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.
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
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
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'.
"The illiterate of the 21st century will not
be those who cannot read or write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn
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:
study and formulation of routine and extra-ordinary procedures
Overhauling of human resource management of bureaucracy
3. Code of
conduct for political parties and individuals in the local bodies
specific managerial and technical training
programs and support according to local human resource environment
Partnerships between local bodies, academia, industry and NGOs for
Citizen-government liaison for community welfare
monitoring by a non-partisan council, headed by local judiciary
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 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:
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
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.