Environmental Impact Assessment



Integrating EIA into Existing Project Planning and Approval Process


The planning, evaluation and approval of public-sector projects in Malawi is administered by the National Economic Council. NEC's Project Planning Manual identifies a number of key stages in their approval process. Although the need to examine environmental impacts is indicated, clear guidelines and procedures for doing so are absent. Thus, it is vital that NEC's approval process and the EIA process be effectively integrated so that EIA contribute materially to the development of public-sector projects without hindering the approval process.

The relationship between the two processes, and the complementarily of their information and documentation requirements, was indicated in Chapter 2 above and is elaborated below. This relationship is in the early stages of its development and it must be recognized that as experience with EIA in Malawi grows, the modalities of the relationship will become better developed and streamlined through practice. Thus, it is expected that future editions of these guidelines will provide more detailed and "field tested" procedures for ensuring that EIA contributes effectively to the planning and approval of public-sector projects.

The relationship of the two processes is discussed below by describing the stages of NEC's process, in italics, and the relationship with the EAD's EIA process.
Stage 1: Identification and Submission
This stage involves identification of a project idea and the preparation of an initial Project Concept Paper (PCP) by the executing agency. After internal approval, a Project Submission Document is prepared and an internal pre-appraisal is carried out by the executing agency's planning unit. Once approved, the PSD is submitted to NEC for pre-appraisal.

During the preparation of PCPs and PSDs, executing agencies should consider the possible environmental effects of their projects, measures to avoid or minimize those effects, and whether a project is prescribed under the EMA. If necessary, a "Mini EIA" might be considered for some projects before the PSD is prepared and submitted to NEC. Early consultations with DEA will help to clarify potential EIA needs for projects. 
Stage 2: Pre-appraisal and Entry to the PSIP
NEC conducts a pre-appraisal of the project based on the PSD and a decision is made to:
(a) reject the project, in which case the proposal lapses;
(b) refer the PSD back to the executing agency for further preparatory work and re-submission to NEC;
(c) fund a pre-feasibility study, at which point the project moves to Stage 3; or
(d) include the project in the Public Sector Investment Programme (PSIP) for a feasibility study, at which point the project moves to Stage 4.

If the decision is (c) or (d), and the project is on the list of prescribed projects, the Secretary for NEC (SNEC) refers the project to the Director of Environmental Affairs to satisfy the latter 's requirement for a Project Brief. The Director determines whether an EIA is required for the project and conveys his/her decision to the SNEC and the executing agency.
Stage 3: Pre-feasibility Study
A pre-feasibility study is carried out if the project is large and/or complex, and difficult to appraise from the PSD. Typically, such projects have several possible modes of implementation, each with widely different costs and implications. The project is re-evaluated by NEC based on the findings of the pre-feasibility studies. The project is then either:
(a) rejected; or
(b) referred back to the executing agency for further preparatory work and re-submission to NEC; or
(c) included in the PSIP for a full feasibility study/design with the expectation of being implemented, at which point the project moves to Stage 4.

If the project requires an EIA, it is carried out concurrently with the pre-feasibility study and the EIA report is submitted to the Director. The Director 's decision on the EIA and project is conveyed to the executing agency and the SNEC.

NEC's re-evaluation of the project takes into account both the pre-feasibility and EIA reports, and the Director's decision based on the EIA report. If the Director has decided:

(a) that the project is rejected or must be redesigned and the EIA redone, NEC either rejects the project or refers it back to the executing agency for further work on both the pre-feasibility study and the EIA; or

(b) that the project is approved, NEC includes the project in the feasibility study, it instructs the executing agency to take full account of the EIA approval terms and conditions in the feasibility study and, when the project is implemented, to  incorporate them into the appropriate licences.

Stage 4: Feasibility Study
A feasibility study gives a detailed analysis of the technical and financial viability of a project, leading to the development of a Project Design Document (PDD). The executing agency conducts an internal appraisal of the PDD before submitting it to NEC for appraisal.

Stage 5: Appraisal
NEC appraises the project proposal based on the PDD. A decision is then taken to: 
(a) reject the project; or
(b) refer the PDD back to the executing agency for further preparatory work and resubmission to NEC; or 
(c) implement the project.

In practice, it is unusual for a project to be dropped from the PSIP at this stage.

NEC's appraisal of the project is based on the PDD, and EIA report and the Director's decision, including any approval terms and conditions. If the Director has decided:

(a) that the project is rejected or must be redesigned and the EIA redone, NEC either rejects the project or refers it back to the executing agency for further work on both the feasibility and EIA studies; or

(b) that the project is approved, NEC approves the project for implementation, it instructs the executing agency to incorporate the Director's approval terms and conditions into the project plan and appropriate licences.

When NEC approves the project for implementation, the Director requests the TCE to develop and implement a government project audit and monitoring programme.

Stages 6, 7 and 8: Implementation
These stages involve:
(a) negotiating financing
(b) pre-implementation activities (e.g. hiring staff, preparation of construction documents, surveying)
(c) implementation (investment, development)
(d) monitoring and evaluation

The TCE monitors the implementation of the government project audit programme, facilitate its success, and reports on its progress to the Director. 


Even though private sector projects have certain distinct characteristics from those of the public sector, the life cycle is quite similar. The EIA process shall be integrated in their cycle as in Figure 1.1 of these guidelines. In principle these projects will follow the same EIA procedures as defined in Figure 2.1 of these guidelines.

A developer will prepare a project brief for submission to the Director through a licensing authority. If, in view of the licensing authority, there is no EIA requirement for the project, the authority should submit a copy of the license and brief to the Director for record and monitoring purposes.

The time frames and tasks that will apply in the approval process are given in Section 2.2 of these guidelines. The specific EIA process for the private sector projects shall be as follows:

Stage 1: Identification and Submission
This stage will involve preparing a project brief to be submitted to a licensing authority. The developer should consider possible environmental effects and considerations of the proposed project at this early stage.

Stage 2: Pre-appraisal
The licensing authority will review the project brief paying particular attention to the possible environmental effects. The licensing authority will then submit its comments to the Director. The Director shall respond to the developer within the time frame for the EIA process as determined in Section 2.2 of these guidelines. In the case where no EIA will be required, the licensing authority will still submit the brief to the Director including a copy of the licence.

Stage 3: Feasibility Study
Private sector projects will often combine the pre-feasibility and feasibility stages of the cycle. Should the Director determine that a project requires to go through the EIA process, he/she shall advise whether an EIA be undertaken concurrently with the feasibility study. He/She shall further advise the developer to prepare an Environmental Management Plan (EMP). The decision procedures will then follow through the EIA review process as in Figure 2.1.

Stage 4: Appraisal
This stage will be carried out by different institutions for different clients. Some of these will be financing institutions such as development banks and investment promotion institutions like MIPA.

The EAD should develop an audit programme based on Stage 3 above. 

Stages 5 and 6: Activation, Implementation and Monitoring
At these stages, the private developer is arranging for financing and other necessary activities to start implementation. During implementation of the project the EAD should put up a team of monitors as determined by the EMP in Stage 3.

The EAD and TCE will work with MIPA and the licensing authorities (e.g. local authorities) to ensure 
(1) that all know about the EIA requirements, 
(2) that the appropriate authorities will withhold approval of prescribed projects until the investor has a certificate from the Director indicating that an EIA is not required or that the project has received his approval, and 
(3) that the process of moving private-sector projects through the EIA process is managed efficiently and effectively.


Foreword | Preface | Contents | Acknowlegdements  | Acronyms | Glossary
Chapter One | Chapter Two | Chapter Three | References
Appendices | A | B | C | D | E | F | G | HAnnex I