Decentralized Governance Project Year 2: Citizen Participation in Regional Development
Decentralized and Participatory Governance: Our Journey for Sustaining Reforms
Beginning November 2012, the Coalition for a Citizens’ Constitution (C4CC) and CODE-NGO started implementing a project titled, “Decentralized Governance and Multi-Stakeholder Partnership for Regional Development (DG Project)”. The project supports the empowerment of civil society organization (CSO) networks and basic sector groups in addressing the needs of local communities and influencing regional and local development. It covers 4 regions, with focus on 8 provinces: Region 5 (Bicol), with Camarines Sur and Sorsogon provinces; Region 7 (Central Visayas), with Cebu and Negros Oriental; Region 10 (Northern Mindanao), with Misamis Oriental and Bukidnon and Region 11 (Southern Mindanao) with Davao Oriental and Davao del Norte. The Coalition for Bicol Development (CBD), Central Visayas Network of NGOs (CENVISNET), Balay Mindanaw Foundation, Inc. (BMFI) and Mindanao Coalition of Development NGO Networks (MINCODE) are the regional partners responsible for implementing the project in their respective areas. This is a three-year project supported by Misereor, a development institution based in Germany. It is expected to end in October 2015.
On its last year of implementation, the project focused on undertaking various priority projects from their Regional Poverty Reduction Development Agenda (RPRDAs). In Region 5, the Regional CSO Capacity Building on Budgeting Process has been implemented with the Regional Office of the Department of Budget (DBM). In addition, there are on-going consultations with DBM and concerned local government units (LGUs) for the Budget Partnership Agreements (BPAs) in selected provinces. In Region 7, participating CSOs actively engage with the Office of Civil Defense (OCD) for capacity building programs on Disaster Risk Reduction and Climate Change Adaptation (DRR-CCA), in addition to monitoring Bottom-up Budgeting (BUB) projects in the region. In Region 10, the CSOs continuously monitor the implementation of the Kalabugao Plain Peace and Development Convergence Program with various national government agencies (NGAs). In Region 11, the regional project entitled, “Building and Strengthening CSO Participation in Local Governance in Davao Del Norte, Davao Del Sur, Davao Oriental and Compostela Valley” was implemented in partnership with the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) and the provincial governments. Other gains from the engagement were the successful adoption of the proposed projects/programs from the RPRDAs in the development plans of the national government agencies (NGAs) and the LGUs, such as the CSO-proposed organic agriculture project in Davao Oriental with the Department of Agriculture (DA) and the inclusion of support for CSO strengthening activities in the annual budget of the Davao Oriental and Davao Del Norte provincial governments.
The project also continued to strengthen the established relationship between CSOs, LGUs and NGAs, which led to multiple partnerships for various programs, projects, and advocacies. Many CSOs in the project areas have been recognized as partners for a number of governance reform initiatives, such as the BUB Process, the National Anti-Poverty Commission’s basic sector assemblies, the DBM Manual on CSO Participation in Budgeting, as well as the Seal of Good Local Governance (SGLG) of the DILG.
The partner CSOs and their members have come across, implemented, and documented numerous good lessons and practices on CSO engagement, poverty reduction agenda, lobbying and networking, and engagement with multi-stakeholders at the local levels. Some examples include using score cards as performance indicators for implemented projects which facilitated efficiency and accountability, developing good working relationship between the CSOs and the government bodies through activities recognizing the fruits of these partnerships, collaboration that built trust and confidence between CSOs and the government that aided target communities, and the importance of capacity building as a prerequisite in being able to effectively engage with the government. These lessons were shared and validated within their networks and communities through discussion sessions at the provincial, regional and national levels. Out of these lessons and experiences, concrete stories were produced with the intention of giving inspiration to replicate and innovate by sharing with the general public and the CSOsthroughout the country.