JPLG: Creating Real Solutions for Communities through District Planning and Improved Basic Services

Gacanlibax Cloth Market, Gardo. Credit: UN Photo.

Gacanlibax Cloth Market, Gardo. Credit: UN Photo.

Gardo district’s economy is largely based on pastoralism and small business, similar to many districts throughout Puntland – and an estimated 80 per cent of Gardo district’s 85,000 people lives below the poverty line. In 2010, the Gardo District Council and Administration were looking for ways to boost the economy and improve the lives of their residents. With the support of the UN Joint Programme on Local Governance and Decentralized Service Delivery (JPLG), UNDP worked with the District Council and Administration to develop a District Development Framework. This District Development Framework defines investments and projects necessary to move the district towards its development vision.

As part of JPLG with UN-Habitat, UNICEF, UNCDF and ILO, UNDP helps address fundamental challenges faced by local governments and builds their capacity to deliver public services effectively. By strengthening the local government to provide basic services, JPLG/UNDP supports sustainable and effective development. The key initiatives identified by the District Council and Administration included improving the local market, building new roads to boost business, and bringing safe healthcare to the area.

The District Development Framework identified that the Gardo population wanted modern and clean markets, to boost business and the local economy.  Markets also stimulate social interaction and facilitate connections between people helping to create cohesion, unity and stability.

“In the past, there were many times when we had to evacuate our market due to flooding, even when there was just a small amount of rain,” said one woman with a stall in the local market. “We use to lose two thousand dollars a year in business because the market was flooded. After the rehabilitation of the market, we do our business in a convenient, clean and dry environment.”

Improved road networks and transport links encourage business growth – by increasing access for buyers as well as allowing more and better products into local markets. The Gardo road network was extremely poor and consultations with communities to produce the District Development Framework identified an urgent need to improve roads within the district.To address this issue, UNDP/JPLG supported the construction of Shimbirale concrete road and Gacan Libaax tarmac road in Gardo.  Further, the Puntland Highway Authority, implemented a major upgrade and repair project on the main road linking Gardo with Bosasso. The construction and rehabilitation of this road is improving human safety and security and improving transport routes and trade.

One local shop owner, Halim Ali, saw improvements in his business. “Since the construction of the Gacan Libaax tarmac road, business in the area has improved – and transport,” he said. “Previously my little shop was small but as you see today it has grown.”

“This newly constructed road has improved the movement of people in Gardo,” said a local taxi driver. “We no longer get stuck in the mud on the Shimbirale road. We extend our gratitude and appreciation to Gardo local government and the Puntland Government.”

In 2013, JPLG provided support to the District Council and Administration on effective resource forecasting and budgeting through training on Public Expenditure Management which is designed to standardize training in the functions of (i) planning(ii) budgeting (iii) financial management (iv) implementation, and (v) monitoring and evaluation.  This facilitates the District Council and Administration to draw up an annual WorkPlan and Budget and lays the groundwork for the effective implementation of projects.

This systemized planning has contributed to streamlined investment into the area, from the Puntland Government, District Government, Diaspora, NGOs, United Nations and other organizations and promotes the delivery of basic services in a transparent and accountable manner.

JPLG has also supported the sensitization of Gardo local government officers on gender, including a participatory Integrated Community Development training. Over time, this has led to a subsequent change in attitude towards women’s participation in Gardo district affairs, with four women District Councilors’ out of twenty seven members.  Within the District Administration, three women head up a Departmental Unit. There has also been a significant increase in the selection of women as Village Leaders, seven of eight of Gardo’s villages are now headed by women.

Improved planning systems and processes strengthen the local government and their ability to deliver services while simultaneously increasing the participation of community leaders, village leaders, marginal groups, business people and civil society organizations leading to increased accountability and the building of incremental trust between citizens and local government.

With the generous support of the European Commission, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation and UK, JPLG works closely with local counterparts in promoting improvements in the ability of local governments to provide equitable services to communities. In 2016, JPLG continues to strengthen district capacity in support of improved public service delivery to citizens in seven districts in Puntland - Gardo, Bosaso, Eyl, Jariiban, Banderbeyla, Garowe, Galkayo. JPLG/UNDP support to the Puntland government helps them create policies, regulations, manuals and guidelines. The momentum towards improved systems and processes is encouraging the rehabilitation of vital community infrastructure, creating economic opportunity and employment for young people as skilled labourers.