1) What is the National Community Driven Development Project (NCDDP)?
The objective of the project is to enable poor rural communities to benefit from improved access to basic infrastructure services and enhance the government's capacity to promptly and effectively respond to emergencies. The program is implemented by the Department of Rural Development (DRD), with financing support from the Government of Myanmar, the Governments of Italy and Japan, and the World Bank.
The program currently covers 27 townships and is in the process of scaling up, to ultimately provide funds for communities to improve access to basic services and essential infrastructure for an estimated 7 million people across 63 townships in Myanmar.
Since 2013, the NCDDP has delivered results by putting communities at the center of planning and managing development resources. Villagers decide how to use project funds, designing sub-projects including the rehabilitation and expansion of school buildings, health centers, water supply systems, footpaths, jetties and bridges. Now in its third cycle, over 5,000 sub-projects will be identified, designed and implemented by communities in 2016.
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2) Who is implementing the project?
The project is implemented by the Department of Rural Development (DRD). To provide technical and institutional support, DRD hires township assistants in each township to provide support on topics including procurement, financial management, and monitoring and evaluation. The township assistants are also responsible for hiring local community facilitators who are recruited from within the township, trained by DRD and are the interface of the project in engaging with communities, supporting the introduction, planning, and implementation of the project.
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3) What is the role of the World Bank in the project?
Beyond the concessional financing provided for the project (the $480 million IDA financing is a mix of grants and interest-free loans), the World Bank provides technical support (financed out of its own resources, not out of the IDA grant or credit) for the implementation of the project. This includes regular implementation support missions to visit project sites, engage with government, civil society and development partners and advise DRD on implementation issues. It also includes ensuring that project funds are used for the purposes intended by reviewing procurement and financial management carried out under the project. All procurement under the project is done in accordance with World Bank guidelines, and financial information (including contracts awarded and findings of annual financial audits) are publicly disclosed.
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4) What parts of the country does NCDDP cover?
The NCDDP covers at least one township in each state/region of the country. Eventually, the project will be implemented in at least 63 townships across the country. The rollout has proceeded on a gradual basis, with three townships starting in the first year (2013), six townships added in the second year (2014), and 18 townships in the third year (2015). The following is the current list of townships participating in the project:
Year 1: Kanpetlet (Chin State), Kyunsu (Shan State), Namhsan (Tanintharyi Region)
Year 2: Three first year townships, Leymyetna (Ayeyarwady Region), Sidoktaya (Magway Region), Pinlebu (Sagaing Region), Ann (Rakhine State), Htantabin (Yangon Region), Tatkone (Nay Pyi Taw Union Territory, NPT)
Year 3: Nine second year townships, Paletwa (Chin State), Tanintharyi (Tanintharyi Region), Myaung (Sagaing Region), Banmauk (Sagaing Region), Thabaung (Ayeyarwady Region), Kyangin (Ayeyarwady Region), Mindon (Magway Region), Khawmu (Yangon Region), Lewe (NPT), Ngazun (Mandalay Region), Nyaung-U (Mandalay Region), Monyo (Bago Region), Kyaukkyi (Bago Region), Chaungzon (Mon State), Bilin (Mon State), Hpruso (Kayah State), Demoso (Kayah State), Kyainseikgyi (Kayin State)
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5) Does the NCDDP operate in townships affected by conflict?
Several of the NCDDP townships have been affected by armed conflict, including Namhsan (Shan), Kyaukki (Bago), Hpruso (Kayah), Demoso (Kayah), Kayinseikgyi (Kayin), Paletwa (Chin), Tanintharyi (Tanintharyi), and Bilin (Mon).
NCDDP has been operating in Namhsan, Shan State, since the first project cycle in 2013. After the township selection in 2013, northern Shan State witnessed an outbreak of armed conflict. Despite an intensification of conflict over this period, NCDDP has been operating without any security incidents for project staff or villages. This is largely because all NCDDP community facilitators in Namhsan are from the area, are intimately familiar with the local security context, and because the project has continuously engaged with a broad range of actors at the township level.
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6) Why is NCDDP expanding into areas affected by conflict?
Townships are identified for inclusion in NCDDP based on a transparent and participatory selection process. Poverty rates are the primary criterion for selecting the participating townships. Additional criteria are: (i) the absence of external funding for similar activities; (ii) willingness and capability of the township authorities to implement the project; (iii) a minimum level of peace and stability in the township to allow for safe implementation and supervision of the project; and (iv) a minimum level of logistical access to and within the township.
Using the criteria above, DRD organized a public consultation in each state/region, chaired by the Chief Minister, including local authorities, representatives of ethnic groups present in the state/region, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and development partners with existing projects in the region/state, and local civil society groups and community members. The purpose of the consultations was to prioritize between three and five townships per region/state that best met the selection criteria. To date, township selection consultations have been completed in all 14 states and regions and the Nay Pyi Taw Union territory.
Following the identification of prioritized townships, the list of proposed townships was submitted to the Chief Minister for validation against the selection criteria. The Chief Minister sent the list of prioritized townships to the Ministry of Livestock, Fisheries and Rural Development for confirmation, whereupon the Foreign Aid Management Working Committee selects townships for participation in the NCDDP. This process is outlined in Chapter 1, Paragraph 18 to 25 of the project's Operations Manual [English, Myanmar].
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7) Was any work done prior to implementation of the project?
In townships that have been affected by conflict, the World Bank commissioned independent experts on armed conflict in Myanmar to undertake an assessment on the suitability of the project's introduction in these areas. Based on field visits, it determined the security conditions and support of key local stakeholders. Some of this field work was carried out jointly with DRD, and some meetings were held separately. In addition, consultations with Ethnic Armed Organizations(EAOs) took place separately both by DRD and by the World Bank. Where feasible, tripartite meetings were held with these organizations prior to the start of implementation.
Representatives from EAOs operating in respective states/regions were invited and in many cases participated in township selection meetings and socialization workshops to ensure inclusive participation in these processes. In addition, the World Bank and DRD have consulted relevant EAOs at local and senior leadership levels to clarify that villages under control of respective EAOs are welcome and eligible to participate in the project, if they choose to do so.
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8) What about concerns that the project will exacerbate local tensions?
The project is deeply cognizant of local tensions and aims to be responsive to the different context of every township.
For those areas covered by the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement (NCA), signed on October 15, 2015, Chapter 6, Paragraph 25 of the agreement notes that government and Ethnic Armed Organization (EAO) signatories have agreed to carry out health, education, and socio-economic development activities in consultation with each other in areas where EAO signatories have historically been responsible for development and security. For those areas not covered by the NCA, some similar agreements are contained in bilateral ceasefires while others must be negotiated on a case by case basis.
Therefore, while some frameworks for engagement exist, the project proceeds only following consultations with local stakeholders and upon the request of communities themselves.
At the same time, operations in conflict affected areas present special complexities, including staff safety, trust by communities in public institutions, presence of internally displaced peoples (IDPs), social fragmentation, sensitivities over identity, ownership and access.
In recognition of these challenges NCDDP has implemented or is considering a range of conflict-specific adaptations. The project will continuously review and adapt implementation and supervision modalities as needed to ensure that its operations are appropriate to local security conditions as well as social and governance dynamics. Extensive consultations with a broad range of stakeholders, local conflict analysis and external monitoring all contribute to the conflict sensitivity of operations. These adaptations come in addition to project design elements that ensure accountability and transparency through a robust grievance handling mechanism, social audits, and regular Multi-Stakeholder Review meetings, which bring together members of the local community, civil society and NGOs, and local authorities to discuss components of the project that worked well and areas where it can be improved.
Myanmar's experience with the NCDDP to date and experiences in countries such as Indonesia, the Philippines and Afghanistan have shown the potential to advance community-grounded development on a national scale, including in conflict-affected areas. Founded on transparency, feedback, and participation, NCDDP is already designed to offer multiple points of engagement, including through a grievance handling mechanism, social audits, and annual multi-stakeholder reviews. These multiple engagement points mean that the project is well positioned to respond to the rapidly changing contexts of conflict and post-conflict environments.
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9) What will expansion of the project look like in the current cycle?
For new townships under the third cycle, socialization workshops were completed in all townships by December 2015, bringing together local community members, civil society, and local authorities from both the Myanmar government and representatives from the Ethnic Armed Organization (EAO). Township NCDDP offices were set up and community facilitators trained by February 2016. Once they completed the required training, facilitators began visiting project villages to commence orientation meetings where the election of volunteers for project management responsibilities and a participatory social assessment will occur, following a process described in Chapter 2 of the Operations Manual [English, Myanmar]. Once the preparation phase of the sub-project cycle is complete, community facilitators will work closely with villagers to plan and implement sub-projects. Once completed, social audits will be conducted at the village level, sub-projects are then reviewed as part of the multi-stakeholder review meetings at the township and Union levels. This constitutes one project cycle. Each village is eligible to participate in four annual cycles.
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10) What if villages choose not to be involved in the project? Can they be included in the future?
Participation in the project is entirely up to community members themselves. All villages in an NCDDP township, including those not on the official government list, are eligible to participate in the project and the DRD, with support from the World Bank, will undertake to explain this; however, the decision on whether to participate is left to communities. Recognizing the uncertainty and complexity of the ongoing peace process, NCDDP seeks to maximize flexibility for communities in order to ensure that those who want to participate are able to do so. For communities that choose not to participate, they will still be eligible to participate and receive sub-project block grants for four annual cycles, if they choose to participate in the next annual cycle. For villages that choose to participate in the first annual cycle but subsequently choose to withdraw from the project, they would also be eligible to rejoin in a later cycle.
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11) How is the project ensuring the participation of marginalized groups and ethnic minorities?
The project includes a range of measures to ensure the full participation of vulnerable groups and ethnic minorities, by: (i) recruiting village volunteers elected from among ethnic groups; (ii) holding free and informed consultations for village and village tract development plans prior to the project; (iii) involving ethnic minorities in community decision-making and monitoring and evaluation; and (iv) using local languages. There are also strong gender components to ensure that women have an equal voice in decision-making.
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12) Will the project work in villages not included on the official government register?
All villages will be eligible to participate in the project. In townships under the first cycle, for example, community facilitators reported several villages that were not officially registered but contained tens and, in some cases, hundreds of households. In the next sub-project cycle, community members in these village tracts voted to ensure that these "non-gazetted" villages be included in the project. DRD and the World Bank subsequently adapted the project to respond to the local context and community voices, and those "non-gazetted" villages are now participating in the project.
In third cycle townships, the World Bank has commissioned an independent analysis and field assessments of the local context. In addition, local Ethnic Armed Organizations (EAOs) representatives have been consulted on the villages in remote areas and/or outside exclusive government control in order to identify all eligible villages.
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13) Will the project support non-government schools or health centers?
Yes, rehabilitation of non-government schools or health centers is eligible for support under the project, if identified as a priority by the respective community. There is no distinction between government and non-government schools or health centers under a list of identified priorities that the project supports.
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14) Is there a grievance redress mechanism if things go wrong?
Yes, the project has established a robust grievance handling mechanism with several modalities including locked mail boxes in villages, hotline, NCDDP website, email [firstname.lastname@example.org] and social media to strengthen accountability to beneficiaries and a channel for inputs from stakeholders at all levels. Accessible by anyone, including ethnic and religious minority groups, the mechanism allows for the identification and resolution of issues facing the project, including misconduct of staff, misuse of funds, or other improper behavior. The mechanism enables transparency around not only receiving and recording complaints but also on resolution of the grievance. Organized through grievance focal points (both male and female) at the village, township, and Union level, complaints are handled at the most local level. The grievance handling mechanism has a demonstrated fast response rate, with a maximum response time of four weeks from the initial receipt of a grievance, and a maximum of three months for resolution of the complaint. Between January 2014 and December 2015, grievance handling mechanism fielded 1669 complaints and enquiries, with 99 percent of these responded to and resolved in a timely manner.
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15) Will there be independent monitoring of the project?
Yes, transparency and accountability are core components of the project. In addition to the grievance handling mechanism, the project include multiple points of independent financial, technical and social audit. All villagers are invited to participate in the social audit, which is held at the conclusion of each annual sub-project cycle. Multi-stakeholder reviews (MSRs) are also held at the conclusion of each annual sub-project cycle in order to bring together all stakeholders at the township level to share experiences from implementation over the previous cycle and discuss improvements for the coming one. Following completion of township-level MSRs, DRD organizes a Union-level MSR to share experiences from across townships to which all stakeholders, including government officials from the township and Union level, project staff of all levels, community members, union and township-level technical assistance team, interested NGOs, development partners, and civil society can attend. Finally, the World Bank undertakes over each year regular implementation support missions to review grievance monitoring data and solicit feedback from stakeholders, including development partners and civil society.
Source: World Bank