Safeguard Management Frameworks are designed to ensure protection of the health and livelihood of beneficiaries and the environment. The frameworks are intended to protect against both local impacts of individual subprojects, and the cumulative impact of many similar subprojects in the same area.
Many subprojects have little or no adverse impact. However, it is important to acknowledge possible unfavorable affects. The most common environmental impacts related to Social Fund subprojects include increased soil erosion and associated degradation of water quality from road construction and rehabilitation, threats to human health from increasing applications of pesticides, and contamination of drinking water systems by human and animal waste. Experience shows that Social Funds need to establish simple social and environmental assessment procedures to avoid causing adverse harm to human health and the environment.
The main elements of these Safeguard Management Frameworks are described below:
Tools: These tools usually include guidance written in the local language and presented in a form easily understood by community facilitators, as well as:
(i) rules-based social and environmental criteria, establishing basic do’s and don’ts, and indicating the permissions and clearances required for common activities; and
(ii) mitigation guidelines, providing practical guidance for the avoidance or mitigation of potential environmental impacts, and identifying issues for which more specific expert guidance should be sought.
Implementation Arrangements: A description of roles and responsibilities to ensure that the identification, avoidance and mitigation of environmental and social risks should be built into sub-project preparation, appraisal and supervision. This normally includes roles at the levels of community facilitators, local management, and program-wide management. These should also be reflected in any Operational Manual that is prepared.
Capacity Building: Training must be provided to ensure that every person with a role in the safeguard implementation arrangements is able to fulfill their responsibilities. It is important that training in safeguards management is incorporated from the very start of the program, before the preparation of subprojects begins.
Supervision and Monitoring: Arrangements should be in place to supervise both the adequacy and application of the safeguard management tools. In addition, it is useful to keep track of environmental concerns in program areas, so that more specific mitigation measures can be designed, and opportunities for enhancements can be promoted. Secondary information gathering is usually sufficient for this purpose.
Audit: During preparation of the program, it is useful to agree that an independent audit of the Safeguards Management Framework will be undertaken at mid-term, to draw lessons and recommend improvements.
Experience has shown the value of involving an environmental organization, particularly one with advocacy expertise, in the design of the Safeguards Management Framework, and subsequently in the associated capacity building, supervision and monitoring. Access to environmental expertise can be facilitated during program implementation through the identification of local professionals with an environmental background, who can form a resource pool to be mobilized locally as subprojects require.
Social funds programs also provide important opportunities to promote pro-poor reforms in environmental policies, particularly those associated with access to natural resources and their management. The involvement of national and local environmental specialists can play a valuable role in advancing these agendas.