End Evaluation of the Decentralised Local Governance Support Programme (DLGSP) in Nepal
|Published:||October 2009 by Norad|
|Commissioned by:||UNDP and the Royal Norwegian Embassy, Kathmandu|
|Carried out by:||Ueli Meier, Scanteam; Harihar Prasad Acharya; Neeta Thapa Shrestha|
|Series:||Norad collected reviews 13/2009|
|Tags:||Nepal, Governance and democracy|
Several donors have supported the Government of Nepal in developing and implementing policies and plans on decentralisation since 1990. The program DLGSP, started in 2004, supported by UNDP and Norway, is a successor to two directly related earlier programmes and a bridging phase implemented by UNDP, and the largest decentralisation and rural development project ever in Nepal. The programme document proposed a 3‐pronged strategy. At the community level (micro level), it implemented the social‐mobilisation based “Village Development Programme,” (VDP), which is the main focus of the DLGSP. At the district level (meso level), the programme supported capacity development of local bodies to improve service delivery, particularly in the devolved sectors. At the central level (macro level) it assisted the Ministry of Local Development and the National Planning Commission in strengthening institutional mechanisms for policy and monitoring functions.
The programme was designed to scale‐up and to improve on various aspects of the earlier interventions, in particular the bridging phase which provided experiences from 100 VDCs (Village Development Committees). Coverage was to be extended to reach 1,000 VDCs in 66 districts, reaching a target of 90% of all households. With this, it was the largest decentralisation and rural development project ever in Nepal. A mid‐term review was conducted in 2006, and implementation of its recommendations resulted in significant changes to the programme. Micro‐credit activities were discontinued, and the coverage target of 1,000 VDCs was reduced to 880, as it had been found that resources were spread too thinly.
- DLGSP is a successful and large scale continuation of previous programmes addressing local governance, social mobilisation, empowerment, and strengthening of sustainable livelihoods in remote and rural Nepal. It has been designed based on relevant previous experience, and its implementation took place during very difficult phases of the conflict, and entirely in the absence of elected local government. The programme deserves credit for what it achieved under these circumstances.
- There are many factors that have hindered more explicit effectiveness and success of the programme. Conflict related threats to participants. Numerous blockages (bandhas) that caused delays. The absence of government personnel or the lack of its leadership and authority. The lack of opportunities and shortage of funds. Dysfunctional planning and decision processes, but also work overload and limits to capacities and capabilities at many levels of programme implementation. Overall cost‐efficiency is found marginally moderate. The lack of time and capacity has meant that standard approaches/packages were employed to address the situation of the poorest, instead of differentiated approaches in consideration of varied causes of poverty.
- At all levels, except in Local Development Fund (LDF) staff, it has been possible to mainstream gender number‐wise. Parity has been achieved in many regards, and awareness of the importance of gender sensitivity is high. On the other hand, what effect this has had on the socio‐economic status and empowerment of women is uncertain, as specific monitoring and reporting does not exist. Inclusion of disadvantaged groups on the other hand has remained elusive. The programme has not achieved its ambitious targets.
- Social Mobilisation (SM) and facilitation of access to resources are essential and effective tools of the Village Development Programme. The combination of the two is important in order to make socio‐economic changes possible. SM is considered highly successful, while giving access to resources has been constrained in many ways. The latter is responsible for uneven impact across groups.
- The formation of Community Development Funds, in essence moving the support function of the LDF at the district level to the village level, appears highly relevant in bringing resources in terms of facilitation, training and funding closer to the people in a more democratic manner. However, this move was relatively late in the programme’s history, and the process has not been completed in more than one third of all districts.
- It is discernible in the programme that it is possible to develop and implement soundvgeneral principles of Good Governance, regardless or despite of constraining existing institutional structures. If people have ownership of such principles, and find ways of applying them, it makes the system of local governance resilient to the failure and changes of institutions.
- The programme design and implementation have not included any element of quality standards and quality assurance, neither in the expression of programme intentions, nor in the operationalisation and monitoring of the programme. The lack of quality requirements and standards, and the subsequent lack of quality assurance principles and guidelines, is perhaps the one major deficiency of the programme. As a result, valu formoney is often a questionable aspect, and sustainability of many of the outcomes is adversely affected.
- The programme has been effective in many regards in an operational sense, and it has remained so even when local government was not present due to the conflict.
- Too broad, not deep enough? Any successful programme of decentralisation in Nepal comes under pressure of replication, as there are so many that need to be reached. The DLGSP has fallen victim to such pressures, self‐imposed or otherwise. Even though the ambition to reach one thousand VDCs has been reduced over time, social mobilisation has continued on a large scale. This has happened at the cost of depth, or in other words has diverted attention and resources from quality aspects, as seen in the previous finding.
- Monitoring and reporting, even though data collection is elaborate, appears to have two shortcomings. It is not specific enough with regard to the programme key areas of concern and emphasis. There are no qualitative aspects in reporting, as a consequence of the absence of any quality criteria.