Poverty Alleviation Fund 2 (PAF-2)

Poverty Alleviation Fund 2 (PAF-2)

IMPLEMENTING PARTNER: Swami Vivekananda Youth Movement (SVYM)
YEARS: 2009-2010
GRANT AMOUNT: $19,400
THEMES: Public Saftey Nets

Poverty Alleviation Fund (PAF-2) is a development project funded by the World Bank and implemented by the Poverty Alleviation Fund in Nepal. The project’s objective is to improve living conditions and empower the rural poor, with particular attention to groups that have been excluded based on gender, ethnicity, caste or geographical location. The Poverty Alleviation Fund disburses funds to over 20,000 Community Organizations (COs) working with numerous Partner Organizations (POs) who in turn employ social mobilizers (SMs) to implement pro-poor activities. It is disbursing money in 40 districts ranked as the poorest by the Central Bureau of Statistics.

Strategy
The overall objective of the CARTA sub-project was to strengthen local community organization (CO) capacity for effective and efficient project management so they can better serve their communities. The specific sub-project objectives were to:

  • Enable COs to monitor partner organizations’ downward accountability
  • Increase knowledge and skill of COs on good governance, networking, and project management
  • Update and refine participatory tools and indicators used to evaluate the institutional development of COs
  • Enable COs to review their own institutional development using a participatory process

These objectives were intended to increase the ability of COs to hold partner organizations accountable and provide better service to their local communities. Awareness raising activities helped COs better understand partner organization obligations under PAF-2, recognize their own development needs and improve their monitoring and project management capacities.

Results
The sub-project activities resulted in a number of positive improvements:

  • 100% of the 120 community organizations (COs) had training plans (baseline: 0%)
  • 45% of COs registered written grievances (baseline: 5%)
  • Annual visits by social mobilizers increased to 8 (baseline: 7.7), and the quality of these visits improved, allowing social mobilizers to better fulfill their tasks such as assessing training needs, providing training plans, and checking CO progress
  • 92% of COs were satisfied with the services provided by POs (baseline: 60%) due to the increased knowledge levels of the COs and higher response levels of the POs
  • Revised assessment tools enabled 100% of the COs to complete a self-review of their own institutional development in a participatory way (baseline: 17.5%)

Lessons
CARTA activities (trainings, individual coaching and counseling sessions) had a positive impact on the community organization (CO) level of institution development, regardless of their establishment year. At the conclusion of the CARTA sub-project, none of the COs were in the nascent stage. This trend shows COs acquired more self-confidence in their own competence and independence.

In addition, COs joined networks according to their needs. Becoming members of larger thematic networks (e.g. saving associations and cooperatives). These positive changes present an optimistic outlook on the capabilities of COs to improve the living conditions and livelihoods of the rural poor where the central government does not have a strong presence. In this way, COs can be more effective fulfilling their roles if they can leverage their skills and networks.

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Enhanced Vocational Education and Training (EVENT)

IMPLEMENTING PARTNER: Vijaya Development Resource Center (VDRC)
YEAR: 2014
GRANT AMOUNT: $134,132
THEMES: Social Saftey Nets

In 2011 and 2012, over 385,000 people left Nepal seeking better employment opportunities. Their remittances officially amounted to one quarter of the gross domestic product (GDP). More than 75% of migrant workers from Nepal are unskilled workers, leading to low remittance levels per migrant. Enhancing the skill levels of migrant workers can be a strategy for diversifying the nation’s economic growth.

The enhanced vocational education and training (EVENT) project trains a roster of professionals who can in turn train workers or assess worker skills in key trades. The objective is to improve the skill levels of workers in Nepal and provide better job opportunities emigrating workers. The Department of Education (DOE), which is responsible for implementing EVENT, has sub-contracted project activities to two Nepali organizations: the training institute for technical instruction (TITI) and the national skill testing board (NSTB).

Strategy
The CARTA sub-project was primarily focused on third party monitoring (TPM). The main objective was to monitor and verify the outputs and activities related to the various World Bank indicators of success. This involved input-tracking of training schedules, compiling trainee lists (with trainee profiles, including photographs), obtaining training records, evaluating training completion reports, direct observation of the training program and interviews with trainees and graduates. The sub-project also assessed the quality of the training and determined the frequency of individual training sessions from the participant’s perspective via satisfaction surveys. These monitoring activities were carried on with the approval and knowledge of the Department of Education (DOE), which requested that the training of trainers, skills test assessors and managers be sampled from 2012-13 and 2013-14 training sessions.

Results
The sub-project produced a monitoring and verification report, which included the results of the beneficiary satisfaction survey. The report made recommendations related to EVENT-type training programs and introducing third party monitoring (TPM) more broadly.

Observations, interviews and the beneficiary survey indicated that participants and trainers believed the presence of third-party monitors led to improvements in the quality of the training. In addition, they considered TPM to be a good practice and believed it should continue. The survey showed that 96% of the respondents from all five EVENT programs responded positively to the question of whether TPM was needed to improve the quality of training. In interviews, both trainees and instructors stated that being aware of somebody watching caused them to perform better. Hence, the verification process had a bonus outcome of enhanced quality of the service delivery.

Lessons
The primary beneficiaries of the EVENT program appreciated the changes that independent third party monitoring (TPM) produced and expressed their enthusiasm for the extension of TPM. Nevertheless, there is no indication, as of yet, that independent TPM will continue.

Many development projects strive to have an inclusive social outreach and deliver better outcomes to the most vulnerable sectors of the population. However, development projects are often experiencing difficulties reaching their target beneficiaries. The survey indicated that, across all five types of programs, 32% of the trainees were women, 4% were Dalit and 30% were Janajati. Although there was no fixed target for the inclusion of different ethnic groups in the trainings, inclusiveness was one of the objectives of EVENT. Consequently, the sub-project recommendations not only underscored the need for a more transparent and accountable trainee selection process but also the need for social inclusiveness to fully realize the EVENT objectives.

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Community Action for Nutrition (CAN)

IMPLEMENTING PARTNER: Nucleus for Empowerment through Skill Transfer (NEST)
YEARS: 2014-2015
GRANT AMOUNT: $78,135
THEMES: Public Saftey Nets

The Sunaula Hazar Din – Community Action for Nutrition (SHD-CAN) Project was designed to address the risk factors of chronic malnutrition in children. From early 2014, Nucleus for Empowerment through Skill Transfer (NEST) undertook independent monitoring of the SHD-CAN project with the support of CARTA. It mobilized seven Cluster Verification Officers to monitor the project implementation process and to verify the reports produced. Through a consultative process, NEST developed checklists for field verification of the RRNI projects. Participatory methodologies such as focus group discussions, key informant interviews, and field observations, etc., were used to collect data and information after the completion of the first cycle and partial completion of the second cycle of RRNI projects.

Strategy
The Community Action for Nutrition (CAN) program’s objective is to improve the nutritional practices of women and children. The project employs the rapid results approach, supporting community Rapid Results Nutrition Initiatives (RRNIs). Key nutritional challenges are discussed by Ward Citizen Forums (WCFs). The WCFs establish RRNI teams to implement initiatives designed to accomplish nutrition improvement objectives selected from a prescribed list through 100-day initiatives. The process is repeated through several cycles. Nutrition and Food Security Steering Committees (NFSSCs) at the Village Development Committee and district levels approve funding for proposed initiatives, depending on the amount of funding requested. The project also includes support for project management, capacity building, and monitoring and evaluation to support implementation.

The CARTA program provided independent third-party monitoring of first and second cycle RRNIs, to provide feedback at the start of the program. The objectives were to:

  • Verify that key service providers carried out all the activities for effective facilitation of the RRNI process, assisted by the RRNI teams
  • Increase stakeholders’ access to project information
  • Verify reports prepared by the service providers who support RRNI teams

Results
NEST’s monitoring of first and second cycle RRNIs identified several deviations from mandated procedures and inaccuracies in service providers’ reports. For example, there were delays in the approval of initiatives, the release of funds and the completion of initiatives; orientation meetings and planned reviews, and monitoring were delayed or not conducted; and public audits were only conducted in 46% of the first cycle cases. The reports were considered accurate in only 62% of the first cycle cases.

In addition to shortcomings, NEST’s monitoring identified positive developments:

  • Improved sanitation status and behavior
  • Increased community awareness of the importance of proper nutrition, family planning, water purification and arsenic mitigation, and other community issues
  • Inclusion of excluded populations (e.g. women, the poor/marginalized) in project planning, implementation & monitoring
  • Project transparency and minimization of opportunities for corruption
  • Strengthened multi-stakeholder partnerships among health posts, schools, and local CBOs
  • Institution of a MoFALD standard monitoring structure at all governing levels

Lessons
NEST’s monitoring and interactions with various stakeholders increased their awareness and strengthened their capacities to carry out their roles in project implementation. Its findings alerted project officials and the World Bank to implementation issues, providing a basis for improvements.

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Rural Access Improvement and Decentralization Project (RAIDP)

IMPLEMENTING PARTNER: SKY-Samaj Nepal
YEARS: 2012-2013
GRANT AMOUNT: $150,000
THEMES: Infrastructure

The Rural Access Improvement and Decentralization Project (RAIDP) aims to improve services related to health, education, agriculture and good governance in Nepal. Over the project period (2005 to 2013), over 2 million Nepalis have utilized improved rural transport infrastructures and services produced by the program, in turn enhancing their access to economic opportunities.

Despite the project’s success, there are known accountability and capacity issues that prevented the effectiveness of community based organizations (CBOs), including:

  • Inconsistent monitoring processes without clear responsibilities delegated to CBO members
  • Lack of CBO knowledge on the Environmental and Social Management Framework (ESMF)
  • No formal mechanism for grievance submission and redress; few (verbally submitted) grievances resolved
  • Insufficient training and ill defined CBO responsibilities in ensuring quality road construction
  • Lack of standard tools to measure road construction quality

Strategy
The objective of the CARTA sub-project was to strengthen the capacity of community based organizations (CBOs) to monitor the civil work and contract processes under RAIDP and to facilitate access to relevant agencies for grievances redress. The specific goals were to:

  • Support 80 CBOs to understand the policy and principles in the Environmental and Social Management Framework (ESMF), and their roles and responsibilities;
  • Capacitate CBOs for understanding quality of construction work by providing training based on specific training manual;
  • Capacitate the CBOs for monitoring the labor contract process and payment of the contractors;
  • Support the CBOs to collect and report grievances and to assist them in understanding any malpractice.

Results
The overall results of the sub-project were positive. Two surveys conducted provided comparison data that demonstrated increased knowledge and skill levels after training interventions. For instance, 97% of CBO members had knowledge of the Environmental and Social Management Framework (ESMF), compared to the 28% prior the sub-project implementation. Likewise, 92% of community based organization (CBO) members had knowledge of the quality of civil work and community monitoring methods, compared to 26% at the baseline. All CBOs received and discussed contract documents by the end of the sub-project, in contrast to 27% before CARTA. Prior to CARTA, CBOs were not assigned roles to monitor civil work and only 60% of road projects were displayed on the information boards. By the end of the sub-project, 84% of CBOs were assigned monitoring roles and 96% of the road projects were displayed on the boards.

In addition, there was major improvement on the number of recorded and redressed grievances. For example, before the intervention, all grievances were verbal and hardly ever addressed. At the end of the sub-project, 187 grievances were recorded, 89% of them being addressed. As a result of the increased number of valid filed grievances, the Local Development Officer and the District Technical Office chief carried out additional monitoring visits at the district level.

Lessons
Media mobilization and awareness raising activities created the demand for tools used in CARTA. For example, many community based organizations (CBOs) in non sub-project locations requested trainings on the Environmental and Social Management Framework (ESMF) and on the use of a Labor Based Toolkit (LBT). Responding to the demand, LBT activities were replicated in other RAIDP road projects. This newly created demand for capacity building activities reflects the intrinsic and extrinsic values of citizen empowerment that allows for communities to demand and contribute to better governance and service delivery.

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School Sector Reform Project (SSRP)

IMPLEMENTING PARTNER: SKY-Samaj Nepal
YEAR: 2014
GRANT AMOUNT: $66,937
THEMES: Education

The School Sector Reform Program (SSRP) is a follow-up of the ongoing “Education for All” program in Nepal. Since 2010, free textbooks have been distributed to all students up to grade 10 in community schools throughout the country. According to the project guidelines, students are expected to receive their textbooks by April 28 (within the two weeks of the start of the academic year with the exception of a few mountainous districts). Unfortunately, textbooks are not getting to the many of the target schools on time. Yet, there is not a well developed monitoring system which can track the performance gaps in the textbook printing and distribution process.

Strategy
Due the lack of available data for monitoring purposes, the sub-project goals were to verify the quantity of printed textbooks and report the number of textbooks received by students. The collected data offered a snapshot of the existing textbook distribution conditions.

The sub-project had four specific objectives:

  • Familiarize stakeholders with the printing and distribution process
  • Verify the quantity of printed school textbook as per printing plan
  • Gather data about the distribution process
  • Make recommendations to improve the process

The initial assessment of the awareness levels surrounding textbook printing and distribution process (TPDP) showed that district and school level stakeholders had limited knowledge of the process. Hence, SKY-Samaj shared information about the TPDP and organized awareness raising events. State officials participated in these meetings.

Results
An initial assessment of awareness levels surrounding the textbook printing and distribution process revealed that district and school level committees had limited knowledge and were not functioning properly. Hence, SKY-Samaj shared information about the process and organized awareness raising events as a first step. State officials participated in these meetings.

Citizen report cards (CRCs) showed that only 45% of students received complete sets of textbooks within the two weeks of the start of the academic year. Janak Education Material Center (JEMC), the government owned printing house, delivered 82% of the available textbooks by the scheduled delivery date (April 14) and did not increase the percentage delivered over the next three months. Private printers delivered 76% of the available textbooks on time. The delivery channel of private printers was short compared to that of JEMC, and as a result, there was rapid progress in private printer textbook delivery between March 19 and April 15.

The student survey showed 95% of the students received a complete set of textbooks by July – three months after the start of the academic year. Almost all students received their textbooks by August. The final sub-project report offered several recommendations to improve the process.

Lessons
Janak Education Material Center (JEMC),  the government owned printing house, is primarily responsible for textbook production and distribution and the greatest contributor to the unmet delivery target. JEMC’s inefficiency, combined with non-functional monitoring systems at the school and district levels, resulted in a slow delivery process that negatively impacted the students’ right to get quality public education. Similarly, their chances for better life opportunities are likely reduced due to the limited educational resources in remote locations of Nepal.

The sub-project findings were shared with the District Education Offices, which have taken actions to improve the textbook printing and distribution process (TPDP). Although the information provided by CARTA could be very useful for improving the textbook delivery timeframe, it remains unclear who will be responsible for the data collection process, if anyone. Data collection is expensive and can be easily tampered with. Thus, an independent party such a civil society organization (CSO) could be a good option for gathering unbiased information. Yet, it is not clear whether external data collection will be implemented.

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Emergency Peace Support Project (EPSP)

IMPLEMENTING PARTNER:  Samuhik Abhiyan (SA)
YEARS: 2013-2014
GRANT AMOUNT: $120,549
THEMES: Social Saftey Nets

The Emergency Peace Support Project (EPSP) seeks to contribute to the peace building process in Nepal by providing interim cash transfers and services to eligible conflict-affected groups. So far, interim cash benefits have been provided to 14,104 families of the deceased and 4,444 widows. Employment and self-employment services (ESES) have also been delivered to about 3,030 conflict-affected persons (CAPs). Beneficiaries have access to rehabilitation in targeted districts, including widows, orphans, and those injured and disabled in conflict, families of those killed in conflict, families of the disappeared, internally displaced persons (IDPs), and those abducted during conflict. A major component of the project is centered around increasing transparency and accountability in the delivery of benefits.

Strategy
The general objective of the sub-project was to assess the effectiveness of EPSP and to enhance rights, transparency and accountability through citizen participation by 2014. Specific objectives were to:

  • Assess the extent to which service providers are delivering the rehabilitation support to conflict-affected persons
  • Indicate the level of understanding on benefits and support among beneficiaries, and to increase the familiarity of citizens with peace support packages
  • Improve the grievance redress mechanism at local level
  • Promote accountability among service providers by identifying the key areas of interventions/ improvements

Results
The sub-project produced a report based on the use of citizen report cards and a final assessment. Both reports included recommendations to improve the service delivery of benefits to conflict-affected persons. Local peace committees (LPCs), conflict-affected persons, civil society and political parties publicly committed their support to enhance the effectiveness of EPSP through citizen participation.

Some of the key sub-project results included:

  • Increased level of awareness among conflict-affected persons,  resulting in increased applications for support.
  • Increased citizen engagement and empowerment facilitating the formation and organization of local conflict-affected persons alert groups, citizen charters and LPCs at the village development committee (VDC) level.
  • Establishment of an effective grievance mechanism at the VDC level. LPCs recorded grievances, published updated status and forwarded complaints to the district level when necessary. LPCs, district staff and local radio informed people about grievance management mechanisms and encouraged them to register complaints at LPC.
  • Increased citizen awareness and motivation through media mobilization. Local radios broadcasted interviews with key stakeholders and motivated citizens to follow community organizations and write complaints.
  • Enhanced fulfillment of the Right to Information Act through the formation of an information desk at the district level.

Lessons
Before CARTA, service providers had neither monitoring nor grievance mechanisms in place. In addition, an overwhelming majority of conflict-affected persons (73.9%) had no information of the EPSP program. After the CARTA intervention, service providers became more transparent and accountable as beneficiaries had a better understanding of benefits, including eligibility criteria, application process, payment disbursement mechanism, service providers, the formation process of local peace committees and grievance mechanisms.

Any positive relationship requires constant effort so it is expected that stakeholders will continue to cooperate and remain actively engaged in improving the service delivery of the ESPS program. If this occurs, ESPS has the potential to set off the path for reconciliation and bring unity and cohesion to Nepal.

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Curbing Corruption in Forestry Management through User Groups in Nepal

IMPLEMENTING PARTNER: Forest Action
YEARS: 2010-2011
GRANT AMOUNT: $29,625
THEMES: Natural Resources

Forest Action, a local Nepalese CSO, has successfully engaged communities to tackle the problem of willful mismanagement of forest resources in the Morang District in Nepal. Through its targeted intervention, balancing constructive engagement, awareness raising and capacity building of citizens and community members to meaningfully participate in the management of forestry resources, Forest Action has laid a strong basis to curb corruption in the long run and enable communities to demand transparency, inclusion and accountability from service providers and government authorities regulating the forestry sector.

Corruption Problem Addressed
It is now widely recognized that to successfully protect and manage community forest resources, local people must be fully involved. Drawing on this insight, Nepal’s 1976 National Forestry Plan made space for local people to participate in the management of forest resources. This was followed by the landmark Forest Act in 1993, calling for Community Forest User Groups (CFUGs) to be created with a view to managing use and development of community forest resources. Thus, on paper, CFUGs were empowered to manage and protect community forest areas. However, a lack of accountability and transparency and a high level of corruption, especially in the Terai (Jungle area), have hobbled the effectiveness of these groups. In March 2010 Forest Action set out to change this, piloting the reform of a CFUG, the Dhankheti CFUG, in the Morang District of Nepal.

Based on an initial survey, Forest Action found that forest officials, timber smugglers, local elites and the Dhankheti CFUG Executive Committee members were all involved in a well organized illegal timber trade network. In many cases, the local elites used the smugglers to poach timber. At the same time, forest officials had encouraged some of the local operators to engage in illegal logging from which they were able to extract sizable benefits for themselves.

The CFUG and the forest authority had failed to stop these practices. According to the Federation of Community Forest User Groups Nepal, the Dhankheti CFUG was indeed one of the worst performing CFUGs in the country.

Actions Taken by Forest Action
Forest Action discussed these issues with the CFUG, inviting its members to reconsider their tolerance of illegal logging and poor forest management practices. These deliberations were shared with a wider public through TV, FM radio and local newspapers, thereby amplifying the issues and pressurizing the CFUG members and the forest officials to change their behavior.

Forest Action mounted a training program for the CFUG members and other stakeholders aimed at raising awareness and building institutional and technical capacities for good governance. Members were taught book-keeping and participatory action learning techniques were used to teach the CFUG to become more accountable and transparent.

Specific activities included:

  • Launching FM radio programs to create awareness on corruption in community forestry and explain what might be done to curb it.
  • Forming a sub-district level network of CFUGs and a watch-dog committee to monitor and minimize forest corruption within the area.
  • Undertaking public audit and public hearing activities to promote the accountability and transparency of the stakeholders, particularly the CFUG Executive Committees.
  • Promoting self-monitoring of the day-to-day operations of the CFUGs. To this end, guidelines and good governance indicators were drafted in association with CFUGs and FECOFUN and piloted in the CFUG.
  • Establishing an information hub to promote knowledge sharing and develop policy briefs for wider dissemination.

Impact and Results Achieved
The main impact of the project in the first year has been the communities’ and stakeholders’ increased understanding of the corruption issues being practiced by CFUG Executive Committee members.

CFUGs have successfully instituted new local rules for corruption-free delivery of CFUG services, and for the planning and management of their community forest which have led to increased forest-related benefits to the poor and marginalized households. These households have been given a greater voice in decision-making processes and are able to influence decisions. Members of the CFUGs were furthermore empowered to more effectively deal with the forest authority representatives and forest traders.

The promotion of CFUG networks and multi-stakeholder watch-dog committees is playing a vital role in increasing transparency, accountability and overall control of corruption by curbing incidences of bribery, illegal logging and timber smuggling.

To institutionalize good governance within the CFUGs, Forest Action has focused on improving the internal processes such as meetings and better record keeping, promoting villagers’ participation. Public audits and public hearings have been initiated. All these activities have served to give community members a greater stake in and ownership of the community’s forest resources including the poor, women and marginalized groups.

CFUGs have now started to maintain a minimum standard of organization, including following legal provisions and operational plans as well as keeping proper financial records. A majority of Executive Committee members are now well informed about CFUG finances. A survey found that 75% of Executive Committee members were aware of the CFUG decisions regarding forest resources compared to the earlier situation in which this information was monopolized by the ‘major three’, namely the Chairperson, Secretary and Treasurer of anyone CFUG.

About half of the total budget is spent on community development works. More than half their members have a basic knowledge of their rights and responsibilities. Gender and social inclusion has also improved remarkably – more than half of the committees’ members are women and include significantly more Dalits, Janajatis and other minorities than was the case before the project started. Importantly, Forest Action reports that at least 75% of meeting minutes and general assembly decisions are being implemented.

Public hearing and public auditing system are now in place for the first time in the history of CFUGs. They have now started internal auditing and once the reports are produced, they are made public.  A Forest Action survey found that as a result of all these initiatives illegal logging and the smuggling of timber had decreased by 80% in the project area. For the first time, CFUG members have launched organized protest actions against involvement of forest authorities in deforestation and forest corruption, and against policies promulgated by forest authorities detrimental to rights and interest of community forest users. The iron triangle of forest sector corruption (political elite, commercial interests, forest authorities) has been greatly weakened and, with further sustained efforts, it can be entirely removed.

A Forest Operational Plan has been prepared by the CFUG. This is a five year plan for the conservation and management of the forest resources in their area. The CFUG has developed a process for marketing forest products and products are distributed according to committee decision.

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Improving Public Health Service Delivery: Citizen Monitoring in Nepal

IMPLEMENTING PARTNER: SAMUHIK ABHIYAN (SA)
YEARS: 2010-2011
GRANT AMOUNT: $18,348
THEMES: Health

Poor service delivery or no service delivery at all in the area of public health have led a local CSO, SAMUHIK ABHIYAN (SA), to increase citizen awareness and participation in one municipality and two Village Development Committees (VDCs) in the Nuwakot District in Nepal. SA conducted surveys, mobilized the community and installed Corruption Monitoring Committees (CMCs) to increase transparency and hold authorities accountable. Through its actions, SA has successfully implemented the “Combating Corruption through Citizen Participation” project and is currently building on that success conducting a second phase with the objective to further institutionalize citizen oversight, ensuring that the existing government policies and regulations are implemented effectively.

Corruption Problem Addressed
Access to health and the quality of services delivered by hospitals, health posts and health sub-posts have been identified as serious impediments to human development in many parts of Nepal. Major problems include wide-spread malpractices and theft in the distribution of free medicines, causing shortages, and poor human resource management resulting in the absence of health workers and staff. Others include corruption in the delivery and distribution of travel allowances to expecting mothers, and a lack of development in health infrastructure, including the unavailability and poor maintenance of medical equipment. Furthermore, administrators of public health services frequently re-route citizens to avail of private healthcare services.

Actions Taken by SA
At the outset of the project’s first phase, SA organized a program to orient political leaders, media, civil society, and government departments to secure buy-in and ensure commitment to the project’s objectives. Following this coalition-building exercise, SA conducted a baseline survey with a sample of 625 respondents within the target community to identify the type of corruption observed and the resulting problems.

The survey revealed important information and documented that most citizens were not aware of their right to entitlements in public health services. Knowledge about the provisions for the distribution of free medicines as well as other incentives to avail of health services provided and paid for by the government had not reached the target populations. Local authorities had financial incentives to keep the citizenry uninformed as they were able to augment their income. The evaluation furthermore documented that the quality of healthcare services provided was poor. As a result, seventy-five percent of the respondents had been using private providers instead of public health facilities. SA facilitated the installation and training of CMCs and organized a meeting to discuss the survey results. SA furthermore developed materials for information, education and communication and kept a discussion alive, coordinating and communicating with stakeholders on a constant basis.

In collaboration with the CMCs, SA also conducted Right-to-Information (RTI) Act trainings, and provided citizens with the tools to demand greater accountability. These activities were bolstered through another awareness campaign and involved citizens as well as district community organizations. The district hospital as well as other health posts agreed to display citizen charters in appropriate places and the CMCs set out to monitor actual service delivery.

Impact and Results Achieved
In its evaluation, SA observed the following results:

  • Hospital intake has increased from about 40-50 patients/day to about 60-70 patients/day.
  • The attendance rate in sub health posts has increased from 5-10 patients/day to 15-20 patients/day.
  • CMCs are now monitoring health service delivery and file complaints in cases of suspected corruption. The same CMCs have started monitoring government service delivery beyond health.
  • Instances of corruption in health services are mapped and reforms advocated by citizen coalitions.
  • CMCs filed ten corruption-related RTI applications; five were successfully addressed. The remaining five cases were submitted to the appropriate authorities.
  • Most service units are considered to be working in a corruption-free manner.
  • A significantly larger number of poor and old patients receive their prescribed medicines for free. The stock of medicine is maintained as per government regulation.
  • Due to the Citizen Charters placed, citizens have greater access to information and were empowered to request services based on the information provided. If they do not receive the advertised services they now inform the CMCs.
  • Community interest has increased significantly. Citizen Coalitions have started to contribute time and effort to advocating and lobbying for better management practices in their respective community health posts.
  • The project has attracted media coverage from district to national level in a variety of outlets
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Promoting Transparency and Accountability for Right Based Community Forestry in Nepal (Phase 2)

IMPLEMENTING PARTNER: Forest Action Nepal
YEARS: 2012-2013
GRANT AMOUNT: $34,996
THEME:  Natural Resources

As of 2012, Nepal ranks at 141st place among 176 countries in the Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI), according to Transparency International (TI), a global corruption watchdog. India is ranked at 94th place in the list and China at 80th place. Similarly, Pakistan is ranked in the 139th position alongside Nepal. Afghanistan and Bangladesh are the only South Asian countries that are more corrupt than Nepal in the region. The report states that lack of accountable leadership and effective public institutions in these countries underscore the need to take a much stronger stance against corruption. Corruption in public offices, level of corruption, action against corruption and its output, government’s anti-corruption initiatives, administrative corruption, political corruption, bribing in import and export, and irregularities in contract awards have all contributed in making Nepal one of the most corrupt nations in the region. The Investigation of Abuse of Authority (CIAA) also states that the situation in Nepal is worsening. It is because of the political transition, impunity and lack of accountability. Nepalese history shows that during the political instability the deforestation and forest product smuggling in Terai is very high. Though small one, the relevancy of this project in the Terai in this transitional period has a great value.

The 2nd phase of the project has begun after almost a year gap from the 1st phase. Though a small and short-term initiative, the 1st phase project was the first project addressing the issues of corruption and accountability in the history of forestry sector in Nepal. Due to this long gap, the effort of 1st quarter was revived during the second phase. In recent days, addressing corruption in the forestry sector is in high priority of Government of Nepal as well. The recruitment of human resources, finalization of additional CFUGs for the second phase, conducting baseline for the additional CFUGs, project reflection/inception meetings and consolidation of the achievements of the 1st phase etc. were major activities carried out during the second phase.

Nepal is in the path of constitution making. This quarter was critical for the nation. The constituent assembly (CA) had to provide constitution to the nation during this period, which ultimately failed to do so. The whole quarter passed through the strikes, demonstrations, blockades and agitations. Ultimately the CA assembly collapsed without bringing the new constitution. This also hampered the project activities in the field. During this quarter there was almost 45 days strike all over the country. So, major chunk of the time of the 3rd quarter was spent on the review of past events and documents as the field activities were seriously hampered. Focused intervention for new CFUGs, their orientation, support for the preparation of operational plan and constitution for registration and other capacity enhancement efforts were made during this quarter. The decision of DFO for pending the registration of new CFUG due to the irregularity has been changed after monitoring of project intervention CFUGs as 3 CFUGs got approval for formal registration. Likewise, technical support was also provided in the areas like – support for CF handing over process, completion of household survey for new CFUGs, wellbeing ranking, providing support for preparing constitution of CFUG, CF boundary survey, preparing forest resource inventory and data analysis, and CF operation plan preparation which are not actually accounted in the overall project framework. This quarter was more challenging because of some due activities as well as the festive and harvesting season. Despite this challenge most of the remaining activities have been either completed or merged into the plan of the next quarter. Project action plan has been reviewed in consultation with the project team and partner.

Similarly, a team of PTF consisting of Dr Fred Temple and Ms Laura Tashjian visited ForestAction (FA) and interacted with the project and FA Team. One-day field visit was also organized and the PTF team provided encouragement and feedbacks to the project team. The team interacted with project field team, FECOFUN, intervention CFUG and non-intervention CFUG.

The increasing institutionalization of public audit and public hearing gives hope for both project and stakeholders for the sustainability of the project. In this quarter many public audit events were organized at CFUGs level to make their decisions and income and expenditure transparent. The discussion and issues raised during the event is quite encouraging especially the appreciation of the project intervention for organizing such events to aware and empower people. Similarly, training on “public account management” provided to all 9 CFUGs to provide support for conducting and institutionalize public audit and/or public hearing activities further helped to enhance their capacity to carry out the task more efficiently. The anti corruption campaign was carried out in focused and targeted way with the engagement of a team of anti-corruption volunteer who received PAL training. The organization of series of campaigns at both clusters to raise awareness and pressurize the groups and persons who has been involved in such wrong doings was both essential and challenging. The process of facilitating CFUGs to declare as corruption free zone forestry sector was quite new and challenging for all of the project professionals and forest authority. After series of discussion a team drafted white paper to do so. At the same time project team has also been coordinating with district forest authority to institutionalize the learning of the project in the overall system. The piloting of preparing self-monitoring tool kit was also finalized and shared to district forest authority as well to practice in non-project intervention CFUGs. It is very important achievement for the project that all the stakeholders including district and regional forest authorities realized that the issue in which the project is working is pertinent for more than 17,000 CFUGs all over Nepal. They found the project very relevant to address the issue to fight with irregularity and lack of transparency and good governance not only in CFUGs but also in overall forestry sector. The major challenge faced by the project is increasing monitory demand and threatening from the armed group (so called political party of Limbuwan Salvation Front).

To sum up, the project has been implemented very smoothly with positive impression to the wider level of stakeholders and achieved remarkable outputs. Though the project was so ambitious, all the activities were carried out efficiently and effectively. Activities like declaration of corruption free zone, finalization of self-assessment guideline and procedure, preparations of documentary film etc. were challenging for the project team but accomplished successfully. The major event in the field was also to organize and have fruitful discussion on “Anti-corruption Bill, 2011 and Right to Information (RTI) Act 2008” at the Regional level. All the participants like Regional Forest Director, DFO, FECOFUN representatives from Morang, Jhapa and Sunsari and journalists participated actively in the meeting and realized the need of dissemination of such provisions at local level as well. Similarly, the piloting of self-monitoring tool kit is almost in final stage. DFO has adopted the guideline and used first time to select best CFUG in the district. A detail assessment of 28 CFUGs has been conducted in association with District Forest Office using the Self-governance Assessment Tool designed during the course of the project. Dhankheti CFUG (listed as one of the weakest and corrupted CFUG before 3 years), in which the project has initiated its intervention, has been ranked as a best CFUG and won the prize.

The declaration of corruption-free zone has been a major challenge for both project personnel and CFUGs. After series of discussions 3 CFUGs from the project intervention area declared them as corruption free zone with a 22 points declaration. The declaration has been displayed in public place and signed by each household of the CFUG members. It is challenging but expected that it will be translated into practice and upscaled in the upcoming days.  Likewise, a 25-minute video on the success and lessons of the project has been prepared capturing situation before 3 years, project intervention and changes that happened during the course of the project. Makalu TV has broadcast this documentary film.

During the project period a series of multi-stakeholder watchdog committee interactions and interaction with forest authority were held. The engagement of multi-stakeholders team like: community forest user groups, District Forest Office (DFO), political party representatives and FECOFUN to rendezvous the need of the forestry sector is realized by different stakeholders as a beauty of this project. The interface with these various actors on the forestry related corruption issues has sensitized the concerned stakeholders about their responsibility and accountability towards better forest resource management. The corruption issues at local level have been unveiled gradually. During the discussion with multi-stakeholders watchdog committee it was found that the misconducts and corruption issues are almost the same at the local government level.  The multi-stakeholder watchdog committee could be an overall catalytic agent to fight the local level corruption. The limited resources, small target group and small project are some of the constraints of the project. A one-year small intervention with a small resource will not be enough to institutionalize the anti-corruption mechanism. It should be upscaled with large resources as well as reasonable geographical coverage. The uncertainty of the next phase may hamper the continuation of these achievements that needs a bit long intervention to make it sustained.

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Promoting Transparency and Accountability for Right Based Community Forestry in Nepal

IMPLEMENTING PARTNER: Forest Action Nepal
YEARS: 2010-2011
GRANT AMOUNT: $34,996
THEME: Natural Resources

According to the Corruption Perceptions Index 2010, published by the Transparency International Nepal has stood 146th among 180 countries. It was ranked 143rd in 2009, 121st in 2008, 131st in 2007. The report states political instability, lack of political will and ineffective anti-corruption initiatives are the major factors of corruption. Corruption in public offices, level of corruption, action against corruption and its output, government anti-corruption initiatives, administrative corruption, political corruption, bribing in import and export, and irregularities in contract awards have all contributed to making Nepal one of the most corrupt nations in the region.

The corruption is widespread at all levels, which is characterized by social and political instability, bickering people’s representatives, unresponsiveness of the authority, abuse of power, and unemployment. All the major political parties are involved in corruption rather than to control corruption. Forestry sector is considered as one of most corrupted sector in Nepal. During the whole year of 2010 forest sector corruption especially in the Terai has become a major headline of local and national newspaper. Terai forest has been the attraction of bureaucrats, politicians, technicians and local leaders from several years. They don’t hesitate to take any steps to use this resource for their personal benefit. Illegal logging, revenue leakage, false measurement, authorization bribery, poor account keeping etc. are major forms of forestry sector corruption. Several Forest Officers and management committee members of several forest groups suspended and people themselves punish the culprits in several cases.

The legacy of poor governance and corruption has remained in the forestry sector even though the current trend of forestry in Nepal is moving from state control to participatory management. Despite the government has handed over approximately 22{feea96bd7ce234d33488972a91b10e24d555bf5cbb80bb42aaf8e4333debf8a6} forest of the country as community forest to the local forest users, and more than 15000 community forest user groups (CFUGs) have been established so far, poor governance have been reflected in the form of exclusion, domination, exploitation, inequity, injustice, non-transparency and inadequate participation and poor rule of law. An iron triangle of deep-rooted corruption alliances across government forest bureaucracy, community elites and private business groups is still operating even in globally renowned and successful program of community forestry. Often nexus between forest smugglers, corrupt government officials, and corrupt local leaders have resulted into the illegal extraction of timber from the community forests. The problem is more severe in the CFUGs who are informally managing forests in the name of protection committees or have registered with the government but yet to get community forest (CF) formally handed over.

During the first quarter of the project some preparatory work has been done to drive the project on right tract. Formal partnership has been established with Federation of Community Forest Users, (FECOFUN), and joint memorandum of understanding has been signed between the two organizations for the implementation of this project. Major chunk of the time of this quarter has spent on recruitment of human resources both at the national and the field level, designing and conducting baseline survey, project inception meetings at ForectAction, FECOFUN and cluster level. An independent professional has been hired for the baseline survey who has submitted a report. Similarly, reflection workshops had been conducted at both clusters to open up discourses on the issues revolving around community forestry. In this workshop representative of CFUGs had reviewed over their plans, policies, activities, issues, challenges and opportunities and prepared upcoming agenda to plan for the future. Likewise, an introductory radio programme Samudaik Ban Jagaran (Responsive Community Forest) has been prepared and aired from FM Radio. This programme amplified the situation of corruption, transparency and accountability in forestry sector focusing on community forestry in Morang district with the voices of different stakeholders.

During second quarter the real intervention begun. It is understood that irregularity in community forestry begins from the formation of community forest user group. Local elites controls over the groups in close coordination with timber traders and forest authority. The other irregularities include in formation of policy and work plan, decision making, account keeping and cutting, distributing and selling of forest products. During the preparation of situation analysis profile and reflective workshops many issues opened for wide discussion. During the course of the project both people and forest authority realized the need of urgent intervention especially in the area of governance and transparency including account keeping, public audit, process, decision and monitoring related tools, skills and technology.

As this quarter’s activities have been focused more on the local issues of governance, transparency and corruption more reflections from the community received and tried to go deeper to the issues. Network and coordination linkage with district forest authority, local government, NGOs and CBOs and private sector established during this quarter. Terai forestry sector corruption got height in this period so we felt need of a regional level workshop to discuss on the agenda. This one-day workshop held in Biratnagar with 5 working papers form DFO, Journalist, Forest Activist, independent consultant and forest practitioner.  It has provided a reflection on the situation of forestry sector corruption in the eastern Terai and measures to mitigate to these problems. Before this workshop a case from the project site captured in the documentary video (in association with other agencies too), TV and newspapers. FM radio programme also heighted about this programme. These all efforts helped to amplify the issue and alarm the community and related authority to address the concern.

During the third quarter different activities like FM radio programme, reflective interactions of network and watchdog committee, campaign against corruption, PAL trainings, self-monitoring process, information hub, case studies etc have been conducted. This programme amplified the situation of corruption, transparency and accountability in forestry sector focusing on community forestry in Morang district with the voices of different stakeholders.

Due to volatile political situation it is non-stop and getting into peak. It is also linked with the basic needs of the people of rural Nepal and are an important source of jobs and income. The rise of price of timber product also made this profession more lucrative. On one hand some people/ groups are heavily engaged in conservation of forest resource on the other hand forest some ill intentioned members of user groups, political party members, saw mill owners and forest authority are looking for the conducive environment for making money from this resource. The poor governance of this valuable resource has led to widespread illegal exploitation of forest products especially in Terai by powerful groups and individuals for financial gain and by local communities for their subsistence. This has been particularly widespread during the periods of political instability.

During the 4th quarter a small information hub has been established at FECOFUN Morang and made accessible to public. The FM radio programme continued and widely heard and discussed on the issue community focused radio scheme for which reordered radio programme provided to the CFUG. FECOFUN have taken the overall responsibility of the information hub. The information hub will be strengthened in upcoming days with documents related to corruption and good governance focusing on existing situation, situation analysis, practice and lessons from others, audio visual materials, process of change. Similarly, related laws, bylaws, guidelines, district plans, village plans, CFUG plans and other information will be made available in the hub for public access and response. Now, it is equipped with computer, radios with CD players and newspapers and news cuttings.

A policy brief is under preparation but it’s too early to link this very small practice into the policy. But this endeavour initiates the discourse on increasing bad governance of the community forestry and knocks the authority and stakeholders for taking necessary way forward for fighting community forestry regulatory issues and corruption.

Although linking with the journalist with the project implementing partners and the local communities has not been visualized in this year it happened due to the severity of the issue in the region. Both print, TV and FM radio programme has been linked with and highlighted the issue. This process is very effective and needs to continue in upcoming days as well. A video has been produces in association with FECOFUN on deforestation and forestry sector corruption. Similarly, 4 episodes of FM radio programme have been produced and broadcasted including round table discussion of CFUG with forest authority.  All the result envisioned in the project for the first year has been achieved.

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