EU Project: "Promoting people’s participation and governance in Vietnamese cities through the Association of Cities of Vietnam (ACVN)"

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Since February 2009 the Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung (KAS) in Vietnam in cooperation with the Association of Vietnamese Cities (ACVN) is implementing a 30 month project on "Promoting people’s participation and governance in Vietnamese cities through the Association of Cities of Vietnam". This project has an important stake in Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung's project activities in Vietnam and intensifies the existing cooperation between the KAS and the Association of Vietnamese Cities.

Background Information

With a population of 84 Million people, living in 64 provinces and 5 cities under central level on an area of 329,314 square km, Vietnam is one of the most densely populated countries in the world.

During the last decades Cities in Vietnam became the engines of economic growth and development and rapid urbanisation has been the consequence. 1 to 1.3 million people added to urban areas each year to 2020. The current urbanisation rate of 27 % today is expected to increase to 45% in 2020. The country has been exposed to the negative impacts of urbanisation such as traffic congestions, accidents, poor provision of services and service delivery and environmental pollution.

To partly address these problems Vietnam in the nineties successfully started an ongoing process of administrative decentralisation. This process included a comprehensive Public Administration Reform (PAR) package which aims at improving the effectiveness, efficiency, transparency and accountability of the Vietnamese Public sector.

One of the main objectives of the reform was to improve the system of public administrative service delivery. The obligatory introduction of one-stop-shops in communes, wards of cities and townships by government decision Nr. 181 in 2003 has led to an important improvement of transparency and efficiency of local administrative procedures. Pursuant to the report of the Ministry of Home Affairs from January 2008 the OSS model is now operational in 100% of theses administrative units.

The Vietnamese Authorities also promoted the involvement of people in local political affairs and decision making and introduced new elements of direct democracy with the legislation on Grassroots Democracy in 1998. The upgrading of the Decree on Grassroots Democracy into an Ordinance in 2007 underlined the governments ambitions to strengten different levels on people's involvement in decision making.

Despite these tangible results in improving the relations between local authorities and the population, urbanisation and the Urban Development challenges still directly or indirectly affects the life of many Vietnamese Citizens. Nearly all inhabitants in a municipality will profit or suffer from decisions in local development planning on priorities in land use, public infrastructure investment and the establishment, upgrading or reallocation of basic infrastructure and a very high number of citizens are direct targets and often victims from decisions on land use in urban areas where fast economic development growing traffic and migration from rural areas force the local administrations to continously develop and change their land use plans.

This missing involvement of the people in planning processes lead to mistrust of the local population and complicate the relations between the citizens and the city administration at a later stage (f.ex: in the process of resettlement and side clearance).

Participation until today is still mostly organised in a very top down manner and people's consultation and feedback is hardly registered and included in planning processes although it is required by the law.

The EU-Cofuned project addresses theses issues and Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung's cooperation with ACVN focuses on the following project objectives and activities:

Objectives

  1. increased people’s participation on local level in Vietnam
  2. improved governance and independence of local self-administration in Vietnam.

The specific objective of the action is the strengthening of the capacity of the Association of Cities of Vietnam for promoting people’s participation and governance in its member cities.

Beneficiaries

  1. The staff and representatives of ACVN as well as national Vietnamese experts ready to cooperate on a continuous basis in consultancy and training programs of ACVN;
  2. About 300 experts/civil servants from 30 members of ACVN in charge of development planning, land-use planning, grassroots democracy realization and good governance – among them at least 50% women;
  3. About 200 decision makers from members of ACVN and from national institutions.

Main Activities

All project activities will be carried out following the principles of professional project management. They can be grouped under three main phases: inception phase, implementation phase, monitoring and evaluation. During the inception phase (month 1 and 2) the project team, project office, work plan, communication and monitoring schemes will be set up.

The activities during the months 2 – 6 of the implementation phase have a preparation character, using the instruments of assessment studies based on interviews, document evaluation and polls, of a first exchange between international and national Vietnamese experts and of training of trainers to get ready for the start of the capacity building activities for officials and staff of the cities and towns involved.

They will be followed by a pilot phase during the months 7 – 10 in four cities during which the concepts developed before shall be tried in a practice test before they will be implemented on a broad range. The experiences and findings from these experimental activities shall be taken into account in the parallel development of the final training curricula for the 300 participants from the 30 member cities of ACVN in the four thematic fields of the project to be organized during the months 13 – 15 of the project. During the months 18 – 27 the impact of the orientation, knowledge and skills transferred to the 300 civil servants and officials from the cities involved on local participation and governance in the action shall be observed in a systematic monitoring and evaluated in order to provide the participating municipalities with additional advise on effective implementation approaches and methods for the activities in the four thematic fields of the project. This work will be supported by four thematic working groups with involvement of national Vietnamese and international experts, mainly communicating through electronic mail. They will join in thematic workshops in month 18 and 26 in Hanoi in order to define the framework, objectives and procedures of their work and to jointly evaluate the impact of the project in the different thematic fields 8 month after the regular start of the activities in all cities involved. They are also in charge of drafting reports on experiences and results of the activities in the different thematic fields of the action to be published by ACVN and distributed to its members. Parallel to these activities in the 30 municipalities, five consultancy programs will be organized with targeted assessment and training sessions for ACVN during the months 2 – 26 of the project in order to support the institutionalization of its training unit and the development of its financial sustainability. One major instrument for the improvement of the services of ACVN to its members will be the establishment and regular servicing of an interactive website at ACVN, focusing on the thematic topics of this action.

During the last months of the project, based on the results of the former ongoing monitoring and of joint evaluations with national experts/officials and international experts, recommendations shall be drafted and discussed in a final workshop in order to create favourable conditions for the further extension of the developed tools, approaches and methodologies to all urban municipalities in Vietnam after the end of the project.

The monitoring and evaluation activities (month 2 to 30) will be divided into an internal monitoring – which will guarantee the quality of the outcomes and allow for rapid intervention if needed – and an external evaluation taking place every year.

  1. Inception Workshop and Management Training.
  2. Assessment study - including the perception and opinion of the citizens through polls with at least 50% participation of women - in four selected member cities of ACVN on the actual status of people’s participation in local planning and decision making and on good governance in administrative services.
  3. Two workshops on findings of the assessment study and reform- and development concepts in the thematic fields of the action.
  4. Joint working groups in the 4 thematic fields of the action with experts from ACVN and its members, national Vietnamese experts and international experts on curricula for training of ACVN member’s civil servants.
  5. 4 two-weeks training of trainer courses in these fields.
  6. Pilot activities in four selected cities on practical implementation in the four thematic fields of the action.
  7. Three four-days training courses in each of the four fields with 25 participants each, coming from 30 ACVN member municipalities.
  8. Installation and servicing of an interactive Website at ACVN for dialogue and exchange among ACVN members and experts.
  9. 4 working groups of ACVN and Vietnamese experts in the 4 thematic fields with yearly reports to be published by ACVN.
  10. Consultancy on institutionalization of the training unit at ACVN and on regulations on fees for membership and participation in trainings.
  11. Monitoring of the impact of trainings and exchange activities in the thematic fields of the action in 30 municipalities during month 18-27 of the action with recommendations for the last months.
  12. Closing workshop with focus on questions of sustainability and of extension of the results.

Expected Results

  1. Communication between citizens and city administrations involved in the action and service delivery in these cities have become more transparent and effective;
  2. The implementation of the decree on grassroots democracy has improved in the cities involved in the action;
  3. Sustainable improvement of people’s involvement in development planning and land use planning in the cities involved in the action;
  4. ACVN has been strengthened with regard to the relevance of training services and with regard to its financial sustainability.