World Development Report 2004
Introduction: On January 29, 2003, a workshop with approximately 35 participants met for a full day of discussion on the WDR 2004. The workshop provided an opportunity for the WDR team to interact with a range of stakeholders in Uganda, notably officials from central and local government, researchers, and representatives of nongovernmental organizations, donors, and the private sector. One participant represented labor unions from Kenya.
Framework: The WDR framework was well received and proved to be a useful discussion point for the meeting. Several comments agreed on the necessity of institutional change as opposed to reforms at the margin. One participant noted that there has been work on how institutions can be changed, and the WDR should reference that work.
The message that resources are necessary but not sufficient needs to be clearly articulated. It was felt that the draft downplays the need for funds. The WDR message should not be â€˜make do with what you have.â€™ The focus on effective institutions was welcomed, but to have institutions that function, there must be investment in capacity.
Innovation and scaling up are key issues that cannot be handled by private sector or civil society organizations, but governments are generally poor at both M&E and on scaling up in practice.
The role of the donors was seen as vital for discussing resource constrained countries, and this part of the WDR was welcomed (projectized development mentioned several times as a problem for coordination and sustainability----one local official reported this as a loss in terms of direct relations to donors, but other saw budget support as allowing Ugandans to set their own agenda). The debate between the deputy secretary to the Treasury and local government representatives on this point was quite fascinating.
If user charges can be pro-poor in water and electricity, there needs to be evidence for that (especially as this is a â€˜sore sentenceâ€™ that will be quickly grabbed by some readers as the message of the WDR).
There were several skeptical comments about Global Funds, and the story from Uganda seems notably different than some of the reporting about the Funds and Ugandaâ€™s budget. Ugandan policymakers want to channel these funds to the sectors while respecting their hard-earned fiscal discipline.
Innovation and scaling up:
Role of M&E
How can public sector take lead?
What are best ways to implement lessons in each sector or relationship?
Politician/policymaker and provider
One of the most dynamic aspects of the day was the â€˜virtual workshopâ€™ on decentralization. A number of participants were from local government, and the interaction between central and local government highlighted the importance of giving attention to the particulars of what is meant by decentralization and how it is carried out in practice. Are there too many â€˜bits and pieces?â€™ Has Uganda set up too many layers or proliferated local governments too far (i.e., too many districts)?
Is public sector reform as outlined in the WDR only â€˜New Public Managementâ€™ in disguise?
Please do not give up on civil service reform---professional training and professional behaviors are part of making services work. This point was forcefully made by the private sector representative!
Several sector-level discussion (afternoon break-out groups) noted problems with local tender boards and major problems of their accountability.
Provider and Client
Is client power by the poor an illusory concept? What can make it happen?
What can be done when there is collusion between the policymaker and provider, or when they are virtually the same?
What if â€˜choiceâ€™ is between shoddy services?
Citizen and politician/policymaker
Inside channels are formal political relationships. WDR gives some attention but could give more to â€˜outsideâ€™ channels which involves civil society/coalitions.
What are forums for â€˜social dialogueâ€™ between all three actors?
Does decentralization add to or detract from voice and accountability?
Whether citizens are seeking universal services for all or targeted services is an important question.
The education discussion noted that while universal access is the approach and largely achieved, those working in the sector are now engaged in deep debates on how to reach the hard-to-reach children. Quality was recognized as an issue but not yet claiming the center stage.
Cost of reaching the excluded, what are the marginal costs for those most on the edge of the education system?
There remain obstacles to retention for girls.
Addressing demand side issues, such as children working or school time.
Uganda is paying teachers more for working in remote areas.
Non-tuition costs still an issue
The health sector debate was quite constructive, despite heated debates on funding versus efficiency of service delivery that are the norm. Issues raised include:
How to address complex issues of financing?
Challenges of keeping staff on site in rural areas
What will be the impact of user fee abolition on demand, service quality and availability?
Problem of political interference by policymaker on provider
How to fit civil society organizations and private providers into the overall framework when developing policy and financing guidelines?
Is there an agenda behind the WDR on water? Why is water being treated only as a commodity while ignoring its other intrinsic values?
Distinguish between rural, small town, and urban.
How do communities get a voice?
Who oversees the monitoring?
Privatization: how can there be a strong regulator?
Sanitation is generally neglected with strong social and cultural obstacles to addressing openly the issues involved.
The reality of neglect of sanitation was highlighted the following day at the meeting organized by the Uganda Bureau of Statistics on the on-going national household survey in terms of access to basic facilities.