Previous Page Table of Contents Next Page


I. Introduction to the guidelines
II. Designing the study
III. Executing the study
IV. Implementing the study recommendations
V. Selected bibliography of DRD studies

I. Introduction to the guidelines

Understanding the following guidelines and their relationship to the six case studies requires visualizing the sequence of activities that comprise a major regional development study. Most of the integrated studies described in this book took from two to four years to complete, involved from 15 to 75 professionals (national and OAS), and cost anywhere from US$350,000 to US$1,000,000. For most studies, the final products were a regional development strategy and a package of interrelated development projects within a proposed action plan. Most investment programs proposed were for five- to ten-year periods and cost from a few million dollars to several hundred million. Following completion of the study, DRD was sometimes asked to help the government during implementation of the recommendations. (The sequence of activities involved in DRD assistance for regional development planning is shown in Figure 1.)

Throughout the guidelines, regional development planning is described in three stages: designing the study, executing the study, and implementing the recommendations. The DESIGN STAGE begins with a request for assistance. It includes analysis of the request and the fielding of a preliminary mission to make a quick pre-diagnosis of the region, define an expected product with the government, outline the workplan and the contributions of the respective parties and prepare a draft version of a technical cooperation document. It ends when the government and the OAS sign a technical cooperation agreement.

Figure 1 - Key Elements in the Process of DRD Assistance for Regional Development Planning

The study EXECUTION STAGE is divided into two phases: development diagnosis (Phase I) and project formulation and preparation of the action plan (Phase II). Phase I contains a diagnosis of the principal needs and problems of the region and its main development potentials and constraints. It ends with an Interim Report that proposes alternative development strategies and identifies potential investment projects. The investment projects include some which had already been planned and are about to be undertaken as well as new ones which are identified during the study. The Phase I report enables the government to select one of the strategy alternatives and a group of projects to be formulated in Phase II. In Phase II, the development strategy is refined, the interrelated investment projects are formulated and combined into a package, and an action plan is created. Phase II ends with a Final Report, which contains the proposed action plan and interrelated projects with an investment timetable for their execution, as well as policy recommendations by areas and priority sectors. This report is presented to the government, for its approval, which completes the execution stage of regional development planning.

The third stage, IMPLEMENTING THE RECOMMENDATIONS, includes both planning for implementation and giving support to the government in the implementation process. While implementing the recommendations is not part of the planning process, planning for implementation and building in assurances that it will take place definitely are. (Figure 2, an expanded version of Figure 1, synthesizes the DRD process of technical assistance and serves as a skeleton summary of the guidelines.)

As any practitioner knows, regional development studies are seldom conducted in a simple linear sequence. Since the steps tend to be iterative - with many feedback loops - these guidelines may be oversimplified. For example, study design may continue into the execution stage since the diagnosis may reveal information that substantially changes ideas about the region and forces redesign of the study. Formulation of projects may be conducted simultaneously with the diagnosis, and governments may begin implementing small projects while large projects are still being formulated and evaluated,

Another variable is emphasis. While any regional development study incorporates most of the elements of Phases I and II, the time and resources spent on each activity can vary greatly. In a sparsely populated, relatively undeveloped region, where the data base is deficient, a natural resource inventory, a census, and socioeconomic data collection may be of primary importance. Formulating new development projects may also be a central focus. In a highly developed and populated region, on the other hand, information may be readily available and the principal problem will be understanding and coordinating the development activities already taking place or planned. Regional development studies are inherently complex, as the six case studies that follow will show. Accordingly, these guidelines are generalized and must be adapted to fit prevailing circumstances.

Finally, to understand the guidelines readers must also recognize that the fundamental objective of DRD efforts is to strengthen national institutions and promote technology transfer. Everything that follows was derived from the partnership experience of technical cooperation with Latin American government agencies. The subject of this book is integrated regional development planning, but the focus is assisting governments in preparing plans.

II. Designing the study

A. The preliminary mission
B. Defining the problem
C. Designing the management structure
D. Organizing the study

A. The preliminary mission

All regional development studies undertaken with the support of DRD begin with a formal request for technical assistance from a member country of the Organization of American States. When this request has been approved, the first step in most major studies is to send a preliminary mission to the country. In consultation with appropriate officials of the interested country or countries, the preliminary mission further defines the development problems and prospects, designs the management structure for the study, and drafts a preliminary workplan and other material from which a formal agreement between the country and the OAS is made. Assumptions made at the time of preparation of the government's request for assistance are frequently modified. Sometimes even the definition of the region is adjusted during these consultations. EXPERIENCE HAS SHOWN THAT THE WORK OF THE PRELIMINARY MISSION IS FREQUENTLY THE MOST CRITICAL SINGLE EVENT IN THE ENTIRE STUDY.

A key role of the preliminary mission is to define the technical content of the study. By determining with national personnel the principal problems and potentials of the study area and estimating which are most amenable to treatment, the preliminary mission can establish which subject areas should be emphasized and which should be treated lightly or eliminated. Similarly, the preliminary mission identifies development actions that are more or less inevitable or that are already taking place in the area and insures that they are given due consideration early in the study. All these elements are then built into the preliminary workplan. The tentative conclusions reached by the preliminary mission are examined by a policy committee of the DRD and by the government, and the detailed workplan is then prepared and revised as necessary. (See "The Detailed Workplan" in the Guidelines.)

Design of the management structure is contingent in large part on which agencies take part in the study, another subject that the preliminary mission negotiates with the government. (For details, see "Designing the Management Structure" in the Guidelines.)









Receipt and analysis of request for cooperation

Diagnosis of region

Project formulation (profile or prefeasibility) and evaluation

Assistance for specific programs and projects

Preliminary Mission

· sectoral analysis

· production sectors (agriculture, forestry, agroindustry, industry, fishing, mining)

Assistance in incorporating proposed investments into national budget

· pre-diagnosis

· spatial analysis

· support services (marketing, credit, extension)

Advisory services for private sector actions

· preparation of cooperation agreement

· institutional analysis

· social development (housing, education, labor training, health)

Support to executing agencies

· environmental analysis

· infrastructure (energy, transportation, communications)

Support in inter-institutional coordination

· synthesis: needs, problems, potentials, constraints

· urban services

Relation to national plans, strategies, priorities

· natural resources management

Development strategies

Action plan preparation

· formulation and analysis of alternatives

· formulation of packages of projects

· identification of project ideas

· policies for priority areas and sectors

· enabling and incentive actions

· investment timetable

· evaluation of funding sources

· institutional development and training

· promotion


Signed cooperation agreement

Interim Report (Phase 1 Report)

Final Report

Government execution of

· definition of products of study

· diagnosis of region

· development strategy

· feasibility and final design studies

· financial commitments of participants

· preliminary development strategy

· action plan

· implementation of projects

· preliminary workplan

· identified projects

· formulated projects

· changes in legislation and regulations

· supporting actions

Improved operational capability of institutions

Time Frame

3 to 6 months

9 to 12 months (12 to 18 months historically)

12 to 18 months


The preliminary mission must also determine such fundamental parameters of the study as the order of magnitude of investment possible in the study area, which in turn requires some idea of the financial resources the government can allocate to the study area over a defined period. (Needless to say, governments hesitate to make quantitative commitments, but may be willing to give an indication in relative or qualitative terms. See "Limiting the Study Goals While Retaining an Integral Focus" in the Guidelines.) The preliminary mission, working with the highest levels of government, begins a dialog on this sensitive subject that continues throughout the study.

It may take months to work out all the fine points of a formal agreement, including the contributions and responsibilities of all parties. But the essential elements of the agreement are usually negotiated during the preliminary mission.

These add up to a tall order for a short mission. Not all preliminary missions undertake all these activities, and for various reasons the preliminary mission may decide that some issues should be addressed later in the study. Nevertheless, the degree to which the. preliminary mission and the government can agree on the effective institutional arrangements and sound technical orientation is a controlling factor in conducting the study and implementing its recommendations. The following are some practical guidelines regarding the preliminary mission:

1. Composition of the Preliminary Mission

a. Staff the preliminary mission with experienced international professionals with extensive practical knowledge of Latin America, The DRD normally relies on its core headquarters professional staff (including division directors); occasionally, however, it also employs high-level consultants. Usually, three professionals are sent to the field for two to three weeks. The composition of the team depends, of course, on the region's nature, problems, and potentials. But a typical team will include a regional planner, an economist, and a natural resource specialist. Whenever possible, the prospective candidate for study manager is included. This was done, for example, in the Santiago-Mira (Ecuador) and Chapare (Bolivia) studies.

b. When there are serious problems with assembling data for the preliminary mission or delicate institutional issues to be treated, use a senior headquarters staff member as the advance person for the preliminary mission (as was done, for example, in the Santiago-Mira study). On rare occasions, a single professional constitutes the preliminary mission. In the San Lorenzo study (Mexico), a "one-man" team proved inexpensive and administratively agile.

Aerial reconnaissance of the Andean zone of the Esmeraldas River basin in Ecuador showing irrigated agriculture in the inter Andean valley. Such low altitude flights provide valuable environmental overviews.

2. Field Activities and Data Collection

a. Undertake field travel in and "overflights" of the study area. In the Santiago-Mira study, the initial assessment of the region undertaken during the preliminary mission was particularly comprehensive.

b. Contact local officials and community leaders in the study area. In the Chapare study, for example, the preliminary mission learned a great deal from local officials and this information influenced the design of the study.

c. Maintain contact with appropriate officials of the national planning agency to ascertain in the context of the national development plan the goals that the national government has set for the region. In the Chapare and Santiago-Mira studies, perceptions about the development focus differed among the local residents and the national government.

d. Hold dialogs with national counterparts. "Brain-storming sessions" are useful in defining problems and agreeing on the content and orientation of the study. Since the study will be a team effort of nationals and DRD staff, it is important to begin the dialog between the probable actors as soon as possible. This happened in the Santiago-Mira study when the preliminary workplan was thrashed out during prolonged "brainstorming" with staff of the eventual counterpart agencies who participated in the study.

e. Use an experienced staff member or consultant to get an overview of the natural environment of the study area and its surroundings. This specialist must understand how natural systems work and know enough about regional planning and economics to be able to communicate this understanding to the regional planner and economist. (See "The Role of the Environmental Management Advisor" in the Guidelines.)

f. Determine the availability of existing data about the study area. Data availability will condition the scope, content, and final product of the regional development study. Existing maps containing natural resources information (such as that on geology, vegetation, soils, land capability, hydrology, hydrogeology, climatology, and so forth) may be critical. Without them, a careful check of available aerial photographic coverage, satellite imagery, and base maps will be necessary. Check also the availability of socio-economic data about the area, including population and migration statistics, economic data, etc. Estimate the needs and availability of information, and initiate the design of the study accordingly. Although some data will almost certainly have to be collected, a distinction must be made between planning and scientific studies. In the Santiago-Mira study, a DRD specialist spent several months in the inventory and collection of existing basic data before the study began.

B. Defining the problem

1. Defining the Regional Planning Framework

Regional development planning is accepted as a concept in many Latin American countries. The stage of its practical application, however, varies greatly. Many countries, especially in South America, have now formally defined development regions within their overall national development strategies. In a few cases, these regional definitions exist only on paper. Some countries carry out regional planning mainly within national planning agencies. Some countries have regional development institutions engaged in planning. Others have evolved strong institutions both for planning and implementing regional development. A few have chosen to utilize states, provinces, or other existing political subdivisions to carry out subnational planning and implementation.

Obviously, any study of regional development is strongly influenced by the economic, institutional, and spatial context of planning, which is determined in part by the extent to which each country has applied a regional development planning approach. The Dominican Republic case study charts the 15-year evolution of the regional development approach in one country.

1. OEA, Secretaría General, y República del Ecuador, Estudio de las Cuencas Noroccidentales, Cuenca del Río Esmeraldas: Estudio para la Planificación del Desarrollo de los Recursos de Aguas y Tierras, OEA, Washington, D.C., 1976.

The design of the study is powerfully affected not only by the evolutionary stage of the regional development process but also by shifting political winds. As an example, support for the Panama-Darien study waned as the national government became preoccupied with Canal Zone development proposals.

Some guidelines with examples follow:

a. When a country has not yet formally defined regions for development planning or when the study area is not a standard physical planning unit (such as a river basin), conduct sustained dialogs with national planning institutions and formally involve the national planning agency in the study. Otherwise, detailed studies of specific areas are frequently plagued by uncertainties about development goals and relationships to national priorities. In the Esmeraldas River basin study1 in Ecuador, which immediately preceded the Santiago-Mira study, the process of regionalization of the country was not yet complete. Confusion over what would constitute the official planning region in which the Esmeraldas and Santiago River basins would be located caused great difficulty in setting the development objectives for the area within the framework of the national plan.

b. When the country is regionalized and has clearly defined regional goals that harmonize with its national plan, but no formal regional development institution exists, design the study to facilitate the eventual creation of such an institution. Here too, the active participation of the national planning agency is mandatory.

c. When the region being studied is a recognized planning unit and an appropriate regional development institution is the counterpart, incorporate a much more comprehensive implementation phase and include a larger component of institutional development assistance than in the two previous cases. Seminars, workshops, training courses, and on-the-job training are particularly cost-effective for institution building, In the study of the Zulia Region1 of Venezuela, for instance, the counterpart was the State Planning Agency of Zulia (CONZUPLAN) and the powerful regional development corporation (CORPOZULIA). Short courses on project formulation methodology and seminars on regional planning were highly effective. In these circumstances, the role of the region in the national economy can be clearly defined and the final regional development strategy can be much more precise.

d. Whatever approach to regional development planning a country has established, make certain that the new regional planning studies are done within the framework of the national plan. If the national economic and social development plan is out of date or too generalized to help orient regional planning, provide for sustained dialog with the national planning agency throughout the study.

1. OEA, Secretaría General, Región Zuliana, República de Venezuela: Estudio para el Aprovechamiento Racional de los Recursos Naturales, OEA, Washington, D.C. 1975.

2. Defining the Proper Spatial and Environmental Context

No subnational area is a closed system; thus, rarely do the solutions to a region's socio-economic problems exist solely within the region itself. Likewise, a region's problems, including environmental constraints and opportunities, may be part of a much larger fabric. Defining the proper geographic and environmental context for study is therefore quite difficult. Long-term solutions to development problems may involve the movement of people into or out of a region, so a wide geographic view is essential. Similarly, a region's environmental problems may be better understood by viewing them in the context of the larger ecosystem in which they are occurring. For instance, planning the development of the Upper Paraguay river basin1 (the Pantanal region of Brazil) required detailed knowledge of the rainfall region in the Andes, which together with the Pantanal controlled seasonal fluctuations of the Lower Paraguay river. In the Panama-Darien study, cooperation with Colombia was essential to the border-integration and disease-barrier schemes.

1. OEA, Secretaria Geral, e República Federativa do Brasil, Plano de Desenvolvimiento Integrado da Bacia do Alto Paraguai - EDIBAP Piano Básico, República Federativa do Brasil, Brasilia, D.F., agosto, 1981

Some procedures for defining the spatial and environmental context include:

a. Carry out rapid surveys of the resource development potentials of surrounding areas to assess the broader geographic and environmental context of the area selected for study. In the study of the Jatoba region2 in Northeast Brazil, an analysis was made of the physical conditions and development realities of the whole Sertão, a large arid ecosystem. Understanding this broad geographic context helped target the study's focus on some modest but practical solutions to agricultural development that could later be replicated in a larger area.

b. Identify the major ecosystems of the region so as to understand the broader ecological context. In the Santiago-Mira study, the preliminary mission invested ample time in a survey of the major ecosystems, which helped orient the study design.

c. Determine the boundaries of economic and market systems. In the Santiago-Mira region, for example, the powerful influence of market systems and communications in the Andean portion of the study region conditioned many aspects of the study design.

d. Define the primary, secondary, and tertiary urban centers of the region. Analyze them within the context of the hierarchy of urban centers of the whole country. In Panama-Darien, despite the fact that the region is nearly empty of population, the definition of the probable hierarchy of urban settlements helped focus the planning efforts (especially agroindustrial development) along practical lines.

e. Assess demographic patterns and migration trends to understand the population dynamics that will influence the region's development. In Chapare and Panama-Darien, both of which are relatively empty regions, the projection of migration trends was a key factor in planning the region's development.

2. OEA, Secretaria Geral, e Ministerio do Interior, República Federativa do Brasil, Projeto Bacia do Jatobá, Recife, março, 1980.

3. Determining the Optimal Multi-Sectoral Focus

Development problems are frequently defined by countries in a narrow sectoral context that obscures causal relationships. Because sectoral problems frequently turn out to require multi-sectoral solutions, the challenge is to design studies with a sufficiently broad technical focus. Severe soil erosion may be viewed as a local agricultural management problem when, in fact, it is the product of national economic policies or land tenure relationships. Jamaica asked DRD to help it develop its forestry sector to take advantage of available World Bank financing. But solving the forestry development problem ultimately required conducting an integrated survey of the natural resources of this small island and preparation of a multi-sectoral development plan. Without such an integrated plan, forestry development would probably have had a negative effect on other economic sectors and vice versa. The San Lorenzo study started with a narrow purpose (university research) and ended with many development goals (including agricultural development, recreational development, and university-based research). Often, water resource development problems are most effectively treated within the broader framework of integrated river basin development. Many DRD river-basin studies (such as the Santiago-Mira study) began with a country's sectoral concern about water resource planning. Invariably, land and water resource development are intertwined,

To put such problems in focus, several kinds of analysis are required:

a. Determine which sectors are involved in the problem and in its solution so that the study can be designed to include all relevant aspects. The San Lorenzo study, for example, was redesigned when it was seen that the issue was far more complex than simply the establishment of an ecologic reserve for use by a university. Mexico's recreational needs had to be weighed alongside the local university's research needs and the local farmers' economic priorities.

b. Analyze sectoral cause and effect relationships carefully so project recommendations can later be directed at first causes instead of symptoms. In the study of northwest Parana in Brazil,1 a severe problem of soil erosion was initially perceived as an agricultural and urban development problem requiring primarily engineering solutions. A broad analysis revealed that the erosion was a symptom of inadequate multi-sectoral planning, and very comprehensive solutions involving many sectors were required.

c. Encourage sectoral institutions to supply information, feedback, and political support. Involving sectoral interests early in the planning process may defuse potential conflicts and reveal false assumptions that can misorient the study. In the Bolivia Chapare study, the early involvement of the powerful truckers cooperative led to a clear identification of their problems with the farmers over freight rates, and an eventual solution was negotiated within the framework of the study.

1. OEA, Secretaria Geral, Bacia do Rio do Prata: Estudo para sua Planificação e Desenvolvimento, República Federativa do Brasil, Noreste do Estado do Paraná, OEA, Washington, D.C., 1973.

4. Limiting the Study Goals While Retaining an Integral Focus

One common problem in designing regional development studies involves stretching limited financial resources to cover the study objectives the country defines. Since the initial study goals tend to far outstrip the financial means, the usual challenge is to cut the problem down to fit the money available for the study. (In the Panama-Darien study, changes in both funding levels and funding schedules had to be accommodated.) The trick is to do this without losing the integral focus of the study or producing plans and proposals too general to be implemented. Some devices include:

a. Limit the overall size of the geographic area. This is often the least practical means of cutting the study down to size. Regions may be political units, official planning units, or river basins - none of which can be modified. Occasionally, institutional or political jurisdictions opt out of the study, as the Bayano Region in the Panama-Darien study did. But usually the pressures are in the opposite direction: jurisdictions left out of the study lobby to be included.

b. Study the region at different levels of detail, phasing the investigation from the general to the specific. The phased integrated approach to the study of regions goes deep into the history and traditions of the DRD. (See the introduction to Physical Resource Investigations for Economic Development, OAS, 1969.1) Conducting rapid, inexpensive reconnaissance surveys of the region under study to identify priority areas or development zones for further study has long been standard practice in DRD-assisted studies. Phased investigation was a cornerstone of the Panama-Darien, Pilcomayo, and Chapare studies.

1. OAS, General Secretariat, Physical Resource Investigations for Economic Development: A Casebook of OAS Field Experience in Latin America, OAS, Washington, D.C., 1969.

c. Limit the time horizon of the proposed development plan and projects. An effective means for adapting a development planning effort to limited financial resources is to reduce the time frame of the proposals. Expensive long-range planning efforts (10 years or more) with elaborate economic projections of the sort popular during the Alliance for Progress era are no longer highly regarded. The tendency now is to concentrate on four- or five-year periods for detailed plans and projects. Limiting the time horizon saves time and money during data collection and analysis and allows the team to concentrate on defining the regional development strategy and formulating a limited number of development projects consistent with longer-range goals, thereby increasing the chances of implementation. This was the case in the Chapare and Panama-Darien studies.

d. Tailor the development planning conservatively in relation to the development financing available in the short term. Work with government and private agencies to determine the development financing that can be expected to be available for implementing new projects and programs. In the Panama-Darien study, plans were continually adjusted as government financing shrank.

e. Limit the sectoral focus of the proposed development after a rapid integrated overview of the various options. An integrated survey of natural resource development potentials coupled with socio-economic studies may pinpoint certain sectors with major development potential. Subsequent investigations may then be concentrated on just a few types of development projects. In the Jatoba Region in northeast Brazil,1 initial investigations confirmed that the only significant development potentials were in the agricultural sector and that social services were sorely needed. The study was then focused on these aspects.

1. OEA, Secretaria Geral e Ministerio do Interior, Projeto Bacia do Jatobá, República Federativa do Brasil, Recife, março, 1980

f. Focus the study on a particular target population within a designated geographical area, Many studies of integrated rural development are directed at improving the living conditions of target populations of poor farmers rather than all inhabitants of a region. Thus the integral focus is retained but the study's scope is limited. A principal focus of the Santiago-Mira study, for example, were the Andean small farmers for whom irrigated agricultural cooperatives and associated agroindustries were designed in the intermountain area and the migrant to the coastal area, for whom colonization projects were created.

C. Designing the management structure

Regional development planning - one of the most complex of all multi-disciplinary activities - can be accomplished only through teamwork. The management structures for carrying out regional development planning with the support of an international technical assistance agency are complicated and delicate.

Since effective technical assistance should be a partnership, the management structures described here may confuse those familiar with public administration principles, which reject most forms of dual authority, Because the objectives of a technical cooperation project are temporary, the organization that carries them out must change with changing development needs. Given that in many cases a project is established precisely because standard organizations cannot handle the activity, the project management will not resemble a typical government or corporation. In particular, it will be drawn up by task rather than by function.

While the following points are derived from the experience of a technical assistance agency, the ideas should also be of use to national or regional development planning institutions, inter-ministerial task forces, and consulting firms working with government.

1. The Basic Management System Used by DRD

The core of the management structure that has emerged from DRD experience is a technical unit composed of national and international development professionals and support personnel who jointly execute the regional development study. (See Figure 3.) Personnel from one or more national agencies and from DRD work together in the technical unit as equals. Day-to-day management of the unit is provided by co-equal directors, national and international (OAS). In practice, the national director manages national personnel and the international director manages international staff, but the degree of interaction and teamwork must be very high.

The policy direction of the technical unit is provided by an executive commission made up of high-level representatives of the national ministries (or other executive agencies) and a representative of DRD (usually the DRD's director or a division chief). Frequently, the country representative on the executive commission is of ministerial rank, as in the Panama-Darien study. The president of the executive commission is usually the senior national official involved. Decisions of the commission, however, must be adopted by consensus. The commission meets quarterly or biannually to review progress, to approve the workplan, and to review the interim and final reports. To coordinate the national agencies involved in the study, a national coordinating committee that reports to the executive commission is sometimes established.

Figure 3 - DRD's Basic Management System for Regional Development Studies

Surprisingly, dual authority and management by consensus work most of the time. The keys are clearly defined common objectives, clearly defined tasks, foresight, strong communication channels, and the constant reinforcement of teamwork. Accordingly, the dialog between government and DRD staff initiated during the preliminary mission is important.

This basic management system is common to all six of the case studies summarized in this book. The variations are determined by the composition of the participating national agencies and the national coordination mechanisms. In the case of the Pilcomayo study, the multinational character of the study called for several institutional devices for coordinating international action.

It should be pointed out that the "equality" of national and international participants is a relative term that varies widely according to the situation. When the national agency is weak and inexperienced, the international personnel assume greater responsibility, and training and institution-building become dominant elements of the study. When the national agency is strong, the international agency assumes more of an advisory role and helps to improve liaison among national agencies. In countries where DRD has conducted many studies (for example, the Dominican Republic and Ecuador), the national agencies have assumed greater responsibility in each successive study. Even considering these variations in the relations of the technical assistance agency with the national agencies, the institutional actions described are the basic options.

2. Institutional Arrangements for National Studies - Representative Options

The choice of a national counterpart agency for a regional development study depends upon the study's focus and a variety of other factors. Agencies that are particularly effective in data gathering and diagnosis (planning or natural resource agencies, for example) may be weak in project formulation or implementation, while most agencies responsible for implementing projects have limited analytical capabilities. This dilemma can sometimes be resolved by working with a combination of agencies. A variety of arrangements that have worked in wide-ranging settings are described below.

a. Set up a task force of national agencies under the foregoing structure to execute the study. Such task forces are disbanded upon completion of the study. The weakness of this approach obviously occurs during implementation: systematic fellow-through is virtually impossible. This occurred in the Dominican Republic-Cibao and Panama-Darien studies.

b. Work with a sectoral executing agency under the aegis of the national planning agency. This system assures greater follow up while the recommendations are being implemented, but its effectiveness is frequently constrained by the limits of the mandate of the executing agency. In the Santiago-Mira study, the principal counterpart was INERHI, the water resource agency. Despite the presence of the National Planning Board (JUNAPLA) in the study, INERHI was confined by its mandate to dealing only with actions related to water resources, which hampered implementation of the comprehensive recommendations of the final report. JUNAPLA was unable to involve other sectoral agencies, such as the Ministry of Agriculture, in the implementation of recommended projects. The failure to establish a viable regional development authority further limited the implementation of the plan, except in the water resource sector.

c. Work with a renewable natural resource or environmental agency. Most such agencies have a broad mandate and a spatial orientation compatible with a regional planning orientation. However, few have financial or political power, and some have legal mandates that put them at odds with other executing agencies. For example, Peru's Ministry of Agriculture manages the country's national parks, as well as its forests and wildlife reserves. According to law (Decreto Ley N° 21147), forest reserves are classified as "untouchable." Yet, the Ministry of Mines and Energy has a mandate to explore and exploit mineral and petroleum resources throughout Peruvian territory.

d. Work with a regional development corporation or similar executing agency. When such agencies have the funds to implement development, this can be the best of all institutional arrangements. There are few such agencies, however. In the study of the Zulia Region1 of Venezuela, the powerful Zulia Regional Development Corporation (CORPOZULIA) was one of the counterpart agencies, and most of the study recommendations were implemented. Even when a regional development agency is relatively weak, it can be a good choice as a counterpart. When the Colombia-Darien2 study started, CORPOURABA, the counterpart agency, had a small budget and limited operating experience. But the in-service training its staff acquired by working with international personnel and the infusion of public and private funds resulting from approval of project proposals galvanized the agency, which was then able to implement much of the recommended plan.

1. OEA, Secretaría General, Región Zuliana, República de Venezuela: Estudio para el Aprovechamiento Racional de los Recursos Naturales. OEA, Washington, D.C., 1975.

2. OEA, Secretaría General, y República de Colombia, Proyecto Darién: Estudio para la Orientación del Desarrollo Integral de la Región del Darién Colombiano. Medellín, julio, 1978.

e. Help establish a national, independently funded study team that can evolve into a regional development institution when the study is completed. This option usually involves an initiative of the national planning agency, a substantial budget commitment by government, and the tentative decision to establish a new institution. The arrangement is nearly as satisfactory as the previous one. However, mounting a large institution-building effort during a planning study is difficult. In the study of the Nariño-Putumayo region3 of Colombia, for instance, a regional development corporation was created shortly after the DRD-supported studies were completed. Some study team staff became members of the regional development corporation, and the training given by DRD was well utilized.

3. OEA, Secretaria General y República de Colombia, Departamento Nacional de Planeación, Región Fronteriza Nariño-Putumayo, OEA, Washington, D.C., diciembre, 1980.

3. Management Devices for Multinational Studies

Meeting of the Coordinating Committee of the Pilcomayo River Basin Study in Asuncion with representatives from Argentina Bolivia, Paraguay and the DRD.

Institutional arrangements for multinational studies must be made with utmost care. Some arrangements that have worked include:

a. Establish a two-level project structure - one for technical management and the other for political coordination between the countries involved. In the Pilcomayo study, political negotiations accompanied the development planning effort and sometimes redirected it. A Coordinating Committee composed of representatives from the three governments was established as a forum for informal political dialog facilitated by DRD. The technical work was carried out by national technical teams supported by DRD in each country. Resisting the temptation to create a tripartite development commission to oversee the study was critical: what was necessary first was informal rather than formal technical and political dialog among the three countries. Only when all countries better understood the basin's potential and their own options could they envision common development potentials.

b. Undertake parallel rather than joint studies of the multi-country region. In the Darien Region of Panama and Colombia,1 this approach precluded the need to make complicated political arrangements that might have delayed the execution of the study, The countries developed a comparable data base and formulated projects at a similar level of detail. They may eventually develop a joint strategy for the region and complementary development projects. The weakness of this approach is that there is no guarantee that post hoc negotiations will succeed: national positions may well have hardened by the time negotiations begin.

1. OEA, Secretaría General y República de Colombia, Proyecto Darién: Estudio para la Orientación del Desarrollo Integral de la Región del Darién Colombiano, Medellín, julio, 1978.

c. Make use of international agencies in multinational studies to provide a neutral framework in which countries can comfortably exchange information and negotiate informally. In the Pilcomayo study, DRD's presence in the study's management structure, along with the requirement that decisions by the Coordinating Commission be adopted unanimously, greatly stimulated dialog and information exchange.

D. Organizing the study

1. The Agreement

Once the regional development problem has been defined, the broad focus of the study determined, and the management system developed and approved, all the major elements of the study should be documented in a formal agreement. On its face, this agreement is simply a contract between the country and the technical assistance agency for the provision of services. The agreement defines the product in general terms, as well as the financial and institutional ingredients required to deliver it. But it also serves other, less obvious functions. Often, it sets the rules of the game between national agencies involved in the study, specifying or at least implying who reports to whom, how decisions are taken, and which procedures are preferred. Frequently, it is used to obtain and sustain national budget support for the study. It outlines mechanisms for reorienting the study as it goes along, monitoring results, and adjudicating any disputes that arise, Its formality may strike some as unnecessary or inappropriate, and when the study is going well the agreement is rarely used as a reference. But if things do not go smoothly, it can spell the difference between negotiating a way out of the difficulty and watching the project collapse.

A typical agreement includes:

· The background of the government request for technical assistance;

· a statement of the study objectives;

· a description of the study phases and the output of each phase;

· the management structure and procedures for executing the work;

· a precise statement of the financial commitment of the country and the DRD to the study (usually expressed in terms of person-months of professionals and support personnel plus logistical support from the country); and

· an outline of the workplan (varying in the details of the operations to be performed, depending on how comprehensive the preliminary mission was).

All of the case studies in this book were based on formal written agreements.

2. The Detailed Workplan

After the agreement has been prepared and before the study is executed, there is usually a lapse of several months during which efforts focus on preparing a detailed plan of work. This workplan goes far beyond the schematic study outline contained in the agreement. Because of the complexity of regional development planning, workplan preparation is always rigorous. Just how time-consuming it is depends on how well the basic ingredients have been defined in the original request for technical assistance and in the agreement, and how comprehensive the work of the preliminary mission was.


a. Clearly define the tasks to be performed to achieve the objectives of the study.

b. Identify the specific technical products to be delivered (reports, maps, development projects, training, etc.).

c. Define the available information resources.

d. Allocate the available human and financial resources (both national and international) to the various tasks.

e. Establish a timeframe for delivery of different products.

f. Design a system for continually integrating information and forcing the interaction of specialists throughout the study.

The workplan may propose adjustments in the budget, the timeframe, or even the study's detailed objectives if the process of preparation reveals incompatibilities. The workplan must ultimately translate the study's final detailed objectives into affordable and manageable tasks that can be performed with the available time, talent, and funds. As the basis for executing the regional development study, the detailed workplan must communicate well to all the actors involved.


Workplan preparation is a complex exercise in which the components of the plan are first isolated and clearly defined and then placed within a framework that facilitates the identification of critical links between them. One of many techniques that has proved useful in this exercise is a system-oriented matrix for sequencing project tasks.

In DRD's experience, a strictly linear approach to scheduling the arrivals, activities, and departures of study team members seldom holds up against the constraints posed by the unavailability of information, technology, and time, and it does little to foster intellectual interaction. DRD's alternative approach is to (1) define all the analyses needed to fulfill the study's objectives, (2) determine which will not fit within the project budget or time frame given the availability of information, and (3) specify for the rest the points at which collaboration among the various specialists will optimize the analysis. Instead of merely "plotting" activities against time, both independent and collaborative activities are phased to accomplish three goals: optimizing the use of short-term and long-term consultants, promoting interdisciplinary work at critical points, and gearing all study project activities to well-defined products (reports, maps, etc.). (For an illustration of this methodology, see Figure 2 of the Santiago-Mira case study.)


It would distort reality to imply that workplan preparation takes place only from the time the initial study objectives are set forth in the agreement until the time the study begins. Some of the most important steps in workplan preparation actually occur during the preliminary mission. (For details, see "Defining the Problem" and "Designing the Management Structure" in the Guidelines.) Furthermore, workplans are never static. They are revised continually during execution.

Workplan preparation for a regional development study can be organized into two stages: analysis of the overall context of the study and analysis of the specific study region.

To analyze the overall context of the study, the following steps are used:

a. Define the nature of the counterpart institution or institutions and their objectives in participating in the study by consulting directly with officials. These are the major clients for the study, and any misconceptions about their interests are likely to have serious consequences later. In the Santiago-Mira study, face-to-face dialog with INERHI and JUNAPLA officials during the preliminary mission cleared up some initial misconceptions about their basic interests.

b. Interpret the relationship of national policy goals to the specific objectives stated for the study area. The absence or presence of clearly defined national policies for developing a particular area is a major consideration in designing the workplan. (See "Defining the Regional Planning Framework" in the Guidelines.)

c. Determine the time, information, personnel, and equipment available for the study. Realistically assess data availability and counterpart support for the study. When resources prove to be less than originally hoped for, adjust the study's detailed objectives accordingly, but try to avoid loss of the integral focus in doing so. (See "Limiting the Study Goals While Retaining an Integral Focus" in the Guidelines.)

To analyze the specific study region, the following are the key steps:

a. Determine the relationships between the designated study region and the larger system of which it is part. (See "Defining the Proper Spatial and Environmental Context" in the Guidelines.)

b. Identify priority sectors and/or geographic areas within the region to be studied. (See "Determining the Optimal Multi-Sectoral Focus" in the Guidelines.)

c. Consider the effects of ongoing projects or programs on the study region. Inventory existing plans and projects as a part of the regional development study. (For details, see "Executing the Study" in the Guidelines.)

Additional practical guidelines in workplan preparation that are illustrated in the case studies follow:

a. Use group dynamics techniques and brain-storming sessions involving counterpart professionals as much as possible. Flow charts and graphics are useful in this process. In the Santiago-Mira study, all these techniques were utilized with success.

b. Clearly define the nature and timing of specific tasks since many pieces of information must be collected and synthesized at each step in the study. The use of simplified critical-path analysis is helpful, but ultra-sophisticated planning tools have not worked well in the field. Delays are common and must be accommodated continually. (See Figure 2 in the Chapare study for a typical work methodology and time sequence.)

c. Schedule many study activities simultaneously so as to promote interaction among specialists. (See the chronograms for the Panama-Darien and Santiago-Mira studies.) Without opportunities for interaction and dialog, the advantages of multidisciplinary studies are forfeited.

d. Relate tasks to the overall strategy of the study rather than to individual sectoral activities or strategies. The tendency for specialists to proceed along purely sectoral lines in a linear fashion is nearly irresistible. The workplan should force experts out of their comfortable sectoral worlds, fostering cross-fertilization and breadth. In the San Lorenzo study, the international director worked hard and with some success at coaxing academicians out of their traditional mind sets.

e. Allow time in the workplan for integrative activities. A well-wrought workplan can help extinguish international consultants' seemingly overwhelming desire to go home as soon as the sectoral reports are completed. The workplan should force them to consult with other specialists about their work and reports before they leave the country. The team leader must constantly emphasize this aspect of the workplan through strong leadership and by setting a good example.

f. Build flexibility into the workplan, especially as concerns schedules and deadlines. In particular, overbudget the time of consultants so they have adequate time to work with the counterparts.

g. Control the level of detail. Many specialists have a tendency to overinvest in data collection and descriptive writing and to skimp on analysis and recommendations. Design the workplan to limit descriptive detail, and allow plenty of time for analysis. In the Dominican Republic DELNO study, failure to control the level of detail of the diagnostic phase caused the project to lose momentum and reduced the scope of Phase II.

h. Recognize the difficult trade-off between improving results and exceeding study resources. In both the DELNO and Cibao studies in the Dominican Republic, efforts to extend and improve the Phase I development diagnoses caused an overrun of budgeted resources and sharp constraints in the Phase II project-formulation activities. In the case of Cibao, it was the government's decision to greatly increase the area of the study that precipitated the trade-off.

i. Schedule formal training activities to upgrade national technicians' skills, and require international consultants to give seminars before leaving the country. In the Panama-Darien study, three rounds of training activities were scheduled. In the San Lorenzo study, training for public officials engendered local political support for the San Lorenzo reserve.

III. Executing the study

A. Phase I - Development diagnosis
B. Phase II - Project formulation and preparation of the action plan
C. Some general considerations

Most major DRD regional development studies are divided into two phases. In Phase I, the region's problems and potentials are diagnosed, a preliminary development strategy is designed, and possible development projects are identified. In Phase II, the development strategy for the region is refined, the specific investment projects and programs needed to implement the strategy are formulated, and an action plan is prepared. Each task specified in the workplan is executed within this overall study framework.

A. phase I - Development diagnosis

This phase, which should consume less than half the time of the study, consists of data collection and preliminary analysis. It culminates in an interim report that spells out a preliminary development strategy and project ideas for the government to consider. If properly executed, it will rapidly narrow the scope of the study to the best development potentials without distorting the study's integral focus. Only that information needed to identify development potentials and problems is collected, and potential problems are pinpointed at the earliest possible moment so that alternative development options may be formulated.

Phase I is the most difficult to control of all the parts of the study. Experience verifies that data collection tends to run beyond its initial deadline and to use more funds than budgeted. Interdisciplinary studies seem especially vulnerable to this tendency. This constitutes a serious problem since it drains resources from the subsequent phase of project formulation, which in turn reduces the quality and level of detail of the implementation proposals.

1. General Criteria for Data Collection

a. Information contributed by the different sectors in the study should be at approximately the same level of detail. In the Pilcomayo and Dominican Republic studies, making data compatible was a major technical challenge. In Panama-Darien, common data standards and formats were set for the 24 agencies supplying information.

b. Data should prove or disprove specific hypotheses related to the study's objectives. Data should answer specific questions about development potential and problems, as well as generate project ideas (as the DELNO component of the Dominican Republic study did). The terms of reference of consultants should specify who will use the data they are developing and how (which the Chapare study, for example, did).

c. Undertake data collection in conjunction with existing national institutions, where possible, (Close work with the Tommy Guardia Institute saved time and money in the Panama-Darien study.) The use of international consultants to do basic data collection is very costly and needs special justification. (In the Esmeraldas River basin study1 in Ecuador, extensive use of international consultants in the design and execution of a farm survey proved very costly and delayed Phase I. Contracting with a local institution to do the survey would have been better.)

1. OEA, Secretaría General, y República del Ecuador, Estudio de las Cuencas Noroccidentales, Cuenca del Río Esmeraldas: Estudio para la Planificación del Desarrollo de los Recursos de Aguas y Tierras, OEA, Washington, D.C., 1976

d. Draw on the practical experience of the local population. This saves money and serves as a "reality check." Because local people helped identify needed actions and even specific projects in the Chapare region, the study maintained a realistic focus despite many distortions caused by outside authorities interested only in coca-eradication schemes.

e. Identify project ideas during data collection. Project opportunities identified during fieldwork and checked with local people are more likely to fit local conditions than projects identified subsequently through data interpretation. In the Dominican Republic Natural Resources Inventory, the soils mapping team systematically searched for agricultural project opportunities and identified several that ultimately proved highly successful.

f. Use local research institutions and universities as sources of information. In working with governmental agencies, there is a tendency to deal with those agencies alone. Universities in particular have valuable information and capacities that should be utilized for data collection.

g. Keep description to a minimum and emphasize analysis. Less experienced professionals tend to shortcut the latter. Descriptive writing is far easier than analysis, especially that involving several disciplines, but far less useful to government decision-makers.

2. The Natural Resources Survey

Some form of integrated survey of natural resource development potential accompanies all DRD regional development studies. This reflects DRD's long-held belief that a realistic assessment of the resource base is fundamental to any development planning and project-formulation effort, The central message of DRD's Physical Resource Investigations for Economic Development: A Casebook of OAS Field Experience in Latin America, is that an integrated overview of the natural resources of an area slated for development constitutes a sound framework for identifying development projects and detecting potential conflicts between resource uses.

A sequence of satellite images of the Paraguay River in the area of Asuncion, Paraguay and Formosa, Argentina. Imagery of this type was used in the reconnaissance survey of natural resources of the Chaco Region of Paraguay.

Aerial photographic interpretation carried out as part of soil studies in the Lower Bermejo River basin in Argentina.

Supervision of map drafting for the Phase I report of the Lower Bermejo River Basin Study in Argentina.

Resource survey specialists and engineers exchange information while undertaking field work in the Guayas River basin in Ecuador

Most of the methodologies described in the 1969 casebook1 remain valid today, though satellite imagery, remote-sensing technology, geochemical analysis, and other basic techniques for mapping analysis have since become part of DRD's stock-in-trade. This casebook updates a few aspects of natural resource survey technique. Some lessons drawn from recent methodological advances follow:

a. Use modern satellite imagery and remote-sensing techniques for resource surveys of large sparsely settled or unpopulated regions about which little is known. These tools facilitate rapid and relatively accurate mapping and analysis of geology, geomorphology, soils, natural vegetation, land use, and so forth when coupled with ground verification. Remote-sensing technology has revolutionized reconnaissance surveying and natural resources mapping in large remote regions by providing broad coverage of physical resource information on accurate base maps, In the Pilcomayo River Basin, satellite imagery was the key to the rapid analysis of land capability and the delineation of development zones worthy of more detailed study. In Panama-Darien, side-looking radar imagery was the only accurate base map material available to the study team. Nearly permanent cloud cover in the Darien region made acquisition of standard aerial photographic coverage nearly impossible.

b. Use resource survey specialists who are experienced development practitioners as well as good scientists. Such specialists can orient local professionals along practical and efficient lines of investigation. In the Dominican Republic Natural Resources Inventory, the two DRD soil scientists who undertook the land-capability classification were experienced agronomists. They not only taught their counterparts modern soil mapping techniques, but they also helped them identify agricultural development project possibilities and showed them the practical applications of land-capability classification.

c. Where possible, a single national agency should be responsible for resource surveys. This approach will greatly facilitate the compatibility and integration of data. This was the case, for example, in the Dominican Republic-Cibao study. d. Train local personnel in the application and use of data from integrated resource surveys. Although local personnel are familiar with the use of data from one discipline, they are seldom familiar with the techniques of interpreting data from several disciplines for analytical purposes. A small investment in training increases the usefulness of the study.

1. The casebook features chapters on methodologies for geologic surveys, soil mapping and land capability interpretation, land use surveys, water resource planning, and surveys of forests, grasslands, and vegetation. Three comprehensive case studies of integrated natural resource surveys in Latin America are also included.

3. Data Integration

A critical aspect of Phase I is constant integration of data as it is collected. If this process is not initiated at the beginning of the study, the task becomes progressively more difficult. Some data-integration techniques include:

a. Specify in the terms of reference for each professional not only the problems to be addressed but also the other team professionals with whom cooperation will be necessary. For example, the soil scientist may be instructed to cooperate with the geologist on geomorphology, the agricultural economist and the hydrologist on identification and evaluation of irrigated agriculture projects, and the legal expert and the rural sociologist on land tenure. The terms of reference may state that the soil scientist must write parts of the final report dealing with his own discipline, such as land capability analysis, and must also help write or review parts dealing with multidisciplinary issues.

b. Make sure that all professionals know what their colleagues are doing and why. Exchange drafts of reports among all professionals, hold regular staff meetings, and take other steps to counter the tendency of specialists to pay highest allegiance to their discipline or education instead of to the study's objectives. Time should be budgeted for this, and it is the constant preoccupation of the study manager.

c. Use maps to synthesize the final products of sectoral investigations. Integrating mapped information is one way to integrate the work of different disciplines. As devices for data integration in regional development studies, map-overlay techniques and composite maps are particularly useful. Maps that integrate several types of information include land capability, potential land use, agricultural zones, and project-location maps. The methodology of agricultural zoning used in the Eastern Cibao Valley of the Dominican Republic illustrates map-overlay technique particularly well. The combination of information about geomorphology, vegetation, and land capability in specific "development areas" facilitated the identification of agricultural and agroindustrial projects. In the Panama-Darien study, the regional/urban planner used map-overlay techniques extensively to design the initial regional development strategy and produced several composite maps that appear in the case study. In the Chapare study, the spatial strategy was likewise developed using map analysis.

d. Use specialists from such integrative disciplines as regional planning as team leaders. While specialists from such broad disciplines are good "integrators" it is the commitment to multidisciplinary study rather than the disciplinary training that is the most important. (See "The Role of the Project Manager" in the Guidelines.)

e. Be sure that international technicians provide counterparts from sectoral agencies with on-the-job training that broadens their planning focus. In the Santiago-Mira study, the major counterpart agency, INERHI (a water resource development agency) received prolonged exposure to multidisciplinary thinking. As a result, its staff members greatly expanded their concept of water resource planning and initiated extensive contacts with other sectoral agencies, including the Ministries of Agriculture and of Commerce and Industry.

f. Use matrixes and other forms of systems analysis to illustrate significant points of development interaction within a region. These tools can help identify potential conflicts within development activities or between development activities and environmental hazards, as well as opportunities for mutual support. In the Santiago-Mira study, a simple matrix crossed the major sectoral activities with each other and revealed numerous potential conflicts. For example, construction of access roads for the development of hydroelectric projects would have allowed uncontrolled entrance by squatters to areas designated as zones for protection of natural vegetation. The same technique was later used effectively in the Colombia-Darien1 study.

1. OEA, Secretaría General, y República de Colombia, Proyecto Darién: Estudio para la Orientación del Desarrollo Integral de la Región del Darién Colombiano, Medellín, julio, 1978

4. Focussing on Areas with Highest Development Potential

To make optimal use of the financial resources available to the study, areas that merit intensive examination must be quickly separated from those that do not, To delineate areas with particularly high potential or great need, DRD uses a variety of techniques.

a. In very large areas that are physically, socially, and economically diverse, delineate "program areas" for immediate development. To diagnose the region and identify its distinctive subregion, two kinds of criteria are used: government objectives and priorities for the study area (including export production targets, employment goals, and the like) and a profile of the region's productive capacity, employment levels, social services, and other definitive characteristics. In successive approximations, these interacting factors are analyzed and mapped. This methodology was initially created for the Pilcomayo study, which covered 270,000 km2, and it was refined in two major river basin studies in Brazil: the Upper Paraguay1 and Araguaia-Tocantins2 basins, which covered 390,000 km2 and 935,000 km2, respectively.

1. OEA, Secretaria Geral, e República Federativa do Brasil, Plano de Desenvolvimento Integrado da Bacia do Alto Paraguai - EDIBAP, Brasilia, D.F., agosto, 1981.

2. OEA, Secretaría General, y CIDIAT, Evaluación del Impacto Ambiental del Proyecto de Drenaje de la Región de Desarrollo Integral del Programa Guanare-Masparro Mérida, Venezuela, 1980.

b. In smaller regions with variable potential, determine priority areas initially on the basis of physical characteristics. Use "agricultural zoning" techniques to eliminate areas of high relief or unsuitable climate, and characterize the remaining areas in terms of land form, climate, and soils. To generate ideas for development programs and projects in these areas, consider social, economic, and agronomic factors. Agricultural zoning techniques were used with success in the Dominican Republic Eastern Cibao and Cibao region studies, which covered 5,300 km2 and 19,000 km2, respectively. c. In relatively underdeveloped areas, identify local areas suitable for integrated rural development. Where both development potential and investment capital are modest, select a small number of areas where agriculture, livestock, forestry, and energy resources all hold development potential, and where existing settlements and infrastructure can accommodate further growth. This technique is illustrated in the Panama-Darien and Pilcomayo studies.

5. Identification and Resolution of Conflicts

A fundamental message of this casebook is that environmental issues must be dealt with as early as possible during planning to avoid unnecessary conflict in the development process. "Environmental impacts" arising out of development are frequently conflicts between different resource users. Identifying these potential conflicts early on and exploring alternative development solutions to minimize or avoid the conflicts are therefore important goals of DRD regional development studies. (For details, see "The Role of the Environmental Management Advisor" in the Guidelines.) A few basic guidelines are included here:

a. Look for interactions within and among ecosystems. Some form of systems analysis, such as the development of a regional systems model of the area's major ecosystems and their significant components and processes, is essential. Since the value of the model is in helping each participant understand when and to what degree the sectors relate to one another, such a model is best constructed by the team as a group. Within DRD, this process was developed and utilized for the first time in the Guanare-Masparro1 study in Venezuela.

1. OEA, Secretaria Geral, e Ministerio do Interior, República Federativa do Brasil, PRODIAT; Diagnóstico da Bacia do Araguaia-Tocantins, Brasilia, D.F., outubro, 1982.

b. As part of the modeling exercise, identify the natural goods, services, and hazards of each major ecosystem. (See Table 2 of the Santiago-Mira study.) Even under the best multiple-use plans (in which resource assumptions and ecosystem interactions are made explicit), some natural goods and services will be destroyed or impoverished or their use as such will be precluded, while other natural goods and services will be used but will benefit some individuals or groups more than others. Since, by definition, all natural goods and services - just like all economic goods and services - have value because some specific group wants to use them, identifying them serves to spotlight all the groups that will be affected by a given development activity.

c. Include even the smallest interest groups' concerns in the analysis. Once a project has been executed, alliances between small interest groups that were left out can become formidable and can effectively oppose or even defeat significant support for a development project. In the San Lorenzo study, the project objectives initially excluded many interest groups. Eventually, they were included, however, and contributed to significant portions of the final strategy.

d. Resolve conflicts through project coordination, negotiation between parties, and third-party mediation. During the early stages of planning, the results of arbitration are not as traumatic, since all study team members are playing by the same rules and share a common perspective on the planning objectives. Also, at this stage, the positions of local interest groups have not yet hardened. In the Santiago-Mira study, a well-coordinated planning study with clear objectives and a well-designed workplan, only a few conflicts in resource use were encountered and they were handled well. Resolution of conflicts was far easier to negotiate during Phase I when the parties were "equals" than it would have been if these conflicts had been discovered later, after investments in time, funds, and prestige had been made. In the San Lorenzo study, groups competing for the canyon's resources included urban recreationists, residents and industries of Saltillo who wanted to use the water supply, university researchers, conservationists, and the ejido farmers. Identifying the need of each group and showing how those needs could be harmonized helped the study team resolve the conflicts and arrive at solutions acceptable to all.

e. Seek a strategy that will promote an equitable and just distribution of the costs and benefits of development. A plan or strategy that does not do this merely postpones conflicts.

f. Take a neutral view of potential conflicts in resource use but highlight the conflicts so as to facilitate decisions. In the San Lorenzo study, the potential conflict was posed in terms of the development of one economic sector (tourism) impinging upon the development of another (agriculture), rather than as a conflict between environment and development. The relative economic and social advantages of the two uses of the San Lorenzo Canyon were then explored, and the various users were consulted in the search for an amicable solution to the potential problem.

6. Inventory of Existing Plans and Projects

There are few large places left in the Americas where no development is under way or planned. Most studies of regional development must, therefore, take account not only of what exists on the ground but also of what is planned, The development context of a region is as important as its resources and population dynamics. The quantity of existing plans and proposed projects in some regions, however, is truly awesome. (In the Chapare region, 54 agencies supported development activities, many of them conflicting.) Making an inventory of existing plans and projects is exceedingly important, but it can be overwhelming. (The danger of the effort getting out of hand is well illustrated in the DELNO project in the Dominican Republic.) Some tips on how to avoid problems include:

a. Identify all significant development plans and projects in the region, no matter what agency - public or private - is involved, but collect detailed information only about those that serve or contradict the proposed development objectives. In the Dominican Republic-DELNO study, the inventory got out of hand because no criteria were established that would limit the process. All projects proposed for the DELNO area were analyzed, irrespective of the period of implementation or development objective or available financing. The process delayed Phase I and limited the final product of the study.

b. Organize planned projects in a time sequence, and avoid including projects that fall outside the time horizon of the study. In the Chapare study, a large number of proposals were identified in the project inventory but only a few were examined in detail - those with immediate implementation possibilities.

c. Be sure to identify projects with high-level political support that have already gained momentum. In the study of the Upper Bermejo River basin1 in Argentina and Bolivia, for example, a major dam project known as Zanja del Tigre was perceived to have high-level political support and was advancing to the stage of feasibility study. The river-basin study was designed so as to avoid either directly challenging or overlooking this major project proposal. As it turned out, the study provided a broad perspective that helped the government consider other alternatives to Zanja del Tigre.

1. OEA, Secretaría General, Cuenca del Río de la Plata: Estudio para su Planificación y Desarrollo, República Argentina-República de Bolivia, I - Alta Cuenca del Río Bermejo, Estudio de los Recursos Hídricos, OEA, Washington, D.C., 1974.

7. Identification of New Project Ideas

A key objective of Phase I, as indicated, is to identify new project ideas based on the analysis of socio-economic development needs and development potentials. This process should begin early in the study, even during the preliminary mission, and proceed throughout Phase I, Project ideas need not be comprehensive at the outset since only a few will eventually be selected for full-scale elaboration during Phase II. (The process of identifying, selecting, and formulating projects in relation to the development study of a region is illustrated in Figure 4.)

Some practical guidelines include:

a. Compare information on natural resource development potential with existing uses of resources to identify project ideas. In the Eastern Cibao portion of the Dominican Republic study, the agricultural zoning and agricultural project-identification techniques used demonstrate this approach. (See, particularly, the sequence of graphics and maps that illustrate the methodology of agricultural zoning and agricultural project identification, Figure 8 and Maps 5 to 9.)

b. Analyze population growth and projected demands for economic goods and services as new project ideas are generated. Particular care should be taken to project needs for social services, Failure to consider needed social services was a weakness of DRD studies before the mid-1970s. Investment projects for development of agriculture, forestry, mining, and industry coupled with projects for infrastructure (such as transportation, communications, and energy) are vulnerable to failure without the associated social services (education, health, urban services, etc.). Analyses of human needs must accompany surveys of development potentials. (See, for example, the Panama-Darien, Chapare, and Santiago-Mira studies.)

c. Interview local people during field studies in Phase I as a means of identifying new project ideas. In the Dominican Republic Natural Resource Inventory, many project ideas for natural resource development were identified during soil mapping and land capability analysis. Some of these ideas were later elaborated and appear in the final report.

d. Determine which needs are being partially or fully satisfied by available natural goods and services and how. Projects that improve or protect these amenities may be significant for the development of the region. In the San Lorenzo study, a program for reforestation and forest management sought to improve the local population's use of the forests. Similarly, forest conservation projects were developed to protect the area's groundwater-recharge function since San Lorenzo Canyon supplied water to the nearby city of Saltillo.

e. Identify early in the study a small number of projects suitable for immediate implementation. Such projects should be pushed forward to implementation long before the study is complete. In the study of the Upper Bermejo River Basin1 in Argentina and Bolivia, a water supply project for industrial development was identified early in the analysis and formulated all the way through the feasibility stage. It was under construction shortly after the study ended.

1. OEA, Secretaría General, Cuenca del Río de la Plata: Estudio para su Planificación y Desarrollo, República Argentina - República de Bolivia, I - Alta Cuenca del Río Bermejo, Estudio de los Recursos Hídricos, OEA, Washington, D.C., 1974.

f. Early involvement of the private sector will also facilitate prompt action on promising investment projects. In the study of the Zulia Region2 in Venezuela, private enterprise was consulted soon after projects were identified, Several agroindustrial projects were being analyzed at the feasibility level before the reconnaissance survey of the region was completed.

2. OEA, Secretaría General, Región Zuliana, República de Venezuela: Estudio para el Aprovechamiento Racional de los Recursos Naturales, OEA, Washington, D.C., 1975.


Members of the executive commission of the Esmeraldas River Basin Study in Ecuador analyze the location of proposed development projects prior to field reconnaissance and analysis of the Phase I report.

8. The Preliminary Regional Development Strategy

Phase I concludes with a formal report that is usually published in limited quantities. The report contains the results of the development diagnosis, the preliminary regional development strategy or options, and abbreviated descriptions of the projects needed to implement the strategy. Perhaps the most important product of Phase I, this draft of regional development strategy sets the stage for all subsequent investigations and serves as the basis for the final development strategy. Preparation of the strategy is not a discrete, easily-defined task. Instead, it grows out of all the other tasks of the study, beginning with the preliminary mission and continuing through Phase I. Projects identified as virtually inevitable for the region also influence the strategy. The strategy or alternative strategies must be carefully evaluated by the government, usually within the framework of the executive commission set up to manage the study. Acceptance of one strategy signals the initiation of Phase II of the study, Some practical guidelines follow:

a. Present alternative development strategies. Phase I involves careful analyses of socio-economic conditions, as well as surveys of physical and human resources. Alternative development strategies become evident when all these variables are analyzed. In the Panama-Darien study, three alternatives - each with a different level of investment - were put forward. Acceptance of one strategy tentatively committed the government to a specific level of funding to implement the study's final recommendations.

b. Carefully link the preliminary development strategy to national goals and priorities. In the Santiago-Mira study, the team scrutinized the National Development Plan to assess the region's role in national development and the impact that planned national development programs would have on the region. The national goal of integrating regions was given particular attention in formulating the strategy for the Santiago-Mira region.

c. Include in the preliminary strategy only those sectors and subregions that have significant problems or potentials for development and for which development action has a reasonable possibility of success. The strategy should provide the basis for concentrating effort and should avoid the comprehensiveness of some forms of traditional development planning.

d. Express initial strategies succinctly and clearly. In the Chapare study, the Phase I general report was only 22 pages long. The strategy was so clearly described and agency responsibilities so clearly spelled out that decisions by government were greatly facilitated.

e. Allow government agencies adequate time to evaluate the proposed strategy and projects. The end of Phase I and the presentation of the report containing the initial development strategy should be a break point in the overall study. In the Pilcomayo study, the political issues involved were so complex that the three countries required more than four months to evaluate the Phase I report before giving the go ahead for Phase II. A long break between Phases I and II is not usually desirable, but if serious political issues are unresolved it is safer to wait than to move ahead on false assumptions. The lag period can sometimes be used for training counterpart personnel and disseminating information on the study's technical findings.

B. Phase II - Project formulation and preparation of the action plan

Phase II is more comprehensive in some DRD studies than in others. The level of detail of the projects being formulated depends principally on the availability of financing for the study. Projects may be posed as mere ideas or developed to the level of project profiles as defined by international financial institutions. (Compare the results of the natural resources survey and those of the DELNO project in the Dominican Republic.) On the other hand, significant numbers of projects are formulated to the level of pre-feasibility. (Compare "project profile" and "pre-feasibility study" in the Glossary.) In rare cases, full-scale feasibility studies are carried out. When pre-feasibility or feasibility studies are completed, the country is in a position to implement the projects with loan financing - a highly desirable situation. Commonly, banks will finance feasibility studies once pre-feasibility studies are done. They are more reluctant to finance pre-feasibility studies because the risks are greater that the project may not turn out to be economically viable.

The action plan is the other major product normally produced in Phase II of DRD studies. The plan consists of a series of clearly defined and compatible development goals, a simple and flexible strategy for reaching them, and a set of coordinated actions (principally, investment projects and support activities) needed to implement the strategy. The projects formulated in this phase constitute the package of critical investments required to implement the strategy. (The Panama-Darien and Santiago-Mira studies provide examples of action plans.)

1. Project Formulation Criteria

Not all the new projects identified in Phase I will be fully formulated in Phase II. When a government evaluates the Phase I report, it rejects many project ideas as too expensive or too far afield from its development objectives, It must also decide which projects will be formulated to the pre-feasibility study stage and which will remain as project profiles. The projects to be formulated must all fit the selected development strategy. A few practical considerations follow:

a. Consider the probable source of financing for each project from the outset, whether it will be a government agency, the private sector, or an international lending agency. If international loan financing is contemplated, formulate projects according to the criteria of the World Bank, the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), or other potential funders, This will save time and money later when loan applications are drafted, The Inter-American Development Bank participated in the Pilcomayo study and then financed further feasibility studies of irrigation projects that were identified in the Bolivian portion of the basin. (The Bolivian government contracted with DRD to execute the studies.)

b. When private sector financing is contemplated, identify possible investors early. Taking this step can substantially reduce the later costs of project preparation. With government knowledge and participation, private sector interests can be consulted from the outset and persuaded to shoulder part or all of the costs of investment project formulation. In the Venezuela-Zulia study1 conducted with DRD support in 1973-74, the private sector undertook pre-feasibility and feasibility studies of agricultural and agro-industrial projects under contracts known as para convenios. The regional development agency agreed to reimburse the private sector interests if the projects did not prove to be economically feasible. Many of these projects were eventually implemented.

1. OEA, Secretaría General, Región Zuliana, República de Venezuela: Estudio para el Aprovechamiento Racional de los Recursos Naturales, OEA, Washington, D.C., 1975.

c. When a government agency will be involved in implementation, invite it to join in project formulation. The sectoral agencies involved in the Santiago-Mira and Dominican Republic-DELNO studies implemented several of the projects they had helped to formulate.

d. Help would-be implementing agencies develop a parental view toward projects and to incorporate them into their future plans and budgets. Blithely assuming that project execution will come about automatically has been the undoing of many regional development planning projects: commitment of the financing and executing agencies must be tested early in the planning process and repeatedly thereafter.

e. Consult the intended beneficiaries of development projects early in project formulation so as to avoid some unpleasant surprises later. Support from landowners and other intended beneficiaries may be critical to later implementation efforts. In the San Lorenzo study, local people were initially cool to the idea of a reserve; they had to be apprised of the personal benefits it would entail.

f. Give special attention to projects that make use of technologies and practices already being utilized in the development area. Projects based on both are likely to be implemented promptly and with relatively predictable results. In Chapare, for example, contact with local farmers revealed that expanding existing types of cultivation was more efficient than trying to introduce new technologies.

g. Formulate the projects that governments have designated as high priority through the stage of pre-feasibility if time and money permit. Projects that have reached the pre-feasibility stage are bankable - that is, governments can obtain loans to finance the next stage, which is the feasibility study. Since loan financing is much more likely to be available than grant financing for studies, this is a very important consideration. Many good projects have been stalled for years at the stage of project idea or profile for lack of money to take the next step.

Dialogue between the international project chief and local farmers in the Chapare Region in Bolivia early in the study helped both to identify projects and provide for early consultation with the intended beneficiaries.

2. Developing Packages of Projects

Although development activity is the goal of regional development planning, the planning process itself focusses largely on the identification and formulation of packages of coordinated and mutually reinforcing development projects. These projects must both avoid resource-use conflicts and contribute to sustained development.

Simultaneously formulating interrelated projects in many sectors is the core of regional development planning - perhaps its greatest challenge. Packages of projects can, for example, connect agricultural-production and forestry-development projects to roads, telecommunications, and other infrastructure projects aimed at linking producers to markets. At the same time, they can link production to health and education projects and other basic services. Industrial and agro-industrial processing projects in the package can guarantee that the area does not merely export raw materials (thus forfeiting the profit to be made in processing). Having water supply and electrical power projects in the package, as well as new urban facilities, can further strengthen the foothold of employment-generating industries.

The key to successful integrated development is coordination and timing. More specifically:

a. Where appropriate, keep development areas or zones small enough to permit the formulation of packages of projects for integrated rural development. The Panama-Darien study demonstrates that packages of closely interrelated projects are most feasible in limited geographic areas.

b. In packages of projects, balance investments in production, infrastructure, and social services. Production projects should generate the wealth needed to support the social services, as they did in Pilcomayo and Panama-Darien studies.

c. Make sure that the overall benefits of a package of projects justify the costs. If some projects have a marginal internal rate of return, others in the package must compensate. In the Panama-Darien study, the production projects of agricultural, forestry, and agro-industry were able to support the costs of the social service projects in the packages.

3. The Action Plan

The refinement of the regional development strategy and creation of an action plan represents the culmination of a regional development study. The action plan is the framework and rationale for the projects that are finally recommended. Usually, the projects are summarized in a form specified by the international lending agencies. The action plan is usually the final chapter of the integrated regional development study. It contains an investment timetable that shows the interrelated projects over time and in relation to supporting activities. Policy recommendations constitute an important part of this plan, They are usually presented by sector, but sometimes program areas or development zones are also used. The coordination of policy recommendations by geographic area is a demanding task, far more complicated than presenting traditional sectoral recommendations. Institutional recommendations, enabling legislation, and incentive programs are also incorporated into the action plan. Some practical tips gleaned from experience follow:

a. Prepare action plans that contain both a set of projects and programs and a short-term investment program with a timetable that clearly shows the sequence of actions needed for efficient implementation. Timing of the execution of interrelated projects is particularly critical. The Santiago-Mira and Panama-Darien studies contain good illustrations of action plans with related investment programs.

b. Include project maps that show the physical location of all recommended projects within the region. Such maps are very useful for illustrating the spatial strategy of the action plan. (See, for example, the maps in the Panama-Darien and Chapare studies.)

c. During preparation of the action plan, evaluate each proposed project or action in terms of its physical resources, and its economic, social, cultural, administrative/institutional, and spatial (or regional) implications. The evaluations-quantitative, when necessary - should be presented systematically, at a depth commensurate with the level of detail of the projects (profile, pre-feasibility, feasibility, etc.), However, there is no need to attempt to reduce all such considerations to economic terms: the goal is to provide a complete but simple basis for making value judgments, In the Lower Bermejo River basin study1 in Argentina, each project idea was evaluated according to social, spatial, and "environmental" criteria, rather than with standard cost-benefit criteria. Project idea selection for inclusion in the action plan thus involved a test of each idea against the overall study objectives.

d. Evaluate the set or packages of proposed projects using the same approach as above, In the process of producing this combined evaluation, project modifications that will strengthen the impact or mitigate undesirable effects of the package as a whole often suggest themselves. In the study of the Upper Paraguay River basin2 in Brazil, a simulation model of the social and economic relationships was used to evaluate the impact of important projects and packages of projects on the development of the whole Upper Paraguay River basin.

2. OEA, Secretaria Geral, e República Federativa do Brasil, Plano de Desenvolvimento Integrado da Bacia do Alto Paraguai - EDIBAP, Plano Básico, Brasília, D.F., junho de 1981.

e. Create a project-evaluation framework that will help decision-makers analyze the action plan. Since decision-makers have different interests and orientations, action plans should contain evaluation tools that reveal and appeal to these interests. In the Lower Bermejo River basin study1 and the Pilcomayo study, simple procedures and graphics were used to analyze the impacts of alternative projects on the use of natural resources, the development of public infrastructure, the local and regional economy, the technology, the use of space and the organization of production and marketing. They also helped to gauge public, private and social costs. Decision-makers were able to rate each project according to the mixture of criteria they considered important: social, spatial, environmental, or economic.3

1. OEA, Secretaría General, Cuenca del Plata: Estudio para su Planificación y Desarrollo, República Argentina, Cuenca Inferior del Río Bermejo, Programación para su Desarrollo, OEA, Washington, D.C., 1977.

3. For further information about this methodology see: OAS, General Secretariat, Environmental Quality and River Basin Development: A Model for Integrated Analysis and Planning, OAS, Washington, D.C., 1978.

f. Include ancillary actions necessary to make the action plan work. Changing food prices initially set to benefit urban dwellers may have a much greater impact on agricultural production than increasing agricultural production with new projects, Although it is difficult to adjust pricing mechanisms, action plan proposals that include pricing changes can work if the analysis of the associated political costs and benefits is astute. Likewise, proposed changes in legislation and in regulations that might otherwise inhibit implementation of the action should be included. Tax amendments, subsidies and other incentives should also be included where appropriate. The San Lorenzo study team used many of these mechanisms to rally the support of local interest groups and to pressure state and national government to pass the legislation and supply the financial support needed to implement the plan.

g. Examine the conclusions reached about the study region for their applicability to other areas. For example, the study of Northwestern Paraná1 in Brazil was undertaken to resolve the problem of extensive erosion in the region, but the conclusions were found to be applicable to other Brazilian states.

1. OEA, Secretaria Geral, Bacia do Rio da Prata: Estudo para sua Planificação e Desenvolvimento, República Federativa do Brasil, Noroeste do Estado do Paraná, OEA, Washington, D.C., 1973.

C. Some general considerations

1. The role of the study manager

In a complex interdisciplinary team effort, the key person is usually the study manager. In the technical assistance efforts of regional development planning, the demands on this individual's time and talents are heavy. To meet these demands, managers should have technical competence and experience in an advanced academic field, a working knowledge of several fields other than their own, and an understanding of development administration. (The manager's role in the Chapare and San Lorenzo studies illustrates this balance.) Whenever possible, study managers should be selected from among those responsible for the overall planning of the study. At a minimum, they should be involved in the design of the workplan or the preparation of the agreement. Without this initial involvement, managers may veer from the study's original intent, unaware of the background critical to its success. (Note that a distinction is made in "Designing the Management Structure" in the Guidelines between management principles applicable to regional development studies and those of use to established government agencies.)

No ideal management style can be prescribed. What is appropriate depends on the study environment, the complexity and goals of the study, the composition of the team, and the leadership skills of the manager. What works for one manager in one country in a highly complex study may not work in another country in a different situation. Managers who were successful in the past in one type of study may not succeed in a different environment, so their past achievements must be viewed against the backdrop of new demands.

Study managers have three basic roles: manager, technician, and communicator/diplomat. As managers, they translate the workplan into action, convert executive commission decisions into operational instructions to technicians, and direct technicians' day-to-day activities while nurturing teamwork. As technicians, they work alongside other team members. In most studies, they produce technical reports of their own while constantly integrating the output of others. As communicators and diplomats, they maintain a steady partnership with their counterparts (the national directors) and maintain dialogs with other national technicians and support staff. Simultaneously, they stay in contact with high-level government officials, and jointly with the national director they promote and defend the interests of the study.

The study manager must have a well-rounded and balanced viewpoint, resisting sectoral biases that might divert the focus of the study from its stated objectives.

Some suggestions for the study manager's agenda include:

a. Coordinate professionals' activities as specified in the workplan, staying alert to the potential need to modify the plan as a result of delays and other factors.

b. Promote the exchange of ideas and information among team members, giving particular attention to the need for permanent dialog between the national and international specialists who comprise the technical unit.

c. Resist sectoral, academic, and other one-dimensional points of view.

d. Develop a thorough understanding of the political factors influencing the study, but stop short of playing out a political agenda. This was particularly critical in the Pilcomayo study, where sensitive issues involving three countries were dealt with constantly.

e. Encourage and lead negotiations between proponents of conflicting proposals or activities. The San Lorenzo study demonstrates the importance of early identification by the study manager of potential conflicts between actual and potential development activities in the region. It also shows the importance of initiating negotiations early.

f. Coordinate the team's work with the objectives, goals, and activities of other agencies and groups working in the region. In the Chapare area, where so many other agencies were working, the study team made such coordination a high priority.

2. The Role of the Environmental Management Advisor

Environmental management specialists, ecologists, or natural resource conservationists do not participate in all DRD regional development studies, but the studies are all in one way or another influenced by the concepts embodied in these fields, The DRD has sometimes found it useful, however, to include a professional from one of these fields as an environmental management advisor in its major regional development studies.

The job of an environmental management advisor is to help the sectoral specialists and study manager identify resource opportunities, constraints, and potential conflicts among resource users. The advisor's job is not to defend special interests or argue against development. Like the other team members, the advisor must be pragmatic and fully aware that the environmental viewpoint is but one of many that will affect final actions.

An environmental overview is most critical in the preliminary mission, when the problem is being defined and the workplan designed; during Phase I, when projects are initially identified: and in Phase II, when projects are being selected for implementation. Bringing in an environmental advisor after these key decisions have already been made is inefficient, if not ineffective. Environmental issues must be dealt with early in the planning process if unnecessary conflicts in the development process are to be avoided. Indeed, the environmental management advisor's major role is to collaborate in the identification of conflicts between sectors or resource users and to help resolve these conflicts before they develop into "downstream" problems. If sectoral projects are all formulated with resource potentials and constraints in mind, many of the potential conflicts will never materialize. For this reason, integrating the work of team members is even more important than the presence of the environmental management advisor. When potential conflicts between sectors arise, the sectoral specialists themselves can negotiate choices and compromises, coached by the study manager. Where this process is built into study operations, however, environmental advisors still serve several important functions: a. Developing a simplified regional model of the major ecosystems under study, including the interactions between components and processes in the system and their interactions with other allied systems. Such a model should quickly acquaint team members with the structure and function of the system being studied, show where more detailed information might be needed, and help determine the type, volume, and specificity of the information the sectoral specialists will have to collect and analyze. The model, in short, is a point of reference and a tool - not the end-product of an environmental advisor's work. b. Developing detailed characterizations of the natural goods, services, and hazardous phenomena in the system. For example, in the Santiago-Mira study, such descriptions are useful in the identification of conflicts resulting from proposed or actual resource use or conservation, in the formulation of development projects and ideas, and in support of conflict-resolution activities. c. Identifying possible conflicts between actual and potential development activities or between different economic sectors in the planning area and advising the study manager and other team members so that dialog and conflict resolution may be promptly initiated.

3. Composition and Abilities of the Study Team

Although the composition of the study team is determined primarily by the technical tasks at hand, some generalizations still hold. Long-term regional development planning teams usually involve a large mix of disciplines, but regional planners, economists, natural resource specialists, and engineers predominate. Project-formulation and evaluation experts are also needed, and depending on the nature of the study area and the counterpart agencies, rural sociologists, other social scientists, and public administration specialists are also used in certain phases of the project. Striking a balance among all mitigates professional biases.

To achieve proper functioning of the team:

a. Avoid the use of many short-term consultants from different disciplines. Integrating the work of team members with such limited involvement places an extraordinary burden on the study manager, particularly at report-writing time. (In the DELNO study, for example, the quantity of consultant's reports was so great and the integration of these reports so limited that after completion of the fieldwork an entire year was required to assemble a final report.) In contrast, using long-term personnel helps maintain project continuity and promote dialog. The trade-off may involve the loss of specialized expertise and periods of "down time" when the long-term specialists' skills are less relevant.

When possible, use the same consultant for more than one task. In the Colombia-Darien study,1 the same person was contracted for the urban development, institutional analysis, and training component.

1. OEA, Secretaría General, y República de Colombia, Proyecto Darién: Estudio para la Orientación del Desarrollo Integral de la Región del Darién Colombiano, Medellín, julio, 1978.

b. When financial limitations do not permit an optimal team, use fewer but more seasoned professionals and try to increase the participation of national technicians and institutions. Two primary goals of technical cooperation are technology transfer and institutional development. These goals may be sacrificed, however, if the participation of international professionals is reduced too much or if the effort is not accompanied by thorough training.

To assess the abilities of team members, several factors must be considered:

a. Make sure professionals in multidisciplinary studies understand their specialties from the perspective of the overall goal of the study and can function as team players. The use of matrixes and flow charts that relate the work of one specialist to another vis-à-vis the different goals of the study is helpful.

b. Require that consultants have a facility for identifying projects. Technical expertise alone is not enough. Team members must be able to recognize an investment opportunity when they see one and to make quick pragmatic evaluations. In the Dominican Republic Natural Resource Inventory, for example, each natural resource specialist took responsibility for both mapping resource data and identifying project possibilities in his discipline.

c. Look for consultants who are also good teachers and who relate well to their counterparts. Consultants rarely use the full range of their technical knowledge, but they must constantly interact with their counterparts and teach them.

d. Accord high value to the ability to write analytical reports. Not only writing skills, but also the ability to involve counterparts in this effort, will determine the quality and political effectiveness of the interim and final reports.

e. Weigh previous experience carefully. Do not assume that previous successful experience on a planning team in one culture necessarily guarantees success in a different culture with; different administrative machinery and data availability. Breadth of experience is nevertheless frequently more important than depth. A professional who has done the same job over ten times without significant variation is not as likely to be as "experienced" as the professional who has had to adapt his expertise to five different cultural settings.

4. Training and Institution-Building

A critical goal of any regional development study undertaken with the support of a technical cooperation agency is the strengthening of national capacities. TECHNICAL ASSISTANCE SHOULD BE VIEWED AS A SHORT-TERM SUBSTITUTE FOR LOCAL TECHNICAL CAPABILITY. It should provide a good environment for on-the-job training, as well as opportunities for formal training for in-country technicians. Training should be part of a carefully conceived program and should be available for personnel who will be responsible for follow-up actions in the study region, as well as for those who will conduct similar development studies in other regions. The growth of the operational capability of counterpart agencies is usually a fair measure of the success or failure of technical assistance.

Although training and institution-building techniques are well documented elsewhere, certain pitfalls common to multidisciplinary studies warrant mention here:

a. For training during regional development studies, rely primarily on seminars, on-the-job training of counterparts, and workshops. Long-term training sessions that take team members away from the study site seldom compensate for the disruption and loss of momentum they cause. In the Panama-Darien study, training is given extensive treatment. Particular note should be taken of the training techniques used.

b. Take care to schedule formal training courses for periods of minimal study activity. Before Phase I, between Phases I and II, and after completion of the final report are ideal times.

c. Ensure the use of the technical results of the study by training potential users to interpret the data. Agencies and individuals who are not involved in preparing the study, but who might have use for its findings should be informed of the results and how to use them. Whenever possible, the staff of these agencies should be involved in seminars and training courses. All the case studies exemplify this practice.

d. Hold a final seminar to help national agencies implement the results of the study. This seminar can be used to link study goals to agency goals, as well as to provide a planning model of broad use to the agency, In the San Lorenzo study, the final seminar was particularly comprehensive and brought all the interested implementation agencies together.

5. The Final Report

The final report, although not the end goal of regional planning, is a key product. The final reports of DRD studies usually contain a summary of the development diagnosis (Phase I) and a presentation of the proposed strategy and the action plan (Phase II) with the set of recommended projects in abbreviated form. It must summarize large quantities of material and present it in a concise and balanced way. Most of all, it must generate forward motion. A summary of the contents of the final report of the Chapare Study, which appears in Table 1 of that case study, illustrates the components and form of presentation of a typical study in which DRD has provided assistance.

Some hard-earned tips on report writing include:

a. Keep the final report short. Use annexes for detailed sectoral reports if they are required.

b. Use maps to present important data, analyses, and conclusions. Well-prepared maps can portray a large quantity of information and sharply reduce the amount of text.

c. Produce Phase I reports to force the early integration of data and present well-reasoned preliminary conclusions. This takes pressure off the final report-writing and can streamline the product. In the Chapare study, the interim report answered so many of the basic questions about development potential, strategy, and mechanisms for implementation that it permitted a more schematic final report.

d. Produce ample quantities of final reports. At least 500 copies should be produced for in-country use in most Latin American countries; 1,000 copies are needed if a modest distribution is desired outside of the country; and 2,000 copies or more would be useful if the report is to be distributed widely throughout the region. Only ten copies of the report on the Esmeraldas River basin1 in Ecuador were produced, and despite an investment of more than US$750,000 in the study, the results are nearly lost.

1. OEA, Secretaría General, y República del Ecuador, Estudio de las Cuencas Noroccidentales, Cuenca del Río Esmeraldas: Estudio para la Planificación del Desarrollo de los Recursos de Aguas y Tierras, OEA, Washington, D.C., 1976.

e. Where important original maps of natural resources are a major product of the study, produce at least 1,000 copies, in color, if possible. High-quality maps enhance the prestige of the final publication and definitely influence reactions to the study's recommendations. The trade-off is higher cost and a possible delay in presentation of the final report. The 1967 Dominican Republic Natural Resource Survey, although it was expensive and time-consuming, contained high-quality natural resources maps that are still in use today; the 2,000 copies of the report and maps that were printed were all distributed almost immediately. The maps are still so well regarded that a set of them can cost US$500.

On-the-job training involving a senior soil scientist of the DRD and an Argentine counterpart.

Production of maps for the phase II report on agricultural zoning in El Salvador.

IV. Implementing the study recommendations

A. Considering implementation in the design of the study
B. Preparing for implementation during execution of the study
C. Follow-up after the study is complete
D. Keeping packages of projects from unravelling

The most common flaw of regional development studies is viewing the final report as the conclusion of the effort. Tens of millions of dollars invested in area development studies in Latin America in the past 20 years have been wasted because of a tendency, perhaps carried over from academic experience, to view a well-written report as an end in itself rather than as a step in the implementation process. Libraries and government offices in most Latin American countries are repositories of tons of development studies, many of high quality, that have scarcely been looked at since they were produced.

The regional development study is, in fact, a midpoint in a process that begins with the definition of development objectives and concludes with concrete actions to implement development policy, Implementation needs should be anticipated in the design of the study, be kept in clear focus throughout the execution of the study (when the initial steps toward implementation are taken), and be under way before the ink on the final report is dry.

In practical terms, the greatest development challenge is political - getting sound plans implemented under prevailing financial and institutional conditions. It is a mistake to view regional development studies as simple sequences in which political will is converted into a financial commitment to undertake studies, which in turn automatically converts into another financial commitment to undertake projects. Instead, political will, technical studies, and funding are co-variables: a change in one can lead to a change in either of the others. In the Pilcomayo study, for example, political will was needed to collect and analyze data about the region; later, the study results were needed to make possible further political decisions about eventual implementation, which in turn required more studies.

Since regional development financing comes from many sources, including international agencies, and since each source operates on different technical and political criteria, early consultation with the probable financing source is critical. Lack of such consultation can result in some unwelcome surprises, even when the political will to implement development projects exists and the studies are well done. The following practical procedures for promoting implementation can be taken at each of the steps in the regional planning process.

A. Considering implementation in the design of the study

1. Define the interests of the funding sources when designing the study. Consult the implementing agencies or funding sources about their financing criteria and data requirements, and design the study accordingly. (See "Project Formulation Criteria" in the Guidelines.)

2. Analyze the national system of project generation. Determine the nature, interrelationship, and budget authority of the agencies involved in planning, project formulation, financing, and implementation, Determine if the actions contemplated are compatible with that system. If they are not, have the counterpart agencies initiate prompt consultations to rectify the problem.

3. Design a project management structure that includes implementing agencies. Alternatively, include implementing or financing agencies as participants in the project formulation stage. In some cases, a financing agency can be incorporated in an advisory capacity within the study's management structure. In the Pilcomayo study, the Inter-American Development Bank participated in the study essentially as a monitoring agency.

4. Allow adequate time and financing for project formulation activities. Phase II is frequently shortchanged in time and financing as a result of a prolonged and expensive diagnostic phase. This occurred in the DELNO, Cibao, and many other DRD studies. Project formulation, especially to the level of pre-feasibility, is expensive. The usual trade-off if funds are short is a reduction in the number of projects to be formulated or abandonment of pre-feasibility studies in favor of less comprehensive project profiles.

5. Design the study to include follow-up activities after the presentation of the final report. In the case of the Guayas River basin study,1 which DRD helped Ecuador conduct in 1963-64, two high-level international specialists were maintained for two years after the completion of the report to help the national and regional governments monitor the implementation of recommended pre-feasibility and feasibility studies being carried out by a consortium of private consulting firms contracted with loan funds from the Inter-American Development Bank.

1. OAS, General Secretariat, Survey for the Development of the Guayas River Basin of Ecuador: An Integrated Natural Resource Evaluation, OAS, Washington, D.C., 1964.

B. Preparing for implementation during execution of the study

1. Conduct seminars with counterpart agencies or other agencies that will be involved in implementation or other "downstream" activities. Stimulate their interest and their sense of participation and ownership of the final product.

2. Use seminars and media contacts (if the government allows) to engender support from a broad political spectrum. (The San Lorenzo study illustrates the effective use of media and publicity.) Also, consider holding town meetings and other dialogs with the beneficiary population (as in the Chapare study, for example).

3. Approach local agencies responsible for generating and operating projects to get their project ideas. Later, formally propose those that meet minimum project-formulation criteria, ignoring the popular misconception that only highly refined proposals should be put forward for consideration.

4. Fit project ideas into existing sectoral plans. Agricultural sector plans, for example, frequently call for increased cultivation of certain crops or efforts to raise their productivity, but are not site-specific. Take advantage of such openings.

5. In multinational projects, create a high-level but informal forum for technical discussion at which information about development implementation can be exchanged without any commitment to the proposals under discussion. The Pilcomayo study provides an example.

6. Shun the advice of theorists who insist that no parts of a plan should be implemented before the full plan is known. Make every effort to initiate some projects before the overall study is complete. This serves two purposes: it gives the government officials who commissioned the study a practical product in the short term to show to their constituencies, and it helps avoid the loss of momentum that usually occurs after the final report has been presented. When part of the plan is already being implemented, the rest of the plan has a better chance.

7. Recognize from the beginning that governments are unlikely to commit themselves fully to the recommendations of the study. Develop alternative proposals and flexible strategies. Assume nothing, and avoid striving for academic perfection. Tie development proposals to as many national priorities and "pet projects" as possible. Remember also that governments change, and future governments may be interested in alternatives that are not favored today.

8. When an agency commits itself to implementing an alternative, help it prepare terms of reference for pre-feasibility, feasibility, or other studies needed to obtain financing. In the Ecuador-Guayas River basin study,1 the DRD helped the government prepare a US$1.3-million loan application to the Inter-American Development Bank to undertake the recommended pre-feasibility studies. The loan was granted, and it financed a series of further studies leading to major river-basin development projects.

1. OAS, General Secretariat, Survey for the Development of the Guayas River Basin of Ecuador: An Integrated Natural Resource Evaluation, OAS, Washington, D.C., 1964.

9. Involve the private sector in project design as appropriate. At the request of government, promote specific projects with the private sector. (See "Project Formulation Criteria" in the Guidelines.)

C. Follow-up after the study is complete

1. Hold seminars with government officials at the end of the study to discuss technical findings and projects. Such seminars help to prevent the lull and sense of self-satisfaction that characterize the moments just after presentation of the final report from being converted into serious loss of forward momentum in implementation. After the San Lorenzo study was completed, for example, OAS, UNESCO, and the Latin American Social Science Faculty (FLACSO) sponsored a seminar in Monterrey, Mexico, to discuss the general subject of project implementation, using San Lorenzo as one of the case studies. The seminar helped the interested agencies accelerate the implementation of the San Lorenzo study's recommendations. (See "Training and Institution Building" in the Guidelines.)

2. Encourage government to keep the integrated study team together for as long as necessary after completion of the report to help implement proposals. This is difficult since governments tend to disband study teams or shift them over to studies in different regions before what they have learned is fully utilized. (In the Panama-Darien study, the Planning Ministry kept the team together for almost a year after completion of the study to help implement the projects.) Continued technical assistance to the study team while the report is being "marketed" helps prevent the premature disbanding of the team.

3. Conduct training courses on use of the final report and of mapped information. In the Natural Resources Inventory in the Dominican Republic, training in map-reading was provided to Dominican agency personnel.

4. Provide prompt support in the preparation of loan applications to international financing agencies if the government requests assistance.

D. Keeping packages of projects from unravelling

A constant battle in integrated regional development is that against the tendency of carefully integrated project packages to fall apart. Where the planning authority is decentralized or weak, sectoral agencies pay scant attention to the grand design and select projects that meet narrow, preconceived needs.

Often, the agency's mandate overrides the study area's needs. For example, a highway department may build penetration roads in a colonization area without considering the transportation needs of proposed agro-industrial projects or infrastructure projects. If the industrial-development or social service agency does not initiate and synchronize its implementation activities, settlers will pour into an area ill-equipped to accommodate them. (In the Panama-Darien study area, this "roads first" approach worked against one of the goals of the regional development study - preventing settlement on lands poorly suited to permanent cultivation.) In other instances, economically attractive projects (such as hydroelectric power projects) are built without action on project proposals for infrastructure or social services, which are less financially attractive but which could be justified when undertaken in a package with the highly profitable project. Once the stellar project is complete, support for the others is almost impossible to marshal.

The pitfalls of the piecemeal approach are among the most challenging problems in regional development. There are no easy answers, but some devices do work:

1. Prepare packages of projects for small, rural areas accorded high development priority within the overall region. If budget cutbacks occur, reduce the number of such areas in which development will be initially undertaken rather than permitting the packages of projects to be unravelled on a sectoral basis. In the Panama-Darien study, this approach originally worked in the face of severe budget cutbacks: the number of development areas and project packages for immediate action was reduced from eight to two. Later, however, only the transportation infrastructure received financing and the packages fell apart.

2. Encourage the strengthening of regional development authorities and other local institutions to give them a significant role in the financing of development. As stressed repeatedly, this is perhaps the single most important key to maintaining an integrated focus during development implementation. Where regional development corporations exist in Latin America and where they are given ample financing, integrated development plans are being executed. The Corporación Guayana in Venezuela, the Santa Cruz Development Authority in Bolivia, and the Cauca Valley Authority in Colombia have strong mandates and substantial resources, and all routinely implement packages of projects, Likewise, some state and provincial governments have been given significant authority to implement development projects, as in the case of Brazil, Argentina, and Mexico.

Not surprisingly, many regional development corporations and other local institutions in Latin America complain of great difficulty in obtaining flexible multi-sectoral program lending from international banking agencies. These lending institutions, like most governments, are organized sectorally, and they naturally resist projects that are not conceived along traditional sectoral lines. Some signs of flexibility are becoming apparent in both the World Bank and the Inter-American Development Bank, especially in loans for integrated rural development projects. But a similar breakthrough in the broader field of regional development is not yet apparent.

As stated in the introduction to this casebook, the greatest challenges to regional development are political and institutional. Until governments are willing to further decentralize project implementation and development planning, and until more institutions are organized so that sectoral considerations do not always predominate, progress toward truly integrated development will be incremental and halting.

V. Selected bibliography of DRD studies

Meganck, Richard A., and López Carrera, Julio. Plan de Manejo para el Uso Múltiple del Canon de San Lorenzo. Saltillo, Coahuila, Mexico, Universidad Autónoma Agraria Antonio Narro/OEA, Programa de Desarrollo Regional. (Contrato N° 02-79-45A-405-MX1), 1981.

OAS. General Secretariat. Environmental Quality and River Basin Development: A Model for Integrated Analysis and Planning. Washington, D.C., 1978.

OAS. General Secretariat. Physical Resource Investigations for Economic Development. A Casebook of OAS Field Experience in Latin America. Washington, D.C., 1969.

OAS. General Secretariat. Survey for the Development of the Guayas River Basin of Ecuador: An Integrated Natural Resource Evaluation. Washington, D.C., 1964.

OEA. Secretaría General. Cuenca del Río de la Plata: Estudio para su Planificación y Desarrollo, República Argentina, Cuenca Inferior del Río Bermejo, Programación para su Desarrollo. Washington, D.C., 1977.

OEA. Secretaría General. Cuenca del Río de la Plata: Estudio para su Planificación y Desarrollo, República Argentina - República de Bolivia I, Cuenca Alta del Río Bermejo, Estudio de los Recursos Hídricos. Washington, D.C., 1974.

OEA. Secretaría General. Reconocimiento y Evaluación de los Recursos Naturales de la República Dominicana, Descripción de los Suelos. Apéndice. Washington, D.C., 1967.

OEA. Secretaría General. Región Zuliana, República de Venezuela: Estudio para el Aprovechamiento Racional de los Recursos Naturales. Washington, D.C., 1975.

OEA. Secretaría General /República Argentina/República de Bolivia/República del Paraguay. Cuenca del Plata: Estudio para su Planificación y Desarrollo, Aprovechamiento Múltiple de la Cuenca del Río Pilco-mayo. Vols. I-IV. Washington, D.C., OEA, 1977.

OEA. Secretaría General /República Argentina/República de Bolivia/República del Paraguay. Cuenca del Río de la Plata: Estudio para su Planificación y Desarrollo, Aprovechamiento Múltiple de la Cuenca del Río Pilcomayo - Segunda Etapa. Vols. I-VII. Washington, D.C., OEA, 1980.

OEA. Secretaría General/República de Bolivia. Proyecto Chapare: Estudio para el Desarrollo Integrado, Provincias: Chapare, Carrasco, Moxos, y Arani, Informe Final. Cochabamba, 1980.

OEA. Secretaría General/República de Colombia. Proyecto Darién: Estudio para la Orientación del Desarrollo Integral de la Región del Darién Colombiano. 2 vols. Medellín, julio 1978.

OEA. Secretaría General/República de Colombia. Departamento Nacional de Planeación. Región Fronteriza Nariño-Putumayo. Washington, D.C., OEA, diciembre 1980.

OEA. Secretaría General/República Dominicana. República Dominicana: Plan de Acción para el Desarrollo Regional de la Línea Noroeste. Washington, D.C., OEA, 1977.

OEA. Secretaría General/República Dominicana. Plan Regional de Desarrollo del Cibao: Diagnostico y Estrategia de Desarrollo. Versión preliminar. Santo Domingo, febrero 1981.

OEA. Secretaría General/República Dominicana. Plan Regional de Desarrollo del Cibao Oriental: Diagnostico y Estrategia de Desarrollo. Santo Domingo, enero 1980.

OEA. Secretaría General/República del Ecuador. Estudio de las Cuencas Noroccidentales, Cuenca del Río Esmeraldas: Estudio para la Planificación del Desarrollo de los Recursos de Aguas y Tierras. Washington, D.C., OEA, 1976.

OEA. Secretaría General/República de Panamá. República de Panamá: Proyecto de Desarrollo Integrado de la Región Oriental de Panamá-Daríen. Washington, D.C., OEA, 1978.

OEA. Secretaría General/República de Venezuela. CIDAT. Evaluación de Impacto Ambiental del Proyecto de Drenaje de la Región de Desarrollo Integral del Programa Guanare-Masparro (Venezuela). Mérida, Venezuela, CIDIAT, 1980.

OEA. Secretaria Geral. Bacia do Río da Prata: Estudo para su Planificação e Desenvolvimento, República Federativa do Brasil, Noroeste do Estado do Paraná. Washington, D.C., 1973.

OEA. Secretaria Geral. República Federativa do Brasil: Projeto Bacia do Jatoá. Versão preliminar. Recife, marco 1980.

OEA. Secretaria Geral/República Federativa do Brasil. Plano de Desenvolvimento Integrado da Bacia do Alto Paraguai - EDIBAP, Piano Básico, República Federativa do Brasil. Brasília, D.F., agosto 1981.

OEA. Secretaria Geral/República Federativa do Brasil. Ministerio do Interior. PRODIAT. Diagnostico da Bacia do Araguaia-Tocantins. 4 vols. Brasília, D.F., outubro 1982.

Previous Page Top of Page Next Page