Bangladesh Rural Water Supply and Sanitation Project (BRWSSP)

Bangladesh Rural Water Supply and Sanitation Project (BRWSSP)

IMPLEMENTING PARTNER: Resource Integration Center
YEARS: 2009-2010
GRANT AMOUNT: $97,000
THEMES: Infrastructure; Natural Resources

The Bangladesh Rural Water Supply and Sanitation Program (BRWSPP) is funded by the World Bank and has a lifespan of four years, from July 2012 to June 2016. The project aims to ensure reliable access to arsenic-free, safe water in the rural areas of Bangladesh. The BRWSSP project included the construction of water supply systems, technical assistance for stakeholders and rapid response for disasters, emergencies and other catastrophic events. The project has realized significant challenges in terms of access (e.g. irregular activity, planned wells never constructed), quality (e.g. iron in water, irregular quality control mechanisms), and sustainability (e.g. water user committee functioning, weak systems for user fee collection).

Strategy
Under the CARTA program, the Resource Integration Center solicited community feedback to improve the responsiveness of the service providers. The specific objectives were to:

  • Monitor and compare the quality and results of existing social mobilization processes through a Citizen Report Card (CRC) survey in targeted areas
  • Introduce community score cards (CSC) to facilitate constructive engagement between service users/recipients and providers to monitor water supply services in completed pipe schemes

Results
The third party monitoring conducted through the sub-project collected data and provided recommendations on, inter alia, community awareness, water accessibility and quality, transparency and accountability of the water user committees (WUCs) and scheme sustainability.

The primary outcomes included:

  • Water User Committees reformed to include 30% of female members
  • Communication among user groups, water user committees (WUCs), civil society organizations (CSO) and the Department of Public Health Engineering (DPHE) increased
  • Monitoring increased to improve service quality
  • Damaged water purification plant repaired through a water user committee initiative

Lessons
As a result of the sub-project, officials realized the value of functional water user committees for the proper implementation of BRWSSP and the sustainability of the project. Eventually, these committees will have to take over the management and operation of the water system once an 18-year concession ends. Thus, it is likely that the service providers and users may want to capitalize on the improvements made to the BRWSSP project. In addition, many local officials expressed their interest for extending the TPM in other development projects in order to improve the quality of services.

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Local Government Support Project (LGSP II)

IMPLEMENTING PARTNER:  Agrogoti Sangstha; Democracy Watch
YEARS: 2012-2014
GRANT AMOUNT: $224,916
THEMES: Local Governance

Bangladesh’s Local Government Support Project (LGSP-II) is a national decentralization plan that aims to strengthen local governance. LGSP II provides grants to Union Parishads (UPs) – the oldest and most local government system – so the community can determine which public projects serve them best. Thus, the main purpose of the project is to build the capacity of local governments to manage public services and resources while concurrently introducing changes in the local government practices, especially in fiscal transfer, transparency, community participation and accountability. However, significant gaps remained at the UP level in areas such as community engagement in budgetary processes and active disclosure of information. Likewise, there was low community demand for budget transparency and poor feedback mechanisms to measure citizen satisfaction with local governance and service delivery.

Strategy
The sub-project goal was to promote citizen engagement and responsiveness from the local government by ensuring accountability and transparency of the Union Parishads (UP) in LGSP-II. Specific objectives included:

  • Mobilize and capacitate UP representatives to engage communities in the open budgeting processes
  • Strengthen capacities of communities to monitor budget transparency, efficiency, participation, inclusion and accountability at the local level

The project’s primary activity was third-party monitoring at the UP level. The majority of capacity building focused on forming and training citizen group committees charged with monitoring the performance of the local government. The implementing CSOs – Democracy Watch and Agragoti Sangtha – employed the same methodology but covered different geographic areas.

Results
The overall results of the CARTA sub-project were positive:

  • 100% of UP committee and community members had knowledge of the LGSP-II scheme, compared to 80% (AG) and 58% (DW) at the beginning of the sub-project
  • 100% of UPs properly disseminated information through notice boards, compared to 70% (AG) and 78% (DW) at the sub-project outset
  • Information boards were displayed for 80% (AG) and 78% (DW) of the UP “Notice and Information” boards
  • The tax collection improved from 77% to 83% (AG) and from 35% to 43% (DW) compliance level.

The primary sub-project activity attributed to the better performance of the UPs was capacity building among community groups about the program, its intended activities and impact.

Lessons
Although the sub-project only lasted for 2 years, it successfully increased local government responsiveness to citizen feedback. For instance, the LGSP-II team arranged training for local communities after the baseline survey revealed their limited knowledge of their roles in the program. In addition, the Union Parishad (UP) officials worked closely with community groups, who were able to support UP activities with their newly acquired knowledge. It is expected that positive relations will continue to be nurtured among the various stakeholders for the common good.

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Rural Electrification and Renewable Energy Development (RERED II)

IMPLEMENTING PARTNER: Population Training & Service Center
YEARS: 2012-2014
GRANT AMOUNT: $155,760
THEMES: Infrastructure

The Rural Electrification and Renewable Energy Development (RERED II) is a publicly funded project aimed at increasing access to electricity through Solar Home System (SHS) in “off-grid” rural areas of Bangladesh. Although it has been recognized as one of the largest and fastest growing off-grid renewable energy programs in the world, policy and operational challenges remain common. For example, the program includes grants and soft loans to partner organizations who provide capacity building and technical assistance to local communities (ex: training, logistics and promotional support). However, these organizations were prioritizing market expansion over customer satisfaction, limiting the impact of the program.

Strategy
CARTA contracted the Population Services Training Center (PSTC) to both assess and help improve the delivery of solar home systems (SHS) and strengthen citizen engagement in ensuring their effective operation. The sub-project was designed to carry out independent third party monitoring (TPM) and to provide capacity building for user groups. The sub-project objectives were to:

  • Make SHS users become more knowledgeable to participate with partner organizations and ensure accountability
  • Enable SHS users to provide systematic feedback throughout the project implementation process
  • Provide suggestions for improving the service delivery of the SHS program

The sub-project used two surveys techniques: focus group discussion (FGDs), and key informant interviews (KIIs) to gather data. To enhance the knowledge and capacity of users, the CSO formed 14 union level SHS user groups who were trained in the operation and maintenance of SHS.

Results
The project report compared data from the baseline and endline surveys which offered recommendations to improve the effectiveness of solar home system (SHS) delivery and functioning. Likewise, the surveys provided direct feedback from service users to service providers. The sub-project also trained 350 users for the first time on SHS equipment maintenance. The sub-project outcomes include:

  • Percentage of households experiencing problems with their SHS unit decreased from 28% to 5% and from 16% to 1% for business users
  • Percentage of users briefed by a technician before or during the installation of their SHS increased form 46% to 68% for household users and from 57% to 70% for business users.
  • Time taken to resolve problems related to SHS equipment decreased from “31-60” days to “1-15” days.

Impact
The baseline survey revealed that the partner organizations charged with capacity building and training were not allocating enough resources for such activities. On the contrary, the CARTA sub-project demonstrated the benefits of proper equipment maintenance training to the life of SHS units and sustainability of the program. Implementing agencies have already begun to organize additional trainings in response as it was found to not only be cost effective to train users, but these users are the primary source of SHS knowledge and reviews for potential new clients.

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Social Investment Program Project (SIPP-II)

IMPLEMENTING PARTNER: Bangladesh Disaster Preparedness Centre
YEARS: 2014-2015
GRANT AMOUNT: $90,000
THEMES: Infrastructure; Social Saftey Nets

Poverty alleviation is the greatest challenge Bangladesh currently faces. Although Bangladesh has shown impressive economic and social gains, the level of poverty continues to be a challenge with 32% of the total population living below the poverty line in 2010.  The objective of the Social Investment Program Project (SIPP II) is to improve the livelihoods and quality of life, and build resilience to climate variability, natural hazards and other shocks experienced by the rural poor. The first phase of SIPP, approved in 2003, primarily focused on the critical small-scaled infrastructure services, and social assistance given to the rural poor.  The second phase aims to empower the community and prioritize support to the poor by building and strengthening systems and linkages with other funded programs. Micro-credit schemes have been an important tool for poverty eradication and a central pillar of SIPP II.

Strategy
The CARTA sub-project was designed to improve the existing governance practices of the village-level institution, focusing on the micro-credit scheme under SIPP-II. The specific objectives were to:

  • Assess the transparency and accountability of funds management established in the framework of the micro-credit scheme
  • Improve the capacity of existing village micro-credit supervision structures to ensure transparency and accountability of the micro-credit scheme at the village level

Results
The sub-project perception survey provided valuable insights about the perceptions and experiences of beneficiaries, non-beneficiaries and village level committee members. Through the data collection process, it was noticed that many officials and elites were reluctant to cooperate with the evaluation process, which had a negative effect on the beneficiary willingness to participate freely. The survey only provided a snapshot of the micro-credit scheme so no value judgment can be inferred from the effects of the capacity building element of the CARTA sub-project.

Lessons
Although some community beneficiaries were organized in monitoring groups (Sachetan Dals) and received capacity building training on social accountability tools, SIPP-II policies, human rights and good governance, it is too early to know whether they will disseminate their knowledge or take a sustained and active monitoring role in the community. However, the perception survey painted a bleak picture of the viability of the program if no program reform is made. Only 39% committee members admitted that the loans are used for right purpose and they duly monitor the loans. In addition, 27% of committee members believe that the loan is a grant so it doesn’t have to be repaid.

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Reaching Out-of-School Children Project II (ROSC2)

IMPLEMENTING PARTNER: RDRS Bangladesh
YEARS: 2014-2015
GRANT AMOUNT: $80,000
THEMES: Education

The Government of Bangladesh has undertaken a number of targeted interventions, as part of its National Education Policy (2010), to ensure one-hundred percent enrollment and completion of primary education before 2015. The Reaching out of School Children Project (ROSC-II), launched in 2004, is one such intervention that has played a key role in providing second chance primary education to out of school children in targeted rural upazilas (sub-districts). The placement of new learning centers were based on demand from local people and run by local center management committees (CMC). This left a considerable onus on the committees to place pupils and manage the learning center whilst leaving ample room for mismanagement and corruption.

Strategy
The CARTA sub-project provided independent Third Party Monitoring (TPM) to assess the delivery and quality of education services, including issues such as, inclusion, transparency, accountability, effectiveness and efficiency of ROSC-II project implementation. The project also sensitized the community and institutional actors about the responsibilities of teachers, project personnel, and local and national government officials.

The objectives of sub-project were twofold:

  • Verify eligibility and selection processes for the establishment of learning centers, staffing, and pupil enrollment
  • Strengthen the capacity of Center Management Committees (CMC) and parents to supervise and assess performance of the learning centers

Results
There were several improvements in the operation of the ROSC-II project that can be attributed to sub-project activities around information dissemination. For example:

Accountability

Committee members became more active in demanding accountability from service provider. Service providers now know they will be held accountable to their decisions during community meetings.

Participation

The degree of citizen engagement in ROSC-II has increased and community management committees (CMCs) are playing a more effective role. As a result, considerable changes have been realized in the public display of community development plans, improved environmental conditions, and better care and maintenance of facilities by community members.

Transparency

A major achievement of this sub-project was the shift from keeping information restricted to disseminating it widely. Detailed information about ROSC-II is now well known by local communities. Likewise, there is much greater transparency in the criteria for children selected to participate in the program.

Efficiency

Most of the CMCs are now carrying-out project activities as per their roles and responsibilities. They organize public meetings regularly and make decisions in an inclusive, participatory way.

An survey conducted towards the end of the project unveiled the following results:

  • The level of satisfaction with learning center operations was considerably higher with CARTA (80%) as compared to without (50%)
  • There is a significant difference in Center Management Committee (CMC) accountability mechanisms in CARTA and non-CARTA areas
  • One-third of parents in surveyed in CARTA areas, versus one-fourth non-CARTA areas, were aware the criteria for admission of children to learning centers
  • The rate of satisfaction with children selection was found to be considerably higher in non-CARTA areas

Lessons
Implementing the sub-project provided a number of lessons learned to inform future programs, including:

  • A social interface may reduce the distance between service provider and receiver
  • Participatory training/orientation creates a friendly environment for the implementation of project activities and increases community knowledge and capacity to benefit from them
  • Third-party monitoring  can be a useful approach to verify the results of public projects and assess levels of transparency, accountability, inclusion, participation, and effectiveness
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