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Chapter III - The framework: Implementation

A. Problems and constraints
B. Mechanisms for overcoming problems and constraints

A. Problems and constraints

41. The framework for energy planning for agriculture and rural development discussed in the last chapter can become operational only after overcoming a large number of barriers, problems and constraints, which come in the way of the integration of energy supply programmes with the energy development needs at the local provincial and national levels" These problems and constraints include, among others, lack of mechanisms at the local level to carry out energy planning and assessment with the involvement of the potential beneficiaries; lack of coordination between development programmes and energy supply inputs, which are usually provided as targets imposed from above; absence of coordination in the R&D and technology development efforts with operational programmes; lack of trained manpower; lack of coordination between planning, project formulation and implementation (35). These, and related issues, have been briefly discussed in the following paragraphs.

i) Sectoral and institutional barriers in coordination and "top-down" flow of targets

The existing approach for planning and implementing energy programmes in developing countries, is typically top-down and sectoral. A separate Ministry, Department, or Agency, is usually responsible for the supply of the different energy resources and programmes for rural areas: for example, Forestry for fuelwood; Electric power for rural electrification; petroleum for kerosene, diesel and petrol; Renewable Sources of Energy for solar, wind, biogas, etc. These Ministries/Departments/Agencies prepare and implement their own plans and programmes through a "line" system which sometimes reach the district and lower grassroots level. The targets for these programmes are also imposed from the top-down (for example, pumpsets to be energized; villages to be electrified; hectares for afforestation; biogas plants to be installed; improved stoves to be promoted, etc.) through "uniform" directives which go down to "inadequately trained" employees in these departments, or to the district or other administrative agencies at the grassroots level. Local circumstances are seldom, if at all, taken into account when deciding targets. Moreover, the targets for the different rural energy programmes and options do not usually have any relationship to one another, nor take into account the substitution and complementarily effects of the different energy options.

ii) Lack of coordination between energy demand and supply

Little coordination exists at any level, macro or micro, between the demand for energy for various agricultural and rural development activities and programmes, and the different energy supply programmes. Rural Development and Agriculture Departments, for example, which are concerned with the development of the agricultural sector and rural areas, do not usually include energy requirements in their programmes, except perhaps for fuelwood or electricity. This, too, is usually done on an ad hoc basis, without adequately quantifying the requirements on the basis of systematic regular assessments. As a result of such a sectoral, ad hoc approach, many developing countries are funding major programmes for social forestry, rural electrification, renewable sources of energy, biogas, etc. Each of these programmes are planned and implemented separately. These programmes are consuming a significant proportion of the scarce resources even though the impact at the local level on improving agricultural productivity and bringing about sustainable rural development is marginal, and in any case, hardly commensurate with the large-scale investments being mace.

iii) Lack of people's participation

Lack of impact of the existing energy supply programmes for rural areas in developing countries is also largely the result of the fact that these programmes have been designed without taking into account the situation at the grassroots level especially the needs and priorities of rural people, as they see them. The assessment of people's needs can, however, only be possible through in-depth micro-level studies and surveys carried out with the active involvement of the rural people, for which few mechanisms are available at present.

iv) Equity and rural energy programmes

Existing rural energy supply programmes often bypass the rural poor because they are unable to interpret their needs and priorities. Even the programmes which are specifically meant for the rural poor, e.g. improved woodstove programmes, either do not reach them, or are rejected by them because the initial design of the programme did not take into account their needs and priorities. Without proper assessment and planning at the grassroots level, these new programmes for the provision of energy resources and technologies in rural areas, such as biogas, fuelwood, and electrification programmes, often end up exacerbating rural inequalities by mainly benefitting the rural rich and adding to the energy problems of the rural poor (37).

v) Absence of coordinated R&D inputs and technology development and manufacturing efforts

The R&D and industrial set up in developing countries, seldom promote the development of equipment, products and technologies for alleviating the problems of the rural people. When such efforts are made (as for example in the case of alternative energy technologies), it is often on the basis of a superficial assessment of the vast "market potential" in the rural areas which could be "profitably" tapped, with subsidies being provided from government and donor agencies at the national or international level. The result is that such attempts usually end up as dismal failures, and the blame is then placed on the lack of receptivity of the rural people instead of on the lack of proper local assessment and planning and of linkages with rural development programmes.

vi) Lack of adequate involvement of financial institutions

Financial institutions in developing countries are also frequently out of touch with the real needs and aspirations of the rural beneficiaries, especially the rural poor. Although many developing countries have established programmes for the provision of credit and soft loans for rural and agricultural development, these programmes, including those for energy, are mainly target-oriented, with the poor remaining outside the mainstream because they are unable to provide the required guarantees. Financial packages for rural energy programmes have also to be taken up as part of the comprehensive planning approach if they are to make the desired impact.

vii) Lack of coordination between Government and voluntary organizations

Government officials in rural areas frequently do not have training or knowledge of energy planning and technology assessment or do not have the motivation to carry out such energy assessment and planning by reaching out to the people. Voluntary action groups and non-governmental organizations, because of their local presence and commitment to rural development, can fill this gap by bringing together the people and the programmes meant for them. However, voluntary agencies and NGOs frequently do not join hands with the Government machinery within the framework of a common programme. Without a suitable coordination mechanism, the work of the NGOs is often restricted to sporadic demonstration projects, which makes a limited impact on improving rural living conditions through sustainable rural development.

viii) Trained manpower as agents of change

Energy is a derived demand which covers all the activities of subsistence and production in the rural socio-economic setting, but its importance is not directly perceived by the rural beneficiaries, who seldom rate it high in their priorities. Grassroots planning should make the rural people recognise the importance of energy and its relationship to their lives and their environment. Trained planners, who can easily communicate with the rural people and have the professional skills to prepare and implement rural energy plans, are, however, seldom available. Lack of trained manpower (which would combine a commitment to rural development with professional skills in energy assessment and planning) has often been found to be a major constraint in developing and implementing rural energy planning in the developing countries which have taken up such programmes, for example India and China (39). Training programmes have to be designed and organized for the different levels of personnel and for the rural beneficiaries, and would be effective if they were taken up as part of a comprehensive programme for rural energy planning (39).

ix) Lack of integration between planning and project formulation and implementation

Rural energy planning only becomes meaningful to rural people if it is closely integrated with field implementation of rural development programmes, so that they can see projects and activities through which energy technologies and supplies are made available to them to meet their real needs and aspirations. Rural energy plans must therefore result in the formulation and implementation of integrated rural energy projects which are area-based, and which have the necessary components for the promotion of new and conventional energy resources and technologies through appropriate demonstration and extension, as well as for the provision of financial incentives that would bridge the gap (even partially at least) between social and private costs (e.g. use of "frees' firewood versus paying for an improved woodstove). The design and components of such area-based integrated rural energy programmes and projects have to be prepared and coordinated with other rural development and agricultural programmes, so that rural energy becomes a part of, and is derived from, rural development programmes (40).

42. In summary, the framework for rural energy planning can become operational and effective only after the problems and constraints which range across all aspects of implementation, especially mechanisms to ensure people's participation, and the institutional set up and coordination mechanisms at the national, provincial and grassroots levels, are designed and developed.

B. Mechanisms for overcoming problems and constraints

43. As a first step, in order to tackle the problems and constraints discussed above, an assessment of the existing national institutional set-up, implementation arrangements and the ongoing rural energy programmes should be carried out. After this information is available, new implementation arrangements would have to be designed and developed, with the following broad design features:

- An institutional mechanism, for example a project cell for grassroots planning and implementation of integrated rural energy project programmes.

- A national planning and policy making group to provide policy guidance and technical and financial support to the project programmes at the micro-level, preferably in an existing institution, department, or Ministry, e.g., the Ministry of Planning or Energy.

- A planning unit at the national level which would be responsible for preparing national level rural energy plans based on data and feedback from the micro-level plans, and for providing allocations for different programmes on the basis of these plans.

- Coordination mechanisms at the national, state and district levels to ensure the provision of various inputs and technical support to the programmes at the micro-level by the R&D, academic, scientific and technological, and industrial infrastructure at the country and the provincial/district levels.

- Coordination mechanisms at the grassroots level which would ensure the active participation of non-governmental institutions and individuals, catalizing people's participation of the intended beneficiaries and their elected and non-elected representatives, so as to make the rural energy programme truly a people's programme.

Tasks at Micro & Macro-levels

44. The new implementation arrangements for the framework, incorporating the above design features, will have to carry out specific tasks at the different levels and hierarchies of the country's administrative structure at the national, provincial, district or county, village level, etc. For the purpose of general guidelines, the tasks that need to be carried out by the implementation set-up may be divided into two broad categories, at the micro and macro-levels:

i) Implementation tasks at the micro-level

The tasks to be undertaken by the institutional arrangement for the programme at the micro-level would include: preparation of area-based plans and projects; organization of people's participation; evaluation and assessment of technologies; feedback to R&D organizations and manufacturers on the operation, maintenance and performance of technologies; assessment of financial support and incentive requirements for different energy resources and technologies for the different classes of beneficiaries; coordination and organization of the supply of energy resources and technologies that come from outside the micro-region.

ii) Implementation tasks at the macro-level

Implementation tasks at the national level would include: policy directions, including those for pricing, financial incentives and subsidies for the programme; preparation of comprehensive national and state plans for rural energy, including investment requirements and allocations for the various rural energy programmes on the basis of the data inputs and feedback provided from the micro-level; allocation of material and financial resources to the micro-regions on the basis of the short-term and medium-term plans; demand projections and assessment of supply requirements for the long-term; organization of the involvement and participation of various national, provincial/State and local institutions in the public and private sectors in the organization of national and provincial training programmes and development of manpower resources; coordination with other countries and bilateral and multilateral agencies and organizing international cooperation and support for appropriate areas of the programme.

Element of the implementation arrangement

45. In keeping with the above design features of the implementation arrangements for the framework, and the identified tasks to be undertaken as part of these arrangements at the micro and macro-levels, the operational, and institutional mechanisms for the proposed framework may now be developed.

46. The composition of the implementation arrangements will naturally vary according to the situation in each country. As noted earlier, an assessment of the existing institutional infrastructure at the different levels in the country needs to be carried out to determine how existing institutions and their ongoing arrangements may be modified and adapted to suit the design features and tasks required for the new proposed mechanisms. As far as possible existing institutions should be strengthened, instead of building new institutions.

47. Therefore, while the final institutional arrangements would depend on the institutional infrastructure and resource endowments of the country, the elements of the new implementation arrangements that may be common to most developing countries may include:

1. A national high-level political inter-ministerial body to coordinate the rural energy programmes in the different ministries, departments and agencies, and to provide overall political direction and support to the programme.

2. A policy and planning rural energy unit in the National Planning Ministry or Planning Commission/Planning Body, or the Ministry of Energy. This unit would prepare comprehensive rural energy plans, and provide the allocation of resources to various energy supply activities and programmes at the national, provincial and state and micro-levels, on the basis of these plans.

3. A nodal agency or cell unit in a central ministry or department, that would coordinate implementation of the programmes at the national level, for providing resources and financial inputs, as well as technical assistance and policy support. This central ministry may typically be Agriculture and Rural Development, though in some cases, depending on the specific situation in the county, the nodal Ministry may be the Planning Ministry itself or the Energy Ministry.

4. Rural energy units in major energy supply departments at the national level including, for example, the Department of Electrical Power, Petroleum, Forestry and Renewable Energy Sources.

5. At the next level, that is the provincial or state level, the coordination of the programmes may be carried out by a policy planning body, similar to the one at the national level. Implementation may be organized by a rural energy unit located in a department or ministry dealing with agricultural and rural development in the provincial or state government administration. A rural energy planning unit may be formed in the state planning department and also in the most important energy supply department of the province, typically the electricity or power department.

6. Finally, at the micro-level, a cell or agency may be created as part of the administrative structure which would function as a planning and project cell for that area (covering at least a cluster of villages, or an administrative unit such as a block, taluka, municipality or a county). This cell should be staffed with professional manpower capable of organizing large-scale people's participation, and with some expertise in energy planning and project preparation and assessment of technologies and their operation.

7. Coordination mechanisms through the creation of local bodies or institutions/committees under the coordination of either the executive head of the county, or the elected leader/head of the local elected body whichever is more appropriate. This is to include representation from local institutions, banks, non-governmental organizations, academic groups, environment groups, elected representatives of the people, and local leaders and opinion makers. This group would oversee and guide the work of the project cell or agency at the micro-level.

48. If decentralized institutions or statutory local bodies exist for planning and implementing development programmes as in the case of the Asian and Latin American countries, the rural energy planning unit at the micro-level may be appropriately affiliated to, or housed in such statutory bodies (41).

49. The elements of the implementation arrangements described above are given in flow chart 2. The creation or organization of the proposed implementation arrangements may involve several institutional changes and structural alterations in the existing administrative structure. It would therefore be appropriate if the proposed arrangements are built up in phases as part of a national programme, which is developed systematically through pilot exercises and projects. The next chapter discusses the contents of such a phased programme.

FLOW CHART 2 - Implementation Elements of the Arrangements and Related Aspects for setting up the framework in a developing country

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