After various surveys, analyses and alternative plans and considerations, realistic goals for the proposed plan or project should be determined. These goals are usually set against possible resources, institutional capabilities, government intentions and local needs. The goals should be progressive and allow for future adjustments.
Not all watershed work can be started at the same time. There must be a logical sequence for implementation. As mentioned previously, priority sub-watersheds should be selected according to their locations, degree of disturbance, accessibility, management readiness and feasibility.
Priorities must be set not only for sub-watersheds but also for work. For instance, should the community road be built at year one or at year three? Should the farm ponds planned for the area be constructed before or after the road is built? And if after, how will the erosion and sediment from the new road affect those ponds?
For the integrated development of a watershed, the setting of priorities is a complex task. Should the project concentrate first on improving farm productivity or on development of infrastructure? Should a processing plant be established first or should it be built only after sufficient raw material has been produced? What are the priority needs of the local people? And what are priorities of the government?
A clear determination of priorities and sequences of work at the planning stage will benefit not only future implementation but also budget allocation. An orderly supply of funds is only possible with good and careful planning.
At approximately the mid-point of project planning, a concise preliminary or interim report should be prepared and presented to the government or other authorities for policy guidance, comments, and feedback. The interim report often contains a general assessment, alternatives and intended targets against possible investment and the time horizon.
This kind of preliminary report may omit many technical details but should emphasize important issues in addition to presenting the basic findings. The main aspects to be highlighted are:
- Explain long-term and short-term targets and their respective investment requirements for government consideration. If, initially, an international agency will support a short-term project, the government should be asked to continue the programme afterwards or make a long-term commitment. In the case of a purely government programme, the report will alert the government to the magnitude and time of investment required and enable it to make necessary preparations or commitment.
- Interpret existing government policy and, if necessary, propose new policy or its revisions to facilitate future implementation.
- Show the result of economic assessment.
- Obtain general approval of the planning methodology from the government.
After the government and funding agencies have agreed on the new project in principle, financing is the final important facet the planners must confront. Without sufficient and proper financing, an economically sound project may never be started.
There are at least three parts of financing that should be well considered and planned. The first part is the direct investment from the government including funds for administration, training, fellowships, purchasing, materials, labour, transportation, etc. Although it is straightforward, it still needs proper and detailed budgeting.
The second part is the money used for production, usually in the form of loans to either private or public enterprise (e.g. agro-industry). Planning of this part is much more complicated. Cash flows, interest rates, returns and repayment schedules, etc. should be well planned.
For watershed projects, detailed financial plans are also needed for small farmers. For instance, the kind and size of credit, mortgage requirements, grace periods, repayment abilities and schedules, and subsidy needs, should all be studied thoroughly.
The contents of the final report should be determined as early as possible and not at the last minute. For a large and complex project, the best time to set the contents for the final report is after the interim report has been presented and preliminary approvals from all the authorities are obtained. For a smaller or simpler project, the contents can be determined earlier, immediately after the collection and analysis of data.
The contents of a final report will vary according to management objectives and actual needs. It is difficult to suggest a universal format. The following is a broad list of contents for general reference:
- Summary and recommendations.
- Descriptions of watershed conditions (biophysical).
- Analysis of major watershed problems (biophysical, socio-economic, institutional, etc.).
- Watershed management needs (including goals, alternatives, strategies, and effects, etc.).
- Economic and other assessments (including benefit, cost analysis and others).
- Work programmes (including targets, work schedules, budgeting, financial arrangements and monitoring and evaluation needs).
- Detailed recommendations.
- Appendices (including methodology, techniques, maps, photos, detailed figures, etc.).
The preparation of a final report is the last step of the whole task. To avoid delay in its production, once the contents are determined it is necessary to make concrete and detailed decisions concerning:
- The approximate length of each chapter or section.
- The person or organization responsible for preparing each chapter. - A deadline for draft submission and discussion.
- Nomination of a chief editor and specification of his or her duties. - A final deadline for report submission.
The scale of the various maps and the size of drawings and pictures also need to be decided upon in order to avoid unnecessary delay. The chief editor should keep in close contact with all the persons who are involved in preparation of the report. Any doubts regarding the format or contents of the report should be resolved without delay.
In addition to budget and financial matters, recommendations on how the proposed project can be effectively implemented are important parts of the plan. The following items are often included in the recommendations.
The responsibilities of each organization which will be involved in implementation of the watershed project should be clearly defined. In addition, a field operation mechanism should be established to streamline the implementation. Following are some suggestions for reference:
- Liaison meetings should be held periodically at the field level and should be attended by representatives of all participating agencies. Ideally, the chief agency for planning or the liaison officer will act as chairman of the meeting. Thus a close link between planning and implementation will be established.
- Each organization should delegate responsibility to its field office or representative in order to permit smooth operations and work efficiency. Only important policy matters should be brought up to respective headquarters for decision-making.
- A joint supporting unit of administration and accounting can be set up in the field or attached to some field office nearby in order to speed up procedures of local purchase, disbursement, and field arrangements.
- In some cases, it may be appropriate to establish an autonomous body or a temporary project office by pooling all personnel and resources in order to streamline the operation.
Staff and training needs should be well identified during the study of institutional capabilities.
Since this will affect project implementation, recommendations should be made carefully. For example, unrealistic demands of staff increase will not be accepted by most governments, and bad timing for fellowships abroad could hamper project implementation. A network analysis of training needs including proper timing can be a plus for efficient implementation.
Recommendations on farmers' training should include number of farmers or leaders to be trained, training subjects, timing and costs. Extension and education programmes for farmers in general should also be included. Demonstration plots to be established on public or private lands should be planned and their costs estimated.
Research needs are usually included in the recommendations. For practical purposes, emphasis is normally laid on applied research for solving immediate problems and needs, leaving long-term basic research to regular research institutions.
Such applied research may include the following broad categories:
- Better resources management alternatives.
- Cost effective watershed conservation measures including new techniques introduced from outside.
- Practical monitoring and evaluation methodologies.
Recommendations should be made on pre-implementation or pre-project work. Specific recommendations should include:
- Organizing or recruiting project personnel.
- Pre-project training of key staff using the existing budget.
- Initiation of extension activities with regular resources.
- Collecting further information for implementation.
- Preparation for equipment and vehicles procurement.
- Sub-contract preparation, if necessary.
- Other administrative arrangements.
This pre-implementation work is absolutely necessary if project implementation is to begin according to the schedule.
Finally, a work schedule should be included as part of the recommendations. It can be expressed as a bar chart, a flow chart or a network analysis. The important thing is to consider progress logistics and to streamline project operations. All major activities should be scheduled in a sequence that avoids congestion and bottlenecks.
Each component (forestry, soil conservation, extension, infrastructure, etc.) will also draw up its own sub-schedule based on the master plan or schedule.
It is not enough to just set schedules. Means for controlling progress must also be developed. Recommendations should also be made on how:
- to ensure manpower supplies, e.g. technical staff, foreign experts, or short-term consultants in planned sequences;
- to obtain equipment, vehicles, or sub-contracts, etc. according to the work schedule;
- to establish channels to get high-level support on policy, finance, and administration;
- to build a system to oversee field work including inspection and ' reporting; and
- to set up an overall mechanism for monitoring and periodic evaluation of work quality and progress;
A monitoring and evaluation system should be built into the project in order to permit periodic appraisal of the project's performance, physical outputs, benefits, expenditures and impacts.
Unfortunately, in the past, most watershed projects have been inadequately monitored and evaluated, and results were often poorly documented and disseminated. Many of the difficulties were due to lack of methodology and to the time and mechanisms needed for such activities. The Mechanisms needed by this kind of project may include the following:
- A data base and monitoring unit should be established within the project to collect, collate and analyse data for the use of evaluations. This can be done by using microcomputers (see Appendix 3).
- An independent evaluation body to undertake periodic appraisal work. Its members may be drawn from national planning agencies, universities, research institutes, interest groups and local communities, etc., in addition to project staff.
- A chapter in the project's annual and final reports on monitoring and evaluation results. Achievements should be clearly set out and compared to the original goals.
Independent evaluations should be carried on even after the project is completed. Because of the long-term effects of watershed work, these evaluations though difficult, are often useful. Depending upon the availability of data and resources, the whole or part of the watershed project should be evaluated periodically. The lack of information on long-term results is a major concern to many planners, government authorities and funding agencies.
The final plan or project proposal should include proper methodology on monitoring and evaluation. Although such work depends on watershed management objectives, the general methodology may include the following major indicators of a project:
- Set a hydro-meteorological network to collect and monitor rainfall, streamflow, sediment and pollution data for long-term analysis and comparison.
- Make reservoir, pond or check dam profile surveys to obtain data on sedimentation rates and volumes.
- Establish small plots on major soils and cropping systems with and without conservation measures to monitor and evaluate differences in soil erosion and runoff.
- Obtain aerial photographs or satellite remote sensing data and make studies on periodic changes (every 5 to 10 years).
- Conduct sampling surveys for special purposes or for needed information.
- Establish rainfall and stream gauging stations as mentioned above.
- After major storms and floods, survey damages to compare with predictions and past events.
- Keep some farm records from selected farms for monitoring purpose.
- Make periodic farm management surveys for comparison with the baseline survey data.
- Conduct specially designed surveys on farm production and income.
- Repeat the baseline socio-economic surveys every 5 to 10 years to compare the results.
- Make special surveys, if needed.
As mentioned previously, the unit which is responsible for establishing the data base and for routine monitoring should assist in the various phases of evaluation work. A personal or microcomputer will help to facilitate data storage, analysis and comparison (see Appendix 3).
Watershed planning cannot be considered complete if the project document ends up in a filing cabinet or on a bookshelf. Whoever is responsible for planning should follow it up, to see that the project is properly financed, either by the government or by international agencies, and approved for action.
Finally, watershed managers and planners should realize that planning is a continuous effort. In many countries, original planners are also required to be involved in project implementation, monitoring and evaluation. Experience thus gained can be used for the planning of similar projects in the future.