Local governance mapping initiated in Mon and ChinDec 11, 2013
Mon State - “We would like to give score of 2 (“BAD”) to the village administration on the issue of participation and information sharing”, a woman participant states firmly. The Village Tract Administrator is surprised, a little defensive. Over the course of the next half an hour, community members and officials argue and debate, with the skilled facilitator nudging them closer. In the end, they agree to work with each other to improve citizen participation.
For the first time, citizens living in vilages such as Paing Laung in Htan Pin Chaung Ywar Gyi village tract, inaccessible and poor, lacking in even the most basic amenities, have a chance to make their voice heard. UNDP has launched its much-awaited local governance mapping exercise in six townships in Mon state (Paung, Chaung zone, Bilin, Kyaikmaraw, Thanbyuzayat and Ye),and two in Chin state (Mindat and Madupi), with four more expected to be covered in Chin (Paletwa, Htantlang, Tonzang and Falam),in January.
In Mon, teams of enumerators and supervisors from the research company MSR are conducting household surveys in 12 village tracts/ wards. The surveys ask questions the quality of health, education and water supply services, as well as citizens’ participation in decision-making, and transparency and accountability of public officials and decision-makers. In addition, frontline service providers in the areas of health and education, such as health assistants and midwives, primary school headmasters and teachers, are also being interviewed.
The household and frontline service provider surveys are followed by a Community Dialogue in each village tract, where officials and service providers come face to face with citizens and their representatives to discuss the development and governance challenges facing the village. In Htan Pin Chaung Ywar Gyi tract for example, over 45 people participated in the Community Dialogue, an equal number of service providers and service users. Both men and women were presented, as were young people and elders. For most people, economic development, employment opportunities and connectivity (roads) were major concerns. In remote villages, lack of access to education and healthcare were also reported. For most people, this was the first time that officials and citizens had exchanged their views in such a frank and open manner, but each party respected the views of the other, and attempts were made to find common ground.
Findings from the surveys and Community Dialogues will be consolidated at the Township and eventually at the State level.A “State of Local Governance Report” for Mon and Chin states will be available by early 2014.
Christian Hainzl - firstname.lastname@example.org