Problem Statements

SBAR Girl in School

Problem Statements for the Small Business Applied Research Pilot

CAMBODIA – Local Organizations – Movement Towards Independence

CAMBODIA – Civic Tech to Strengthen Accountability for Public Services/Solid Waste

CAMBODIA – Civic Tech to Strengthen Accountability for Public Services/One Window Service Offices

LIBERIA – Proof of Concrete Waterproof Roads

LIBERIA – Bricks for Development

LIBERIA – Mold-smart Paint

ZAMBIA – District Governance Strengthening


Problem Statement 1: CAMBODIA – Local Organizations – Movement Towards Independence

a. Background and Context:
USAID/Cambodia has been working with and through local organizations for many years. The 2014-18 Country Development Cooperation Strategy (CDCS) stated that USAID will continue to develop the capacity of Cambodian organizations to implement local development solutions, prioritizing entities that are the most critical to Cambodia’s development. Local organizations have the potential to become key players in helping USAID/Cambodia achieve their development goals. These organizations have a firm understanding of the realities in Cambodia and are well positioned to work within the constraints and maximize the opportunities of Cambodia.

USAID is currently in the process of reorienting it policies, strategies and program practices through a “Journey to Self-Reliance” which pursues the goal to end the need for foreign assistance and in the programs we implement support our partners’ journeys to self-reliance. While self-reliance focuses on the country wide level the application to local actors means they are to plan, finance, and implement solutions to their own development challenges.

One problem facing many Cambodian organizations is that they are many times characterized as lacking capacity to effectively manage funding as well as programmatic development. More importantly these same organizations lack the strategy and skills necessary to identify potential markets or revenue streams to enable them to be a viable going concern independent of outside donor funds.

USAID/Cambodia is interested in developing a path to self-reliance for local organizations who contribute to USAID’s development goals. The Offices of Public Health & Education and Food Security & Environment have multiple organizations that are contributing to the development goals of USAID. Some of the organizations are USAID partners and some are not partners but work in the sectors to achieve desired results. As USAID’s priorities have shifted in some sectors, some local partners have been “graduated” from USAID assistance to other donor financing while others no longer become viable. Building organizational capacity and potential for sustainability would not only help achieve desired results but would increase the overall ability of the country to move toward self-reliance.

Context information available through the Cambodia CDCS at https://www.usaid.gov/cambodia/cdcs

b. Problem Statement:
Local organizations lack the organizational and technical capacity necessary to effectively manage funding and develop strategies to become self-reliant. Interventions are needed to:

  1. Identify current organizational capacity gaps in administrative and programmatic areas 
  2. Develop solutions to the identified capacity gaps
  3. Enable the organization to identify potential revenue sources
  4. Empower the organization to develop strategies to capitalize on potential revenue sources

c. Priority Rationale:
This activity aligns with USAID/Cambodia’s strategic priorities. Strengthening local organizations is an integral part of of the Mission development objectives and overall strategy. This activity also supports the USAID initiative of “The Journey to Self Reliance”.

a. Previous Interventions:
USAID/Cambodia has previously made awards to build the capacity of implementing partners and selected sub awardee organizations. The capacity efforts were primarily in the area of financial and administrative support. One of the main goals of the capacity efforts was to enable the organizations to effectively manage USAID funding. The initiative was successful in that specific gaps in capacity were identified and interventions and training was implemented to fill those gaps. Overall the organizations had better systems in place to effectively manage the award and reduce the risks to the US Government. 

In analyzing the effectiveness of the interventions it became clear that many of the organizations were dependent on donor funding, either from USAID or another organization. It was felt that each organization would be better equipped to operate and continue as a going concern if they could develop alternative revenue sources to operate the organization. While some effort was made to this end the strategic thinking needed and ability to analyze markets was not envisioned in the scope of the award.

Report on capacity of local organizations https://pdf.usaid.gov/pdf_docs/PA00T7Q6.pdf [PDF, 4MB]

b. Expected Results:

  1. Increased organizational and programmatic capacity in targeted organizations
  2. Increased impact of local organizations with less USAID and other donor funding
  3. Increased participation of local organizations in targeted sectors
  4. Ability of target organizations to move towards self-reliance

c. Budget Range: $500,000 - $3,000,000

d. Accepting Concepts for implementation periods of between: 1 – 3 years

e. Additional Evaluation Criteria: There is no additional Mission-Specific evaluation criteria for this Addendum. 

Contact: SBARPS1@usaid.gov

For more context, see the Country Development Cooperation Strategy (CDCS) available here.


Problem Statement 2: CAMBODIA - Civic Tech to Strengthen Accountability for Public Services/Solid Waste

a. Background and Context:
Over the last several years, Cambodians’ fundamental freedoms have been restricted, independent media shuttered, and criminal prosecutions used to intimidate government critics. Cambodia has also edged closer to one-party rule, outlawing the main opposition political party, allowing the ruling party to sweep the 2018 legislative elections and to seize more than a third of council seats won by opposition candidates in commune council elections in 2017. 

The crackdown has stymied civic participation in Cambodia, weakening public accountability for health, education, water, sanitation and other public services. Responsible authorities at the local level -- where many service functions are delegated -- are nevertheless under pressure to make service improvements. They are said to tolerate citizen complaints about service quality, despite limits to dissent. The ability of citizens to exercise their rights to petition the government for improved service delivery is, however, limited by scant or inaccessible government information or by the closing of normal channels for civic feedback to government.

“Civic tech” is not a panacea for unaccountable government. It has however been shown to help citizens analyze and report information, putting authorities on notice to fix service delivery bottlenecks. Tools that use new technologies or adapt technologies -- from AI to mobile apps to crowdsourcing and other communications platforms -- can help generate and disseminate useful information that creates incentives and pressures which prompt officials to action.

Conditions that favor a civic tech approach include the country’s youth bulge -- two-thirds of Cambodia’s population is under the age of 30, one-quarter are between 14 and 30 -- and the rapid utilization of tech among a youth cohort that favors interconnectedness, as evidenced by their use of Facebook and online news (e.g., Voice of America) over state media. Add to that, the growing smartphone (~19 million) and internet use (~8.5 million).

b. Problem Statement:
Can civic tech tools be developed, adapted and utilized in Cambodia in ways that stimulate citizen participation, especially young people, in an environment that discourages or attempts to control or suppress criticism of government? Can tech tools be used to foster informationsharing that leads to increased accountability for and improvement in service delivery in Cambodia’s restricted civic space?

The statement below include a potential area for tech-enabled social accountability: waste management. USAID is seeking expandable small business solutions to address the challenge.

Solid Waste
Cambodia’s rapid population growth due to industrialization has led into a rapid rise in the production of solid waste and other hazardous industrial, medical, construction and agricultural waste. Poor waste collection and disposal -- including overuse of incineration -- has become a major health hazard, responsible for malaria and other diseases, causes ecosystem damage and plays a role in recurrent floods, blocking waterways and drainage systems.

The partial decentralization of waste management functions in Cambodia has left responsible local governments either unaware of their responsibilities or unequal to the task of managing a growing waste problem. For these and other reasons, the Cambodian Government and Cambodian citizens have identified improving waste management as a high priority.

A contributor to this multifaceted problem is the lack of information on waste and its potential health hazards. On this element, civic tech might play a constructive role. A citizen-centric platform, tool or interface between citizens and waste management providers, could ameliorate information scarcity by providing channels for citizens to report, in real time, waste issues and hazards (open dumping, uncollected waste, loose or burning trash). This information, if public, could prod officials to coordinate a more efficient response.

Any tool/platform should allow reports to be submitted easily and efficiently, and validated, updated and reported daily. It should use geolocation information and allow uploaded data to be transmitted and shared. It should track service provider response times for each reported incident and it should be capable of collecting data (e.g., on average response times) and analyzing or visualizing any data that might be helpful in generating service improvement. The tool should allow tracking of public health hazards (e.g. informal dump sites) for authorities to locate and remove them.

The tool/platform should generally allow citizens to hold officials/service providers responsible for managing waste. It should generally allow citizens to act as an integral elements of the system, to notify officials and contractors/ service providers of problems, to help officials/service providers monitor services, respond to complaints and improve services. The tool should be scalable and expandable from pilot areas to other districts and provinces in Cambodia. 

This opportunity focuses on engaging citizens, nongovernmental organizations and private sector associations. It is important to note that recent U.S. legislation prohibits assistance for the government of Cambodia, at any level. Solutions must embody civil society or private-sector ownership, though access to information should be publicly available (including for use by the Cambodian government, among others). Local organizations with an interest in reforming waste management include CSARO, Mlup Baitong, COMPED, CEPA Cambodia, among others.

c. Priority Rationale:
The activity contributes to USAID/Cambodia Mission Objective of “Strengthening credible voices to promote fundamental democratic principles and human rights.” This proposed intervention also supports the 2017 National Security Strategy priority that seeks to “extend the influence of the United States abroad by promoting the fundamental American values of democracy and governance.” This activity is in line with USAID/Cambodia’s strategic priorities.

d. Previous Interventions:
USAID has piloted a civic tech in Cambodia, under its Development Innovations project, to improve flood management and health services. These tools have achieved service improvement results but have yet to achieve sustainable results in terms of accountability. USAID has also, in recent years, invested successfully in civic tech in other countries. For recent examples of the use of civic tech and excellent research regarding its limitations in producing accountability, see Making All Voices Count http://www.makingallvoicescount.org.

e. Expected Results:
Applicants should propose solutions using AI, digital ICT and other technologies that can be deployed in and adapted innovative ways to Cambodia. Solutions should be capable of generating information that enables active groups and citizens to participate in accountability networks, as watchdogs and as advocates for improved services.

Proposed solutions also should enable citizens to generate and report data/information that prompts officials to address public service shortfalls, strengthen the capacity of community groups to hold local governments accountable in one or more of the following provinces: Battambang, Siem Reap, Kampong Thom, Kampong Cham, and Prey Veng. Proposed solutions must be able to generate reliable and accurate data that can be used to monitor changes over time to service delivery.

USAID expects the following results:

  1. Increased public awareness about public services provided by local governments
  2. Increased access to information about government budgets, processes, plans, services
  3. Service gaps/bottlenecks data collected, reported in real time to officials, communities
  4. More constructive interactions between citizens and officials regarding service delivery
  5. Scalable, sustainable tools that improve information flows between citizens and officials
  6. Increased ability of citizens to hold officials accountable for public service delivery
  7. Improved public service delivery and quality for waste and OWSO services
  8. Enhanced expression of citizens’ rights as a result of the tools/platforms utilized

f. Budget Range: $500,000 - $3,000,000

g. Accepting Concepts for implementation periods of between: 1 – 3 years

h. Additional Evaluation Criteria:

PRELIMINARY CONCEPT PAPER

FACTOR 4: Mission Specific Evaluation Criteria

a. Applied Research and Development Objective: Novelty, creativity and innovation of the R&D idea/approach and its relevance to the Problem and Challenge Statements.

b. Impact: The likelihood of generating significant, scalable, and appropriate local market impact on the issues discussed in the Problem and Challenge Statements.

FINAL CONCEPT PAPER

If a Final Concept Paper is required to further elaborate on the concept, the selected small business(es) will be invited to submit a Final Concept Paper, and must address the same factor and criteria used to evaluate the Preliminary Concept Paper.

Contact: SBARPS2@usaid.gov

For more context, see the Country Development Cooperation Strategy (CDCS) available here.


Problem Statement 3: CAMBODIA - Civic Tech to Strengthen Accountability for Public Services/One Window Service Offices

a. Background and Context
Over the last several years, Cambodians’ fundamental freedoms have been restricted, independent media shuttered, and criminal prosecutions used to intimidate government critics. Cambodia has also edged closer to one-party rule, outlawing the main opposition political party, allowing the ruling party to sweep the 2018 legislative elections and to seize more than a third of council seats won by opposition candidates in commune council elections in 2017.

The crackdown has stymied civic participation in Cambodia, weakening public accountability for health, education, water, sanitation and other public services. Responsible authorities at the local level -- where many service functions are delegated -- are nevertheless under pressure to make service improvements. They are said to tolerate citizen complaints about service quality, despite limits to dissent. The ability of citizens to exercise their rights to petition the government for improved service delivery is, however, limited by scant or inaccessible government information or by the closing of normal channels for civic feedback to government.

“Civic tech” is not a panacea for unaccountable government. It has however been shown to help citizens analyze and report information, putting authorities on notice to fix service delivery bottlenecks. Tools that use new technologies or adapt technologies -- from AI to mobile apps to crowdsourcing and other communications platforms -- can help generate and disseminate useful information that creates incentives and pressures which prompt officials to action. 

Conditions that favor a civic tech approach include the country’s youth bulge -- two-thirds of Cambodia’s population is under the age of 30, one-quarter are between 14 and 30 -- and the rapid utilization of tech among a youth cohort that favors interconnectedness, as evidenced by their use of Facebook and online news (e.g., Voice of America) over state media. Add to that, the growing smartphone (~19 million) and internet use (~8.5 million).

b. Problem Statement:
Can civic tech tools be developed, adapted and utilized in Cambodia in ways that stimulate citizen participation, especially young people, in an environment that discourages or attempts to control or suppress criticism of government? Can tech tools be used to foster informationsharing that leads to increased accountability for and improvement in service delivery in Cambodia’s restricted civic space?

The statements below include a potential area for tech-enabled social accountability:
administrative services. USAID is seeking expandable small business solutions to address these challenges.

One Window Service Offices
Recent reforms and laws have delegated financial and administrative authorities to Cambodia’s commune and district governments, including administrative services. Cambodia’s “One- Window Service Offices” (OWSO) were introduced in 2005 as a means of bringing public services -- property registration, construction permits, and business licenses -- closer to citizens, making services more efficient, more transparent, by eliminating ‘unofficial fees’ (irregular payments, bribes) and red tape.

Studies suggest that the performance of OWSOs and of the larger reform effort has been lackluster. Management of administrative services has not reached its full potential at the local level, because of low public awareness, and the resulting ow public usage of the OWSOs combined with insufficient finances and weak administrative capacity.

Part of the fate of the OWSOs depends on public utilization and feedback. Civic tech tools could play a role by encouraging businesses and citizens, especially young people (ages 15- 34), to use the OWSOs, track delivery of their services, even rate their performance. A properly designed, scalable tool could encourage wider use. It could allow citizens to hold officials responsible for speedy, reliable and transparent administrative services.

The tool must enable monitoring of OWSO services, make available information more accessible. The tool(s) would enhance awareness of fees and processes, enable increased participation through informed engagement, and share/disseminate citizen-generated data on OWSO transparency and efficiency (e.g., fee schedule postings, waiting times to receive licenses and permits, etc.). The tool must generate actionable data, using geolocation, collation, analysis, and shared information. Examples of such tools in other countries are abundant.

This opportunity focuses on engaging citizens, nongovernmental organizations and private sector associations. It is important to note that recent U.S. legislation prohibits assistance for the government of Cambodia, at any level. Solutions must embody civil society or private-sector ownership, though access to information should be unrestricted and information publicly available (including for use by the government, among others). A number of local organizations such as Advocacy and Policy Institute (API) and Democracy Resource Center for National Development (DND), among other organizations have engaged in this reform in the past.

c. Priority Rationale:
The activity contributes to USAID/Cambodia Mission Objective of “Strengthening credible voices to promote fundamental democratic principles and human rights.” This proposed intervention also supports the 2017 National Security Strategy priority that seeks to “extend the influence of the United States abroad by promoting the fundamental American values of democracy and governance.” This activity is in line with USAID/Cambodia’s strategic priorities.

d. Previous Interventions:
USAID has piloted a civic tech in Cambodia, under its Development Innovations project, to improve flood management and health services. These tools have achieved service improvement results but have yet to achieve sustainable results in terms of accountability. USAID has also, in recent years, invested successfully in civic tech in other countries. For recent examples of the use of civic tech and excellent research regarding its limitations in producing accountability, see Making All Voices Count http://www.makingallvoicescount.org.

e. Expected Results:
Applicants should propose solutions using AI, digital ICT and other technologies that can be deployed in and adapted innovative ways to Cambodia. Solutions should be capable of generating information that enables active groups and citizens to participate in accountability networks, as watchdogs and as advocates for improved services.

Proposed solutions also should enable citizens to generate and report data/information that prompts officials to address public service shortfalls, strengthen the capacity of community groups to hold local governments accountable in one or more of the following provinces: Battambang, Siem Reap, Kampong Thom, Kampong Cham, and Prey Veng. Proposed solutions must be able to generate reliable and accurate data that can be used to monitor changes over time to service delivery.

USAID expects the following results:

  9. Increased public awareness about public services provided by local governments
10. Increased access to information about government budgets, processes, plans, services
11. Service gaps/bottlenecks data collected, reported in real time to officials, communities
12. More constructive interactions between citizens and officials regarding service delivery
13. Scalable, sustainable tools that improve information flows between citizens and officials
14. Increased ability of citizens to hold officials accountable for public service delivery
15. Improved public service delivery and quality for waste and OWSO services
16. Enhanced expression of citizens’ rights as a result of the tools/platforms utilized

f. Budget Range: $500,000 - $3,000,000

g. Accepting Concepts for implementation periods of between: 1 – 3 years

h. Additional Evaluation Criteria:

PRELIMINARY CONCEPT PAPER

FACTOR 4: Mission Specific Evaluation Criteria

  • Applied Research and Development Objective: Novelty, creativity and innovation of the R&D idea/approach and its relevance to the Problem and Challenge Statements.
  • Impact: The likelihood of generating significant, scalable, and appropriate local market impact on the issues discussed in the Problem and Challenge Statements.

FINAL CONCEPT PAPER
If a Final Concept Paper is required to further elaborate on the concept, the selected small business(es) will be invited to submit a Final Concept Paper, and must address the same factors and criteria used to evaluate the Preliminary Concept Paper.

Contact: SBARPS3@usaid.gov

For more context, see the Country Development Cooperation Strategy (CDCS) available here.


Problem Statement 4: LIBERIA - Proof of Concrete Waterproof Roads

a. Background and Context:
Concrete is known to be strong, durable and useful for both utilitarian and decorative purposes worldwide. However, concrete is also porous, permeable and prone to cracking. Therefore there is need for waterproof concrete. Water, while essential in concrete production, placement and curing, also causes corrosion and becomes an enemy to concrete.

As Africa, particularly Liberia, emerges as a key global player in the construction sector, with opportunities to build developing countries through important infrastructure and public works, there is need for readily available, affordable and quality concrete products.

Availability/Lack of resources
Liberia’s waterproof material market is dominated by bituminous membranes and cementitious waterproofing material. These materials, however, are not locally sourced.

b. Problem Statement:
In a country where it rains heavily for roughly six months of the year resulting in road and sidewalk destruction, as well as high road construction/renovation costs, is there a cheap way to make waterproof concrete?

c. Priority Rationale:
The development of waterproof concrete using locally sourced materials, will improve the quality of housing and road construction. With improved construction structures, demand will increase in the construction industry, which will drive job creation for economic growth opportunity in Liberia.

d. Previous Interventions:
There have been construction projects using waterproof concrete. Currently, however, Liberia's regulations and building codes do not require construction practitioners to use safe or quality waterproofing membrane or concrete.

e. Expected Results:

  1. Increased demand for Liberian concrete
  2. Increased roadways in rural Liberia
  3. Increased travel and road utilization
  4. Higher productivity during rainy season
  5. Private sector industry and jobs around concrete manufacturing created

f. Budget Range: $500,000 - $3,000,000

g. Accepting Concepts for implementation periods of between: 1 – 3 years

h. Additional Evaluation Criteria:
There is no additional Mission-Specific evaluation criteria for this Addendum.

Contact: SBARPS4@usaid.gov

For more context, see the Country Development Cooperation Strategy (CDCS) available here.


Problem Statement 5: LIBERIA - Bricks for Development

a. Background and Context:
In Liberia, housing construction is implemented with a variety of blocks such as compressed earth blocks, mud bricks and cement blocks (sand + cement). However, due to the high cost of production, mainly cement and mud bricks are used. Mud bricks, which cost less to produce, are used widely in rural towns and villages, while the cement blocks, which cost more to produce, are used in the urban and rural cities.

The major limitation with both mud bricks and cement blocks in Liberia is that they do not comply with Pollutant Standard Index or Air Quality Standard. Therefore, most mud bricks and cement block construction projects cannot withstand the elements or harsh climate conditions; commercial vendors use this limitation for profit making.

Another limitation in the production of bricks in Liberia is that the existing building codes and standards lack data with no oversight from the Government. Projects are implemented by the funding agencies, which specify preferred codes and standards.

References:

  1. Observation from the Field – USAID/Liberia Infrastructure Engineers
  2. Bricks Trade in Liberia: https://www.tridge.com/intelligences/bricks/LR

b. Problem Statement:
In a country where materials like sand and coal are plentiful and local Liberians use local materials to make brick for housing construction, is there a cheap way to make bricks that meet Pollutant Standards Index (PSI) or Air Quality Index (AQI) standards and are consistent with the International Building Code (IBC)?

c. Priority Rationale:
Manufacturing quality locally sourced bricks that meets the Pollutant Standards Index and Air Quality Index, and that is consistent with the International Building Code, will address a major quality and safety issue in the bricks value chain and the construction industry in Liberia. With the large deposit of clay and sand throughout Liberia, the use of locally sourced materials to manufacture quality standard bricks for housing and developing the value chain for large scale manufacturing will create jobs and improve the income level of Liberians. The development of a domestic brick Industry will provide jobs and less expensive quality building materials, which will drive economic growth and reduce poverty.

d. Previous Interventions:
Currently, there is a cement manufacturing company that produces cement, and both mud and cement bricks production rely on cement. No other intervention exists to produce locally sourced and cheap bricks.

e. Expected Results:

  1.  Create a sustainable and replicable source of local raw materials used for brick-making.
  2. Use sustainable amounts of local materials.
  3. Private sector industry around brick manufacturing created.
  4. Training centers established to train on PSI, AQI, and IBC standards.
  5. Increased demand for Liberian bricks.
  6. Improved housing for Liberians.

f. Budget Range: $500,000 - $3,000,000

g. Accepting Concepts for implementation periods of between: 1 – 3 years

h. Additional Evaluation Criteria:
There is no additional Mission-Specific evaluation criteria for this Addendum.

Contact: SBARPS5@usaid.gov

For more context, visit the USAID Madagascar website


Problem Statement 6: LIBERIA - Mold-smart Paint

a. Background and Context:
In Liberia, the climate is tropical, hot and humid all year round. Liberia has a rainy season of at least six months. Damp, warm conditions without much airflow in most homes and loft spaces often cause mold growth.

In addition to humid conditions and lack of ventilation, mold growth is often caused by internal and external plumbing leaks. Moreover, in both rural and urban towns in Liberia, with most of the homes clustered together, mold grows both on the ground between the homes and on walls.

Liberia lacks the resources to locally manufacture cheap anti-mold paint.

References:

  1. Observations from the Field – Liberia Infrastructure Engineers
  2. Ghana Rising Article. http://ghanarising.blogspot.com/2013/08/homeinteriors-coral-paints-offering.html

b. Problem Statement:
In a country where it rains heavily for roughly six months of the year resulting in heavy mold accumulation and sub-standard air quality, is there a cheap way to make paint that is moldresistant, safe, and long-lasting?

c. Priority Rationale:
The production of locally sourced mold-resistant paint, will create jobs and improve the health of Liberians. Developing local solutions to clean and dry mold from surfaces, with mold-resistant paint could transform the housing industry with job creation and eliminating mold-related diseases. Thus, improving the value of housing and increasing demand with job creation, while improving the health of Liberians.

d. Previous Interventions:
Mold-resistant paint is manufactured in Ghana and marketed in Liberia, where it has been used to clean and dry mold from the surfaces of the walls. Such paint, however, is very expensive. Alternatively, mold is removed manually using soap, bleach, and water.

e. Expected Results:

  1. A patentable technology for making mold-resistant paint, the mold resulting from high levels of water and humidity.
  2. An increased amount of paint available in the local market.
  3. An increased amount of paint available on the international market, for use particularly in heavy rain and high humidity contexts.
  4. Private sector industry around paint manufacturing created.
  5. Private sector industry and jobs around rainwater collection created.
  6. Training centers established to train on paint manufacturing.
  7. Increased demand for Liberian paint.
  8. Improved housing and commercial paint for Liberians and foreign businesses/entities.

f. Budget Range: $500,000 - $3,000,000

g. Accepting Concepts for implementation periods of between: 1 – 3 years

h. Additional Evaluation Criteria:
There is no additional Mission-Specific evaluation criteria for this Addendum.

 

Contact: SBARPS6@usaid.gov

For more context, see the Country Development Cooperation Strategy (CDCS) available here.


Problem Statement 7: ZAMBIA - District Governance Strengthening

a. Background and Context:
Local authorities and community-led governance structures are playing a more consequential role in Zambia’s development as the central government takes steps to decentralize health, education and food-security services. While these trends should foster engagement between citizens and local authorities for development impact, actual capabilities for collective action fall short. Citizen input in planning and monitoring development interventions tends to be limited and poorly integrated, especially in rural areas where most Zambians live. Catalysts for “crowding in” participation usually are absent. Moreover, few incentives exist to drive meaningful and sustained engagement between citizens and government. As Zambia’s largest source of development assistance, the United States Government has an acute need for improved governance conditions to maximize its investment results and boost country ownership for eventual transition from sectoral interventions on the Journey to Self-Reliance.

Current and planned USAID/Zambia programs in nutrition, maternal and child health, HIV care and prevention, agriculture, natural resource conservation and early-grade education require stronger district-level response. District Governance Strengthening, a USAID/Zambia activity set to launch in 2019, will serve as a platform for addressing local governance, citizen-state relations, and accountability concerns that are common across USAID program areas.

The failure of communication is acute in rural areas and plays an important role in impeding citizen involvement. People have a limited understanding of how government systems work, what responsibilities that government has to its citizens, and how individuals can voice their preferences and grievances and contribute ideas and talent to solve communal problems. Information and accountability linkages between the grassroots citizenry and district-level government officials – both elected councils and officials reporting to central government service ministries such as Health – tend to be weak or non-existent.

Mobile communication technology holds the potential to empower rural Zambians, allowing them to connect with local authorities more effectively and improve communal social and economic prospects. The promise of stronger linkages to the financial system is arising as Zambians increasingly use digital money via mobile phones for payments and financial services offered by emerging “fintechs.” One-quarter of Zambian adults have a digital financial services account, up from 2 percent in 2014, according to research by the United Nations Capital Development Fund. The Zambian Government is seeking to link citizens with government services using digital pathways and already delivers funds for seeds and fertilizer to farmers using an electronic voucher system.

Yet due to their remoteness, rural areas remain challenging geographies for introducing communications-driven innovations. Any technology solution must include a realistic and sustainable approach for power supply, monitoring and maintenance - and service continuation after USAID’s intervention ends.

b. Problem Statement:
Zambia’s rural populations are scattered across geographically large districts, some covering thousands of square kilometers in this Texas-size country. Communities linked by rutted dirt roads yet lacking vehicles may be 15-25 kilometers distant from the district council and administrative center, reinforcing a sense of isolation from government decision-making.

While Zambia has attained an 82 percent penetration rate for mobile communications, rural areas suffer from spotty or non-existent coverage and infrequent access to the Internet. Only 4 percent of the rural population has access to electricity, according to USAID’s Power Africa program. As a consequence the flow of information to and within these areas is quite limited.  Amid these challenges, the country’s decentralization strategy calls for greater citizen input for the management and monitoring of development interventions, especially at the ward (subdistrict) level. (Wards are the political units from which the district council is elected.)

An incentive is needed to “crowd in” the citizens of a ward at a central gathering point (typically where a school and a health clinic are found, along with shops) for more effective interaction with government and development services. A solution would include a large-area Internet wi-fi footprint at a ward hub to give people free, reliable online access while bringing them into physical contact with other residents and service providers in health, education, water, nutrition and roads. This approach would also give government structures called ward development committees – an emerging, citizen-led body for development coordination – a focal point for direct engagement with citizens.

With improved internet access, citizens could access mobile financial services, online learning, and e-government services that are emerging in Zambia. District governments could connect with citizens in wards more efficiently, while residents could avoid time-consuming trips to the district center.

The crowding-in solution would be piloted in selected wards that demonstrate uptake of skillsbuilding under District Governance Strengthening and commitment to sustained citizen engagement for poverty reduction.Potential Zambian partners exist in a similar connectivity initiative being developed for schools.

For more information on related topics:
On digital town squares:
Connecting the Unconnected: A Background Paper to the Special Session of the UN Broadband Commission and the World Economic Forum at Davos 2017
https://www.broadbandcommission.org/Documents/ITU_discussion-paper_Davos2017.pdf [PDF, 3.4MB]

https://telecom.economictimes.indiatimes.com/tele-talk/digital-india-making-villages-smart/719

On citizen engagement:
Opening the Black Box: The Contextual Drivers of Social Accountability (World Bank, 2015) https://openknowledge.worldbank.org/handle/10986/21686

c. Priority Rationale:
The current USAID/Zambia Democracy and Governance Project Appraisal Document, which shapes programming, shifted the focus from central government institutions toward “improving governance where it is experienced most directly by the Zambian people – impacting the incentives surrounding the delivery of services at the local level.” The project theorizes that citizens’ increased awareness of their legitimate expectations of government, coupled with their increased willingness to take action, will incentivize governmental authorities to improve transparency and service delivery. This theory is rooted in a system-wide approach to accountability.

d. Previous Interventions:
Fostering Accountability and Transparency in Zambia is a five and a half year USAID activity that began in 2014 and ends in March 2020. FACT Zambia is implemented by Counterpart International, eight Zambian civil society organizations working at the district level in five provinces and three Zambian CSOs working at the national level for coalition building and policy influencing. While FACT Zambia has demonstrated the value of mobilizing citizens and civil society across sectors (health/HIV, education and the environment), its effects usually are limited to specific community problems. Sustainable improvements to the local governance system tend to be limited. District Governance Strengthening will work with all stakeholders at the local level for systemic change, from the citizen receiving services to the district service provider and decision maker responding to community needs.

e. Expected Results:

  1. Civic participation expanded to improve the design, provision and oversight of public services.
  2. Local systems of government strengthened to harmonize development by improving information flows from hard-to-reach rural citizens.
  3. Citizen access to economic development services improved in rural areas remote from  district centers.

f. Budget Range: $500,000 - $3,000,000

g. Accepting Concepts for implementation periods of between: 1 – 3 years

h. Additional Evaluation Criteria:
There is no additional Mission-Specific evaluation criteria for this Addendum.

Contact: SBARPS7@usaid.gov

For more context, see the Country Development Cooperation Strategy (CDCS) available here.


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Last updated: November 30, 2018

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