Increased Citizen Engagement for Improved Government Accountability and Public Service Delivery in Lebanon

MSI’s BALADI Plus project in Lebanon was a 2-year initiative (2012-2014) that provided capacity-building technical assistance to partner municipalities selected under the USAID-funded BALADI suite of projects with the aim to improve local and regional service delivery and promote greater government accountability and transparency by building stronger linkages between citizens and local governments.

Through its use of a Municipal Capacity Assessment Tool (M-CAT) specifically designed for municipalities, BALADI Plus was able to use the results of the capacity assessment to develop customized action plans to build the capacity of partner municipalities and unions of municipalities in areas such as public financial management, participatory budgeting, internal oversight and auditing, human resource development, tax collection, public procurement, risk management and emergency preparedness. Training workshops were followed by an intensive program of on-the-job training, coaching and mentorship towards addressing key institutional constraints that limit local governments’ abilities to provide quality services to their constituents.

Over the course of this 22- month project, BALADI Plus conducted 30 training programs and designed customized capacity development plans for 15 partners municipalities/unions, as well as an additional 29 workshops on more generalized topics for an additional 145 non-partner municipalities/unions on topics of project management, gender mainstreaming and proposal writing to support their future efforts to be BALADI fund recipients.

In an effort to enhance the transparency and accountability of municipal governments, BALADI Plus also worked with 28 local CSO partners to channel citizen concerns and to act as watchdogs of municipal action, including joint trainings between municipalities and partner CSOs on constituency building, mobilization, and community outreach to increase citizen engagement in municipal planning and decision-making.

Through BALADI CAP support municipality partners were able to improve their planning capacity, increase archiving capacity and expedite internal processes that improved responsiveness to citizen concerns. By installing Global Information Systems (GIS) in some municipalities, partners were able to increase their ability to access financial and tax-related databases, thereby enhancing collection of taxes and municipal revenues. Three municipalities were supported in designing Simplified Local Development Strategic Plans to guide future development initiatives, while six municipalities were able to draft emergency preparedness and contingency plans, which were of particular importance for municipalities near the Syrian border in managing the impact of the influx of refugees on municipal services and community resources.

As a result of the strong initial results achieved under BALADI Plus, MSI was awarded the follow-on project, Civic Engagement for Democratic Governance (CEDG), which has been consolidated as an additional component under MSI’s current BALADI CAP project, which will build upon BALADI Plus results by increasing the capacity of additional partner municipalities and CSOs in key governance and organizational development areas to further improve local government transparency, citizen engagement, oversight, and participatory planning.