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8.1 Institutions to be Involved

For the active participation of the intended beneficiaries the project needs to involve relevant government institutions such as line departments, banks, training and research centres and/or women and youth councils. Furthermore also NGOs such as rural people's organizations (see Section 6.1), church-related development agencies, national federations of NGOs and/or small rural development-oriented NGOs. The inclusion of selected NGOs is of course important as they have usually more the confidence of the people, are less hierarchic and bureaucratic and provide services more expediently and timely.

Either NGOs or Governments or both can thus be project implementers. But whatever the case, emphasis on overall support by the government is to be guaranteed from the commencement of a project. The continued support of FAO and/or other aid agency is also needed.

Where the political climate is good, governments that are willing should implement a project. In other cases, NGOs with experience at the grassroots level should be allowed to implement it solely or in cooperation with one or more government agencies.

The selection of government bodies and/or NGOs depends naturally also upon the type of project and upon the capabilities and willingness of these agencies to provide the beneficiary groups with the required services and facilities. It should also be considered whether one or more of these organizations are able and prepared to second to the project some of their capable field workers (e.g. extensionists, social workers) as participation agents (see Section 10).

For the selection of training and/or socio-economic research centres (in or outside a university), it should be considered whether these institutions have genuine concern for disadvantaged people and can provide on an institutional or personal basis the necessary expertise for participatory training, action research and evaluation (see Sections 11 and 12).

For the selection of banks, see Section 9.3.

8.2 Coordination

In order to obtain the required project support for the beneficiaries workable linking and coordination mechanisms are needed for obtaining effective policies, allocation of resources and delivery of services to meet the various needs of the groups. The main coordination mechanisms are explained hereunder.

Project Coordination or Participation Committee. At project area level this Committee is formed with representatives of: a) all relevant local agencies which deal with and (are to) serve the intended beneficiaries; b) the project staff, in particular the group promoters; c) the beneficiaries or their groups where these have been formed; and d) where opportune, selected local leaders. The Committee aims at promoting beneficiary participation and at solving related implementation problems, in particular the timely delivery of services and facilities to the rural poor groups.

The main functions of a participation (or coordinating) committee include: 1) to provide to the project staff the main orientations and guidelines for the planning, implementation and evaluation of beneficiary participation according to the basic project documents; 2) to help recruit and train the required project staff such as the participation agents (group promoters); 3) to promote effective two-way communication channels between low income groups in the project areas and supporting government and NGO officials at various levels; 4) to obtain the necessary training and support for the beneficiary groups from government and/or NGO bodies; 5) to help administer and control the project funds for group formation and action; 6) to promote the consolidation of the project's participatory actions and their multiplication In other areas of the country; and 7) to perform any other function that will enhance the success of the project.

Where a larger project has a coordinating committee, task force or the like for all project operations, the participation committee could be constituted as a sub-committee or even "coincide" with the larger coordinating committee.

Within the participation committee small technical committees could be created for e.g. the training (see Section 10.2), approval of group loans (see Section 8.5), and monitoring and evaluation.

A larger project may also have a special National Coordinating Committee or Task Force, or be supported by an existing National Committee for similar projects or efforts. It would be very desirable that also such a National Committee has a sub-committee or special task force to deal with participatory issues such as general policies, personnel, finance and other matters of national importance.

In the project itself there is a need to designate a preferably local staff member as the participation coordinator who is specifically encharged to support, coordinate and supervise all agents and operations concerned with beneficiary participation. He/she should be a member or possibly the chairperson of the specific participation (sub-) committee(s) at project area and national levels, brief periodically the members of these (sub-)committees and assist in the selection, training and guidance of the participation agents.

The required qualifications of the participation coordinator are: 1) acquaintance with grassroots realities and motivated to assist the poor; 2) experience in working with field agents such as extensionists and social workers; 3) experience with the operators of government and international bodies at various levels; 4) experience with organizing training activities; 5) academic degree or the equivalent in economics, social or agricultural science; and 6) good knowledge of the local language.

Need for flexible organizational set-ups: Though the above set-up is desirable, the coordination mechanisms may vary according to the conditions, possibilities and already existing coordination bodies of a country and project area as well as to the type of participatory project, e.g. one participation committee may sometimes replace the committees at national and/or lower levels. Moreover, for a project mainly involving government agencies a different coordination set-up may be required than for a project implemented mainly by one or more NGOs. For the latter type of project one or more small Task Forces (at national and/or at lower levels). including representatives of the NGOs concerned and possibly of the supporting government bodies, may (initially) be appropriate for project implementation.

Coordination of project support activities is to be foremost undertaken at the local level. Encouragement and support from national level is however, quite necessary to enhance the local level coordination.

Finally, delegation of responsibility to lower levels should be a disengagement process whereby most higher level functions are gradually delegated to lower levels, e.g. FAO to the implementing agency, which in turn delegates to the group promoters and/or the inter-group associations, and these to the groups.

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