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Integrated Development Plan for the Municipalities in the Amazonia and Galapagos, (IDAG)
Integrated Development Plan for the Municipalities in the Amazonia and Galapagos, (IDAG)
Presented by: The Consorcio de Municipios Amazónicos y Galápagos, COMAGA; Fundacion ChasquiNet
New Responsibilities, Old Problems, New Opportunities
Changes in the Ecuadorian constitution, implemented in September 2007, have moved the responsibilities to provide local infrastructures and services in areas such as health, education, connectivity, economic development and transport, away from the central government toward the local municipalities. Whilst this is strengthening the local communities, these fundamental changes also present them with huge challenges: How can the communities execute and fulfill these new responsibilities in an effective and sustainable way?
The pressing needs for adequate local infrastructures and services are clearly perceived and expressed by all stakeholders in the communities, but there is at the same time a lack of a clear vision and practical experience in how the necessary infrastructures and services can be provided and maintained under community leadership and control. This manifests itself mainly through the reality that:
  1. Areas such as health, education, connectivity, economic development and transport are seen as separate and not as interconnected and dependable on each other.
  2. Solutions that are envisioned and implemented are purely equipment based and do not consider vital aspects such as relevance, training and maintenance.
  3. Questions such as financial, political, cultural and technological sustainability are rarely considered or addressed.
As a result highly inadequate solutions are implemented:
Connectivity is purchased without knowledge of all the alternative technologies available for the area, without a clear knowledge of the bandwidth and speed requirements, without cost comparisons and economy of scale considerations, without taking into account connectivity options for all stakeholders in the community and strategic alliances between sectors, without a clear business and sustainability model.
  1. Hardware such as computers are purchased, without cost comparisons and economy of scale considerations, without a clear understanding which specifications are required for their specific uses, without adequate training of the users not only in the use of computers but also in their strategic uses for the specific areas they are implemented, without plans for their ongoing maintenance and recycling.
  2. Development opportunities that are available through the effective and strategic use of connectivity and information and communication technologies are not perceived and developed.
  3. Technology alone is seen as the only solution for many problems. For example, in many schools the presence of computers in the classroom is seen as “the” solution to all educational problems. Technology is seen as a value in itself and not as a tool that requires skills and maintenance and that has to be used as one tool besides a number of other tools in order to achieve the best result.
The communities alone do not have the capacity to execute their new tasks in an effective and sustainable way. They are keenly aware of this as the new technologies implemented do not produce the much hoped for and desired development results, in fact they achieve the opposite by taking up resources without resulting tangible benefits. For this reason the communities are actively looking towards local, regional, national and international partners and in all sectors, in order to support the execution of the new responsibilities in such a way that they show clear positive development outcomes and impact. These partnerships are crucial not only to the communities but for all stakeholders in the area of development such as private sector companies, NGO’s and international development agencies as they are an very important step towards a more effective and sustainable development policies. These partnerships do not only provide the communities with much needed support, they also enable the social and private sector partners involved to achieve their development and economical goals in a very effective way, on a long term basis and on a large scale.
The Consorcio de Municipios Amazónicos y Galápagos, COMAGA, (www.comaga.org.ec),  representing 48 municipalities of the Ecuadorian Amazon region and Galapagos; Fundacion ChasquiNet, Ecuador, (www.chasquinet.org), which is active in many development sectors throughout Latin America and beyond; have entered into an agreement to execute a joint project: Integrated Development Plan for the Municipalities in the Amazonia and Galapagos, IDAG. The aim of the project is to support the communities in the Ecuadorian Amazonia and Galapagos to execute and fulfill their new responsibilities in an effective and sustainable way. One of the main strategies of this partnership is it to engage further national and international organizations, companies and as partners in this undertaking.
The financial requirement of the project is estimated in the tens of million USD, which will have to be secured from a large spectrum of sources from public funding to international development aid. The initial phases of the project alone will require several years to execute and a multidisciplinary and multi sectoral overall approach is crucial for its success. Overall the project faces a multitude of challenges but also opens up a multitude of opportunities for just and sustainable development. Not only cover the required infrastructures and services communities with a estimated half a million inhabitants, but they also cover a vast geographical area that stretches far beyond the Ecuadorian part of the Amazon basin and have a key influence on two of the most valuable and sensitive ecological habitats on the globe: the Amazonia and Galapagos. It is clear that the IDAG project is as much an environmental impact and protection project as it is a technology/infrastructure/connectivity project. The overall importance of the project can hardly be overestimated.
Project Implementation
The project is implemented in key phases and stages, with each of them having a specific function and outcomes. The project execution centers on a number of Working Groups (WG), with each WG having clearly defined tasks and expected outcomes in an agreed timeframe. All WG’s are organized under the overall leadership and responsibility of the IMAG Project Central WG.
Phase 1: Base Memorandum of Understandings, MoU’s, and creation of IMAG Central WG
A general MoU has been signed between COMAGA, and Fundacion ChasquiNet in 2010 (and a project specific MoU will be negotiated in the first quarter of 2011).  The MoU’s are the basis of the IMAG Central WG. The role of the Central WG is to oversee the overall implementation and execution of the project. The Central WG invites other organizations, companies and institutions to join the co-operation as partners.
Phase 2: Investigation, establishing the base-line
The first questions asked by the communities are often: How can we get connected, how many and what computers should we buy? Before any infrastructure decisions can be made, some much more fundamental questions have to be answered: Connectivity for what? What forms of technology respond best to the existing and future projected needs? What training and maintenance issues have to be addressed? How can the technologies be sustained in the short, medium and long term?
In phase 2 of the IDAG project, a baseline of the existing stakeholders, strategic uses, services and infrastructures will be developed; in the main development areas of: a) connectivity, (seen as the crosscutting issue), b) education, c) health, d) economic development, e) e-government. In a second step the projected development needs of the communities in the short, medium and long term of the key development areas have to be established.
The project will first establish the existing baseline and future needs in 5 selected communities in the Amazonia and Galapagos. (Lumbaqui, Cascales, …). These 5 communities are used to serve as pilot communities for the overall project. The lessons learned from the implementation and execution of the project in these communities will be used in the up-scaling of the overall project.
Implementing partners and their role:
Phase 2 will be implemented and executed by an IDAG Baseline Investigation WG. The members of this WG are COMAGA, ChasquiNet and representatives from the 5 pilot communities. Fundacion ChasquiNet is in charge of the leadership of this WG and responsible for the overall execution of phase 2.
GKP in particular represents and co-ordinates the project on the international level, provides know-how through its members and is in charge of the overall project evaluation, monitoring and international dissemination. In as much as the early work will be in 5 pilot communities, this project actually fits under the Scaling-up, Diffusion and Replication (SDR) programming area of GKP.
The role of GKP in phase 2 is to create 2 further WGs:
a) The IDAG International Support WG. The aim of this WG is to promote the project on an international basis in general and towards potential partners and funders in particular.
b) The IDAG Evaluation WG. The aim of this group is to identify GKP member organizations as potential partners for the overall project execution and evaluation. The group is also to propose a methodology for data collection ongoing evaluation of the project to the IMAG Central WG for adoption.
Remunerations:
Throughout the whole project the executing projects partners will be remunerated based on their overall expenses as described and agreed in the specific project MoU.
Methodologies used:
On-line and literature investigations and research, WGs, site visits, face to face meetings with the relevant stakeholders, community consultations, etc…
Expected outcomes:
  1. Creation of 3 WGs
  2. Baseline report on 5 communities
  3. Establishment of projected needs in the short, medium and long term of the key development areas
  4. International promotion and dissemination of the project. Initial report on prospective and available international financial and technical support
  5. Identification of further project partners
  6. Establishment and adoption of project evaluation methodology
Timeline:
3 month, January until end of March 2011
Phase 3: Proposal Development and Adoption
In phase 3 the information gathered in phase 2 will be used to develop an overall project proposal for the 5 communities. In phase 3 the Baseline Investigation WG will become the IDAG Project Implementation Plan Development and Presentation WG. This WG will engage and consult with all relevant parties not directly engaged with the project and work very closely with the International Support and Evaluation WGs. The project implementation plan has to contain:
  1. Short, medium and long term development plan for key development areas
  2. Plan of implementation
  3. Prospective and available international financial and technical support
  4. Financial implementation plan
  5. Sustainability plans
  6. Evaluation plans
The overall project implementation plan will be presented to and discussed with, all stakeholders and also presented and discussed in open community forums. After these consultations a final project proposal will be presented.
In a final step of phase 3 all project partners and stakeholders formally adopt the project implementation plan in a written project agreement and contract which clearly states their respective roles and responsibilities.
Implementing partners and their role:
COMAGA, ChasquiNet and Municipalities: Forming the IDAG Project Implementation Plan Development and Presentation group, creation of project implementation plan, presentation and discussion of draft report, community consultations and creation of final report.
COMAGA and Municipalities: Formal adoptions and dissemination of final report.
Methodologies used:
WGs, consultations, presentation of draft report to key stakeholders in working meetings, public presentations and discussions, final report presentations,
Expected outcomes:
  1. project implementation plan in a written project agreement and contract
  2. Securing international support and involvement in the project
  3. On-going evaluation
Timeline:
Overall 3 month, April-June 2011
1 month: production of first draft project plan, (April 2011)
2 weeks: draft proposal presentation to stakeholders and public consultations, (first half May 2011)
2 weeks: Production of final project plan, (second half May 2011)
1 month: project implementation plan in a written project agreement and contracts, (June 2011)
Phase 4: Project Implementation
In phase 4 the agreed project plan is implemented in the 5 pilot communities. In phase 4 the IDAG Project Implementation Plan Development and Presentation WG will become the IDAG Project Implementation WG. The role of the Implementation WG is to support the implementation of the project activities, to co-ordinate between the different partners involved and to prepare for phase 5 of the project “Lessons Learned and Up-Scaling”
Implementing partners and their role:
The responsibility for the new WG moves from Fundacion Chasquinet to COMAGA as representative of the implementing municipalities. The International Support and Evaluation WGs continue with their tasks and work as closely as possible together with the Project Implementation WG.
Expected outcomes:
  1. Implementation of project activities in 5 pilot municipalities
  2. Initial draft evaluation report
  3. Identification of municipalities for up-scaling
Timeline:
July 2011-December 2011
Phase 5: Lessons learned and up-scaling
In phase 5 the first stage of the IDAG project, (phases 2-4) are fully evaluated, lessons learned implemented, and the planning for the second IDAG project phase, the up-scaling of the project to at least 20 more municipalities, initiated. The second phase is expected to follow the implementation scheme of the first project stage, (Investigation and Baseline, Proposal Development and Adoption, Implementation and Up-scaling with ongoing monitoring and evaluation as a crosscutting issue) to integrate new partners. At the end of phase 5 the Central IDAG WG will reconstitute itself from existing and new partners that have emerged in the first stage of the project.
Implementing partners and their role:
Phase 5 is implemented by the IDAG Central WG as constituted in phase 1 with the involvement of all project partners and stakeholders in the project. The lessons evaluation and lessons learned component of this phase is executed under the leadership of GKP through its named representatives.
Methodologies used:
Evaluation and planification meeting, WGs, consultations, presentation and dissemination of results and lessons learned.
Expected outcomes:
  1. Evaluation report of IDAG project 1rst stage, with lessons learned
  2. Identification of municipalities and project partners for the 2nd stage of the project
  3. Planification for 2nd project stage
Timeline: 1 month, January 2013
Stage 2: Investigation and Baseline, Proposal Development and Adoption, Implementation and Up-scaling with ongoing monitoring and evaluation as a crosscutting issue
In stage 2 the process of stage one of the IDAG project is repeated in a form that has been adapted from the experiences and lessons learned from the first stage and on a larger scale.
Timeline: 11 month, February-December 2013
Further stages beyond stage 2 of the project will be implemented and executed as needed.
 
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