    • Environmental Law Institute created new "International Waters" practice area, which has received funding from both Tinker Foundation and the Coca-Cola Company to support participation in water management in beneficiary nations. Coke investment, in particular, resulted in a manual and training for private sector water managers at local catchment scales across beneficiary nations.
    • GEF IWCAM (Caribbean) project received direct peer-assist from other GEF IW projects in LAC to advance planning and implementation of its stakeholder involvement activities.
    • GEF-affiliated Mekong River Commission received targeted intervention from ELI legal experts to support its stakeholder involvement initiatives.
    • The various public participation workshops resulted in evaluations from Africa workshop indicating 25% rise in number stating "quite" familiar with P2 approaches, techniques and considerations; ~20% increase in those who knew >10 people to assist them in addressing their P2 enhancement needs; ~15% rise in those "quite" knowledgeable about how to integrate P2 tools and techniques throughout project cycle. Asia-Pacific participants rated workshop 90% for content meeting training objectives, ~80% for novelty, relevance, usefulness, and meeting their needs; also indicated new plans emerged to  “implement stakeholder involvement at the governance level” and incorporate “more consideration of participation ... in developing and implementing projects.

    Regional Dialogue Processes

    The activity under question was the GEF's support (via IW:LEARN) to the so-called Athens-Petersberg process (itself a partnership of the GEF, World Bank, German and Greek governments). Athens-Petersberg was a unique, track-two and regional approach to fostering transboundary cooperation over shared water resources in the Western Balkans. The approach utilized regional roundtables on broad water management challenges, along with targeted training workshops, peer-to-peer exchanges and the development of numerous capacity-building documents to target stakeholders in multiple basins throughout the region to build confidence and trust. The regional approach (instead of picking a given basin) was unique for a GEF IW project to tackle. The process realized some impacts:

    • Another huge impact was the creation of conditions wherein the former warring states decided to endorse not one, but two GEF international waters projects (Dinaric Karst Aquifer project, and the Drin River basin project) as well as activities within the Mediterranean Sea regional project. The political conditions would not have been in place were it not for this unique activity. The Groundwater roundtable convened key national focal points of the Dinaric Karst Aquifer GEF project with subsequent country endorsement
    • Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Serbia sign a protocol to the Sava River Basin Declaration to cooperate on groundwater management in the basin (and accompanying protocol to the existing agreement) on shared groundwater management, something not foreseen by anyone in the basin prior to the activity.
    • 6th Petersberg Roundtable on Bringing Value to Infrastructure Investments in TWRM in Africa transferred lessons and built upon partnerships developed under activity D2 in SEE region, raised profile of groundwater and climate issues in TWRM in Africa
    • Finalisation of a common Sava River Basin Analysis and identification of main issues, in particular for trans-boundary multipurpose uses.     Realistic assessment of ecosystems and ecosystem services (including their socio-economic values) to guide options of sustainable development in the Sava River Basin.
    • Several participants will change management practices as a result of the roundtables, especially in the area of utilizing new information on EU Water Directives.

    Outreach: Information, Capture, Synthesis and Dissemination

    The 26-minute video documentary on GEF projects' sustaining of the Earth's Large Marine Ecosystems “Turning the Tide” has been translated by partners into Mandarin Chinese (UNEP-GPA) and Russian (Black Sea project) and adapted into an educational package for students, teachers and the general public. UNDP and NOAA produced and disseminated educational packet for schools, based on images and content from the video (and including video on CD in pocket)

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