Tuesday, June 24, 2008

More Information on Decentralization Project in Nepal --

The following paragraphs have some more info on the context of Decentralization Support Programme in Nepal, taken from this link.

Region: Asia
Thematic Focus: Constitutional Reform, Popular Participation
Country: Nepal

Context

UNDP has been supporting the process of decentralization in Nepal since 1982, initially supporting the formulation of the Decentralization Act. In 1989, UNDP project entitled "Strengthening Decentralization Planning" assisted the government in preparing the currently existing local government laws and national policies related to decentralization, rural development, and NGOs, including the District Development Act, Village Development Act, and the Municipal Act. The "Supporting Decentralization in Nepal" project, funded by UNDP and executed by the government through its national planning commission secretariat, was approved in January 1993 and is now completed.

The "Supporting Decentralization in Nepal" project was formulated to address three issues fundamental in preventing the majority of rural inhabitants from benefiting from development activities:

Lack of information to guide local decision-making;
Continued control of development resources by central bureaucracies; and
Continued lack of accountability to the people.

Key Factors

To address the above three issues, the project helped to enhance the capacity of "National Planning Commission" to formulate, promote, and monitor the implementation of liberalizing policies in support of rural development and, secondly, to enhance the capabilities of local elected bodies in six districts to effectively plan and manage local development activities through cooperation with government line agencies, NGOs and user's group (through a participatory development approach). As a result and a direct follow-up to this initiative, the project " Participatory District Development Project - PDDP" was approved in 1995 - covering the original 6 districts as well as 14 new districts.

Primary emphasis in PDDP is given to promoting decentralized, participatory development, by mobilizing civic institutions (including the private sector, women's organizations, NGOs and community-based organizations), local authorities with support from the National Planning Commission and the Ministry of Local Development.

A programme entitled: "The Local Governance" has also been designed to supplement the efforts of PDDP by branching out its activities to additional 20 districts. The programme is developed to:

Develop an information system for District Development Committees (DDCs);
Assist DDC to practice and institutionalize a participatory approach to planning for district development;
Practice and institutionalize a participatory approach to monitoring the progress of development initiatives and measuring the impact made on local development based on information derived from beneficiaries themselves;
Incorporate an accounting system in the DDC to monitor the use of development; and
Use alternative, innovative ideas to improve implementation management tools.
Although the Local Governance initiative will use the same programme ideas as the PDDP, to avoid over-burdening the PDDP's management, they will form a joint umbrella programme.

Main Lessons

The main lessons and benefits from the Nepalese experience can be summarized as:

UNDP's catalytic role in support of decentralization not only enhanced participation and empowerment through capacity building and by being responsive to local needs, but it also contributed to UNDP's own SHD-oriented project pipeline development;
Accountability is possible through strengthening various tiers of power - as exemplified by the District's growing awareness of both their rights and their responsibilities;
Voice and choice were enhanced - local communities were empowered to direct their own development agendas with assistance of UNDP;
Decentralization did not take place in vacuum - democracy, economic liberalization of the economy and privatization were all part of it;
Decentralization has encouraged foreign donors to invest through local governments, and so has had a ripple effect on other programmes;
The concept of ownership is crucial - it is an effective method of mobilizing development resources in rural areas - contrasting strongly with many "policy dialogue" type projects funded by donor agencies which can be confrontational and impose a set of beliefs on resistant officials;
Formation of policies is not enough - decentralization needs a strong political commitment with a legal basis; and
Decentralization is an incremental long-term process; there is no quick fix solution to institutional building.

For full reporting on UNDP's support of the decentralization process in Nepal see:

Participatory District Development, Village Development Through Social Mobilization - The Beginning…., NPC/MLD/UNDP NEP/95/008

UNDP's Support to Democratic Decentralization in Nepal, Paul Lundberg, UNDP Islamabad, March 1997 (available electronically on UNDP's MDGD Web -site)

Nepal - Supporting Decentralization (NEP/92/027) Report of the Evaluation Mission, Richard Huntington and Pradip P. Upadyay, November 1995

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