By Michael Bamberger
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Additional resources for Case studies of project sustainability: implications for policy and operations from Asian experience
When a project has multiple outputs, it is misleading to use a single number or indicator to assess sustainability. The project may have successfully delivered some benefits, but may have failed to deliver others. For example, an irrigation project may produce a significant increase in the volume of water which may lead to sustained increases in the production of certain cash crops. However, the same project may not have produced the intended health improvements. The overall assessment of the sustainability of this project would be determined by the relative weights attached to crop production and health.
20 OED (1990) concludes that where the key determinants of a project's sustainability are financial and physical capital, the reestimated ERR is usually a good estimate of project sustainability. However, where the major constraints are access to natural resources, Page 12 institutional development, human or cultural capital, the ERR will usually not be a reliable indicator of sustainability. 5 Source: Authors. 3 shows how the ERR is used to define project sustainability. If the reestimated ERR when the project has been operating for a number of years (five years is often used) is equal to, or greater than, the ERR at the time of project completion, the project is defined as sustained.
Concern with reducing the repayment period on social forestry projects has encouraged the planting of eucalyptus trees which grow quickly, but which cannot be used for fodder. Consequently forests can no longer sustain cattle production. Uncontrolled deforestation has resulted in 4 million hectares of land being swallowed up by ravines. 13 Defining Sustainability Project Sustainability Project sustainability is defined by many economists and international development agencies as the capacity of a project to continue to deliver its intended benefits over a long period of time.