Mid-term review of PNDP : interview of Marie Madeleine NGA, the National Coordinator of PNDP

Actualité mise à jour le 07 Août 2019

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Publié initialement le 07 Août 2019


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Mid-term review of PNDP : interview of Marie Madeleine NGA, the National Coordinator of PNDP

 

 

PNDP: what prospects after the mid-term assessment carried out by the World Bank?

 

Last Thursday and Friday, under the chairmanship of Mr. Jean Tchoffo, Secretary-General of the Ministry of the Economy, Planning and Regional Development (MINEPAT), the mid-term review mission of phase 3 of PNDP (National Community-Driven Development Program) came to an end with the holding of a restitution workshop at Mont Febe Hotel. Launched on 21st May, the said mission dwelt around four (04) main aspects, namely:

 A field visit; a restitution workshop on the mid-term review report and brainstorming on the Program’s intervention guidelines;  audiences held at MINEPAT and MINDDEVEL.

The field visit took place from the 21st to 25th May 2019, by two PNDP/World Bank’s joint teams broken down as follows: one team for the East and Adamawa regions, and another one for the West and Littoral regions. The restitution and exchange workshop on the intervention guidelines of the Program which was scheduled to take place from the 06th to 07th June 2019, regrouped sector-based administrations amongst which MINDDEVEL as well as a few actors/stakeholders involved in the implementation of the Program. 

 

1°) Madam the National Co-ordinator, what are your impressions after this mid-term assessment of the third phase of the Program? 

 

The mid-term review is a normal process as far as the implementation of a program or a project is concerned. It is part and parcel of the monitoring/evaluation mechanism put in place with a view to analyzing the results achieved in terms of the targeted objectives, identifying the internal and external factors which are likely to have impacted on the Program’s performances, thereby proposing corrective measures.

It is an exercise to which we have been often confronted with and whose aim is to sit back and take stock of the path covered so far. The most important thing is to always be able to capitalize on the eventual discrepancies noticed, since perfection is not attainable. The Program which is on a regular basis acting as a laboratory of experimentation often needs such an exercise in order to fine-tune its strategy and achieve its relevant mission towards councils. 

We therefore pay a special attention to the results to be achieved by the mid-tem review, inasmuch as it is intended, like the previous ones, to boost the approach, thereby ensuring a better deployment of the Program. 

 

2°) What balance sheet can be made as to the Program’s actions you have been co-ordinating so far? 

 

It is worth noting that reaching a third phase, as far as projects and programs are concerned, is not only a sign of satisfaction from the Government, the Technical and Financial Partners, but also from the beneficiaries such as councils and grass-roots communities.

It is of utmost importance to underscore that the passage from one phase to another shall be dependent upon triggers which are referred to as the evaluation indicators to be met in order to justify the continuation of the Program. 

Various independent assessments have confirmed the preliminary and highly encouraging results and impacts so far achieved by PNDP. According to the National Institute of Statistics (INS), the achievements secured by PNDP during its first phase have significantly contributed to improve the living conditions of more than one million Cameroonians living in rural areas.

To date, 329 councils out of 360 in Cameroon have been drilled on how to elaborate their Communal Development Plans (CDPs), whereas the 31 remaining others are under the elaboration phase. Operational and efficient, such an invaluable steering and planning tool at the council level has enabled to identify and co-finance, throughout the 10 regions of the country, over 6,000 micro-projects in as many areas as education, hydraulics, health, commercial equipment, agriculture, rearing, management of natural resources, etc..

While waiting for the results of  the updated assessment of the Program’s impacts, the data recorded four years ago point out that such micro-projects have generated the following impacts: 314, 700 persons now have access to potable water thanks to the construction or rehabilitation of over 467 water points; 250, 000 persons now have access to electricity thanks to the electrification of over 50 localities; 166, 000 pupils now study under better conditions thanks to the construction of over 274 class rooms; 95, 000 persons now have access to health care units thanks to the construction and equipment of 32 integrated health centres ; new roads have been open up in remote areas so as to ease the living conditions of 125, 000 persons. Such persons have been distributed in 100 villages thanks to the construction of 160 km of rural roads and 80 bridging works such as bridges, culverts and gutters).

The Program has equally implemented several specific operations, namely:

        The Medicinal Plants Management Project which has contributed to the training of over 900 persons in the inventory techniques and in the sustainable management techniques of medicinal plants; 

        The Sustainable Management of Land and Agro-Sylvo-Pastoral Project, well known by its French acronym as « PGDT »; close to 293 micro-projects have been implemented with a view to reversing the land degradation trend within 20 councils located in the North, Adamawa, Centre and West regions; 

        The Labour-intensive Project (LIP) which is gradually implemented in the Far-North region, thereby enabling thousands of youths to settle in their respective localities and providing them with development means as well as socio-economic insertion means;

        The community-based radio Project which has contributed to the creation of 12 community-based radios for and on behalf of councils and to the rehabilitation of the existing eight (08) radios; 

        The process of reduction of the emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD) in favour of five (05) councils and a grouping of councils which has significantly contributed, inter alia, to:

-        The reforestation of over 450, 000 forestry plants on over 3,000 hectares in the safe spaces located in the North, West and South-West regions;

-        The construction of seven (07) solar-powered boreholes; 

-        The construction of fifteen (15) improved smokehouses alongside 105 staff drilled on how to use them, as well as the distribution of 1,500 improved stoves within the project zones;

-        The drawing up of the planning tools and of the  local governance in terms of natural resources; 

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        One should not forget to mention the agri-pastoral component of the Program which is funded by the European Development Fund (EDF) through a management delegation to the French Development Agency. Such a delegated financing from the European Union which is earmarked for the 11th EDF, shall in particular target 93 councils out of the 13 divisions from the four regions of Cameroon, namely : the Far-North, North, Adamawa and East. One of the main stakes of the Project remains the design of a land planning and investment programming mechanism which is called upon to complete the one relating to the Communal Development Plans (CDPs). Such a mechanism which is earmarked for the support to the economic development and to land development shall be called upon to take into account the local specificities as well as the support to be provided to the local agricultural sub-sectors. In this connection, a study carried out by an international consulting firm is underway, and is likely to propose (i) a methodological Land Planning Guide, (ii) an experimental Land Development Plan (LDP), (iii) as well as a Deployment Plan of the said approach at the national level.   

PNDP has equally significantly contributed to the technical and operational capacity-building of councils. At the technical level, such strengthening has enabled to improve, inter alia, the planning and interventions capacities along with the support from the two (02) communal executives in charge of technical issues, finance, own incomes, modernization of the budget and accounting chain, respectively, along with the implementation of the SIM_ba software package which has been provided by the International Association of French-speaking Mayors (AIMF). With regard to the operational level, the councils’ interventions and monitoring capacities have been strengthened through the granting of 360 Yamaha brand motorbikes dubbed AG100; 329 of which will be handed over to the targeted councils, whereas 31 will be handed over to the Social Action Services charged with implementing the Pygmies People Development Plan (PPDP). In addition, 329 complete computer machines have been distributed to the councils.

Furthermore, PNDP has significantly contributed to the strengthening of the legislative and regulatory framework in terms of decentralization, more specifically through the financing of a study whose results have enabled to the drafting of two (02) laws, namely: Law N0. 2009/011 of 10 July 2009 on the financial regime of the Regional and Local Authorities (RLAs) as well as Law N0.  2009/019 of 15 December 2009 on the local taxation of the RLAS. Another study on the evaluation of the needs in terms of communal staff aimed at drawing up a standard table has resulted in the adoption of Order N0. 00136/A/MINATD/DCTD of 24 August 2009. It is worth noting that such study has rendered enforceable the communal employments-related standard tables.

 

3°) which prospects for this Program whose one of the main missions revolves around providing support to the communal Project Management?  

 

The main concern of PNDP consists of fulfilling the mission assigned to it, namely: the provision of support to the project management of councils in a bid to improve on the living conditions of the populations at the grass-roots level. Since 2016, we have been experiencing the third phase of the Program, after the first two ones deemed satisfactory. It is therefore opportune to recall that the mid-term review mission gives me the opportunity to draw lessons from the past experiences, thereby making some necessary adjustments with a view to improving on the Program’s overall performance and impact. 

Consequently, in terms of prospects, the present mid-term review exercise is likely to result in drawing up a roadmap to be implemented by the end of the Program. More still, as you are all aware, based on the additional financing dubbed « IDA 18 » which was allocated by the World Bank, PNDP is expected to remain operational up till 2022; which will enable the Program to   provide a significant support to refuges as well as to their host communities from the Adamawa, North, Far-North and East regions. This new component is likely to act as a test, especially as concerns the deployment of an integrated approach in terms of planning and implementation of interventions aimed at boosting the access to health care services and education, thereby lowering the poverty level thanks to the combined and concerted action carried out along with the three (03) other Programs funded by the World Bank.

Finally, the government is involved in a brainstorming exercise which focuses on the sustainability of the PNDP’s achievements. It is worth noting that two (02) studies to be carried out by a Task Force set up by MINEPAT are underway. The results of such studies are expected to draw up a plan of action to be submitted to the Government with a view to sustainably ensuring the achievements of PNDP.  It has been agreed upon that the various partners should meet ahead of the month of October 2019 in order to scrutinize and validate the said plan.

 

4°) Last concern: Madam the National Co-ordinator, according to you, how can the Government capitalize on all the achievements of PNDP?

 

Before talking about the Government, allow me, first of all, to say something as concerns two aspects through which the experience gathered by PNDP may be capitalized on.

It goes without saying that the Council constitutes the first level in terms of the internalization and sustainability of the Program. It is worth noting that the Communal Development Plan should be rightly considered within the Council environment as the planning, federation and partnerships tool; it also constitutes a pertinent identification tool for development projects, including those sponsored by the Public Investment Budget (PIB), as provided for since 2012, by the Circular letter of His Excellency, the President of the Republic, in connection with the drawing up of the PIB. To that end, it should be noted that the Council is henceforth able to take up a good number of challenges, namely: the carrying out of the annual programming process through the drawing up of an Annual Investment Plan (AIP) based on the CDP. Thus, the choice of priority projects is made within the Municipal Council which should be rightly considered as the institutional and operational framework as far as local democracy is concerned. Similarly, the Council has now acquired the capacity to recruit and manage its staff; which may inspire the setting up of a local public service. In the same vein, the improvement of the accounting and budgetary management within councils thanks to the support provided by the  Sim_ba software package should be considered as an achievement to be consolidated.

The sector-based administrations constitute the second level of appropriation and internalization, as a result of the taking into account of some achievements of the Program in the national priorities.

Thus, within a platform framework linking MINFI to MINDDEVEL, the Audit Bench and PNDP involved themselves in the process aimed at providing support to 150 Councils, as concerns the submission of their accounts for the 2018’s fiscal year to the scrutiny of the Audit Bench in the course of the 2019’s fiscal year. Such an operation is expected to significantly improve local governance. In the same vein, MINEPAT has just put in place, on the instruction of the Head of Government, a Task Force charged with facilitating the implementation of the new modus operandi in terms of the budgeting of the public investment resources transferred to the Regional and Local Authorities (RLAs). Such a financing practice of Councils through an allocation system, which provides the latter with a drawing right on the allocated amount, and which was experimented by PNDP since its phase 2 in 2010, remains pertinent and should rather be consolidated. Another tool, namely the Participatory Development Assistance Software Package, well known by its French acronym as Pro_ADP, and which is already available and operational at the level of all Councils, shall constitute an invaluable source of data for all development actors/stakeholders. It should be recalled that MINEPAT, through its divisional services, has been exploiting the said database. Conversely, the Ministry in charge of Social Affairs keeps on strengthening the institutional mechanism jointly set up with PNDP in order to monitor the operations carried out in favour of the vulnerable native populations such as the Baka, Bagyéli, Bakola and Bedzang. Generally speaking, the implementation of PNDP has resulted in the setting up of a synergy of actions deemed satisfactory between the Councils and external services. Such a synergy has been materialized through the setting up of bodies such as the Municipal Council Extended to the External Sector-based services, well known by its French acronym as COMES, on the one hand, and the implementation of micro projects jointly sponsored by MINEPDED, MINEE, MINTP, MINEDUB, MINSANTE, MINMAP and ARMP in its capacity as the regulator of public investments, on the other hand.

Based on the deployment of the Program’s achievements during these two levels, it is worth recognizing that the Program, in its capacity as a genuine laboratory, has undoubtedly generated some principles which are gradually gaining ground within the public, local and national policies. Which is de facto tantamount to appropriating, internalizing and institutionalizing the Program’s results. However, the cases mentioned in this report are far from being exhaustive and should, in no circumstance, represent the entire good practices to capitalize on, including within the framework of policies, laws and regulations.

 At a third level, the institutionalization proper of PNDP, namely its mutation from a specified duration legal entity to a permanent institution, could therefore focus on the citizen participation and dialogue between the Council and its staff, through major activities such as: the Performance Desk at the Councils’ level - it is worth noting that the Performance Desk has been experiencing its third edition -; the Performance Desk  at the communities’ level more specifically in its pilot phase within three regions, the Citizen Control in terms of Public Action, otherwise referred to as ScoreCard; the management of grievances oriented towards the use of a free of charge phone number, the monitoring of the implementation of Endogenous Solutions within  communities. As a matter of fact, such activities significantly contribute to increasingly consolidate Responsibility, Accountability and Appropriation of the participatory processes by the grass-roots communities and their councils respectively. Such an increased responsibility through activities such as citizen engagement, notably as concerns the endogenous solutions and competitiveness between the various communities therefore constitutes the social, participatory and citizen mechanism, as far as the transformation and structuring of the men and milieu are concerned. It shall equally constitute the ideal core on which shall dwell an in-depth knowledge of our decentralization process earmarked for the service of local development, in compliance with and beyond the existing legislative and regulatory framework.

 

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