Participation in Four New Projects Increases Community Ownership
The implementation of infrastructure rural projects in Montes de Maria has historically faced several constraints. Projects are usually prioritized, designed and implemented without community participation, which increases costs, decreases quality, and reduces empowerment, ownership and sustainability.
To overcome these constraints, the USAID-funded Colombia Responde Montes de Maria (CR MdM) program, implemented by Global Communities, is beginning four projects in which communities themselves improve three schools and build one health center. These projects amount to $165,524 — $154,401 given by CR MdM and $11,123 by the communities.
All these projects follow the same methodology that includes consultation, viability, dissemination, hiring an implementing agency and execution. Community Action Boards (JAC) are the organizations hired to implement these projects.
The first project completed was the improvement of a school, implemented by Sabanetica’s JAC in San Onofre. The JAC received training in managerial and financial issues, allowing them to reach the ability to implement the project. Once they acquired these skills, they achieved the autonomy to make decisions on financial issues as well as on selecting providers and recruitment processes. The projects have oversight committees that ensure transparency.
The communities have saved about eight percent of the total cost planned — which will turn into finances that will be used to expand the scope of the projects. Sabanetica, for example, will begin the construction of a meeting room for teachers and community leaders.
Through the implementation of these four projects, the communities achieved managerial capacity, increased their empowerment and ownership levels and transform people´s mentality and culture.
A "Contract Plan" to Help Departments and Municipalities Take on More Responsibilities
In order to enhance regional management capacity, the Government of Colombia developed a tool known as “contract plan” to allow departments and municipalities to play roles that previously would have been only the nation´s responsibility, such as employment generation and road construction.
On January 28th, 2013, the governments of Sucre and Bolivar, the municipalities of Ovejas, San Jacinto, San Juan and El Carmen de Bolivar, the Montes de Maria Foundation, the USAID´s Public Policy Program, Colombia Responde Montes de Maria, and the Administrative Unit for Consolidation (UACT) held a meeting to formulate the Montes de Maria´s “contract plan”.
The goal is to decrease poverty and inequality in the region, focusing on rural development, sustainability, and infrastructure for competitiveness. Colombia Responde Montes de Maria will engage experts who formulate projects according to the required methodologies. This contract plan should be signed by March 30th.