Rural Access Improvement and Decentralization Project (RAIDP)

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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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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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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