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

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

Since February 2009 the Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung (KAS) in Vietnam in cooperation with the Association of Vietnamese Cities (ACVN) is implementing the EU Project: "Promoting people’s participation and governance in Vietnamese cities through the Association of Cities of Vietnam”.

The 30 month project is an important part of the KAS activities in Vietnam to strengthen administrative reform and local self governance in Vietnam and contributes to improved accountability, transparency in the Public Sector and increased people’s participation in local decision making. The intense cooperation with and involvement of ACVN leaders and staff in all project activities also aim at strengthening the institutional capacity of ACVN throughout the project cycle.

Background

With a population of 84 Mio, 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 urbanization has been the consequence.

1 to 1.3 million people added to urban areas each year to 2020. The current urbanization rate of 27% today is expected to increase to 45% in 2020. Migration is the bulk of urbanization (e.g. in 2005 migration represented 60% of Danang’s population increase; expected to be 71% by 2020).

With rapid urbanization the country has also been exposed to the negative impact such as traffic congestions, accidents, poor provision of services and service delivery, environmental pollution.

Urban planning could not keep up with urban expansion as plans lack participation from different non state actors and citizens as well as high quality input. Administrative procedures in land administration and construction planning remain time consuming and cumbersome.

The urbanization challenge should not disguise that Vietnam has taken important steps to implement administrative decentralization in the last decade which lead to increased responsibilities and decision making power of the local administrative levels.

The obligatory introduction of one-stop-shops in communes, wards (of cities) and townships by government decision Nr. 181 on September 4, 2003 as part of the overall Public Administration Reform Strategy, has led to an important improvement of transparency and efficiency of local administrative procedures. Access to such services and the predictability have improved strongly, making it easier especially for disadvantaged and vulnerable groups of the population to arrange their personal affairs where local administration has to be involved. Pursuant to the report of the Ministry of Home Affairs from January 2008 the one-stop-shop (OSS) model is now operational in 100% of all these local administrative units.

Increased efforts also have been made to improve relations between local authorities and the population through stronger involvement of the citizens in local planning and decisions making. The upgraded legislation of Grassroots Democracy from a Decree in 1998 to an Ordinance in 2007 can be interpreted as an attempt of the Government to better inform and involve the people in the political decision making at different levels.

Despite of these efforts the practice of participation of the people, the quality of public services and communication between local authorities and citizens is not yet satisfying due to insufficient quality in the operation of the OSS at many places and due to time-consuming and cumbersome procedures especially in land administration and construction issues.

The Urban Land Development Challenge directly affects the life of many Vietnamese citizens. Nearly all inhabitants in a municipality will profit or suffer from decisions in local development and land use planning, on priorities in public investments and in the establishment, upgrading or relocation of basic infrastructure (transport, communication, schools, healthcare, water, and electricity). A very high number of citizens are direct targets – and often victims – from decisions on land use in municipalities, namely in urban areas, where fast economic development, growing traffic and migration from rural areas force the local administrations to continuously develop and change their land use plans which has lead in many cities to increased side clearance and resettlement. Therefore the project will focus on a stronger involvement of different state and non-state actors and citizens at an early planning stage.

The project, in an integrative approach, will combine the assessment of the problems in for pilot cities with the process of curricula development, training of trainers and monitoring of the trained topics at the city level as well as include a longer monitoring exercise in the second half of the project to measure and supervise the application of the trained content by the city officials and its contribution to improved governance and citizen involvement in the 30 cities involved in the action.

Objectives

The overall objectives to which the action shall contribute are:

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.

Project Activities

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.