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LETTER TO THE EDITOR

Transparency and accountability: Make LGUs do development work like NGOs

/ 04:05 AM August 03, 2022

Contributing to or making sustained improvement in the lives of poor constituents of local government units and poor beneficiaries of nongovernment organizations is the bottom line of development—for which LGUs and NGOs are accountable to their constituents and beneficiaries, respectively, and to their funders and donors/sponsors.

While working in the development sector years back, I believed there was no way for LGUs to adopt and adapt development project processes and systems of NGOs. Overall, there is not much difference. But, online and offline, NGOs, including civil society, are much more transparent and accountable than LGUs. And more rigorous in project development and management.

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Here comes the COVID-19 pandemic, upsetting everything in governments and NGOs across the world. This unprecedented health crisis has blurred the distinction between LGUs and NGOs in saving lives and livelihoods and making local economies thrive again. So, I have a different outlook now. I am convinced the idea of LGUs undertaking project development and management mimicking the NGO way or with NGO flavor is not quixotic.

Therefore, below are some basic questions rooted in NGO work, which must be asked in the ‌planning, implementation, and monitoring and evaluation (M&E) of projects in the LGU. This is to make the project inclusive, the short- and long-term results to benefit the LGU and the constituents, and to be more transparent, accountable, and rigorous. Thus, the constituents must be active participants not only consulted in identifying, undertaking, tracking, and measuring the results of a project. Project decision-making is not the ball game of LGU officials and personnel.

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What problem in the LGU multiyear development plan is being addressed? What are the causes of the problem that the project will eliminate or reduce?

What will change or be different in the lives of the constituents and in the LGU once the project is completed? (Initially, no need to distinguish whether it is short-term or long-term). If it is long-term, specify the preconditions for its realization.

How will the constituents, together with their LGU officials, sustain the benefits without or with minimal outside assistance?

What makes it different from past projects considering the COVID-19 pandemic? How will it contribute to the pandemic response and recovery?

What lessons learned and good practices in similar projects in the past were used in its design?

How will the project promote human rights, gender equity, environmental protection, good governance, etc.?

Who are the stakeholders within and outside the LGU? What are their roles and responsibilities? Who will exercise due diligence and oversight functions?

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What sustainable development goal/s will the project help achieve? Why and how?

What is the linkage between the current and previous LGU development plans because of the project?

How will the project be documented, monitored, evaluated, and reported? By whom?

Except for the timeframe, there is no need to finalize the statement of the project’s goal and objectives, indicators, and targets before implementation. They are better completed while the project is underway. The truth is, a project undergoes countless modifications.

Obviously, the foregoing will require changes to the LGU structure and staffing, specifically the establishment of an M&E section. This will make project or program decision-making in LGUs science-based and data-driven. This may require legislation from Congress.

Rocket science is not required to know that one project can produce unintended short- and long-term results intended in other projects. Thus, there is no need to implement many projects. There would have been billions of savings or more in development projects in LGUs over the years.

Nono Felix,monitoring and evaluation manager,

[email protected]

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