Local Government Support Project (LGSP II)

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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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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