IMPLEMENTING PARTNER: PhilDHRRA Mindanao
GRANT AMOUNT: $30,000
This sub-project sought to mobilize, organize, and strengthen the capacities of the Tubod municipality’s volunteer citizens groups to monitor and report on the implementation of government-funded infrastructure projects. The project formed a volunteer citizen group and, with local government, institutionalized a M&E mechanism for the implementation of national government programs and projects in the municipality.
The municipality of Tubod was struggling to keep track of national programs and status of implementation. These programs are designed, implemented or terminated without knowledge/consultation with the local government. Yet both the Local Government Unit (LGU) and civil society are weak and capacity to monitor national government programs did not exist.
Citizen Groups can demand transparency and accountability through independent monitoring and evaluation of national government programs and projects. However, prior to this project, there were no existing mechanisms for joint LGU-Citizens’ Groups constructive engagement vis-á-vis national government programs and projects in Tubod municipality. Local citizens’ groups also did not have the capacity to perform effective monitoring and evaluation of national government projects.The sub-project aimed to organize a local CSO and develop a monitoring process to track national government projects. Because of the limited local experience, Tubod partnered with PhilDHRRA Mindanao, a highly experienced NGO network and with the Surigao Chamber of Commerce and Industry to help with sub-project implementation.
PhilDHRRA adopted the following strategies to develop and strengthen capacities of LGU and Volunteer Citizens’ Group (VCG) towards institutionalization of local-based monitoring and evaluation (M & E) system for government programs and projects implemented in Tubod:
- Capacity Building: Focused on strengthening capacities of LGU and VCG in institutionalizing a mechanism that adopts transparency and accountability measures in the implementation of national government programs and projects. Capacity interventions focused on capacitating the VCG on the government’s processes on budget formulation and execution, procurement process, project management, including monitoring and evaluation as well as the use of relevant social accountability tools.
- Institutionalizing an M & E System: An M & E framework for government programs and projects was developed to serve as guide in the implementation of the subproject, taking into consideration, among others, (a) relevant government’s policies, guidelines and procedures; (b) appropriate social accountability tools; (c) incorporation of social accountability approaches and tools that simultaneously enhanced the principles of transparency, accountability and citizens’ participation; and (d) practice of constructive engagement. The development of the M & E framework was done in a participatory manner, involving key representatives from the LGU and VCG.
- Organizing of Volunteer Citizen Group (VCG): The sub-project mobilized, organized and trained VCG from among CSOs, retirees, professionals (civil engineers, etc.), businesspersons to be part of the LGU-VCG constructive engagement initiative. The VCG was the key actor in undertaking the M & E system for government programs and projects. This included the formation of the Alliance of Good Governance Advocates (AGGAC) initially through the organized VCG and eventually expanded to include other key stakeholders and “like-minded” groups in the Region.
- Strategy for Sustainability: In order to sustain the practice of constructive engagement, relevant social accountability concepts and tools were mainstreamed within the core functions, mandates and overall development strategies and goals of the local government, depending on the response of the local government regarding this idea. A region-wide Alliance (AGGAC) was strengthened to help ensure that social accountability policies and mechanisms were being observed conscientiously. Furthermore, the project stakeholders generated incentives in the form of completed and well implemented government programs and project from national and local government resources.
The sub-project was successful in creating a local CSO that was named POWERS (People Organized for the Welfare of Rural Sectors) through which citizens’ got involved in implementation and monitoring of government projects. Their participation brought concerns to the authorities and facilitated the resolution of problems.
One example was citizen monitoring of an irrigation project. Since the landowner did not allow the irrigation canal to pass through his land, the canal was directed through the boundary. So instead of a straight line, the canal passed through a crooked path, which resulted to shortage of 50 meters in length of the irrigation canal to reach the beneficiary-community. The volunteers reported our monitoring finding to the National Irrigation Administration (NIA) , of which the latter called us for a dialogue. As a result, NIA added budget to extend an additional 50 meters more for the canal. The beneficiaries were happy with the result. The participants expressed that if they had not monitored the irrigation project, the irrigational canal could not have been beneficial to the farmer-beneficiaries.
The officers and members of POWERS are confident that given enough time and opportunity, they will be able to continue their journey as an informed and strong VCG and so Tubod’s next generation will reap the fruits of their efforts – “Good Governance Practice”. They proudly say their good practice is their “volunteerism” and their improved capacity to do monitoring and evaluation of development projects in their community. There are several factors that contributed to the success of the project. Foremost of which is the positive attitude and availability of the citizens. Strict compliance to the criteria for the selection of project participants was therefore very crucial.
Another very important factor that contributed to the project’s success is the Municipal Mayor herself. It was noted from the start that the current Mayor is somebody who values the participation of civil society in local governance. Her support to the project implementation was very significant.
The third factor is the presence of NGOs to provide capacity building interventions and guidance to project participants. POWERS expressed an overwhelming appreciation of PhilDHRRA’s technical assistance specifically the conduct of capacity building interventions for the monitoring team. They appreciated the monitoring tool shared to them, useful because they were trained how to use it. They also learned how to relate/interact with the project implementers.