Governance reforms strengthen agri projects under AusAid grant

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Tuesday, January 28, 2014


TO BETTER serve rural communities with critical infrastructure projects, governance reforms must be strengthened at the local government and project implementation level.

Under the US$3-million grant by the Australian Agency for International Development (AusAID), activities that will build local capacities in project implementation is seen to institute governance reforms in implementing agriculture projects under the Mindanao Rural Development Program (MRDP).

"Instituting governance reforms is important in improving the delivery of agriculture projects and enable a stronger investment climate in the countryside," MRDP program director Lealyn Ramos said.

"It will also improve revenue and accountability mechanisms that will enable the LGUs to prioritize delivery of agricultural projects and spur development in the countryside," she added.

Capacity building activities in the form of trainings and technical assistance (TA) have been conducted with the aim of enhancing the delivery of agriculture services and productivity through value chain.

At the project implementation level, the TA continues to strengthen the planning and management process for local subproject investments ensuring that projects adhere strictly to compliance measures and procurement processes.

Among the trainings conducted under the grant include financial management and procurement course for LGUs aimed at improving the bidding process of rural infrastructure projects. Focus was also given on management of environmental resource and in sustaining livelihood projects.

Training on Social and Environmental Safeguards (SES), which aims to ensure that people and the environment are not adversely affected by the MRDP projects, have been conducted for LGUs particularly the Program Planning, Monitoring and Implementing Units (PPMIUs), a mechanism introduced by the MRDP to improve project implementation capabilities at the local level.

The recent AusAid evaluation report on the grant reported that LGUs need to improve existing investment codes and policy guidelines in implementing projects.

There is also a need for more capacity building activities and support to LGUs to fully take advantage of public-private partnership (PPP) scheme.

To enhance agricultural services and productivity, trainings and mentoring on Value Chain Analysis (VCA) will be conducted for LGUs as well as on product development and value-adding schemes for agri-fishery products.

"Capability building activities are critical in ensuring that the DA and the LGUs effectively deliver services and fulfill the project requirements in a timely manner and competent quality thereby increasing the project’s sustainability," Ramos said.

Institutional governance reform (IGR) is one of the components under the second phase of MRDP. The program implements rural infrastructure and agricultural productivity enhancement projects and natural resource management interventions.

Published in the Sun.Star Davao newspaper on January 28, 2014.

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