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PROFILE

IRFAN AAMIR

COLUMN FOR THE RECORD
SOCIETY 1- CREATING JOB OPPORTUNITIES AT COMMUNITY LEVELS
2-
BOOK REVIEW: ADVANCE AUDITING

3- CAPACITY BUILDING IN LOCAL GOVERNANCE

 

HR IN PAKISTAN

CAPACITY BUILDING IN LOCAL GOVERNANCE


An interview with Mr. Ahmir ud Deen, Managing Director& CEO, AllianzEFU


By JAWAD S. NAQVI
Email: thejawad@yahoo.com

July 28 - Aug 03, 2003
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New local government system, a brainchild of National Reconstruction Bureau (NRB) of the Government of Pakistan came into effect with Local Government Ordinance 2001 on 14 August 2001. New setup requires a range of skills connected with human resource development and capacity building. It depends on our individualistic and institutional attitudes towards polity, society and development. In this article we shall review the role of capacity building in the new system.

RATIONALE:

Local governance is based on the idea that locally elected officials are more in touch with the public than their federal or provincial counterparts, and that their policies and services will assist communities better.

CAPACITY BUILDING DEFINED:

"Capacity building encompasses the country's human, scientific, technological, organizational, institutional and resource capabilities. A fundamental goal of capacity building is to enhance the ability to evaluate and address the crucial questions related to policy choices and modes of implementation among development options, based on an understanding of environment potentials and limits and of needs perceived by the people of the country concerned." Capacity Building Agenda 21's definition (Chapter 37, UNCED, 1992).

CHANGE THROUGH EDUCATION:

NRB's devolution of power plan is a classic case of change management. It is not only a change in command and control structure, and the legal framework, but also entails a radical change in the outlook and performance of local government functionaries. This brings us to the critical question of how can this transition be useful.

In the words of Nelson Mandela, "Education is the most powerful weapon, which you can use to change the world." With the local governance system in place, and the vital backing by all powerful President Musharraf, question remains: how to prepare our politicians, bureaucracy and other players in local governance to comprehend and run this system? This is the domain of capacity building and human resource development. It involves learning, education and training at all levels of the governance hierarchy. It is not a spectator sport but an active endeavor, responsible for an environment that requires an active engagement of the individuals involved.

CAPACITY BUILDING THROUGH TRAINING:

For the local governance to be effective, training institutions must help elected councils outline their priorities. Our bureaucracy, a memento of British rule in India, is by default unable to break the ruler-subject ties between 'us' and 'them'. With vast residential villas, flag staff cars, and huge financial and other benefits; they have been a source of fear and domination for those they were supposed to serve. The new system cannot survive unless the entire bureaucratic human resource management system is re-designed, so that instead of manufacturing a set of robotic Mr. Browns, we handcraft a group of sincere, committed and capable people who can serve with spotless integrity and selflessness. We need to segregate good public servants from the bad ones. Remove those with proven evidence of bribery and nepotism from public service. Identify training needs of the remaining lot. Finally, revise the entire induction, training, career planning and performance management infrastructure on the basis of principles outlined above.

 

 

The scale of training need is massive, but the problem is little understood. The link between needs (public problems and issues) and supply (managerial and technical capabilities) is weak. There is a lack of finance, and a need for support of change. Training institutions need to offer tailored courses for new administration and elected councils. Communication channels and techniques need improvement. Training should be task oriented and efficient, in view of the level and background of the 'students'.

RE-DEFINING LITERACY:

"The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read or write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn and relearn."

This definition by Alvin Toffler has more meaning than ever in our recent experiences of local governance in Pakistan. This can be a basis for us as individuals and as organizations in measuring our concepts regarding human resource skills and in planning learning experiences in community governance. Ironically, our politicians and bureaucrats have more things to unlearn than to learn. They need to unlearn Machiavellian tactics and styles of governance. They need to unlearn that they will lose respect by being close to ordinary people. They need to unlearn that life is only for once, and they should make money in the shortest possible time. They need to unlearn that self-interests take priority to public interests. They need to unlearn that they are not accountable to any court of law and their own people. They need to unlearn that 'influential' politicians, industrialists, military personnel and other 'money-makers' cannot be brought to justice. There are certain things to learn as well. They need to learn that life can be lead within the modest resources. They also need to learn an Arabic idiom that says, "Leader of a nation is the one who serves the nation." They may also like to learn that honest and efficient management of resources can significantly change the fate of people.

Local governance experiment in Pakistan offers a fresh prospect about the social order we want to build. In today's responsibility frayed society we are only beginning to address the complex human performance needs of our people. This is to create an environment where civil society can assume responsibility of social justice and all public services. Civil bureaucracy while made responsible to local community will prioritize people's problems in order of merit, and corruption in all forms will be abrogated.

KEY AREAS OF SUPPORT:

The connection between the local body and the capacity building is direct and does not transit through the provincial hierarchy. It is the local body's responsibility to implement capacity building measures. The focus is on enhancing the capacity of civic bodies to set long term and short term objectives, evaluate alternative courses of action and exercise leadership.

Following are key areas for interrelated support to local government institutions:

1. Policy study and formulation of routine and extra-ordinary procedures

2. Overhauling of human resource management of bureaucracy

3. Code of conduct for political parties and individuals in the local bodies

4. Department specific managerial and technical training

5. Tailored programs and support according to local human resource environment

6. Partnerships between local bodies, academia, industry and NGOs for sustainable development

 

 

7. Citizen-government liaison for community welfare

8. Regular monitoring by a non-partisan council, headed by local judiciary

ORGANIZATIONAL DEVELOPMENT:

Capacity building in local governance means more than training and development and involves organizational development. There are a number of departments that need urgent attention including: primary education, law and order, sanitation, road and transport infrastructure, employment, environment, planning, revenue, health, agriculture, database management etc. Organizational development in local governance starts with the elaboration of management structures, processes and procedures. This also involves the management of relationships between different departments and sectors (public, private and community). We want to create a society in which local administration works hand in hand with the academic and vocational institutions, industry and judiciary in order to deliver service to the public. This can be possible by development of institutional and legal framework, making legal and regulatory changes to enable organizations and institutions at all levels and in all sectors to enhance their capacities.

Capacity building for each department will be tailored according to local culture, situation and type of organization. Generally local government officials (elected and bureaucrats) are the main clients, but community boards, professional associations and NGOs may be involved. These groups need to improve their effectiveness to deliver better service. There are direct implications for education in human resource capacity building since by definition the term (and the process) has education, both formal and informal, at its core. Without HRD, most development interventions will remain ineffective.

PARTNERSHIP DEVELOPMENT:

Partnership development is an essential device in capacity building. Local community and public service officials should identify their synergies. It is a long-term process in which all stakeholders will participate to create enabling environment. This will result in institutional development aided by the community. Special measures will be taken to ensure participation by women, minorities and under-privileged groups. These forces will be integrated to implement an efficient managerial system through goal oriented human resource development.

 

 

Partnerships will give all players in local governance access to:

* Management practices and procedures
* Human resource development for local governance
* Assessment of community needs and resources
* Interdepartmental networking and funding
* Strategies for public advocacy and attitude development
* Public relations and accountability

CONCLUSION:

New system of local governance cannot thrive in the absence of a concerted program for capacity building and multi-disciplinary partnership. Local government functionaries and politicians need goal-specific education and training to be able to deliver to public.

JAWAD S. NAQVI is a human resource practitioner in Pakistan. He is currently serving a textile factory in Lahore as manager human resource development.