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close this bookWater Supply: Water Supply, Wastewater, Irrigation - Initial Environmental Assessment Series No. 7 (NORAD, 1994)
close this folderPart II: Documentation requirements for initial environmental assessment
View the document1 Project description
View the document2 Description of the environment
View the document3 Checklist

1 Project description

As a basis for initial assessment, a description of the project must be available. In most cases it will be relevant to present several alternative technical solutions and localities. Activities in the construction phase as well as the operational phase of the project must be included.

This description will to a certain extent be based on the regular technical and economic description of the project, possibly after consultations with project planners or other relevant institutions in the country in question. The following questions aim to elicit information that is relevant with regard to environmental impacts. Relatively detailed information may be required concerning production processes, use of inputs, localisation etc.. The information resulting from the initial assessment can be included in the project document being presented for approval. In the case of more comprehensive projects, the information can be collected in an appendix to this document. The following specifies what is considered as essential background information for an initial environmental assessment:

a. The need for the project. Give a brief description of how the need for the project has emerged. What are the purposes of the project? Who are the target group(s) among the population? Is the project focusing one or more parts of a more extensive system within water supply, drainage or irrigation? Will the project entail new construction or upgrading of existing facilities? Are activities within other sectors, such as industry, tourism etc., expected as a result of the project?

b. Alternatives considered. Give a brief presentation of localisation alternatives, including technical alternatives that have been discussed with regard to the project. If possible, give a brief description of any differences in infrastructure requirements etc.. The 0-alternative, that is the impacts of not implementing the project, may also be relevant to consider.

c. Description of the project and potential main alternatives. Give a relatively comprehensive description of the alternative(s) that are viewed as relevant. This description should include e.g. choice of technology, localisation of any facilities with relevant map references, transport needs, labour requirements and impacts on existing or planned activities in the area. This information should cover both the constructional and the operational phases.

d. Conditions for project implementation. Give an account of the public and private physical initiatives (infrastructure, etc.) and any other external prerequisites that are necessary for the implementation of the project e.g. participation of the local population, local institutional and administrative conditions, including their environmental competence.

2 Description of the environment

Give a brief description of the natural and man-made environment in which the project is to be located. This information should normally be included in the given project documents, but may also have to be supplemented through collection of information and consultations with relevant institutions, professional units, local populations, or short surveys in the project area.

Where appropriate the information should also be presented in thematical maps or illustrations. Sources as well as the reliability of the presented information should be indicated briefly. The description should contain an account of:

Natural environmental conditions:

· Geology and soil conditions.
· Hydrological and hydro-geological conditions.
· Topography.
· Climate.
· Vegetation and fauna, with emphasis on: particularly vulnerable ecosystems and vulnerable and conservation-worthy animal and plant species.
· Unique and conservation-worthy natural landscapes.

Man-made environmental conditions:

· Socio-economic and socio-cultural conditions.
· Demographic conditions,
- size of affected population groups, and - any ethnic belonging and variations.
· Health situation,
- with special emphasis on environmentally related diseases.
· Settlement pattern and means of production,
- specified for ethnic group, class or caste, and
- division of labour organised on the basis of gender and age within the population groups in question.
· Existing land use and utilisation of natural resources,
- also including more extensive utilisation of nature areas.
· Unique and conservation-worthy cultural landscapes or objects and buildings og historic, archeological, architectonic, cultural, aesthetic or scientific value.
· Existing environmental problems and environmental stress,
- for example current pollution of water and rate of soil erosion.
· Other existing or planned activities that may hold future consequences for the water supply, water quality, wastewater management or irrigation.

3 Checklist

The aspects included in the following checklist must be commented on. In case the problem is irrelevant, this must be substantiated. If the listed impacts can be expected to appear, their extent and degree should be estimated. Compare with Part I of this booklet if some questions should be unclear. One should be aware that questionaire checklists like these are not always 100% adequate with regard to all environmental questions which can be relevant to ask. It may therefore be useful to compare the use of the checklist to the use of other analytic tools for project assessment, e.g. logical framework analysis, gender analysis, assessments of socio-cultural and socio-economic conditions, as well as assessment of choice of technology and existing institutional conditions. This may also prove to be necessary to secure an integrated approach to the assessment of the project.

It is necessary to specify which groups of the population will be affected by the different types of direct or indirect environmental impacts. A rough division can be as follows:

· The project's target group. This is the group of the population which one expects will benefit directly from the project. This group may, however, also be subject to certain negative environmental impacts.

· The remaining local population. This group will not benefit from the project in any primary way, although both positive and negative consequences may be experienced.

· Resettled population groups. These are groups who either settle in the area or move away from it as a result of the project or the development initiated by it.

Within these three groups it may also be relevant to specify if the environmental impacts from the project can be related to specific parts of the population, such as low-income groups, indigenous groups etc., combined with a further specification of gender and age within these groups.