‘You’re really going to enjoy Armenia!’
This was our taxi driver’s friendly farewell as we arrived at our hotel in the early hours of the morning. After living in the United States for fifteen years, he decided to come back to his homeland in order to start a family. He tells us that here in Yerevan it’s safe and he is a part of a tight knit community.
Community is precisely why we are here. During the last week of January we hosted a training of trainers with five local partner organisations. These partners will be training community members to monitor and help fix problems in school reconstruction. Participants were trained in Community Integrity Building (CIB) and DevelopmentCheck - a tool which will allow monitors to give feedback in real-time and provide the evidence base in order to solve problems.
Our local partners will now go on to train citizen monitors in the communities where the schools are being built. These monitors will check:
- the access to information on these projects by acquiring contracts and design documents
- community engagement by interviewing final beneficiaries
- the project effectiveness by checking if there were problems in the construction process.
It doesn't stop here, since monitors will then use the evidence gathered to collaboratively engage with government, implementer and contractors in order to find solutions to these problems. The result of this is improved trust and that feedback is incorporated into the process.
In 1988 Armenia was devastated by a major earthquake which ravaged public infrastructure and killed tens of thousands of people. The Government of Armenia has taken a loan from the Asian Development Bank to build or rebuild 46 schools across the country, according to seismic safety standards to make them resistant to future earthquakes. The funds were earmarked in 1988 but corruption at different levels has prevented construction. Increased social accountability is in Armenia's Third National Action Plan 2016-2018, in partnership with the Open Government Partnership and one of the outputs of the project is to influence the Government of Armenia OGP National Action Plan for 2018-20. Integrity Action’s role is to use CIB to train citizens as monitors to provide oversight for the implementation of 20 of the 46 new schools across Armenia.
It was very encouraging for me to see that a representative from the implementing agency (the Armenian Territorial Development Fund) was attending the training and that a representative from the donor (the Asian Development Bank) attended the Q&A. This shows high engagement and participation from all levels of stakeholders which is a key ingredient to building Integrity.
On the taxi ride home, our new driver explained how the introduction of video cameras on traffic police has virtually eliminated small bribes that were rampant across the city. Another example of how technology can change our daily lives for the better.
Over the next month, the training of monitors will begin. Once they being to monitor, their results will be available live on DevelopmentCheck!