How to write a project completion report in one day – Learn from Sierra Leone and Liberia’s experience

The project completion review of IFAD-supported projects is a process undertaken by the Borrower at the end of the project implementation cycle in order to report on the results achieved through project interventions. The main purposes of the completion review process are to promote accountability, reflect on performance and elicit lessons learned, and to define an appropriate post-project strategy. The learning dimension of the completion process should be regarded by both IFAD and the Borrower as the foundation for improvements in future project design and programming. The completion review process is also critical for identifying opportunities for scaling-up best practices. A well-managed project completion process is of key importance for identifying the ways and means to enhance the sustainability of project interventions. It provides all stakeholders with a unique opportunity to reflect on overall project performance and generate useful lessons learned from implementation.

Opening of workshop by Liberia's Minister of Agriculture
 and the Country Programme Manager
From 5 to 7 May 2016, four IFAD-supported projects from Sierra Leone and Liberia came together to share experiences and lessons learned on project implementation and to see how we can improve on measuring and reporting results and impact. The aim was to come up with a first draft of their project completion report. The four IFAD-supported projects are: the Agriculture Sector Rehabilitation Project (ASRP) and the Smallholder Tree Crop Revitalization Support Project (STCRSP) from Liberia; and, the Rehabilitation and Community-based Poverty Reduction Project (RCPRP) and the Smallholder Commercialization Programme - under the Global Agricultural Food Security Programme (SCP-GAFSP) from Sierra Leone. All of them are reaching completion within the next two years.

Participants writing draft PCR
During the first day of the workshop, the key concepts of IFAD's operating model and the stages of the project cycle, with a focus on project completion, were presented. Attention was given to how IFAD’s approach to managing-for-results brings programme and organizational performance together into an integrated and coherent system of planning, monitoring and accountability. Furthermore, an overview was provided on the content and approach to IFAD’s country strategies, the results-based COSOP. Sierra Leone and Liberia gave an overview on the implementation of their RB-COSOPs and shared lessons from the implementation of their respective country programmes. Finally, the completion exercise for IFAD-supported projects was discussed. It was stressed that good-quality reporting is the best way to learn from past experience in order to strengthen the design and quality of new operations. The revised guidelines and procedures were presented. As a first step in preparing their project completion reports (PCR), participants reviewed studies and assessments undertaken by the projects to capitalize lessons and, identify areas for improvement in the M&E sphere, share best practices and encourage their adoption.

Participants writing draft PCR
Participants used the second day of the workshop to write a first draft of their PCR. The exercise
drew from the “writeshop” methodology, which is an intense process that brings together a range of relevant stakeholders with different perspectives on a subject. Theo objective is to produce a written document/publication in a short time. The PCR was divided into sections and assigned to individual participants. Several authors contributed to each section of the report and a team of facilitators (CPM, M&E consultant and WCA regional team) provided support and guidance during the exercise. At the end of the day the different contributions were integrated into one document.

On the third day the draft PCRs were presented and participants were allowed to ask for clarifications or provide suggestions. The projects then sat together to see what information was still missing and to draw out a roadmap towards the completion of the PCR.

Overall, the workshop has proven to have been very instrumental in facilitating the sharing of experiences between projects, identifying successes and challenges, and drawing lessons for the PCR. It also allowed to clarify IFAD's current institutional requirements with regards to PCRs and plan for the next steps along the PCR process.