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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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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