An initial assessment has the objective helping project desk
officers and planners to assess a project in relation to environmental impacts.
The initial assessment shall provide a survey of environmental impacts likely to
ensue if a project is implemented. Usually an initial assessment will be based
on easily accessible information, former research, the local population's views,
Only potential environmental impacts, direct and indirect, are
identified in the initial assessment. Estimates are not assumed to be
substantiated by special accounts or registrations, but rather come under a full
assessment. An initial assessment ought to be mastered by personnel without
specialist knowledge of that particular project type, or of environmental
consequences in general. In the course of an initial evaluation, the project
desk officer may nevertheless find it necessary to consult environmental
The initial assessment should attempt to clarify both positive and
negative environmental impacts. However, since the major positive effects are
usually included in the main project account, the initial assessment will tend
to lean towards potential negative impacts.
The EIA-system affords no easy solutions to weighing positive and
negative aspects against one another in a decision-making process. This is
because there are seldom clear objective criteria or threshold values for which
environmental effects are acceptable or not.
This booklet provides a survey of required information as well as
questions that need to be answered in an initial assessment of projects and
activities within water supply, wastewater management, and irrigation.
To offer a brief overview of the subject, Part I describes what
these project categories normally comprises, and what environmental impacts in
particular can be expected. It stresses an account of the special problems often
faced by projects and activities in developing countries and tropical areas.
Part II offers a more specific account of the kind of information
that ought to be available as well as questions that should be answered in an
initial assessment of