: / Analytics / Local Governance Assessment in Kyrgyzstan (2005)

Kyrgyzstan Review, 10 years ago


At the time that pilot project was funded, it had represented a considerable departure from the WBs usual projects and a relatively new venture for LSGs in Kyrgyzstan. Given this and the fact that it was originally conceived of as a pilot project, the project has been evolving and refining its approach and systems as it unfolds and new ideas or lessons emerge. The following conclusions of the assessment and strategic recommendations need to be viewed through the same lensthat of experimentation and learning.
1. Capacity building activity initiated by project had increased the competence of AOs and AKs in the local budget process. The pilot AOs which had passed specific trainings outlined in the baseline study became more proficient in budget-related issues. Although village residents and various community groups do not have much information about budgetary decisions taken by the AO, they ranked satisfactory the level of budgetary literacy of the AO staff and AK deputies. This means that AOs are becoming capable of effective budgeting and management of local resources.
2. The citizens can better influence the main budgetary decisions. The assessment indicated that citizens from pilot sites now have a voice in the key budgetary decisions. After the assessment it was clear that citizens can be active and demand quality budgeting procedures. As a result, the project should concentrate more on the development of information sharing mechanisms between AOs and citizens. Greater transparency might be achieved through information channeling to the public through the proven budget hearings, information stands, and public announcements in the local mass media. By increasing public access to the key budgetary decisions, the project may facilitate the preparation of effective budgets.
3. Increased citizens trust in the local governance reforms and the ability of AOs to do effective budgeting are apparent in the piloting AOs. Lack of transparency and accountability of AOs may not be a priority issue for the next phase in the Northern pilots. This may still be necessary for the Southern pilots since the assessment indicated that some leaders retain an authoritarian approach to budget planning and are not accountable on key decisions. It is also important to point out that AO staff and citizens are now able to voice their claims and press for local reforms.
4. The interaction between AO leadership/staff and district finance departments is still not well justified and formulated. This results in obstacles to effective budget planning. The web of relations between the AOs and District controlling units should be reviewed and considered in the planning of activities in the pilots. One possible way to solve the issue with non sanctioned interventions from the district state body is to provide the latter with more information on the pilot project activity. Possible tools for such information sharing could be the facilitation of a round table meeting between AOs and district finance units devoted to discussion of the problems they usually encounter. These meetings could be formalized through documented agreements.
5. The Northern pilots have more capacity to do effective budget planning and management. The key elements of their strengths are the budget literacy of the AO leaders and the activity of AK members. The participation of the citizen in decision making process is also high. The remarkable experience of the Southern pilots is a significant shift in approach to the budget planning. The AOs in the South are now more proficient in the budgeting processes than they were at the beginning of the project. The projects next phase should emphasize activities related to the different approaches to capacity development in each region.
6. The Local Governance Performance Indicators were developed only to assess the local budgetary processes. It will be possible to assess local governance and monitor it constantly if the set of performance indicators will be expanded. The present set for assessing the local budgetary process has passed through several development stages (elaboration and discussions, field testing, practical implementation, discussion) before a refined version was ratified.
This version of the performance indicators should be verified again and adopted before the next assessment takes place. The criteria that should be used for the next stage are the following:
The performance indicators should be updated and revised, building on those that were used for the baseline and present assessments.
A number of indicators, such as participation of different age groups, and different nationalities in the decisions process, could be added.
The set of indicators should be refined based on the three main dimensions of local budgeting: capacities of the AO to budget efficiently; citizens participation levels; and accountability and transparency of the AO bodies.
The indicators should be verified once again with the project team and key stakeholders.
The indicators should be once again tested with AO leaders, AK and community members.
7. The projects strategy is formulated broadly and should place more emphasis on building the capacities of AOs in the budgeting process. There is a need to develop a more deliberate and well-defined strategy, taking into account many of the lessons learned from the pilot project so far. It is clear that the demand for trainings on budgeting skills is growing in the non-piloting AOs, while the pilot AOs require more advanced trainings on the specific skills that might be useful in preparation of quality budgets. According to the consultant, the projects strategy should clearly articulate in what way the project will continue to develop its operations. There are two foreseable strategies at this stage:
a. Expand the piloting more broadly through the involvement of new AOs and their capacity development. This should address new coverage areas where these AOs will be the most advanced in terms of budgeting issues.
b. Continue to work with the existing pool of the pilot AOs to implement more capacity building activities by introducing an advanced budget management methodology, training modules and promoting citizen participation in the decision making process.
Special consideration should be given to the number and quality of trainings which AOs receive. The staff of the AO and AK should fulfill their roles in establishing transparent and accountable budgets. The project activities in the next stage should also concentrate on a review of the present training modules and an assessment of the trainers skills. This may help to facilitate more active participation of the citizens in the trainings.