Butuan City – The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) field office Caraga is now preparing for the scaling up of the government’s anti-poverty project KALAHI-CIDSS early next year. Part of this preparation was the technical session given by the World Bank (WB).
Recently, a team from the WB came to Caraga for the Implementation Support Mission.
The mission was conducted to give technical assistance to the field office and the respective local government units. Led by Malou Padua, social development specialist, the delegation visited the towns of Esperanza, Agusan del Sur and Cagwait, Surigao del Sur.
“This mission is normally done twice a year to provide technical support to the implementers by way of offering knowledge product – learning lessons on how they implemented the program and bring it to other countries so that they learn from us,” Padua shared.
“What is more important is to hear from both the LGUs and volunteers their experiences of the project and if there is anyway we can share to them by way of suggesting possible resolutions, we will share that with them,” she added.
The World Bank together with the National Project Management Team (NPMT) met with members of the provincial inter-agency committee (PIAC), municipal inter-agency committee (MIAC), municipal area coordinating (MCT) team, and the volunteers in a dialogue.
Learning key lessons from these partners will enable the World Bank to assess the readiness of the LGUs for the expansion and the adoption of a national community-driven development (CDD) strategy for all social development projects next year.
KC as a blueprint for a national CDD program
During President Aquino’s state visit to the United States last month, WB President Robert Zoellick praised Aquino and said that “under his leadership, the community-driven development program, which has provided poor Filipinos a voice in the development process, is set to become a national program.”
This was confirmed by Ramon Falcon of NEDA in the exit conference meeting with WB, NPMT and the RPMO citing a portion in the Philippine Development Plan of 2011-2016 that states that “whenever amenable, social development programs shall adopt the CDD approach wherein local community’s stable growth shall be assured in the planning, implementing, and resource investments.”
This is the government’s strategic thrust in the Philippine Development Plan; it can be recalled that Pres. Aquino pronounced during the Philippine Progress Report that the best practice project under the goal 1 of the Millennium Development Goals (MDG) of the United Nations, which is to eradicate extreme hunger and poverty, is the KALAHI-CIDSS.
“The government strongly supports the initiative to scale up CDD into a national strategy. CDD ensures that programs integrate the principles of local empowerment, participatory governance, demand responsiveness, administrative autonomy, greater downward accountability, and enhanced local capacity,” Falcon added.
The government’s extensive reforms in terms of enhancing transparency and accountability is magnified by improving the delivery of basic social services to poor areas through KALAHI-CIDSS’ built-in transparency mechanism wherein volunteers are taught to effectively manage the grant funds awarded to them.
The WB team was pleased with the outcome of their mission mentioning that “there is a strong message that LGUs have a sense of ownership of the project which is very insightful in terms of learning the process and not just the provision of sub-projects.”
“I am happy to note that many of the observations in the past, the project as designed has been able to fulfill practically all of its objectives,” Falcon noted.
Strengthening third party monitoring
Some civil society organizations (CSOs) in the region were invited in a consultation-dialogue with the WB and the NPMT of DSWD to encourage stakeholder participation and enjoin them in the monitoring process of KALAHI CIDSS.
The government is calling for CSO participation in governance, monitoring and feedback. This is still in keeping with what is stipulated in the Philippine Development Plan that is, to foster transparency and accountability in infrastructure development, the government shall encourage the active participation and scrutiny of CSOs.
These CSOs are already installed in areas in the region wherein KALAHI-CIDSS is implemented. Majority of them expressed their support in the sustainability aspect of the project, their involvement in the identification of sub-projects, disseminating information and advocacy work, and monitoring.
WB consultant and social development specialist, Susan Wong shared her expertise and provided technical assistance to the RPMO on managing and institutionalizing third party monitoring.
In her active work for WB and previous NGO work, Wong imparted the major goals of third party monitoring, namely: it enhances the transparency of the program; it’s a good way to provide independent, non-biased observations that can lead to better decision-making; and it builds capacities for CSOs and community monitoring groups as independent watchdogs of the government.
“Philippines has one of the most active community monitoring groups in the world and the government just needs to build on these goals,” she stated.
As to ensuring the authenticity of the results and quality control mechanism Wong said that “in the Indonesia CDD program, monthly progress reports at all government levels are very important – a lot of discussion with someone from the central office and checks-and-balances along the way will ensure that.”
“It is a balance between being open and being sure what we want from the CSO,” Padua added.
It has been found out in studies that a part of the solution to the governance problem lies outside the government itself. Enjoining the CSOs in the project will enable them to become partners of government and makes the government more responsive to the needs of the citizens.
“In the next term of the CSO three-year basic sector of the National Anti-Poverty Commission, they are more than willing to continue monitoring and evaluating the KALAHI-CIDSS project. I’m very optimistic that KALAHI-CIDSS will continue to fulfill its objectives and I have seen this in the enthusiasm of the PIAC, MIAC, and the participation of the barangay leaders in the project implementation,” Falcon concluded. ### (Social Marketing Unit)