Coordinating the DELGOSEA Thailand Team – Interview with the Former National Coordinator for Thailand, Tharee Kamuang

Coordinating the DELGOSEA Thailand Team – Interview with the Former National Coordinator for Thailand, Tharee Kamuang
27/06/2012

Thailand

Interview with Ms Tharee, the former national coordinator for Thailand.

Ms Tharee, you have worked closely with all the four pilot cities. What is your view on their selection, their performance and the challenges they faced when implementing best practices?

In my opinion, Thailand was very lucky to have four cities selected as pilot cities - and since the local government in these four cities performed even better than I had expected them to, this trust in the Thai system was well justified. If there was a challenge, it was in the political realm, since not all local governments were ready to adapt to political changes and carry out reforms. We were fortunate, however, in that none of the pilot cities faced problems with getting the project budget approved and all the best practice implementations could be sufficiently financed.

At least three of the pilot cities are definitely going to continue with the projects they have started – the activities in Yala, Chiang Rai and Pakkret seem to be well integrated into the development plan as well as the budget of the cities. It is not yet clear whether the same will happen in Songkhla, there seem to be some administrative issues that first have to be resolved.

DELGOSEA is all about networking and exchanging best practices and working together with partners – would you agree? What do feel local governments can learn from the project and who were your main strategic partners?

Absolutely, the networking character of DELGOSEA was a very important element for us in Thailand. The project replication in four cities was really a catalyst for larger developments in all these cities; being part of a network, working with partners definitely supported that process. The cities have gained a lot of experience in project implementation and are planning to apply the transfer process, including working with the logical framework and strategic partners, as part of next year’s development plan.

Lessons for other Thai local governments are numerous. DELGOSEA has worked closely with the regional learning network on good urban and environmental practices that has been developed by the Municipal League of Thailand (MLT) since 2005. This is a good forum for both best practice and pilot cities to share their experiences with other local governments and it would be great if KAS and UCLG ASPAC were able to continue their support for such exchanges.

In terms of strategic partners, there were a number of people and organisations that played a decisive role in the successful implementation of the projects in the four cities. These include local universities, who shared technical knowledge and assisted the training process in all cities, as well as the city coaches, whose unwavering support and technical expertise were of great help to the cities.

Would you recommend to others to use the DELGOSEA methodology? Which parts of the DELGOSEA methodology worked for you and which ones didn’t?

I would definitely recommend the DELGOSEA approach! What worked really well for me were the transfer concept development, the coaching approach as well as the logical framework and monitoring – it gives a structure to the project and makes it easy to see if one is on track with the activities or if there are problems arising. The study visits from the pilot cities to their best practice partners were also extremely useful in bringing alive the replications and truly inspiring the task force of the pilot cities.

Slightly problematic was that we did not quite manage to implement the transfer concept and the logical framework properly, which means that the method, good as it was, did not work perfectly. The coaches, however, made up for that and the training that they gave to municipal staff was very helpful in encouraging them to persevere and to help the cities solve problems.

If you were in a position to start this whole project all over again – what would you do differently next time?

There are some important lessons that I have learnt as the coordinator for the DELGOSEA team in Thailand over the last 2 years. I would definitely allow the pilot cities more time to choose the best practice city that they want to replicate. It was only when the process was quite well advanced that I realised how important that step is – the most successful replications were the ones where the best practice was well matched to what the pilot cities wanted to achieve. I also feel that we should not forget about the best practice cities once the pilot cities have selected some of them. They should be given more of a role in the replication process. Some of the best practices, especially the ones that were not chosen to be replicated, were wondering how they benefited from the project and what their role was. I tried to recruit at least one staff member from each best practice city to become a coach for a pilot city, so that they would continue to feel involve and could strike up a relationship with a pilot city.

Finally, I would like to add that I felt very well supported in my endeavours, both by the DELGOSEA project office in Manila, but also from MLT, our local government association, and by colleagues from other countries – DELGOSEA really did feel like a family, and I very much enjoyed my time with the project.


More DELGOSEA Interviews on www.DELGOSEA.eu: