Thursday, October 23, 2008

Governance Knowledge Centre on Capacity Building for Poverty Reduction

The Centre for the Study of Law and Governance, now a 'Governance Knowledge Centre on Capacity Building for Poverty Reduction' has been entrusted with the task of evaluation of capacity building programmes for the poor. We share our nation's concern and our government's mission driven approach for improving governance. This endeavour will enable the benefits of higher economic growth percolate down to the poorest in the country, thereby subsequently transform India into an equitable society.

First: Before our researchers proceed to the field it is important that the indicators of mapping field research is defined. Where poverty reduction programmes are implemented and classified in the government and donor agency lists as 'Best Practices', it is imperative that we understand the source of data and the meaning of some of the words used intermittently in evaluation literature. Some of these words are: Best, Successful, Participation, Efficiency, Replication, Nature of legitimacy, Sustainability, Cost-effective, Democratic, Empowerment, Independent and Self-governed. Second: An important aspect of research is an understanding of the research methodology for evaluation. This would help provide an insight into the process, mechanisms, and strategies used to explore the seen and the unseen aspects of implementation. While on one hand it would be a study of the tangibles which would account for the assets and liabilities in a programme in terms of entitlements for the poor, on the other hand it would discerningly be an ethnographic study dealing with the history, social structures, deliberative bodies, indigenous systems and local norms which create a system of participation and feed its spread and replication. The source of distress, nature of poverty, common handicaps due to a poverty situation, distance and availability of medical, occupational and educational services, social structure and its role in sharing the burden of implementation, environmental loss, respect for law, nature of crimes in the region, degree of government and non-government participation in what people aspire to achieve. Third: Regional variation which affect the delivery of services, attitudinal characteristics that seek or prevent a particular type of service delivery, climatic conditions which create detours in implementation and individual spaces for the poor in technology, which could be appropriate or modern hi-tech ICT or training needs of a particular area need to be also considered.

Research Methodology to Evaluate the Capacity Building Programmes for Poverty Reduction, Centre for the Study of Law and Governance, Jawaharlal Nehru University, First Floor Conference Room on 26th October 2007 at 3.00 pm-5.00 pm.

Programme Schedule

Welcome Address: Prof. Amita Singh, Project Director,GKC
Chair: Mr. Sreerupa Mitra Choudhury, National Adviser and National Programme Implementation, Head—Access to Justice, National Legal Services Authority (NALSA)

International Experience Sharing: Lt. Gen. N Kayumba, Ambassador of Rwanda
Research Methodology: Prof. Amita Singh and Dr. Jennifer Jalal, Centre for the Study of Law and Governance, JNU

Discussion with Participants
Summing up and Road Ahead: Dr. Mondira Dutta, Field Co-ordinator, GKC

The welcome address was delivered by Prof. Amita Singh. She said that the aspect of sustainability in poverty reduction has to be looked at. The amount of money spent on poverty reduction programmes is enormous. So, there is need for evaluation of such programmes. She informed about the latest Global Hunger Index, which has been brought out by the IFPRI, which shows that most of the countries are coming out of poverty. By looking at the poverty situation in the Sub Saharan Africa (SSA), one can learn a lot. She said that looking at the research methodology part is imperative. Lt. Gen. N Kayumba gave his presentation on Poverty Reduction Strategy in Rwanda and Capacity Building. He informed that Rwanda has a history of poverty and poor governance. Since Rwanda is situation in the highlands (altitude 4829 ft.), so it experiences a lot of rain. With the help of a map, he showed that Rwanda is surrounded by Congo, Uganda and Burundi. Rwanda is much more developed compared to Congo, he informed. The main causes of poverty in Rwanda are: 1. Lack of education/ displacement (60% of the population in Rwanda are illiterate); 2. Ignorance; 3. Lack of land; 4. Lack of employment; 5. Poor soil health; 6. Inadequate infrastructure; 7. Lack of access to water; 8. Sickness/ disability; 9. Population pressure; 10. Poor and inadequate financing facilities; 11. Natural calamities (droughts/ soil erosion, floods); 12. Poor governance and management. While talking on poverty distribution, Lt. Gen. N Kayumba spoke on the following categories: 1. Destitute; 2. Poorest; 3. Poor; 4. Serving; 5. Vulnerable; 6. Others. Lt. Gen. N Kayumba said that 'governance' determines the level and extent of poverty. His discussion touched the following points: 1. Proper policy formulation and circulation; 2. Increasing transparency of policy making; 3. Participation of civil society in design, implementation and monitoring; 4. Decentralized integrated rural development programmes; 5. Relax constraints which prevent policies from being carried out; 6. Carry out public administration reforms to promote accountability; 7. Improve incentives to execute policy; 8. Strengthening public financial management; 9. Transparent procurement methods and processes; 10. Performance-based budgeting; 11. Identification and resolving implementation problems; 12. Enhancing political accountability; 13. Establish or improve monitoring systems; 14. Carry out regular and targeted evaluations. While speaking on social interventions, Lt. Gen. N Kayumba touched upon the following points:

1. Increase coverage and quality of education; 2. Strengthening technical and vocational education; 3. Streamlining food preservation and marketing; 4. Reduce transportation costs; 5. Ensure security and affordability of energy supplies; 6. Settlement patterns and housing improvement; 7. Improve hygiene and access and affordability to health care services; 8. Sustainable and integrated water resources management; 9. Provide social assistance to the needy; 10. Maintain peace and security (without peace, poverty cannot be reduced); 11. Issue of gender, AIDS and social inclusion. Lt. Gen. N Kayumba informed that in Rwanda the groom pays dowry to the bride, which is quite the opposite to the Indian case. While speaking on environmental stress, he touched the following points: 1. Rehabilitation of degraded areas; 2. Rational land use planning and management; 3. Soil and water conservation; 4. Reforestation; 5. Preservation of biological diversity; 6. Adaptation and mitigation against impacts of climate change; 7. Early warning systems and co-ordination. On poverty reduction, he made the following points: 1. Human capital development; 2. Resource mobilization; 3. Improvement of policy implementation; 4. Co-ordinated interventions; 5. Sustainable growth and job creation; 6. Investment in infrastructure; 7. Access to credit/ long-term finance; 8. Governance with low incidence of corruption and accountability.

Lt. Gen. N Kayumba touched the following points while concluding: 1. Appreciation of the gravity of the problem; 2. Proper methodology in research and approach; 3. People's participation in resolving the problem; 4. Participation of non-state stakeholders in mobilization and implementation process; 5. Resource mobilization and proper accountability; 6. Peace and security; 7. Political will. Amita Singh and Jennifer Jalal presented the research methodologies of the project. They informed that the project duration is of 2 years. The selected projects are: 1. Presently 81 best practices have been given to the researching team from the Ministry; 2. China, Ghana and Brazil have done well in poverty reductions; 3. Focus on international best practices on a comparative scale would be considered as the project advances.

The points discussed under the Methodology-I are as follows: 1. Two main components of evaluation—Policy and its micro-components such as ICT entrepreneurship and asset distributional framework including legal framework would be studied in the light of the ethnographic action research where communities evolve and consolidate their prospects of good governance; 2. Study of information to look for sources of historical date for cross cultural survey and comparative sociology as a tool for governance reform; 3. Functionalism studied as a set of dynamic processes in which one has to examine the contribution which social items make to the social and cultural life of human collectivities (order, stability and sustainability through arrangements within institutions.

Many points were discussed under the Methodology-II. Beneficial consequences of people's actions that help to maintain the equilibrium of the social system was stressed upon, along with the following points: 1. Distinguishing between manifest (intended consequences of decision-making) and latent (unintended consequences) functions; 2. Elaborating functions/ dysfunctions in the light of variables of age, class, caste, geography, political influence, cultural acceptability, respect for law; 3. Potential for local entrepreneurship and availability of local untapped resources through social networks available.

The projects are divide into three categories:
a. Exclusively rural-BPL (below poverty line) projects ratings to be done under fifty cents segregation.
b. Rural poor between 50 cents and US $ 1 (PPP).
c. Urban poverty right under US $ 1 (PPP) category.
d. Middle-class category in urban area.

8 main indicators (or aspects of poverty reduction) selected to bridge the assessment subjectively
1. Transparency
2. Participation
3. Accountability
4. Ease of service delivery
5. Social well being
6. Replicability
7. Sustainability
8. Partnerships

Each indicator (or aspects of poverty reduction) is further divide into sub-indicators:
1. Participation of local people
2. Generation of entrepreneurship thru self-help groups
3. Speed in service delivery

4. Reduction of corruption, graft and rent
5. Equity and fair distribution of public resources
6. Women's participation and capacity building
7. Harmonizing caste/ communal relations
8. Support from local administration/ District Collector's office
9. Single Window Access to services
10. Affordability
11. Behavioral responsiveness of local administrators to deliver to people.
12. Infrastructure support (space, electricity, Internet, connectivity)
13. Reduction of paper work.
14. Decentralized decision-making
15. Transparency in public dealings.
16. Need for increased vertical and horizontal coordination in delivering services.
17. Political influence on policy decisions/ services
18. Sustainability factor
19. Replicability aspect
20. Potential for upscaling
21. Accountability mechanisms
22. Partnership arrangement, if any
23. Other social programmes/messages conveyed through the ICT tools

The project report would rely on primary and secondary data:
1. Observation for social phenomenon
2. Inter-subjectivity and inter-objectivity of data yields to ensure validity of the relationship between the manifest and the latent and also to help quantification problem.
3. Unstructured interviews wit local beneficiaries, service providers and fund managers, inlcuding few set of questionnaires (both close and open ended)
4. Attitude scales, projective techniques

The questionnaire would consist of:
1. Range of services provided—government or non-government
2. Availability and assistance in seeking services

At the end of the programme, a lot of suggestions were put forwarded:
1. What are the ways and how to evaluate the best practices?
2. What is the exact criteria to judge that something is a 'best practice'?
3. The research project should look at: public accountability, public evaluation system, public distribution system, vested interest of donor agencies, caste factor, social justice, food security, infrastructure development etc.

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