Strengthening aid effectiveness at local level
A donor coordination and mobilization meeting was held on 13 December 2014 in Bolikhamxay Province, which is one of the target provinces of the Lao-Luxembourg Cooperation Programme in Central Laos. The purpose was to help strengthen the use of international development assistance in the Province and to help attract more support to focus work areas. The Provincial Planning and Investment Department, the Ministry of Planning and Investment (MPI), as well as the Provincial Administration Office jointly organized this meeting. The 80 participants comprised the governors of all seven Districts, directors of the provincial line agencies, representatives of four ministries as well as Lao and international staff of 12 donor agencies and international non-governmental organisations (INGO). The Bolikhamxay Livelihood Improvement and Governance Programme (LAO/021) supported the event financially and technically.
The meeting was held in the context of the Round Table Meeting format and was thus facilitated by the MPI. The Vice-minister of MPI, Dr. Kikeo Chanthaboury, co-chaired the meeting, during which he expressed his strong support to the intentions of the event, including the need for the best possible use of donor assistance.
Brief presentations were made on the progress of the Socio-Economic Development Plan (SEDP), the scope of the next five-year plan, the international development cooperation in the province, the decentralization policy, and on the operationalization of the Vientiane Declaration on Aid Effectiveness. The ensuing discussions identified practical ways on how the province and districts may improve the coordination of external assistance, the facilitation of development partners, and the mobilization of more assistance to the Province. Central to these efforts would be greater compliance with existing information systems, increased communication across sectors, and greater accountability towards agreed results and principles. On the donor side, further alignment and harmonization would be possible. The discussion also showed the need for improved coordination between national and local level, for instance regarding fund allocation to the provinces from national programmes, which is not always possible to predict and coordinate with other support, owing largely to communication issues. The attendees agreed to the need for improvements in these areas, for which purpose the Vice-governor, Dr. Souvannny Xaysana, encouraged the line agencies, district governors and other decision makers to work towards a concerted effort for a successful end to the 2011-15 five-year SEDP and a strong start to the next plan period.
The event was one of the first provincial donor and project coordination meetings held in Laos. Lao and international participants expressed their appreciation of the value of the meeting, but also of the need for practical follow-up. The LAO/021 programme will continue to support this, including further back-up to information systems, sector-specific meetings, and capacity development in official donor aid and INGO facilitation. The project director, Mr Bounthan Vongsana, will coordinate this work locally on behalf of the provincial authorities, and mobilize technical and strategic backstopping from the MPI. In this manner, development cooperation in the province and districts stand a better chance for qualitative and quantitative improvements by the time the next five-year SEDP starts in October 2015.
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