SA YCC Evaluation Report 2014
The Deutsche Gesellschaft fuer Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) in Palestine has started the implementation of two pilot interventions: the Social Accountability in Local Governance (SAiLG) and the Youth Create Change (YCC) in the framework of the Local Governance and Civil Society Development Program (LGP) in March 2013. The two interventions were launched in order to try out and implement social accountability (SA) and youth participation (YP) mechanisms in targeted local government units (LGUs). The two interventions were designed based on the recommendations of the mission by the German Federal Ministry of Development and Cooperation (BMZ), that highlighted the importance of tackling accountability mechanisms, the recommendations of the GIZ head quarter experts, who designed the new youth participation structures, as well as the inputs from the various relevant stakeholders such as the Palestinian Ministry of Local Government (MoLG). The two interventions aimed at: assessing the enabling environment of applying SA and YP in the LGUs in the West Bank and Gaza (WB&GS); identifying potential risks and weaknesses; and forming the optimum methodology of applying SA and YP. The two pilot interventions were launched in partnership with the MoLG as a supportive effort to assist in applying the PA policy of ensuring that government is efficient, effective, transparent, accountable and responsive targeting 17 LGUs in the framework of SAiLG (10 in WB and 7 in GS) and 12 LGUs within the framework of YCC (8 in WB and 4 in GS). The interventions are to feed into the capacity development and financial packages provided by the Municipal Development and Lending Fund (MDLF), the executive agency of MoLG. The external evaluation process, carried out in March 2014, aimed to make an overall independent assessment about the past performance of the two pilot interventions (from March 2013 to February 2014), paying particular attention to the outcome of the pilot interventions’ actions against their objectives, and to the enhancement (if any) in the enabling environment of applying SA and YP. The evaluation process also aimed to identify key lessons and propose practical recommendations for follow-up actions, potential phasing out with certain partners and up-scaling of the SA mechanisms via relevant up-scaling structures. The evaluation process utilized a set of quantitative and qualitative evaluation tools paying particular attention to the in-depth interviews with targeted LGU-officials to assess the benefits as well as the constraints of applying SA and YP mechanisms in LGUs in the WB&GS. Main Findings: Main findings in regards to the SAiLG: All interviewed LGU-officials believe that SA tools positively affect municipal planning, decision- making, and implementation. All mayors are satisfied with the changes made by the SAiLG intervention to their LGUs. They also consider the application of SA mechanisms in their LGUs as important due to many reasons. Most LGU-officials (14 out 16) believe that SA tools have improved and have the potential of improving the quality of municipal services. LGU-officials reported that the application of SA tools in their LGUs has benefited LGUs in regards to: 1. Minimization of the number of complaints for the targeted services (11 out of 16 LGUs). 2. Improvement in collection rates (observed only in 9 out of 10 LGUs in the West Bank). 1 3. Increase of citizen participation in the various municipal activities (confirmed by all interviewed mayors). Most LGU-officials (13 out of 16) have also confirmed that SA tools have made them aware of some needs of vulnerable groups that they did not know before. All LGU-officials also confirmed that they are willing to continue applying SA tools after the pilot interventions. The evaluation process also observed a strong support to the concept of SA by citizens who participated in the application of SA tools. They also believe that the intervention responds to their needs in regards to their participation in the municipal decision-making process and it should be applied in other LGUs to improve the municipal services. They also indicated that the intervention positively changed their perspectives about their LGUs. They indicate their feeling that the intervention enhanced their participation in the municipal decision-making process. As civil society organizations (CSOs) are a pivotal element of the SA, the pilot intervention did also build the capacities of 6 partner CSOs in regards to SA concept and SA tools. This capacity building program was accompanied with the creation of an SA manual that is designed to assess both CSOs and LGUs to adequately apply SA tools. Main findings in regards to the YCC: In regards to the YCC pilot intervention, Officials of targeted LGUs are strongly supportive to the intervention and consider the application of the intervention in their LGUs as important. Most of them (8 out of 10) consider YCC activities as complementary and integrative to their municipal strategy. Most LGU-officials (6 out of 9) believe that youth participation has increased in their LGUs. All LGU-officials confirmed that they will allocate youth budget item in their municipal budget. All of them also believe that youth participation has the potential impact of improving the quality of municipal services. Five out of 10 interviewed LGU-officials believe that the intervention enabled them to know about special youth needs that they were not aware of before. Youth promoters (youth who took part in the activities of the YCC) are also supportive and believe that the intervention has enhanced their participation in the municipal decision-making process. They also believe that the intervention should be up-scaled and applied in other LGUs. As confirmed by LGU officials, youth officers (municipal employees dedicated to youth and community), partner CSO representatives, and youth promoters; the mechanisms introduced by the YCC project have a great potential of making youth participation in local governance to be more impactful and sustainable. The budget lines allocated by LGUs to youth activities will ensure financing of youth participation activities on a monthly basis. The youth officers represent an efficient mechanism to integrate youth interests in the daily management of LGUs. Youth promoters form a conflict-sensitive mechanism to represent the youth of the town and to form a communication mechanism between the municipal council and the youth of the town. Amongst other successful mechanisms introduced are the youth action plans, the youth supporting committees (the supporting committee from local civil society sector and citizens), and the youth activity center. Overview of main conclusions: The two pilot interventions show that the enabling environment for SA and YP in the targeted LGUs has improved. The interventions succeeded to provide LGUs with actual procedures to apply the principles of SA and transparency. The procedures have provided a basis for the improvement of the quality of municipal service. Moreover, the pilots succeeded to change the attitude of most LGU-officials towards the importance of SA and YP. Thus, the supportive attitudes of the various stakeholders, the success of the procedures and tools applied in most targeted LGUs, the networking between the various crucial stakeholders, and the capacities obtained by the various stakeholders, all are factors suggesting the ability of the interventions to be up-scaled and rolled out. However, LGU-officials have conflicting understanding of the institutionalization concept and some of them still misunderstand the concept of SA, considering it equal to the “Open Door Policy”. Also, LGU-officials and personnel need further capacity building in order to adequately be able to apply the mechanisms of SA and YP by their own. As for any pilot activity, the two interventions encountered very few cases that were not as successful as intended. Those cases should be utilized to extract learned lessons to make the up- scaling process (if took place) more successful. The recommendations of this evaluation provide good starting points to avoid having such cases that are mostly related to common misconceptions by some LGU officials. Overview of the recommendations: As the findings of the evaluation process indicate an enhancement of the enabling environment on the local level and lessons have been extracted about the potential risks of applying SA and YP, the two interventions can be up-scaled targeting more LGUs in order to further support MoLG in the institutionalization process. Before the up-scaling process, more efforts are needed to reach a common understanding of the concept of institutionalization, to document the successful experiences of the pilots and the benefits gained by targeted LGUs in order to overcome the risk of not recognizing the application of SA and YP as priorities by some LGU officials. LGP should take measures to clarify the common misconceptions encountered by some LGU-officials during the pilot. A YCC-SA common event (such as a forum) can be organized in order to achieve the objectives of: conveying the information about the benefits of both SA and YP; clarifying the misconceptions to other LGU-officials; and to integrate YP in the SA approach. In order to maximize the potential of conveying such messages, un-traditional tools (such as animations and documentary films) can be utilized. Since the SA manual is a crucial tool for the continuity of the good results of the SAiLG, LGP is advised to make sure that the SA manual is comprehensive and sufficient to provide all the necessary information and explanation on the methodology of applying SA tools while highlighting the potential risks and providing advice how to avoid them. Youth promoters and youth officers should receive further trainings to explain the link between YP and SA. LGP should try to involve YP in future updates of the strategic development and investment plans for LGUs. LGP should also build a strategy to include youth officers in the hierarchy of the municipalities. In order to enhance YP and enhance the belief of LGU-officials with the benefits of YP, LGP can launch a supporting intervention to crowdsource students and new graduates to submit proposals that provide creative solutions with low cost to problems facing LGUs.