New Program in Bangladesh and Nepal Takes Off

Building on over a decade of experience around governance and anti-corruption programming, the Partnership for Transparency Fund (PTF) has launched a new program to enhance the development impact, sustainability and local ownership of World Bank-financed projects in Bangladesh and Nepal.  Using a $1.9 million grant from the Japanese Social Development Fund, this program entitled Citizen Action for Results, Transparency and Accountability (CARTA) aims to build a significant body of knowledge and good practice in the demand for good governance while promoting civil society engagement in local and national development objectives.  While civil society monitoring is increasingly being incorporated directly into project design, an inevitable conflict of interest arises when citizens are confronted with the dilemma of reporting truthfully to the agencies that fund them at the risk of jeopardizing their income.  CARTA’s model of channeling funds and technical assistance through an independent third party international organization (i.e. PTF) to civil society organization (CSO) for monitoring opens a new space for local engagement that has not been fully explored within the development community.  For the first time, the World Bank is piloting this model.

Through a close collaboration with local partners, the Monusher Jonno Foundation in Bangladesh and Helvetas in Nepal, CARTA will engage in three operational components:

  1. Small Grant Facility for Civil Society Engagement:
    Under this component, local partners in consultation with PTF will select CSOs to provide short term grants for engaging citizens in activities associated with monitoring the implementation of World Bank-financed projects.  Grant sizes may range from up $25,000 up to $150,000 depending on the proposed scope and complexity of the sub-project. The grants will mainly support (a) third party tracking of project process and results, (b) promotion of potential beneficiaries’ access to information, (c) strengthened citizen capacity to respond to emerging issues/concerns, and (d) increased citizen ability to improve projects’ outcomes by making project implementation agencies more responsive.
  2. On-the-Job Capacity Building:
    The objective of this component is to build the capacity of CSOs to interact with the government agencies in constructive ways through action learning and sharing lessons of experience among other CSOs.  A crucial dimension of this component involves a dynamic partnership between PTF advisers and local CSOs from the project design phase through implementation.
  3. Learning & Knowledge Sharing:
    This component aims at building a significant body of knowledge and good practice in the demand for good governance. Accordingly, a series of eight workshops of three days each will be conducted over the life of the program, to exchange views and experiences among CSOs, government agencies and donor agencies. Two workshops will be country-specific for Bangladesh and Nepal; three will be sector-specific, and three will be region-wide and cross-cutting, focusing on experiences around constructive engagement with government and development actors and enhancing future approaches for demand for good governance initiatives.

How it will work?
Through a collaborative decision making process, World Bank country offices, Task Team Leaders, and government implementing agencies will select up to 25 ongoing World Bank financed projects deemed most appropriate for civil society monitoring initiatives. Once projects are selected, PTF, local partners along with World Bank country offices will agree on which activities will be monitored and release a Request for Concept Note for local CSO’s to indicate how they would carry out their monitoring plan. The CSO’s with the strongest Concept Note will be invited to prepare full proposals.  The winner will be chosen mainly by local partners in consultation with PTF and proceed to carry out their implementation plan, which will typically last 12-18 months.  PTF and local partners will provide any technical assistance and capacity building to selected CSO to strengthen governance and accountability tools locally and improve project outcomes.

CARTA is a pilot project for a unique monitoring model that may provide donors and development agencies more specific and real-time information on the impact of their projects.  CARTA develops a foundation for “constructive engagement” between government implementing agencies, the World Bank and local partners that is important for ensuring that project results effectively meet the needs of intended beneficiaries.  The information gathered by CSO monitoring schemes create an opportunity to make more informed decisions during project implementation, which may improve project effectiveness.  Lastly, through engaging local CSOs in capacity building and project monitoring, CARTA aims to strengthen local ownership of project outcomes, reduce the propensity of corruption and increase overall citizen engagement in their community.