Evaluation of the Piloting Phase of the Virtual Zomdu Project

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Evaluation Plan:
2014-2018, Bhutan
Evaluation Type:
Final Project
Planned End Date:
12/2017
Completion Date:
12/2017
Status:
Completed
Management Response:
Yes
Evaluation Budget(US $):
12,500

Virtual Zomdu (Virtual Meeting) project evaluation Management Response

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Title Evaluation of the Piloting Phase of the Virtual Zomdu Project
Atlas Project Number: 00079511
Evaluation Plan: 2014-2018, Bhutan
Evaluation Type: Final Project
Status: Completed
Completion Date: 12/2017
Planned End Date: 12/2017
Management Response: Yes
Focus Area:
  • 1. Others
Corporate Outcome and Output (UNDP Strategic Plan 2014-2017)
  • 1. Output 2.1. Parliaments, constitution making bodies and electoral institutions enabled to perform core functions for improved accountability, participation and representation, including for peaceful transitions
Evaluation Budget(US $): 12,500
Source of Funding: UNDP
Evaluation Expenditure(US $): 5,000
Joint Programme: No
Joint Evaluation: No
Evaluation Team members:
Name Title Email Nationality
Tandin Dorji Consultant president@nrc.bt
GEF Evaluation: No
Key Stakeholders: National Assembly Secretariat and GNHC
Countries: BHUTAN
Comments:

Revision of Evaluation Plan extending to Q4 2017

Lessons
1.

Evaluation Lessons

Three key lessons can be drawn from the review of the VZ facility.

  1. In the absence of strong advocacy, even when the best of facilities are put in place, people may not necessarily use them. This has been the case with the VZ initiative. The report titled “Virtual Zomdu: Bringing Parliament to the People of Bhutan: Pilot Phase Report”  had proposed a communication plan using Facebook and Twitter, talk show on BBS TV, posters and brochures, short film on VZ and community consultations. The most important which would reach at the local level effectively are the educating and creating awareness on VZ through the Gewog Office. However, not much has been done on this front.
  2. To persuade people to embrace new initiatives that require change in habit, the agents of change must be brought in the forefront and get their commitment. In this case, the potential agents of change are the MPs. However, not much has been done to get their commitment and support and things were left at “take for granted level” by assuming that the MPs will use it as VZ platform will allow them to meet their constituents more and benefit them also. Thus, when the MPs did not move much, nothing much had happened at the grassroots.
  3. For change to take place effectively and get the commitments of the intended beneficiaries to use a facility, need to use it should be created as discussed in the section on Constraints. Many MPs did not feel the need to use this platform and consequently the facility has been underutilized

Findings
1.

Evaluation Findings

  1. Relevancy of Virtual Zomdu (VZ)

Virtual Zomdu initiative is directly linked to the 11th FYP mandate of the Ministry of Information and Communication (MoIC) which is to enable effective and efficient public service delivery and improve access to reliable & affordable ICT and media services. Further, the MoIC has critical role to “promote a green and self-reliant economy sustained by an IT enabled knowledge society guided by the philosophy of GNH”. The National priorities of the 11th FYP of improving public service delivery, motivated public servants and implementation of Government Performance System; strengthened democracy and governance and gender friendly environment for women’s participation are also related to the UNDP focus area of democratic governance which in turn is relevant to the VZ initiative.

The integration of VZ as one of the strategic activities to strengthen the National Assembly and National Council’s representation and outreach capacity and to create a culture of informed public discussions during the legislative process in the Strategic Plan Document of the NA and NC also indicates the opportunities of using VZ and its relevancy to strengthening democracy.

The review of the policy and plan documents clearly indicates that the VZ is relevant to the national priorities and needs of the community and in reaching the unreached. The findings of the questionnaire survey and the consultative meetings also support the findings from the document review as Virtual Zomdu facility is seen as an important vehicle towards strengthening of democracy and contributing towards addressing gender perspective and considering human rights approach.

  1. VZ equipment and facilities

UNDAF Outcome 4 is to integrate 75 CCs with VZ facility. UNDP achieved more than the set target as there are 89 CCs with VZ facility. The integration of CC with VZ had been conducted in two phases.

The overall analysis of the equipment and facilities is that while the size of the screen is big enough, the phase one CCs report it to be small and there are some issues with audibility. However, the main concern is the challenges posed by internet problems. The internet problem as an impediment to effective G2C services from the CC Centers has also been discussed in the 2017 November NC Session.

 

  1. Benefits of VZ

The intended benefits of the VZ platform for the MPs and the constituents as follows:

MPs

Constituents

  • Communicate with their constituents about their work;
  • Consult with constituencies on decisions to be made; and
  • Ease pressure on personal request made.
  • Citizens aware of the roles and responsibilities of the parliamentarians.
  • Find out about the work of parliament;
  • Hold their parliamentarian to account on promises made;
  • Provide inputs and engage with parliamentarians on issues of concern;
  • Enhance women’s participation as it is closer to their villages.

 

  1. Sustainability

The VZ project has reached only 89 CC centers in 89 Gewogs. There are still 116 Gewogs to be integrated with VZ facility. The CCs are managed by BDBL while at the moment the intended users are the MPs and the constituents. The VZ initiative is based on idea of using the existing space in the CCs and other facilities. The investment has been mainly on the procurement of Videoconferencing facilities and capacity building of the CC Operators, IT Managers of NC and NA, IT Officers of all the Dzongkhags and IT Officers of BDBL Regional Offices.

The KII with the Honorable Speaker of the Parliament, Secretary General of NA showed, Local leaders, BDBL Dy. Managing Director and the CC Operators show that there are no sustainability plans for now. The project is still with UNDP. However, once UNDP withdraws its support, all the respondents were of the view that VZ initiative can be sustained. For instance, Honorable Speaker of the Parliament shared that “VZ is for everyone. There are immense opportunities for VZ to be used for many other purposes. With time, people will start using it mainly driven by the need to use it. For this we need to create need and open up to other sectors as much as possible so that VZ platform is optimally used”. Similarly, Dasho Sangay Duba, Secretary General of NA said: “VZ is highly relevant to the Bhutanese geographical terrain which poses accessibility challenges. This facility can be an effective pathway of strengthening democracy. Thus, budget to ensure the sustainability of VZ will not be a problem as the intention is noble and the benefits that it give are immense...”

The Dy. Managing Director of BDBL who shoulders the responsibility to managing the CCs also shared: “For BDBL while we have social mandate, the projects that we undertake should also make some business sense. I see this in VZ initiative. However, we need to open VZ facility to all the sectors as well as to private individuals so that the user base will increase and the income generated will be able to meet the expenses required to sustain the VZ….”.

Thus, while there are no sustainability plans, the respondents of the KII and FGD are positive that sustainability will not be a challenge with some inputs in creating need to use VZ so that demand for this service will increase leading to sustainability.

However, to ensure sustainability, besides advocacy and creating need, few technological and human capital challenges such as VZ equipment becoming obsolete and placement of CC operators who are untrained in VZ will also have to be planned.


Recommendations
1

Advocacy gap- only few MPs and constituents who had used the existing facilities integrated in 89 CCs.

2

Need gap- The MPs as well as the constituents did not feel the need to use the VZ facility

3

Monitoring gap- There has been no monitoring after integrating the 89 CC with the facility from all the stakeholders such as UNDP, Parliament and BDBL.

4

Guidelines gap- the guidelines of using the VZ is still in its draft stage. The participants of the FGD and KII and the local level and the CC operators shared that the absence of a guidelines was one reason that no VZ had been initiated from their end.

1. Recommendation:

Advocacy gap- only few MPs and constituents who had used the existing facilities integrated in 89 CCs.

Management Response: [Added: 2017/12/21] [Last Updated: 2018/10/09]

The management has taken up the need to advocate on use of VZ facility and in the 2018 AWP of Parliament, included plans on strengthening and enhancing the use of VZ through advocacy and demand generation. The Parliament plans to include an agenda on VZ during the induction programme for new Member of Parliaments.

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
Discuss during the Outcome 4 validation meeting
[Added: 2018/10/09]
Parliament, UNDP 2017/12 Completed
2. Recommendation:

Need gap- The MPs as well as the constituents did not feel the need to use the VZ facility

Management Response: [Added: 2018/10/09]

The management has taken up the need to advocate on use of VZ facility and in the 2018 AWP of Parliament, included plans on strengthening and enhancing the use of VZ through advocacy and demand generation. The Parliament plans to include an agenda on VZ during the induction programme for new Member of Parliaments.

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
Discuss during the Outcome 4 validation meeting
[Added: 2018/10/09]
Parliament, UNDP 2017/12 Completed
3. Recommendation:

Monitoring gap- There has been no monitoring after integrating the 89 CC with the facility from all the stakeholders such as UNDP, Parliament and BDBL.

Management Response: [Added: 2018/10/09]

The management agrees that there has been a gap. The management will inform the Parliament on this issue and encourage Parliament to take necessary action.

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
To be discussed with Parliament and share this evaluation report.
[Added: 2018/10/09]
UNDP 2018/01 Completed
4. Recommendation:

Guidelines gap- the guidelines of using the VZ is still in its draft stage. The participants of the FGD and KII and the local level and the CC operators shared that the absence of a guidelines was one reason that no VZ had been initiated from their end.

Management Response: [Added: 2018/10/09]

The management has taken note of this recommendation. It was discussed that management will suggest/discuss with Parliament on finalizing the guideline.

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
To be discussed with Parliament and share this evaluation report.
[Added: 2018/10/09]
UNDP 2018/01 Completed

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