Building Citizens’ Capacity to Monitor Road Projects

Building Citizens’ Capacity to Monitor Road Projects

YEARS: 2014
THEMES: Infrastructure

Building Citizens’ Capacity to Monitor Road Projects trained citizens to monitor the implementation of Farm to Market Road (FMR) projects in the provinces of Veruela, Agusan Del Norte and Agusan Del Sur. The goal was to build the capacity of ordinary citizens to effectively monitor government road construction projects and thereby creating “demand” for quality construction and on-time completion of these infrastructure projects.

Road construction projects in the Philippines are common victims of corrupt businesses and politicians. A lack of oversight and indifference of citizens have allowed corrupt contractors to convene with corrupt politicians, resulting in ghost projects, poor quality roads and long completion delays.

PAKISAMA-Mindanao set out to build the capacity of ordinary citizens to effectively monitor government road construction projects via the following activities:

  1. Establish a good working relationship with the Department of Agriculture and local government units (LGUs)
  2. Mobilize Community Monitoring Teams (CMTs) to facilitate data-gathering, data-processing and validation
  3. Conduct ground monitoring activities of road construction and facilitate the community validation sessions of the findings
  4. Establish effective feedback and knowledge sharing mechanisms between CMT members, community representatives, project implementers (Local Government Units and Department of Agriculture), other government agencies, CSOs, the media and the general public

The project contributed to the significant reduction, if not total eradication, of corruption in all four road construction sites monitored. Moreover, it lead to improvements in the quality of the roads used by local residents especially farmers, women and children who pass through the road on a daily basis. Simple issues like cracks and compaction were immediately resolved by contractors after being discovered by the community and regular on the ground monitoring to back-up claims. More serious and complicated issues were resolved through PAKISAMA’s engagement with Local Government Units (LGUs), the Department of Agriculture (DA), the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), and National Anti-Poverty Commission (NAPC).

Beyond the specific impacts of the individual sub-project, the completion report prepared by PAKISAMA shows an intensive process of engaging both local authorities and the Department of Agriculture, which is responsible for such roads. Through the training of local volunteers, the capacity of local monitoring teams was built significantly. The completion report also suggests that through projects such as this the whole process of local road construction becomes much more transparent and hence the opportunities for corruption much reduced.

PAKISAMA reported the following lessons learned from implementing the sub-project:

  1. Openness and participation of government agencies is crucial (e.g. timely provision of project documents, attendance in meetings) to the success of the citizen-lead monitoring of government projects
  2. Interactions with project implementers (contractors and municipal engineers) resulted in increased capacity and technical knowledge of CSOs and CMT members on road construction
  3. A capacity for critical analysis is essential for CMT members to perform monitoring functions effectively
  4. Monitoring processes are hastened if government officials are oriented on citizen’s constructive engagement with government
  5. A functional working relationship between collaborating parties prior to social accountability projects makes them more effective and easier to implement
  6. Consistent citizen monitoring through regular field inspections resulted in better project implementation

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