CSLB Project grants strengthen citizens’ participationSociety
Ulaanbaatar /MONTSAME/ Capacity Strengthening of Local Self-Governing Bodies (CSLB) Project grants are helping to strengthen Citizens’ Representative Khurals (CRKhs) and are enabling local-level councillors to undertake a range of innovative projects aimed at increasing their constituents’ participation in decision-making processes, reports SDC office in Mongolia.
In 2015-2016, the CSLB Project awarded 25 grants to local councillors throughout Mongolia. The grants were designed to complement the project’s 2013 National Training Programme for local councillors, which focused on such subjects as green development and how to engage with citizens to improve decision-making.
More than 10,000 citizens from 25 aimags, soums and districts took part in grant-related trainings and discussions in 2015-2106, including meetings held by CRKhs on issues related to Local Development Fund (LDF) projects and other policy matters.
The CSLB Project has been awarding grants for the past two years. Since 2014, 41 CRKhs have received grants totalling MNT 200 million (CHF 95,000).
Expanding on the initial two grant focal areas in 2014-2015 - increasing citizens’ participation in local decision-making and improving CRKhs’ oversight functions in relation to the LDF – in 2015-2016, three more areas were added:
§ Increasing the capacity of CRKhs to monitor the quality and accessibility of public services;
§ working with underrepresented groups such as women and youth; and
§ an open topic in which local councillors were able to propose their own activities.
“One of our objectives was to show that if local self-governing bodies and councillors are given a modest increase in budget, significant results can be achieved through effective spending and innovative approaches,” said B. Boldbaatar, CSLB Project National Project Director and Secretary-General of the Parliament Secretariat.
The grants have had a significant impact - citizens are more aware of the role of CRKhs and councillors are working closely with their constituents to formulate local policy that directly responds to, and impacts upon, the health, education and overall wellbeing of citizens.
This was demonstrated in Kharkhorin soum, Uvurkhangai aimag, where policy related to livestock stocking rates was subsequently developed.
“Once we received the grant, we conducted a survey among 2000 households and identified that there were community concerns about the overabundance of livestock in the soum centre. Following public discussions and a forum, we developed a policy that designates the land and infrastructure to be developed, which will assist herders in relocating from the soum centre,” said soum CRKh chair D. Lkhagvabud.
A final workshop organized by the CSLB Project for grant awardees to compile results and lessons learned was held in Kharkhorin soum from May 2-3.
“The two-day workshop was interesting; we learned about other grant projects, including innovative ways of using mobile citizens’ halls to identify the needs of herders living in remote and hard-to-reach areas,” said B. Batnairamdal, from Bayan-Uul soum, Govi Altai aimag.
“Within our own grant, we focused on improving citizens’ understanding of LDF projects by listing the types of projects that were eligible for funding, from which I personally learned a great deal. We organised an information session and presented this list to local citizens. I learned that we do not need huge amounts of funding to implement our rights and duties within the Constitution.”
The CSLSB Project is implemented by the United Nations Development Programme in partnership with the Parliament Secretariat of Mongolia, with support and financing from the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation.