The Civil Society: Mutual Accountability Project (CS:MAP) is a five year project (April 2016-April 2021) supported by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and implemented by FHI 360. CS:MAP’s goal is to foster a more legitimate, accountable, and resilient Nepali civil society that is capable of advancing the public interest.
Integrated Rural Development Society (IRDS) Gulmi is a non-profit social development organization (NGO) established in February 2, 1995. It aims to optimize the utilization of resources for improving the life of rural communities of Nepal. IRDS works through formal and informal collaboration at multiple levels, with local community, government agencies, civil society, media and private sectors. IRDS worked with LGAF (Local Governance Accountability Facility) which sought to improve governance at the local level by fostering constructive cooperation, interaction and coordination between the citizens and the local government, and greater participation of citizens in local governance process. Similarly, IRDS also works on SUAAHARA, a project funded by USAID for good nutrition of Nepalese people. SUAAHARA program is being implemented in Gulmi district working with different multi-sectoral government and non-government agencies. In addition, IRDS is working with Heifer International with the coordination of KUBK (KisaanKa LaagiUnnatBiubijanKaryakram).
This grant to IRDSis issued under the “Policy Advocacy, Government engagement and Oversight Grants” fund to contribute to the project’s Objective 2: Improved civil society and media capacity for effective policy advocacy and government engagement; Objective 3: More coordinated and effective civil society and media oversight of public resource use and public service delivery; and Objective 4: Strengthened organizational capacity and sustainability of selected CSOs working in USAID priority sectors to advance local solutions.
In addition to providing grants toIRDS, CS:MAP through Intermediary Service Organizations (ISOs) will provide training, mentoring and other forms of assistance to strengthen their organizational and technical capacity. These capacity-building activities will be designed in response to the needs and gaps identified during Organizational Capacity Assessment(OCA) and other advocacy and GESI assessments.
Aim and Objectives: The goal of this project is to strengthen the effective civil society and media oversight of public resource use and public service delivery. To this end, IRDS will serve to achieve the following four key objectives:
Objective 1- Improved bottom up coordination between community, district, and national formal and informal CSOs engaged in public service oversight for constructive advocacy.
Objective 2 - Improved citizen use of available GON social accountability mechanisms.
Objective 3- Improved citizen engagement in media and Information and Communications Technology (ICT) tools to strengthen public participation and oversight.
Objective 4- Improved organizational capacity including institutional governance, financial sustainability, research and learning, constructive advocacy and GESI institutionalization of CSOs.
With new constitution and elections to federal, provincial and local governments, people have high expectations from the government at different levels. With devolution of ‘22 exclusive’ powers through the new constitution, local governments have huge obligations and responsibilities to serve to citizens with a wide range of services which were previously served by sectoral government agencies. With high expectations from all around in a new federal system, people are likely to face various challenges and difficulties in accessing the services in a new context. It seems that government has not been able to serve to the citizens by properly addressing their needs and concerns. This is also due to lack of awareness among the people about their entitlements and the process they should follow to access those services.
This project will be implemented in the Gulmi and Arghakhanchi districts located in the western region of Nepal. The Both these districts are generally considered to have citizenswith high political awareness but have poor access to public service delivery. CSOs in the districts are generally observed to be inclined towards existing political parties and hence, may not be playing a critical role in addressing multiple issues. Government resources and services are often inadequate, especially in areas in both districts that are very remote. The same is the case for NGOs. There are multiple challenges related to the government’s public service delivery and resource use, especially in the education, health and agriculture sector. There is ample room for IRDS to play a facilitating and catalytic role to overcome these challenges by coordinating with government and non-government organizations in these districts.
Project activities in these two districts focus on strengthening governance system of the public services delivery and public resources use in these four local governments (as sample work) and result of these works and efforts will be replicated through-out the districts. In the changed context, gaunpalikas and municipalities are going to develop their own policies, guidelines and implementing them to provide services to the public.
In this scenario, IRDS’s role will be to support local government to develop and implement policies and guidelines with inputs from the citizens and CSOs. In addition, IRDS will play a lead role to improve the role of CSOs in policy development and implementation as well. Coordination with CSOs and other like-minded organizations both at local and district level will help to ensure CSOs space in local government by increasing government engagement and oversight of public services and resources. To strengthen civic role and creating vibrant civil society, IRDS will convene regular interactions with CSOs, media, citizens, private sector, government agency which will help reinforce civic voice and role in strengthening democratic governance at district level. Advocacy and oversight functions will be carried out in the district through HEAD coalitions.
This information will then be disseminated to the community through media mobilization and community awareness campaigns with specific focus on government entitlements, subsidies and other public service provisions.
Primary Beneficiaries: The primary beneficiaries of the Project will be people from disadvantaged group, like marginalized women, elderly citizen, single women in Gulmi and Argakhanchidistricts. These groups will be benefited directly from project inputs, such as information about services and processes, training, connections and linkages.
Secondary Beneficiaries: Secondary beneficiaries are municipalities/ gaunpalika/local unit office, schools, health post, DCC, political parties including district-level civil society organisations. They will benefit because project will provide various platforms to engage with each other in promoting and demanding mutual accountability, transparency, service delivery, among others.
Result 1.1: Strengthened local CSO initiatives to coordinate with federal and local government and to implement constructive advocacy strategies
Result 1.2: CS:MAP local structures, including Common Assembly (CA), Public-Private Working Group (PPWG) and Listening, Discussion and Action Group (LDAG), are formed and brought into a functional stage
Result 1.3: Improved oversight of public services through HEAD coalitions and vibrant civil society through interactions to promote role of CSOs at district level;
Result 2.1: CSOs, community management entities and citizens are engaged in using available GON social accountability tools and mechanisms
Result 2.2: Increased level of public satisfaction with GON service delivery
Result 3.1: Increased use of ICT for oversight by the citizens, including women, youth and minorities
Result 3.2: A common platform that opens local level annual budget and plans to the public is established and brought into a functional stage
Result 4.1: Improved Organizational Capacity and/or Performance Score
Result 4.2: Improved GESI sensitive organizational GESI policy
Result 4.3: Increased Advocacy Readiness Index (ARI) Score
Result 4.4: Increased capacity of the CSO representing marginalized constituencies trying to affect GON policies or conducting GON oversight