Written by Mekong Institute

Normal 0 false false false EN-US X-NONE TH MicrosoftInternetExplorer4 Since May 2008 InWEnt implements the programme Regional rural development through Innovative regional management in South East Asia. Total programme duration is to last for 4 years. Programme activities cover the countries Cambodia and Laos and are operational in two provinces of each country (Siem Reap and Battambang in Cambodia and Sayaboury and Attapeu province in Laos). Since the Federal Republic of Germany has identified rural development as one of the focal area of support, the InWEnt programme closely cooperates with GTZ rural development programmes and DED (Battambang).

It aims at building up and strengthening regional management structures. The capacity building activities increase the competences of the participating organisations to actively design and coordinate a potential-oriented and participatory regional development of rural areas. The conceptual orientation is based on the LEADER-PLUS approach.

Three objectives should be reached by the end of four-year implementation period:  

(A) The partners on local and regional level are knowledgeable in the principles, instruments and processes of integrated rural development, the regional management and the economic development on community and regional levels. They apply these to establish an equivalent development of their rural areas.

(B) Regional, national and cross-boarder networks of executives and decision-makers of partner organisations and institutions are strengthened. They contribute efficiently to a specialist exchange of experience on policies, strategies, promotion programmes and appropriate organisational structures for the development of rural areas and to regional integration.

(C) Selected governmental and/or non-governmental training organisations are qualified to independently carry out valuable capacity building in principles and tools of regional management for realizing an integrated rural development.

Since the programme is implemented through a single phase lasting four years InWEnt decided to conduct a midterm review (MTR). The review fulfils two purposes a) to review project achievements up-to-date in terms of its relevance, applicability, efficiency and effectiveness and b) to use the findings and recommendations to improve the project design and implementation during the remaining implementation period. In cooperation with the Mekong Institute interviews were conducted with all target groups (core group members, decision makers and lead trainers) in both countries.

There has been a solid progress toward achieving this indicator. 18 National Trainers (10 for Cambodia and 8 for Laos) and over 200 regional management core group members from 14 selected regions (districts) of Cambodia and Laos participated in a modular training programme of Regional Management. Since October 2008, five progressive training modules on Regional Management were provided to the target groups using Training of Trainers approach of which the InWEnts international trainers provided TOT to the National Trainers and following the TOT, the National Trainers in turn conducted the same training module to RM core groups. In addition a team of 14 members from Cambodia and Laos are attending a twelve-months training course in Germany. The programme measure will last until September 2010.

The Regional Management Capacity Building Programme of InWEnt is very relevant to both Cambodia and Laos. Both countries have, since early 90s, transformed from centralized planned economies to decentralized market-oriented economies. Cambodia is more advanced in implementing its Organic Law on decentralization and deconcentration. Though Laos had a slow start, it is making visible progress toward decentralization.

The Regional Management (RM) approach as a tool to foster rural development is very new to both countries and there is no ready-made formula so far. Development of tools for multiplication is in progress. To ensure that the RM Capacity Building Programme will continue to be used at the project pilot sites, is scaled up to the national level and is incorporated into national training programmes the review team recommends a set of follow-up actions:

It is recommended to continue the present ToT training modules which have already been scheduled in July and November and at the same time start finding new permanent implementing partners at regional and national levels. This involves:

It is suggested anchoring the training programme at a regional organization which has the capacity to deliver services (training, consultancy) and to ensure basic research on the matter, thereby institutionalizing the RM programme on a regional level. Due to its characteristics (regional focus, entails research and training services, has a thematic focus on Rural Development, etc.) and existing involvement in the programme the Mekong Institute (MI) seems to be the natural partner for this aspect. The selected organization, once capacitated, can serve as Champion of RM in the Mekong Countries.

Working with National Institutions that have a direct mandate in promoting rural development might be of additional benefit. The National Economic Research Institute and Training Center of Ministry of Planning and Investment of Laos and the Cambodian Agriculture and Rural Development (CARD) of Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries of Cambodia are two potential partners.

More concerted activities are required developing a Laotian and a Cambodian Regional Management Training Package. This measure is under way, as some practical experiences and adaptations made e.g. in Cambodia have already been re-introduced into trainings for Core Groups. In defining this package, the implementation experiences of the German TA partners are irreplaceable, yet the process has to be supported by InWEnt RM experts, MI and national trainers.

Introducing Regional Management as an innovative approach for Rural Development in Cambodia and Lao PDR requires the support of the National Level. To gain this support, national level policy dialogue needs to be initiated. Policy dialogue can be used to call the attention and increase awareness of policy makers and senior officials on regional management issues.

Study visits need to be closely coordinated with training contents to support learning in the various modules. For high level officials exposure to different good practices might continue to include visits to the Regional Management Programme in Bavaria or to Thailand (decentralized law, local administration system).

The roundtable discussion with the management of the partnering national training institutions revealed that the interest in the topic of Regional Management is high but there is still some scepticism in how far this will prove to be a business case which justifies resource allocation for further developing capacities and contents. This should be a topic of continued discussion between InWEnt, German TA partners and national partners.

During the remaining implementation period the organizational capacity building concerning the anchoring of the innovative rural management approaches needs to be further developed with higher priorities. The review team suggests that the Mekong Institute could play more active role both countries supporting the institutional anchoring of the topic.

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