Closing the Public Service Provision Improvement Program in Agriculture and Rural Development (PSARD)

Press release, 16.12.2015

The programme “Public Service Provision Improvement Programme in Agriculture and Rural Development” (PS-ARD) had  two phases (2008-2015) with a total budget of CHF 21,400,000 funded by Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC)  in Vietnam. The project was implemented in the two mountainous and ethnic minority provinces -  Hoa Binh and Cao Bang - by the local provincial Departments of Agriculture and Rural Development with technical support of the Helvetas Swiss Intercooperation.

PSARD in Hoa Binh and Cao Bang is a successful project. The project has mainstreamed  three important results: commune participatory planning for socio-economic development, commune development funds and farmer field schools, and so helped  to reduce poverty and improve livelihoods in disadvantaged areas

Participatory commune plans only become effective when finances are available for the implementation of identified priorities.  During the project period, 87 communes in Hoa Binh and 56 communes in Cao Bang have received an annual commune development fund from VND 200 mio to 400 mio.  Small infrastructure and other projects identified in participatory planning and implemented with commune development funds are highly cost-efficient (often half cost compared with other similar projects implemented by other modality), better meet the needs of people, and help build trust and accountability between authorities and citizens. 791’000 thousand people have directly benefited from these projects.  The Hoa Binh Provincial People’s Council in July 2015 has issued a resolution to continue this modality in the next 5 year period 2016-2020 while the Cao Bang Provincial People’s Committee has issued a decision to apply this modality in the implementation of P135 and other program.

A new CDF concrete road changed the local people’s lives in Tan Giap, Cao Bang. Two women in their eighties expressed their happiness with Mr. Samuel Waelty, SDC Country Director, about the new road that enables them to walk around their village and to the main road during a field visit to the commune applying the PSARD’s CDF modality in the National Targeted Program P135 without the financial support from PSARD. © SCO Vietnam.

Farmer field schools are a skill-based and demand-based modality of extension training. 105’000 farmer households participated in farmer field schools classes to learn skills they need for their production such as growing winter maize, new varieties of rice, raising sows etc. to help them increase their productivity and income.

A PSARD Experience Sharing Workshop on Participatory Social Economic Development Planning and Financial Decentralization at Commune Level was organised on 20-21 November 2015, at the V-Resort, in Kim Boi, Hoa Binh. Experiences of Hoa Binh and Cao Bang was shared with the representatives from National targeted programs – New Rural Development, Sustainable Poverty Reduction and Poverty Reduction for Ethnic Minority Groups; representatives from other provinces; representatives from development partners such as WB, UN and IrishAid and representatives from VNGOs and INGOs.

Swiss Ambassador delivered a speech at the workshop. © Viet Nam News.

The practice in Hoa Binh and Cao Bang has confirmed that projects defined through the participatory planning and financed through the commune development fund modality are:

  • Better serve the people’s needs, especially the needs of the poor, ethnic minorities and vulnerable groups

  • More transparent and accountable

  • Better cost efficiency

  • Easier to mobilise people’s contribution

  • Easier implementation, operation and maintenance

  • Enhancing social cohesion in communes

  • Improving the relationship between people and government

The participants of the workshop strongly agreed that the experience of Hoa Binh and Cao Bang on Participatory Social Economic Development Planning and Financial Decentralization at Commune Level in form of commune development fund (CDF) should continue to be applied in the implementation of the national targeted programs – New Rural Development, Sustainable Poverty Reduction and Poverty Reduction for Ethnic Minority Groups in the period 2016-2020.

Like many other participants, Ms. Cam Thi Nhung, Vice Chairman of the Committee of Ethnic Minorities of Cao Bang Province delivered a positive feedback on the PSARD’s results in Cao Bang. © SCO Vietnam.

Following the experience-sharing workshop, the closing workshops of the Programme in Cao Bang and Hoa Binh were organized in the provinces on 25 November and 4 December 2015. Representatives from the provincial Departments of Agriculture and Rural Development, Planning and Investment, Finance, communes, districts, Helvetas Swiss Intercooperation, as well as the programme implementation teams participated in the workshops They all appreciated the effectiveness of the Programme’s, Participatory Socio-Economic Development Planning (P-SEDP), Commune Development Fund (CDF) and Farmer Field Schools (FFS) for  the local people’s livelihoods. The provinces re-confirmed that they will continue to apply the PSARD’ modalities in the coming years.