Are Tajikistani CSOs interested in monitoring of public investment projects?
Civil society in Tajikistan represents a wide spectrum of organizations, ranging from communal and neighborhood councils to more formal, officially registered public associations. Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) have increasingly been broadening their scope of activities from service delivery to monitoring public services and promoting accountable and transparent governance, particularly at the local level. Large organizations and coalitions have greater organizational capacities than smaller and rural CSOs, which can lack the necessary staff, tools, and other resources to engage in monitoring efforts.
The relatively short history (over 16 years) of civil society organizations in Tajikistan poses a risk in involving these often ad-hoc bodies in project monitoring. To mitigate CSOs' limited experience in such activities, the World Bank supported by the Governance Partnership Facility, a multi-donor trust fund, designed and implemented a number of CSO capacity building measures as part of the Fostering Demand for Good Governance Project. The project aims to broaden and deepen the Bank’s engagement with civil society to strengthen demand-side governance in Tajikistan.
The Tajikistan National NGO Association has been instrumental in facilitating the World Bank dialogue with civil society in Tajikistan through arranging and moderating a series of roundtables aimed at promoting active CSO involvement in monitoring of Bank-financed operations in the country. A pre-implementation consultation exercise conducted by the Association showed that of 165 CSOs that responded to the survey, 46% of them stated they were not involved in monitoring of public-funded or donor funded projects. Sixty five respondents (39%) identified Monitoring and Evaluation skills as one of the priority training needs for their program staff. Sixty one percent noted an interest in developing their research grant writing skills.
As of today, a total of six regional events have been held in Badakhshon, Sughd,Khatlon, Rasht and Dushanbe, which provided the participants with details of specific projects to be monitored and/or monitoring tips, with an emphasis on transparency and accountability issues in agriculture, health, education and other sectors. Over 150 CSO representatives improved their understanding of the Bank's engagement in the sectors and the Government's priorities. The roundtables also included the capacity building practical sessions to promote active CSO involvement in monitoring and evaluation of WB-financed projects.
The roundtables provided an opportunity to hold a series of intensive and constructive discussions between the Tajik CSOs, the state-run Project Implementation Units (PIUs) and the WB experts to explore the civil society’s primary concerns and interests in working in partnership to promote good governance and increase demand for accountability and transparency.
The materials disseminated at the roundtables included a brochure entitled “Good Governance: Interpretation and Implementation”, which was developed and published in the Tajik language by the Tajikistan National NGO Association. The brochure introduces governance concepts for a wide range of civil groups and describes positive examples of good governance practices throughout the world. It was the first attempt to raise public awareness on good governance approaches.
The feedback provided by participants, represented by a diverse range of CSOs, including CSO support organizations, educational service providers, consulting and information dissemination organizations and community-based institutions, was very positive. Professor Nazarov from the Municipal Staff Training Center, a non-profit organization operating in Khujand, underlined the significance of the events conducted and encouraged CSOs to enhance their credibility with stakeholders and the government.
Ms. Hurinniso Ghafforzoda, Head of the Civil Society Support Center “Oshtii Milli”, a participant of the CSO Roundtable in Rasht Valley, stated: “This event allowed us not only learn about the current situation with social accountability, the role played by the CSOs in this process, but also gave us an impulse to improve our competence and institutional capacity to meet the World Bank requirements”.
The establishment of a platform for dialogue with all state and non-state actors to promote good governance is a priority for the National NGO Association. In this regard, a final roundtable scheduled for late August, 2013 in Dushanbe will present the summarized findings and recommendations based on the regional discussions. This activity also aims to demonstrate to the Government the benefits of involving civil society in monitoring of public investment projects and policy reforms.
The materials related to this project are posted on the website of the Tajikistan National NGO Association (www.cso.tj) for access and use of all interested organizations and partners.
©Tajikistan National NGO Association
May 5, 2013