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Pulling the Strings – the Role of the National Coordinators

Pulling the Strings – the Role of the National Coordinators
14/09/2012

Indonesia

At times it must have felt like being at the centre of a spider’s web – the national coordinator for each DELGOSEA project countries was the person keeping the show on the road, working with each pilot as well as best practice city, liaising with media, academia and civil society and, last but not least, being in constant contact with the DELGOSEA headquarters in Manila. Let’s hear how they experienced DELGOSEA.

Being in close touch with the pilot cities and often also involved in the selection of these cities, the national coordinators had strong views on how successful the selection process had been. Ms Tharee Kamuang from Thailand expressed her satisfaction: “We were fortunate that none of the pilot cities faced problems (…) 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.” The coordinator for Indonesia, Ms Natalis Padang, agreed that, even with hindsight, the right cities were selected to be pilot cities, even though one of the four “needs to improve their performance to achieve the best results.” Do Hau, the Vietnamese coordinator was also full of praise for the Vietnamese cities, enthusing that “the Eco-savers program was successful beyond expectations in Vinh city.”

After two years of project activities, there is of course much to reflect upon, and the lessons learnt are numerous. As Natalis Padang from Indonesia put it eloquently: “Strong leadership and management, clear strategic decisions, clear roles and responsibilities as well as expectations of the local government are things that can be learnt by other local governments.” Mr Min Muny from Cambodia was equally forthright when he said, “other sub-national administrations in Cambodia could learn that while waiting for policy to be rectified/clarified, they could act with own initiatives through consultations with local stakeholders and respond to the needs of the citizens.” This clearly shows how much the strong people participation element of the DELGOSEA project was appreciated locally. As was the methodology, according to Tharee Kamuang: “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.” Dr. Antonio Avila made a very valuable point when arguing that the pilot cities had learned to work with other countries: “Replicating the best practice from other countries is a more challenging experience as it is transnational compared to sharing of best practices within the country.”

In general, there was satisfaction with the DELGOSEA methodology. Natalis Padang stated: “I would recommend the DELGOSEA methodology to others for the reason that it is effective in preparing and managing the BP replication”, a sentiment that was echoed by Prof. Do Hau from Vietnam who felt that “this method should be widely disseminated for other cities in the future.” There was also much praise for the study tours, which according to Tharee Kamuang “were also extremely useful in bringing alive the replications and truly inspiring the task force of the pilot cities.” However, quite a few coordinators agreed with Antonio Avila’s comment that “exchange visits of the pilot cities to BP cities should be done before the formulation of the transfer concept plan.”

But, if one could start all over again, is there anything the coordinators would do differently? Tharee: “I would definitely allow the pilot cities more time to choose the best practice city that they want to replicate.” This view was echoed by Antonio Avila who also felt that “the LGAs (…) should have been   involved early in the project implementation. The coaches should have been given more opportunity to work with pilot cities as part of the LGA’s regular program.” Natalis drew on the experiences the Indonesian cities made with the local budgeting process when she suggested that one should “set the project agreement with the local government before the fiscal year’s planning budgeting phase starts. This is important so the local government can include the replication budget in their planning and budgeting document.” The budgeting process had clearly also been an issue in Cambodia from where Min Muny advised that one should „decentralize decision-making to coordination office/partners, especially on the budget.“

Taking a slightly more personal approach, Do Hau said that he “would be more active in developing plans to implement the entire project from the beginning and preparing plans in detail for each phase of the project and for each month.” Last but not least, Tharee made an important point when she reflected, “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.”

The last word should go to Antonio Avila, though, whose sentiments were shared by everybody: “On a personal note, the friendship and camaraderie especially those with other countries that developed during the project was really an invaluable experience.”


Read more from the Coordinators on www.DELGOSEA.eu: