The first and one of the critical steps in the project cycle management is the identification and selection process.
This is an important stage such that it can affect the whole process including that of sustainability of the project after completion and transferring to operational phase. However, this stage is overlooked in some cases particularly in the process of capturing the actual needs of the beneficiaries. Instead of demand driven approach some donors including international organizations would like to follow supply driven approach. In the actual practice projects should be identified from the perspective of the needs or demand of the beneficiaries whether at community or national levels.
Countries need to craft their strategic plans and programs from the point of view of the interest of their people. Donors both bilateral and multilateral including international organizations and non-governmental organizations need to direct their assistance based on the programs of the countries which are reflecting the actual needs of their citizens. In other words the assistance of donors should be synchronized with that of the needs of the countries that are clearly shown in the strategic plans of the latter.
However, what we see in practice is not similar to that of what has been said. Particularly donations from international organizations tend to focus on the interest of the donors instead of that of the recipients. Many NGOs in developing countries of Africa, for instance, design their own program based on the aim or intention of the resources from donors rather than the needs of the society at large or the community in particular. It does not mean that recipients of funds from donors should not take into account the focus of donation funds.
As the recipients have enormous needs to be addressed, then it is imperative to align and match their projects towards the interest of the donors as well. In the world where we have so many poor nations that need to be helped and few nations that can help then this is some kind of competition for scanty resources, i. e. funds from donors. Thus there is a need to win the competition by a given nation through adopting a smart strategy. This, among other things, require the strategy of keeping the balance between the donors’ intention of funding and the country’s policy or goals to meet the interest of the society.
One of the main reasons for the failure of projects either at early stage of the implementation or not being sustainable after getting into operation stages is low attention given at the project identification and selection stage. I believe that the smart strategy of maintaining the balance between the recipient countries interest and donors fund focus area is not seriously considered during project identification and planning. Therefore, the purpose of this paper is to understand the concepts of Project and Project Cycle Management (PCM) and to critically examine one of the phases of PCM, which is Project Identification.
An attempt will be made to identify inherent problems that are commonly overlooked at this stage of project cycle management and to come out with recommendations as part of solutions to the problems. 2. Understanding of Project and Project Cycle Management (PCM) 2. 1 What is project? According to Nicholas, John M. (2001) some of the characteristics that warrant classifying an activity as a project centers on the purpose, complexity, uniqueness, unfamiliarity, stake, impermanence, and life cycle of the activity.
Based on these features then project is defined as follows: • A project involves a single, definable purpose, end-item, or results, usually specified in terms of costs, schedule, and performance requirements. • Every project is unique, in that it requires doing something different than was done previously. • Projects are temporary activities. • Projects cuts across organizational lines because they need the skills and talents from multiple professionals and organizations. • Projects involve unfamiliarity…. posses significant elements of uncertainty and risk. • The organization has something at stake when doing a project. Finally, a project is the process of working to achieve a goal; during the process, projects pass through several distinct phases, called the project life cycle. Westland, Jason (2006): A project is a unique endeavour to produce a set of deliverables within clearly specified time, cost and quality constraints. Projects are different from standard business operational activities as they: • Are unique in nature. They do not involve repetitive processes. Every project undertaken is different from the last, whereas operational activities often involve undertaking repetitive (identical) processes. Have a defined timescale. Projects have a clearly specified start and end date within which the deliverables must be produced to meet a specified customer requirement. • Have an approved budget. Projects are allocated a level of financial expenditure within which the deliverables are produced, to meet a specified customer requirement. • Have limited resources. At the start of a project an agreed amount of labour, equipment and materials is allocated to the project. • Involve an element of risk. Projects entail a level of uncertainty and therefore carry business risk. • Achieve beneficial change.
The purpose of a project is typically to improve an organization through the implementation of business change. GTZ (1996): A project can be described as a process of providing inputs over a limited period: using the resources provided, activities are conducted and outputs (results) generated, in order to achieve a previously defined impact (the project purpose). We talk of programmes when more than one project in a sector, sub-sector or region are linked together by a clearly defined concept. Projects and programmes are sustainable if the impact continues to have effect.
RPRLGSP, May 2009: Project is defined as follows: • Work that is temporary and produces a unique product or service • An intervention to conduct activities, in order to provide assistance, that will allow the ‘users’ to improve their own situation’’ • An undertaking for the purpose of achieving established objectives, within a given • budget and time period’’ • An investment of resources to produce goods or services 2. 2 What is project management? Westland, Jason (2006): Project Management is the skills, tools and management processes required to undertake a project successfully.
It incorporates: [pic] Figure 1: Project management components [pic]A set of skills. Specialist knowledge, skills and experience are required to reduce the level of risk within a project and thereby enhance its likelihood of success. [pic] A suite of tools. Various types of tools are used by project managers to improve their chances of success. Examples include document templates, registers, planning software, modelling software, audit checklists and review forms. [pic] A series of processes. Various processes and techniques are required to monitor and control time, cost, quality and scope on projects.
Examples include time management, cost management, quality management, change management, risk management and issue management. RPRLGSP, May 2009: PMBOK 2008, defines project management as ‘the application of knowledge, skills, tools and techniques to project activities, to meet specific scope, time, cost and quality goals of projects’. John M. Nicholas (2001): Project management is a system/ contingency approach to organization and management; it applies elements of classical and behavioral management and uses organizational forms and management roles best suited to the unique environment of projects. 2. 3 What is Project Cycle Management?
In general we can define Project Cycle Management as a tool that describes the management activities and decision making procedures used during the life-cycle of a project. The following sections show the definition given to PCM in different documents. Lucian CIOLAN –Trainer- EU Project Cycle Management: The project cycle follows the life of a project, from the initial idea through its completion. It provides a structure to ensure that stakeholders are consulted, and defines the key decision, information requirements and responsibilities at each phase so that informed decision can be made at each phase in the life of the project.
RPRLGSP, May 2009: The systematic process of initiating, planning, implementing, managing and evaluating projects or programmes is known as ‘Project Cycle Management’, PCM ; it is also defined as an approach in project management used to guide management activities and decision-making procedures during the life-cycle of a project, from the first idea until the last ex-post (afterwards) evaluation. European Commission (March,2002): Project Cycle Management defines different phases in the project life with well-defined management activities and decision making procedures.
PCM provides a structure to ensure that stakeholders are consulted and relevant information is available, so that informed decisions can be made at key stages in the life of a project. European Commission (May 1999): The way in which projects are planned and carried out follows a sequence that has become known as the project cycle. The cycle starts with the identification of an idea and develops that idea into a working plan that can be implemented and evaluated.
Project Cycle Management integrates the phases in the project cycle so that issues are examined systematically, by means of an approach and methodology which ensures that objectives and issues of sustainability remains in focus. 2. 3What are the phases of the project cycle? Westland, Jason (2006): The project life cycle consists of four phases: Project initiation: During this phase a business problem or opportunity is identified and a business case providing various solution options is defined. Next, a feasibility study is conducted to investigate whether each option addresses the business problem and a final recommended solution is hen put forward. Project planning: This phase involves outlining the activities, tasks, dependencies and timeframes; resource plan; financial plan; quality plan; acceptance plan; and procurement plan. Project execution: This phase involves implementing the plans created during the project planning phase. Project closure: Project closure involves releasing the final deliverables to the customer, handing over project documentation to the business, terminating supplier contracts, releasing project resources and communicating the closure of the project to all stakeholders. [pic]
Figure 2: The four phases of the project life cycle GTZ (1996): Categorize Project Cycle into three phases: • Identification phase-asses outset situation, establish system of objectives • Concept phase-establish project concept, prepare decisions to implement the project • Implementation phase- operationalize planning, implement, adjust and update planning, and terminate project RPRLGSP, May 2009: Typically, the project cycle comprises 6 or more standard project stages, phases or activities, arranged in a logical sequence to accomplish a project’s goals or objectives.
Stage 1: Policy setting Stage 2: Project Identification Stage 3: Appraisal Stage 4: Formulation/planning Stage 5: Contracting/ commitment Stage 6: Implementation, monitoring & midterm evaluation Stage 7: Final evaluation Lucian CIOLAN(27-29 of September, 2007): The generic project cycle within EC external aid programmes has six phases. [pic] PROGRAMMING: What are the partner’s development priorities and what is the EC’s focus for assistance?
During the Programming phase, the situation at national and sectoral level is analyzed to identify problems, constraints and opportunities which co-operation could address. This involves a review of socio-economic indicators, and of national and donor priorities. The purpose is to identify the main objectives and sectoral priorities for co-operation, and thus to provide a relevant and feasible programming frame-work within which projects can be identified and prepared. IDENTIFICATION: Is the project concept relevant to priority local needs and consistent with EC policy priorities?
The purpose of the identification stage is to: • identify project ideas that are consistent with partner and EC development priorities; • assess the relevance and likely feasibility of these project ideas; • under the ‘Programme approach’, prepare a Financing Proposal, or an Identification Fiche for individual projects; and • prepare a financing decision for a Programme of projects, or determine the scope of further work required during the formulation stage for individual projects
FORMULATION Is the project feasible and will it deliver sustainable benefits? The purpose of the Formulation stage is to: • Confirm the relevance and feasibility of the project idea as proposed in the Identification Fiche or Project Fiche; • Prepare a detailed project design, including the management and coordination arrangements, financing plan, cost-benefit analysis, risk management, monitoring, evaluation and audit arrangements; and • Prepare a Financing Proposal (for individual projects) and a financing decision.
IMPLEMENTATION, INCLUDING MONITORING AND REPORTING: Are results being achieved and resources efficiently and effectively used? What corrective action should be taken? The purpose of the implementation stage is to: • Deliver the results, achieve the purpose(s) and contribute effectively to the overall objective of the project; • Manage the available resources efficiently; and • Monitor and report on progress. EVALUATION :Were planned benefits achieved, will they be sustainable, and what lessons have been learned? The purpose of evaluation is to:
Make an assessment, as systematic and objective as possible, of an ongoing or completed project, programme or policy, its design, implementation and results. AUDIT: Has there been compliance with applicable laws and rules? Are efficiency, economy and effectiveness criteria being met? The purpose of an audit is to: • Assess an activity/subject that is the responsibility of another party against identified suitable criteria; • Express a conclusion (i. e. opinion) that provides the intended user with a level of assurance about the activity/subject being audited.
According to the European Commission Manual (March 2002) the six phases of the project including the major documents to be produced and decisions to be made under each phase are summarized in the following table: |Project Cycle |Major Documents |Decision | |Programming |Country Strategy Paper |Priority areas; Sectors; timetable | |Identification |Pre-feasibility study; Project |Which options to study further | | |Identification Sheet; | | |Appraisal |Feasibility study; Draft financing |Whether to draw up major financing proposal| | |proposal | | |Financing |Financing proposal; Financing agreement |To fund | |Implementation |Progress and monitoring reports |To continue as planned or to re-orient | | | |project (mid-term evaluation); about the | | | |need for extension | |Evaluation |Evaluation study |How to use results in future programming | It is possible to summarize the phases of the PCM discussed by different authors as shown in the following format. |Westland, Jason | | | | | | |(2006) | |RPRLGSP, May 2009() |EC (March 2002) |Lucian CIOLAN (2007) | |Stages | |GTZ (1996) | | | | |1 |Project |Identification phase |Policy setting |Programming |Programming | | |initiation | | | | | |2 |Project planning |Concept phase |Project Identification |Identification |Identification | |3 |Project execution|Implementation phase |Appraisal |Appraisal |Formulation | |4 |Project closure | |Formulation/planning |Financing |Implementation | |5 | | |Contracting/ commitment |Implementation |Evaluation | |6 | | |Implementation, monitoring & |Evaluation |Audit | | | | |midterm evaluation | | | |7 | | |Final evaluation | | | Furthermore these stages of project cycle presented by different authors can be summarized in three phases.
These are Preparation, Implementation and Project Closure & Evaluation. 3. Analysis: Project Identification & Selection According to Westland, Jason (2006) the project identification and selection of the project cycle is slotted in the Project Initiation Phase. Within the initiation phase, the business problem or opportunity is identified, a solution is defined, a project is formed and a project team is appointed to build and deliver the solution to the customer. Figure 3: shows the activities undertaken during the initiation phase: [pic] Figure 3: Project initiation activities Develop a business case: The trigger to initiating a project is identifying a business problem or opportunity to be addressed.
A business case is created to define the problem or opportunity in detail and identify a preferred solution for implementation. The business case includes: [pic] A detailed description of the problem or opportunity; [pic] A list of the alternative solutions available; [pic] An analysis of the business benefits, costs, risks and issues; [pic] A description of the preferred solution; [pic] A summarized plan for implementation The business case is then approved by an identified project sponsor, and the required funding is allocated to proceed with a feasibility study. Undertake a feasibility study: At any stage during or after the creation of a business case, a formal feasibility study may be commissioned.
The purpose of a feasibility study is to assess the likelihood of each alternative solution option achieving the benefits outlined in the business case. The feasibility study will also investigate whether the forecast costs are reasonable, the solution is achievable, the risks are acceptable and the identified issues are avoidable. Establish the terms of reference: After the business case and feasibility study have been approved, a new project is formed. At this point, terms of reference are created. The terms of reference define the vision, objectives, scope and deliverables for the new project. They also describe the organization structure, activities, resources and funding required to undertake the project. Any risks, issues, planning assumptions and constraints are also identified.
Appoint the project team: The project team is now ready to be appointed. Although a project manager may be appointed at any stage during the life of the project, the manager will ideally be appointed prior to recruiting the project team. The project manager creates a detailed job description for each role in the project team, and recruits people into each role based on their relevant skills and experience. Set up a project office: The project office is the physical environment within which the team is based. Although it is usual to have one central project office, it is possible to have a virtual project office with project team members located around the world.
A project office environment should include: [pic] Equipment, such as office furniture, computer equipment, stationery and materials; [pic] Communications infrastructure, such as telephones, computer network, e-mail, Internet access, file storage, database storage and backup facilities; [pic] Documentation, such as a project methodology, standards, processes, forms and registers; [pic] Tools, such as accounting, project planning and risk modeling software. Perform a phase review: At the end of the initiation phase, a phase review is performed. This is basically a checkpoint to ensure that the project has achieved its objectives as planned.
RPRLGSP (May 2009): Policy Setting precede the project identification stage. Policy Setting is the establishment of the development vision guiding the Local Authority and it includes the strategic planning process whereby the long term direction of the Local Authority is established. Accordingly Project Identification is the stage 2 of the project cycle is Project identification or initiation, where Local Authorities identify projects from an assessment of existing demand for goods or services based on 3 main sources, • The Council’s Strategic Plan/IDP • The annual LASDAP consultations where citizens articulate their needs • Baseline surveys and diagnostic studies to meet special needs
The main practice in Local Authorities however, is to follow their primary mandates in the choice of projects, with additional ‘demand’ projects from LASDAP priorities. This planning is often called ‘demand led planning’ and is often disjointed from the more proactive policy and strategic planning process that has been described in stage 1. The problem with this demand approach is that project feasibility and sustainability is affected because the demands led planning comes with vested interests not matched with an objective appraisal of projects. As a result, LAs invest in a fragmented portfolio of projects that are neither linked to the national plans nor to their own strategic plans.
It is important therefore, that at the project identification/initiation stage, LAs choose projects from many alternative ideas or schemes that balance between local demands, strategic priorities, ongoing diagnostics, and research or baseline studies. To determine ‘demand’ projects from communities or stakeholders, 2 key elements are involved; (i) needs analysis and (ii) situation analysis. i) Needs Analysis: Analysing the present actual situation can be ‘problem based’ or ‘opportunity based’. It concerns identifying the priority problems/ opportunities and their main causes, and identifying the causes that can be addressed by the project intervention.
It is essential to understand the resources within the community or from others, that are relevant to tackling the problems. It is important therefore that all many citizens and stakeholder groups get the chance to express the problems they experience and recommend solutions. Discussions, opinions and clarifications by the problem ‘owners’ should be respected. The Manual on Community Participation has elaborate guidelines on how to conduct participatory needs assessment & situation analysis. This ensures that ‘ownership’ which is part of the project pre-feasibility is established from people’s needs and requirements. ii) Situation Analysis: Situation analysis concerns identifying the priority problems/ opportunities and their main causes.
This is an important factor because people’s desires and assessment of their needs, may be based on ‘symptoms’ of an underlying or situational factor; addressing the symptoms will not solve the problems because the cause and effect have not been properly analysed. A properly planned intervention should therefore combine both needs analysis and situational analysis, based upon a correct and complete analysis of the existing situation. This involves analysing the present actual situation through various methods (transect walk, social mapping, gender analysis etc). The method chosen, can be ‘problem based’ e. g. what are the prevalent problem situations or ‘opportunity based’, e. g. is there an opportunity to serve people with disability?
After discussion and clarification by the ‘problem owner’ or people affected by the problem, all opinions should be respected. The aim is to create a picture of reality. The existing situation should be interpreted according to the views, needs, interests and activities of parties concerned. It is essential that all those involved accept the plans and are committed to implement them. A greater involvement of the beneficiaries and stakeholders in defining local problems, identifying solutions and implementing them ensures that the resulting programmes are more effective and sustainable. Participatory methods aim to create ownership and commitment among the involved parties.
Once the projects are identified from needs & situational assessments, the LA should consider the priority projects to be undertaken, and to do this, they must subject those needs/priorities to further review. This introduces the 3rd stage of the project cycle, project appraisal stage. VLIR (July 2002): Within the VLIR programme framework, problems, needs and interests of possible stakeholders are analysed and ideas for projects and other actions are identified and formulated in broad terms. This involves a study of the project context to obtain an idea of the relevance, the feasibility and sustainability of the proposal. A comparison of this information with the funding criteria will allow an assessment of the funding chances. The EU Project Cycle Management model takes PROGRAMMING as an initial phase of the process.
In the training manual prepared by Lucian CIOLAN (2007) it is indicated that during the Programming phase, the situation at national and sectoral level is analyzed to identify problems, constraints and opportunities which co-operation could address. This involves a review of socio-economic indicators, and of national and donor priorities. The purpose is to identify the main objectives and sectoral priorities for co-operation, and thus to provide a relevant and feasible programming frame-work within which projects can be identified and prepared. According to EC manual the main question asked at project identification phase is: “Is the project concept relevant to priority local needs and consistent with EC policy priorities? The manual further describes the purpose of the identification stage as: • identify project ideas that are consistent with partner and EC development priorities; • assess the relevance and likely feasibility of these project ideas; • under the ‘Programme approach’, prepare a Financing Proposal or an Identification Fiche for individual projects, and • prepare a financing decision for a Programme of projects, or determine the scope of further work required during the formulation stage for individual projects. NB: Each project ‘general objective’ should be derived from an appropriate objective statement in the Country Strategy Paper and National Indicative Planning or from a relevant sector policy or programme objective.
During the identification phase the key assessments required to help ensure the relevance and feasibility of a project idea are: (i) assessment of policy and programming framework; (ii) stakeholder analysis, including institutional capacity assessment; (iii) problem analysis, including scoping of crosscutting issues (e. g. gender, governance, environment); (iv) assessment of other ongoing and planned initiatives, and assessment of lessons learned; (v) preliminary objectives and strategy analysis; (vi) preliminary assessment of resource and cost parameters; (vii) preliminary assessment of project management, coordination and financing arrangements; and (viii) preliminary assessment of economic/financial, environmental, technical and social sustainability issues.
The key documents required by the EC at the identification stage of the cycle are therefore: • Terms of reference for any EC funded prefeasibility studies; • The Identification Fiche, including as appropriate draft terms of reference for a feasibility/design study; or • A Financing Proposal for a programme/package of projects (e. g Action Programme together with Project Fiches). EC Manual (March 2002):During the Programming phase, the situation at national and sectoral level is analyzed to identify problems, constraints and opportunities which co-operation could address. This involves a review of socio-economic indicators, and of national and donor priorities.
The purpose is to identify the main objectives and sectoral priorities for co-operation, and thus to provide a relevant and feasible programming frame-work within which projects can be identified and prepared. For each of these priori-ties, strategies that take account of the lessons of past experience will be formulated. During the Identification phase, and within the framework established by the Country Strategy Paper, the stress is on analysis of relevance of project ideas, which includes an analysis of the stakeholders and of the likely target groups and beneficiaries (who they are: women and men from different socio-economic groups; assessment of their potentials, etc. and of the situation, including an analysis of the problems they face, and the identification of options to address these problems. Sectoral, thematic or “pre-feasibility” studies may be carried out (including consultations with stakeholders) to help identify, select or investigate specific ideas, and to define what further studies may be needed to formulate a project or action. The outcome is a decision on whether or not the option(s) developed should be further studied in detail. Overall responsibility for Identification is with EuropeAid who initiates missions, studies and related preparatory work (including consultations with others donors and potential co-financing) in order to define the activities (projects, programmes, sectoral support, etc. ) to be financed.
A priority list is established indicating which projects should be appraised immediately for a rapid start of implementation, in the following year and so on. 4. Case Studies: Case Study 1: Project Identification Based Countries Strategy: African Development Bank Group (August 2008): Project linkages with country strategy and objectives The Tanzania mainland’s National Strategy for Growth and Reduction of Poverty, known by its Kiswahili acronym, ‘MKUKUTA’ covers the period 2005-2010. It identifies three clusters of broad outcomes: i) economic growth and poverty reduction; ii) improvement of the quality of live and social wellbeing; and iii) governance and accountability.
Goal 3 of Cluster (ii) addresses increased access to clean, affordable and safe water, sanitation, decent shelter and a safe and sustainable environment. Zanzibar’s Strategy for Growth and Reduction of Poverty (MKUZA) has been developed as a response to similar development needs. Zanzibar Development Vision 2020 provides the over-arching framework to reduce poverty. The Zanzibar Poverty Reduction Plan (ZPRP 2007-2010), Cluster 2, Social Services and Well Being, includes amongst others goals for i) increased access to clean, safe and affordable water and ii) improved sanitation and sustainable environment. The Joint Assistance Strategy for Tanzania (JAST) is a compact between Government and Development Partners (DPs) for managing development co-operation.
It came into force in 2006. The efforts to harmonise aid management systems on the mainland with those on Zanzibar are at an advanced stage. Case Study 2: Project Identification Based on the Local Problems: UNDP (2006): Lare (a community in Kenya-Africa) is a dry area with no permanent rivers. It receives an average of 700 millimeters of rainfall a year but this varies widely from one year to another. It is also unevenly distributed among the seasons. Farmers in Lare have identifies four major constraints to agricultural production, with scarcity of water as a major one. Before 1998, about 70 percent of all households in the area experienced shortages of water.
In addition, not only was there insufficient water, but it was also of poor quality and caused a high incidence of water born diseases. In 1999, a project involving nine collaborating institutions was initiated to address rainwater harvesting practices and water treatment along with other technologies required by the farmers. The two case studies discussed above represent different factors for project identification. In case of Case 1 project consideration was given to the linkage of the project to the overall country strategy. This is taken as the main justification for the identification of a given project as a priority need of the country. In Case 2 project the local situation of the community was taken as the means for the project identification.
Depending on the country’s strategy alone sometimes may lead to wrong conclusion. The country strategy may be outdated such that may lack to capture the changes that have occurred since the time of its formulation. The reality on the ground particularly the conditions in the target community may not warrant the feasibility of the project and can lead to the failure of implementation. On the other hand many NGOs in developing country are focusing on target community needs in the identification of projects without recognition of the country strategy. This again can lead to the question of sustainability of the implemented projects due to lack of acceptance of the endeavors by the local and national governments.
Therefore, the identification stage of PCM needs to look at projects both from national and local perspectives. 5. Recommendation: Project identification should be both demand and supply driven. It should not only be focused on the needs of the local entities but should also look at the overall strategy of the government in particular and donor agencies in general. The need to consult country’s strategy emanates from the allocation of scare resources, both skilled manpower and finance. The local needs are enormous particularly in the developing or least developed nations. It is difficult to meet all these local needs with the meager resources available.
Therefore, there is a need to prioritize through formulation of the country strategy. The country strategy document should be designed in such a way that to reflect the priority areas based on established criteria. Focus can be in areas where the projects can have back and forth effects on the overall growth of the economy. The pre-feasibility studies at project identification stages should seriously look at the criteria of selection in order to filter those projects that have versatile effects on the overall economy of the country. Lack of paying attention to this stage or phase of the project cycle can lead to the identification of projects that can lead to failure in meeting the envisaged objectives and goals. 6.
Conclusion: The PCM needs to be dynamic in the sense of capturing the changes that happen and will happen in the world as a whole. This time the world is discussing about the effects of climate change. Therefore failure to address such aspects in all phases of the PCM is and will be a futile exercise. Donors are becoming critical in the appraisal of projects from the very inception from the point of view of the impact the proposed project can bring to the environment including climate change. At project identification stage, as far as possible it is advisable to come up with project solutions that can have positive contribution to the environment.
If not positive the projects should be at least neutral in the pace of their impact on the environment. If the project is critical and have a negative impact on the environment then the proper mitigation measures needs to be considered even at the identification stage.