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Featured Municipality: Bhimeshwor Municipality’s Plans and Visions

In this series of blog posts, we shall be featuring plans and visions of municipalities, COMMITTED is working with in the ‘EnLoG-SDEG’ (Enhancement of Local Governance, Service Delivery and Economic Governance) project.

Bhimeshwor Municipality in Dolakha District of Province 3 is one of the 22 municipalities COMMITTED has been working with since the project commenced last summer. The municipality comprises of 9 wards with a total of 8,639 households.

(Map of Bhimeshwor Municipality indicating its Landuse and Road types.)

The municipality is led by an energetic Mayor and has some unique plans and exemplary approach to the generation of Own Source Revenues (OSR). The plans, as the ward chairmen have reinforced, seek to mobilize and take advantage of, as much as possible, locally available resources, both natural and man-made.

At the ward level, a number of wards seek to stimulate its local economy by focusing on and promoting tourism. An ethnic themed museum and home stays has been envisioned in Ward 1 taking advantage of the fact that the majority of the population belong to the Thami caste (an indigenous tribe mainly living in the villages of Dolakha District in East-Central Nepal).  Likewise, they hope to promote Ward 2 as a religious and cultural tourist destination owing to its high number of temples. Similarly, Ward 3 and 6 have also been earmarked for tourism development owing to its geography and the existence of hotels.

A number of wards will focus on agriculture-related activities. Ward 4 as agricultural hub and 5 for livestock farming. Taking advantage of its abundance in water sources trout aquaculture farms have been planned for Ward 7. Ward 8 is to be cattle and Kiwi fruit focused, as well as marketing it as a ‘film city’ for the movie productions owing to its scenic location. Finally, potato farming and production of potato chips and other products has been planned for Ward 9.

At the municipality level, the Mayor has envisioned a hydroelectricity plant (Tama Koshi hydroelectric plant) for energy self-sufficiency, along with establishment and promotion of residential schools catering to wealthy families living in Kathmandu Valley for additional job creation and income generation.

In doing all that, Bhimeshwor Municipality is showing how devolution of power from the center and entrusting local bodies to be self-reliant and autonomous could work to bring about growth, development and progress of outlying communities far removed from Kathmandu Valley.

 

For more on above, please follow the links below:

Click here to read a blog post about COMMITTED producing Map of Local Governments.

Click here to go to a Facebook post of Municipal Round Table Discussion.

Click here to go to a Facebook post of the visit to remaining municipalities.

Click here to read a blog about EnLoG-SDEG.

COMMITTED Produces Map of Local Governments

Promulgation of new constitution on 20th September 2015 resulted in the division of Nepal into seven states. The country before was classified into five development regions namely: Eastern, Central,Western, Mid-Western and Far-Western where there were 14 zones  and 75 districts.

To decentralize the power and help the nation with sustainable development, the country was restructured after the establishment of federal states which resulted in the change of names and administrative structure of local governments. Former Village Development Committee aka Gaunbikash Samiti has now been replaced with Rural Municipality known in Nepali as Gaunpalika. Also, now the number of districts have gone up to 77 with Rukum and Nwalparasi being split into two each.

All of that is relevant to COMMITTED’s local governance project we run in partnership with The Asia Foundation. The aim of the project is to improve the internal and external governance and development of its chosen municipalities in addressing service delivery and local economic development. To that end, COMMITTED produces resources that local governments can utilize, such as the map below.

As you can see, the map provides information about the local governments and their structure. The map is probably the first of its kind to be produced in the country since the restructuring.

Click here for a much bigger resolution of the map.

More maps, of municipalities for example, will be produced and shared with the relevant bodies as well as with the public here in our blog. Be sure to return!

For more, please follow the links below:

Click here to go to a Facebook post of Municipal Round Table Discussion.

Click here to go to a Facebook post of the visit to remaining municipalities.

Click here to read a blog about EnLoG-SDEG.

Monitoring And Assessment Visit At Taltuleshwori Primary School By SWC

Implementation of projects by a non-profit (NGO) in Nepal comes with a number of legal requirements. One such requirement is holding a social audit of the project after completion. Another is a Monitoring and Evaluation (M&E) by the team from Social Welfare Council (SWC), the body that had oversight on non-profit activities in the entire country.

After the completion of Taltuleshwori Primary School, social audit was conducted last August, about which you can read here.

As for M&E of the first phase of the reconstruction project, a team from SWC visited Thangpalkot, Sindhupalchowk District last October. The evaluation team comprised of the Deputy Director, Mr. Durga Prasad Bhattari (Team Leader), and Senior Assistant, Mr. Prakash Chandra Bhatta (Team Member), ushered by COMMITTED’s Project Coordinators for Local Governance and Education. Funded by AVAAZ.org, the reconstruction of school at its first phase was completed in a span of six months with a total budget included NPR 50,70,000.

SWC M&E Team Members (second and third from left), and COMMITTED’s Team members: Field Staff, Project Coordinator and Senior Project Coordinator, respectively (first, fourth and fifth from left).

The monitoring and evaluation team analyzed the impact, sustainability, relevancy, coordination, compliance, transparency, accountability, financial operation and regularities, institutional capacity and achievement of the rebuilding project.
With a joint consensus of both SWC and COMMITTED, the evaluation concentrated principally on a review of existing project documentation like project proposal, progress report, audit report and Terms of Reference (TOR) and in-depth interviews with District Education Office (DEO), District Development Office (DDC), observation at project site, face to face interview with the beneficiaries in Thangpalkot ward, School staffs, School Management Committee Members, School Construction Committee members and local project staffs.

A snapshot of ongoing discussion.

The concluding remarks of a SWC M&E report reads thus.

” Actually, community mobilization and engagement has been seen satisfactorily in the project site during reconstruction of school buildings. It has been clearly seen sense of ownership of community people towards the school buildings and health post. Local resources, skill technology and labor were fully utilized during project construction. It has been seen that the project is directed towards promoting the available local resources in local level, which is a good practice. Co-ordination, co-operation and community mobilization has been seen more effective during construction. Structures are made disabled friendly so that the kids having special abilities could equally participate in the educational courses. As per the discussion with concerned stakeholders and our observation, highly qualitative construction materials are used, end result is highly appreciable. The locals are also gratified by the work. “

The school is currently serving 182 students and staff members of Taltuleshwori School.  Finding the construction and implementation of overall project very effectual, the M&E team also provided some recommendations for future projects. This monitoring and assessment visit was completed in one phase with 2 days of full working hours.

A group picture of evaluation team with members and students of Taltuleshwori School.

To learn more on the above, please go through the links below:

  • Click here and here to go to Facebook Post and blog showing summary about social audits.
  • Click here to go to a blog post about handing over of Taltuleshwori school.
  • For blog posts about the progress of the reconstruction of Taltuleshwori School click hereherehere and here.

Social Audits Conducted at Two Schools in Thangpalkot, Sindupalchowk

Since the massive earthquakes of April and May 2015, COMMITTED has completed assisting with the reconstruction of two schools in Thangpalkot: Shree Taltuleshwori Primary School and Shree Chilaune Secondary School.

COMMITTED with the help of its donors, partners and volunteers started reconstructing these schools from December of 2015, completing the reconstruction in about a year. The schools were handed over to School Management Committees (SMC) last February. (Click here for details of the handover of Taltuleshwori School and here for the details of the handover of Chilaune School. Click here for a blog post with an embedded video of almost complete Tatuleshwori School and here for that of Chilaune School, both made in May 2016.)

A glimpse of social audit at Chilaune School.

After six months of sound teaching and learning environment at newly constructed and improved class room structures, COMMITTED held social audits of the construction work on 8th and 9th of August, 2017. The information related to project expenditure, funding partners and building utility were shared with those present by COMMITTED’s Project Coordinator and Finance Officer. The audience included members of the School Management Committee (SMC), Parent-Teachers Association (PTA), School Construction Committee, Chairperson and ward members of respective ward, and community members.

COMMITTED’s Project Coordinator (Education), Gautam Lamichane, talking to the attendees at Taltuleshwori School.

Below are the financial details of rebuilding of Taltuleshwori and Chilaune Schools:

Conducting social audits of projects is a legal requirement. However, COMMITTED carried it out NOT only because of that. We did so because we as an organization believe in transparency and accountability in general, part of the reason for our implementing the project Accountability and Transparency mechanism in School Governance System.

 

For more on the above, follow the links below:

  • For blog posts about the progress of the reconstruction of Taltuleshwori School click here, here, here and here.
  • Click here to go to a Facebook Post on COMMITTED’s page, posted on August 11 , 2017 showing a brief summary about social audits.
  • Click here to go to a blog post about handing over of Taltuleshwori school.
  • Click here to go to a blog post about handing over of Chilaune school.
  • Click here to go to a Facebook Post on COMMITTED’s page, posted on October 28, 2016 about monitoring and assessment of Taltuleshwori School’s Phase-I project.

 

COMMITTED Launches EnLoG-SDEG Program

The launching, in June 2017, of a new sub-national governance program in collaboration with The Asia Foundation (TAF) marked another milestone in the expansion of COMMITTED. Titled, ‘Enhancement of Local Government Service Delivery and Economic Governance (EnLoG-SDEG),’ the project is funded by Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) since improvement of governance and policy implementation is one of Australia’s several development assistance deliverables in Nepal. Thus, EnLoG-SDEG program is COMMITTED’s joint collaboration with DFAT-TAF partnership that will work to build the capacity of several municipalities all over the country.

Local representatives with COMMITTED team members during the interaction program at Ramgram municipality.

Reproduced below is the DFAT overview of the program as it appears on their web site.

“Effective and stable governance that delivers services effectively and equitably across the country continues to be a challenge for Nepal. Helping to improve governance and policy implementation is a new objective for Australia.

“Over the course of 2017 we will develop a new program of support that focuses on promoting an enabling environment for strong, effective, and inclusive sub-national governance. We will help sub-national levels of government to improve service delivery and economic governance which will contribute to inclusive local economic development and poverty reduction. Where possible, we will encourage strengthened disaster risk governance policies, systems and processes. This is a large scale and long-term agenda which will require flexibility in order to respond to opportunities and constraints associated with the volatility of Nepal’s political processes. Technical assistance will also be utilised to meet identified gaps, especially if proposed changes to government structures and the constitution occur. This assistance will be targeted and flexible, responding to demand at the sub-national level.”

The EnLoG-SDEG program’s first phase seeks to involve newly elected representatives including the mayors and deputy mayors for a strong internal and external governance and development of their municipalities. The long term goals of the multi-year project are to:

  1. Assist the municipalities with the development of their municipal profile;
  2. Assist in developing comprehensive plans for their development and urban service deliveries;
  3. Help municipalities raise own source revenue to meet planned goals; and
  4. Assist in the service delivery of improving the education system.

In line with the aforementioned activities, COMMITTED’s team of urban planners, governance, finance and M&E experts took the first field visits of the program starting on August 1. Accompanied by TAF’s team, COMMITTED’s team conducted meetings and discussions in 18 of planned 22 municipalities. The interaction was based on various issues such as the vision and promises made by the elected officials in the pre-election phase and how they were considering gathering the resources to fulfill promises made, along with gender and social inclusion activities, development of infrastructure and services such as education, health, sanitation, transportation, drinking water facilities etc.

Deputy Mayor of Amargadhi, sharing about the topics for discussion to the attendees at meeting.

The team managed to pull through the 18 locations during the monsoon rain, despite facing landslides and floods as well as accommodation problems. After surpassing the 18, COMMITTED will be visiting the remaining four municipalities of Province 1 and 2 in November.

Road covered with heavy rocks due to landslides.