Working together – acting effectively
Innovative approaches of Communities Programme
Communities Programme being UNDP multi-year initiative , has been providing support to the population of the Republic of Tajikistan for over 10 years to improve the economic welfare, address social issues, develop entrepreneurship, create new jobs, increase capacities for all sectors of the society towards more effective and sustainable local development.
Communities Programme is a key guide of UNDP ideas and initiatives at the local level, which relies both on the national and local authorities, entrepreneurs, representatives of wider population. Due to such deep involvement, the Programme managed to instill a sense of ownership to beneficiaries, achieve positive outcomes and ensure their future sustainability. Thus, in collaboration with the national and local partners, the Communities Programme has introduced new approaches of local development which already bear the results.
It should be noted that because of the mid-term planning methodology, developed jointly with the Ministry of Economic Development and Trade of the Republic of Tajikistan introduced in 65 jamoats and 36 towns and districts of the country, the local authorities now have clear vision of the future priorities linked with economic and social development, infrastructure, environment protection and sources of funding are identified and determined, and now every year they are trying to ensure implementation of mid-term programs to improve well-being of local population. To support the implementation of development programmes at the local level the instruments such as the Trust Fund mechanism, have been introduced, which provided support to 131 local development projects over two years in Sughd region. To improve business environment and support the implementation of national reforms at the local level, a tool for dialogue between the public and private sectors in the form of Councils has been introduced, which proved its relevance and importance. To assess local development, innovative approaches, which include public hearings on development programs implementation involving all sectors of society, local economy performance indicators, where entrepreneurs can express their views on the existing barriers and development context, etc have been introduced.. To assess the level of public service delivery the program made efforts to introduce approach on Communitiy Score Cards, which was first applied to assess the drinking water and education services. As part of the territories improvement and promotion, for the first time UNDPdeveloped a regional brand for Sughd region, which will be a premise for further scaling out to other regions of the country.
The entrepreneurs were not kept out of focus. The program continues to improve the issues with business support and enhance their access to finance through the business challenge fund mechanism, introducing the issues of product quality improvement, elimination of administrative barriers to improve business environment at the national and local levels. Given the relevance of public-private partnership in the Republic of Tajikistan, the Program is taking steps to introduce the elements of public-private partnership at the local level, drawing the example of management of drinking water supply, utilities and other areas of economic management, which will continue to develop rapidly.
Significant efforts has been made in terms of mainstreaming of sustainable development issues, environmental protection and disaster risk management, which are seen as cross-cutting issues in all projects implemented by the program. It is also important to note that the establishment of the Disaster Risk Reduction Fund represents partnership between the public and private sector to support initiatives aimed at preventing the risks of natural disasters.
We hope that through being aware on the approaches of Communities Programme, the population of the country will have more opportunities for further cooperation in terms of expansion and implementation of projects of the Programme in other regions of the country. Current programme activities is the base for tomorrow sustainable development. We believe that our approach will increasingly improve and benefit the population of the country. We keep striving to be closer to the community, work together and to inform the community on the achieved results. To this end in January we have opened our page in Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/undp.cp.tj), where you can also become familiar with the results of our activities. Follow the development with us!
Communities Programme Manager, UNDP Tajikistan
How to encourage investment in local initiatives?
Sustainable social and economic development of the country can be achieved by creating an enabling environment that encourages the development processes at the local level.
The needs assessment and prioritization of local development plays a key role in achieving this goal, which also includes supporting local initiatives to implement these priority tasks. Effective implementation of local initiatives is obviously linked to resources’ provision.
There are numbers of approaches applied in the world in addressing socio-economic issues to meet the needs of the population. Each country has unique mechanisms applied to the development processes and improving the living standards of citizens. Traditionally, different methods to implement the development priorities of both national and local importance are applied in Tajikistan. These are primarily the state budget funds of various levels, international aid, contributions of the private sector and civil society. However, as noted above, the fiscal capacity is limited and international assistance is temporary in nature and investments of private are not always committed to investing in public sector. Therefore, there is a need to integrate the efforts of all possible funds generating actors of the society. This is the only way to ensure joint solution of social and economic challenges.
To this end, in 2010 the UNDPin collaboration with the executive authority of state power of Sughd region as part of Rural Growth Programme implementation, financed by the UK Department for International Development (DFID) introduced a Trust Fund mechanism to finance priority projects resulting from the districts and jamoats development programs in 14 rural areas of the region. Trust Funds represent a tool that allows diversify the sources of financing and is built upon trust and willingness of the parties to joint cooperation. In other words, this mechanism is a tool that stimulates mobilization of resources from all sources to implement local development priorities.
As a result of the Trust Fund mechanism implementation over the last two years the local authorities managed to attract funds from international organizations, the private sector, civil society and the funds of the regional and district budgets into the process of local development priorities implementation. The advantage of this mechanism is that it allows different social actors focus efforts on a joint solution of certain social and economic problems. Over the period of the Trust Fund mechanism implementation 131 sub-projects have been implemented for a total amount about 20 million somoni, half of which represents the contribution to local communities and the private sector.
The effectiveness of the Trust Fund mechanism can be seen in its implementation in the districts of Zeravshan Valley. Over the last two years, transport and irrigation infrastructure have been rehabilitated in ten mountain villages, irrigation water system was renovated and contributed to improveover 1600 hectares of dehkan farm lands, which provided the access to irrigation water and land reclamation. In addition, support was provided to small businesses to organize sewing workshops. As a result, more than 70 new jobs were created, which is an important indicator for the mountainous and remote areas.
It should be noted that in two years of the project implementation, the Trust Fund has demonstrated its effectiveness in promoting resource mobilization and concentration of efforts of authorities, civil society and the donor community to jointly address the socio-economic challenges and support local development processes.
Promoting dialogue to support local economic development
The practice shows that the countries paying more attention to improvement the business environment achieve notable success in terms of production of goods and services, creation of new jobs, attraction of investment, which ultimately leads to economic development.
In this context, it is important to stress upon the state’s role in implementing the policies to support entrepreneurship and its involvement into review process of economic development issues and decision-making. It is stipulated by the increasing role of the private sector in economic development. The states paying more attention to the strengthening of private sector regulation face economic problems even frequent rather than those that favor a more liberal policy. One of the tools to improve business environment and cooperation between the government and the private sector is a public-private dialogue, which is a platform to discuss and address issues related to the improvement of business and investment climate, development of the private sector and the economy as a whole. Benefits from establishment of this platform are as follows:
- Ensuring transparency and creating more trust between sectors of society
- Increasing opportunities for feedback and expertise of the private sector on policy improvement issues
- Ensuring vertical and horizontal information exchange and involvement of other government and public institutions into the process of dialogue and addressing the priority issues
- Promoting effective implementation of reforms aimed at improving the business and investment environment in the context of economic development.
Significant development of dialogue between sectors facilitated the establishment of Advisory Council in December 2007 to improve the investment climate under the President of Tajikistan. The national level Council, as well as platforms created later under the chairmen of the region served as a key link in the process of reform implementation. To ensure vertical linkage of the established Councils with the district level and promote the issues using the bottom up approach, thus ensuring the participation of entrepreneurs on the ground in the process of decision-making and reforms implementation the dialogue was facilitated at the local level .
Taking into account the need for dialogue at the local level to support reforms in the country, raising their awareness and implementation, UNDP has started to support the initiative to establish local councils during past two years. For example, two years has passed since the Advisory council on the improvement of the investment climate started to function under the chairman of Farkhor district, who is actively involved in local economic development. Three advisory Councils on local economic development have been established in Sughd region since the beginning of the last year in Isfara, Istaravhan and Panjakent towns. The first meetings of the Council hold in the districts of Sughd region demonstrated the importance and relevance for building a dialogue at the local level.
The local executive authorities and the private sector have initiated these Councils. It is obvious that regardless of the views and judgments to be expressed in the course of discussions, the basic values remain the same, namely stable socio-economic development in the community, well-being of citizens, their rights and freedoms.
Public-private dialogue at the local level proved to be relevant as it contributed to bringing together the interests of many sectors, restore confidence and stimulate the participation of other sectors in the process of local economic development, monitor and evaluate the implementation of national reforms at the local level, assist in improving the economic performance of an individual district in order to improve people’s welfare.
Initiatives to support the establishment of Councils were implemented as a part of various UNDP projects.
New approaches to the assessment of local economic development
In Tajikistan, assessment of local social and economic indicators is implemented via collection and analysis of over 250 indicators, which flow by statistical channels into local, regional and national levels for further analysis and evaluation.
The reality is that in some cases the information collected does not provide complete the development picture of a given territory being more focused on those indicators, which subsequently form the data for the calculation of the national GDP (Gross Domestic Product).
Based on the evidence, almost none of the areas independently conduct annual assessment of the local economy, the analysis of reforms implemented at the national level and the degree of perception of these changes at the local level. For example, if a reform of licensing system is held at the national level, it is necessary to determine how it changed the environment for business development at the local level. On this basis, local authorities could advance the local level proposals to the national level with respect to gaps, challenges and measures for further improvement, as well as to influence the regulators at the local level to improve their performance.
Given the scarcity of local budget and the limited capacity of local authorities in decision- making on the allocation of existing resources for research and analysis of the local economy, the proposed measures and actions should require minimal costs.
To this end, UNDP Tajikistan has initiated the implementation of a new methodology for the assessment of local economic development, titled “Assessment of Indicators of Local Economic Development (ILED)”. The need to introduce this system was preconditioned by establishment of qualitative and quantitative indicators that could provide annual indicators of local economic development based on a particular area. Another objective was to collect information from the public and business community on the level of local economy development, and business environment in order to provide a qualitative assessment of the issues linked with further development. These indicators in the future allow local authorities and the Government of the Republic to assess the development of the economy, "measure" changes to identify common trends and compare the degree of development of the various territories among themselves.
10 indicators were selected from those existing for the pilot phase to collect and analyze the district level statistical indicators. According to experts, these indicators could provide general economic characteristics of districts. It should be noted that the collection of statistical data was aimed at obtaining official information from government agencies.
An electronic survey method using the terminal was applied to assess the degree of perception of local economic development by the private sector.
According to the survey results conducted in Bobojon Gafurov district of Sughd region, one may conclude that at this stage the introduction of common indicators, which would make possible the objective assessment of the economic situation of the regions and locations, is very relevant. Introduction of single system for assessment of LED indicators and information gathering tools would help to eliminate the shortcomings in the current system of collection and analysis of information on the district’s situation, and would enable local authorities to collect timely information on economic situation, trends and respond quickly to changes in the district’s economy. In the long run, the proposed method will increase the confidence of the private sector, and predispose them for free expression and presentation of their proposals.
ILED was introduced as part of the Rural Development Programme, funded by UNDP, DFID, GIZ
Public perception - a guarantee of quality services
One of the assessment methods widely used to assess the effectiveness of public services in many Asian countries is the Community Score Cards (CSC) , which represents a dialogue between users and providers.
The quality of life is usually determined by the availability or absence of the factors such as education, health, employment and decent income, housing and food. In fact, the availability of these factors ensures the improvement of human welfare. . However, it is also important to note that in their turn these indicators of well-being are linked to the quality of public services provided to the population. Namely employment, which provides a decent income, housing, accompanied by a full package of communal utilities, healthy food, affordable education and health that shape the quality of people’s life.
Generally, the main "supplier" of the package of social services is the government. In this regard a question arises as how the quality of public services satisfies the requirement of users of these services, that is the population There are many methodologies and tools for defining the principles to assessing the level and quality of public services and impact mechanisms to improve them. The main driver in this area, which ensures quality services, is the public perception and implementation of a "feedback" mechanism. This mechanism is implemented in many ways. One of the methods widely used to assess the effectiveness of public services in many Asian countries is a community score cards method. This method was first tested in the Rasht Valley to assess the effectiveness of public services and further improve its quality.
With the support of the initiative implemented by United Nations Development Programme , the service users, namely the citizens are now able to assess the quality of services they receive from various sources. The uniqueness of this approach is that the weaknesses in the provision of services are identified together with service providers and users.
It was the first time in 2013, when the score card method was tested in the country in Rasht and Tojikobod districts to assess the quality of services in the areas of education and water supply. This method implies the involvement of users and service providers in the definition of criteria to evaluate the performance of service providers, assess the current situation in accordance with these criteria and jointly develop an action plan for improvement.
The new method allowed to establish a dialogue between service providers and users and jointly to identify gaps in service provision for taking remedial measures and improving the quality of services. Method of joint assessment and planning can be an important tool for collaboration and cooperation between providers and users.
The main aspect of the process of local development management is planning and monitoring of development with broad involvement of the population. Effective monitoring of development is impossible without tracking actual situation with the provision of basic public services using the mechanisms to ensure ongoing feedback and constructive dialogue between users and service providers. Therefore, one of the most effective mechanisms for service assessment is scorecards method.
“Currently, the main goal of the state is primarily to ensure sustainable economic growth and a gradual improvement of living standards and quality of life."
(Living Standards Improvement Strategy of the population of Tajikistan for 2013-2015).
This initiative was implemented as part of "Strengthening conflict management capacities for dialogue in conflict prone areas of Tajikistan" project, co-funded by UNDP Bureau for Crisis Prevention and Recovery.
Supporting local initiatives for disaster risk reduction
As one of the major development partners in Tajikistan, UNDP promotes work on disaster risk reduction through the implementation of measures aimed at disaster prevention and recovery.
Jamoat Chubek of Hamadoni district is located on the border with the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan. On 30 March 2013,torrential rains and hail caused significant damage and losses in villages Yangiyul, Chubek, Joilobkamar and Tugul of the jamoat. The disaster left behind 98 houses destroyed, 600 hectares of agricultural land washed away and more than 300 heads of livestock lost. The affected population was evacuated to neighboring villages.
The village Hayoti Nav with 3,300 inhabitants is located in the center of jamoat Chubek. Luckily, unlike previous years, this village escaped being affected by the flood of the end of March 2013. This is due to torrential streams mobilized into a single canal and redirected to the newly cleaned canal that operates now as a mudflow canal in case of flooding. Thanks to the newly cleaned channel, a huge amount of water easily flew down without damaging households and agricultural lands.
Thus, thanks to the efforts undertaken by UNDP as part of new initiatives on disaster risk reduction, 250 households with a population of 3,300 people and 330 hectares of agricultural land were protected from flooding. Worth noting that 1.5 km of mudflow cannal was cleaned to improve its capacity and increase the speed of water flow. How these results have been achieved and the sustainability of activities ensured?
As one of the major development partners in Tajikistan, the United Nations Development Programme promotes efforts on disaster risk reduction through the implementation of activities aimed at the prevention of natural disasters and recovery. Integrating disaster risk reduction into development programs is a new initiative, which is built on the previous achievements of UNDP collaborative efforts. For the implementation of this initiative, UNDP allocated approximately 600,000 TJS of grant to the local Microloan Organization (MLO) "Rushdi Vose". In its turn, the MLO provided affordable micro credits to 188 women from vulnerable groups to support income generation and job creation initiatives. Eighty percent of the profit derived from micro financing was used to create local Disaster Risk Reduction Fund. The Fund is administered by the Management Council, which ensures its transparent and effective management and consists of the representatives of local authorities accountable for emergency prevention, MLOs and UNDP representatives.
This initiative has been implemented in the framework of the UNDP Disaster Risk Reduction initiative. In addition, 2,220 liters of diesel was provided to jamoat Chubek from accumulated funds to clean 4 kilometer canal, drainage and the main road of Yangiyul, Chubek, Joilobkamar and Tugulum villages flooded in 2013.
Considering the achieved results, it is obvious that mainstreaming of disaster risk reduction fund into development initiatives is a unique and innovative approach that immediately and efficiently addresses the existing issues associated with natural disasters at the local level. Using the profits from microcredit activities is a new approach in financing disaster risk reduction initiatives and ensuring further sustainability of the approach. It is also important to note the corporate social responsibility and the assistance it provides to local communities in the areas it operates. Transparent and efficient fund management facilitates rapid implementation of disaster risk reduction related activities at the local level.
Based on the progress achieved as part of the pilot initiative, UNDP intends to increase funding for disaster risk management by establishing similar funds in other regions of Tajikistan to mitigate the impact of natural disasters.
Branding - a new trend in region and country promotion
Tajikistan has unique climatic conditions and abundant natural resources. Enormous labor resources, geographical location at the trade crossroads, infrastructure and the availability of international transport corridors combined with trading traditions of the local population create great opportunities for economic development.
However, the limited capacity of the state hampers financing attractive projects in the mining, energy, agriculture and tourism sectors that are most promising and need investments.
In the context of globalization and competition for investments, one of the most important factors in building country's attractiveness and finding its place in the world is the degree of its recognizability, perception that is brand, which shapes country's image.
If to recall our recent past, the civil war in Tajikistan, along with economic and social consequences, has seriously undermined to the reputation of our country. Unfortunately, this fact still continues to negatively affect the image of the country. In addition, neighborhood with Afghanistan also affects the image of the country and its regions, as many associate it with instability. Hence, there is an urgent need to create a positive image, where the regional brand has an important role in addressing this issue. According to the government representatives and the majority of analysts, the technology of doing business is not well developed in the regions of Tajikistan. In particular, it is necessary to encourage the use of modern tools that could affect the development of the economy. One of such tools is a regional brand, which could become an important factor in recognition of the territory, play a crucial role in creating a positive image in the minds of the actors, who in one way or other are familiar with the area, and change the attitude of the representatives of business circles that seek attractive projects for investment.
One of the steps, undertaken by UNDP in the country, is the initiative on improving access to the country, building a favorable image and supporting investment attraction and trade promotion. As part of this initiative, UNDP together with Sughd region authorities initiated the development of a regional brand.
The need to develop a regional brand was identified by regional administration as one of the measures to build a positive image, promoting the region to foreign markets, its produces and export opportunities that would directly contribute to the development of exports and investment, as well as the competitiveness and attractiveness of the region. Being an important part of the market economy, the regional brand should promote recognition not only of goods produced in the region, but also the locality, its production and capacity.
By interacting with the regional working group, UNDP consultants analyzed the marketing components of the branding process, customer segmentation and analysis of the competitive environment, designed “SWOT“ analysis, collected opinions of experts on Sughd region’s positioning in the media, perception by internal and external target audiences. A draft concept of the brand was developed, which includes a key communication message of the brand, its visual identity and, brand-book. In addition, there was a media plan to advertise the region’s brand prepared, spaces for outdoor advertising and the list of the most popular media, serving both the internal and the external audiences were identified.
Currently, none of the regions in Tajikistan has its own brand. Sughd region will be the first region, which will have its territorial brand. The Sughd region administration believes that the campaign on region’s branding can be an effective way of promotion and recognition of the region to attract foreign investments to its economy, export of goods and services into new markets.
In the near future, UNDP will assist other regions of country in the implementation of these initiatives, the support of which is an important prerequisite in building a positive image of the country, attracting foreign investment and promoting products and services.
This initiative was implemented by UNDP Aid for Trade project funded by the Government of Finland.