Millennium Partners (formerly Millennium-IP3) in September 2006 undertook an assessment of four local government projects under USAID’s Local Government Program in Ecuador and carried out several local government strengthening projects in the period of one year.
Our approach to implementing the two Components and the activities was guided by the principles of putting USAID first while recognizing that our success was driven by Ecuadorian ownership of the project management and activities. Our team was led by two Ecuador natives, Paula de la Puente, Chief of Party, and Santiago Medina, Deputy Chief of Party, both local government experts who now head our Ecuador office in Quito. In addition to the assessment, they led the bridge project to provide advice and training, not only to continue some existing activities including grants to four universities for a Graduate Certificate in Local Public Management (Diplomado), but to also innovate and create the conditions for future USAID local government programs.
Local Government Assessment:
The objective was to identify the achievements and constraints of the USAID’s LG Program and to provide lessons learned and best practice recommendations. USAID/Ecuador implemented a democracy strategy that sought to restore citizen confidence in democratic governance by strengthening government capacity, particularly at the local level, and increasing accountability and citizen participation.
Our assessment determined the following:
- Citizen Participation: a linkage exists between more responsive and capable local government through greater citizen participation, transparency and oversight mechanisms using watchdog organizations or groups, known in Spanish as veedurias.
- Increased Citizen Confidence: citizen confidence in their local government was increased by materially supporting the local governments’ ability to deliver on basic needs in a democratic and transparent manner.
- Transparency and oversight mechanisms were found effective in improving local government’s delivery on basic services and needs.
- Decentralization was advanced despite ongoing political and economic instability and is being pushed from the bottom up indicating a popular will that could impact national level decision-making. The challenge remains to develop the means to sustain and deepen this process while finding mechanisms for transferring best practices to national level institutions.
Local Government Strengthening Activities:
- Public Management Training Graduate Certificate in Local Public Management (GCLPM)
This has been a very successful program to train local leaders in public management in accordance with international standards of practice. Millennium also created an internship program to give participants the opportunity to apply the skills learned in the academic program to real life activities of local governments in order to obtain practical experience.
- Municipal and Local Governance strengthening:
The Municipality of Santa Cruz in the Galapagos, through an inter-institutional agreement with the Association of Ecuadorian Municipalities (AME), implemented a new organization structure for the Municipality. As a result of the agreement between the Municipality of Santa Cruz and other national and local institutions, a workshop on how to prevent and fight against trafficking in persons (TIPS) and sex tourism was co-financed and held. We provided technical assistance to the Tourism Department to improve capacity and coordinated the Santa Rosa Junta Parroquial Eco-tourism Project. The Health Municipal Department was aided in developing a project profile to mobilize funding for a family planning program (due to migration and birth) in Santa Cruz. Finally, technical assistance was provided to the Santa Cruz’s Municipal Planning Department to develop guidelines on how to implement an urban zoning plan.
- Citizen Participation Strategies : A citizen participation assembly was organized in Santa Cruz and strategies were discussed to strengthen citizen oversight of government efforts to combat trafficking in persons (TIPs), and to promulgate the Maternity Law. We also helped develop citizen participation through training and awareness raising in the Local Management Territorial Council.
TIPs Workshop in Santa Elena
Anti Corruption Activities: Millennium engaged civil society and municipalities to work together to promote greater civic participation and transparency in government procurements and other local government operations. This involved mapping of local actors, capacity building assessments, agreement on capacity building plans and formation of cantonal development committees for business, agriculture, education, health and gender. Our activities also involved assisting civil society groups to form and operate anti-corruption watchdog organizations or veedurias that attended bid opening and tracked procurements and other important municipal activities where the opportunity for corruption exists.
Public Private Partnerships (PPPs) In December 2007, as part of the effort to examine strategies to improve service delivery and infrastructure development in various local governments, the Millennium Team mobilized experts to the Galapagos Islands. There they undertook prefeasibility studies of water, wastewater, solid waste and port projects on the islands and delivered recommendations to the local governments on how to develop these PPP projects.
Regulatory and Legal Reform– Millennium Partners also undertook a national level legal and regulatory reform analysis of the potential climate for PPPs in Ecuador. This entailed an in depth analysis, a workshop for government officials, and recommendations to strengthen the legal and regulatory environment for PPPs.
The Millennium Team prepared a preliminary assessment of the potential opportunities and constraints for PPPs in the Galapagos.
PPP Workshop Santa Elena
The project also provided training and technical assistance to local governments throughout Ecuador in areas such as financial management, greater citizen participation and improved transparency in local government. Millennium also undertook prefeasibility studies of water, sanitation, urban development and other public private partnership projects in Esmeraldas and in Santa Cruz.
Local Government Strengthening/Northern Border
in 2008 Millennium Partners continued to support local government strengthening by working with the International Organization for Migration (IOM) on the Programa Integrado de Desarrollo Municipal (PIDEM) to assist municipal governments in Ecuador’s Northern Border region. Millennium provided support for activities to increase citizen participation and greater transparency by involving citizens in the procurement process run by municipalities to procure goods and services for water, sanitation and other small social projects.