Saturday, December 16, 2017 – Kabul: Integrity Watch Afghanistan today published results of Citizen Report Card of Municipal Services 2017 analyzing the state of municipal services based on ratings done by citizens in nine cities across Afghanistan. The report assesses the provision of municipal service delivery in Bamiyan, Charikar, Gardiz, Herat, Jalal-a-bad, Kabul, Kunduz, Mahmood Raqi, and Mazar-e-Sharif. Satisfaction level with delivery of the municipal services has been reported at 56% while rating of services and governance has been at a similar level at 55%. In addition, 65% of the citizens thought that municipal services have improved over the last 12 months. Charikar, Herat, and Mazar-e-Sharif are the top performers with a general rating of services at 68%, 64%, and 63% respectively. Kabul city is among the lowest performers with a general rating of 47%, a three-percentage point improvement since last year.
Standardization of private construction, providing bus stands, public access to information and drainage are good performing indicators in first to third ranked cities. A significant number of respondents said they were satisfied with the municipality services in the three first ranked cities. In cities in the bottom of the ranking, sanitation, solid waste management, and drainage remain a challenge. There is a strong need to improve governance in relation to the better delivery of municipal services. All surveyed cities performed a poor job on governance indicators. No single score of 70% or more was observed in four governance-related indicators across all cities and districts.
Similarly, out of 22 districts in Kabul city 21, ranked an overall average of less than fifty percent. In terms of district ranking, districts two, fourth and eleventh rank first, second and third respectively, while, districts 18th, 21st, and 22nd were ranked as underperforming districts by respondents. In the first three top districts, public cooperation with the municipality and licensing indicators were the top performers, while, solid waste management, car parking, and public parks are among the top lowest performing indicators in the districts that sunk into the bottom of the ranking.
Speaking to the media, Sayed Ikram Afzali, Executive Director of Integrity Watch Afghanistan said, “Public participation, access to information, accountability, and handling complaints are key components of governance that have largely been neglected in municipal governance in Afghanistan.” The four indicators have received the lowest ratings and are among the lowest five indicators. “Sheer focus on service delivery will divert attention from the much important area of reforms that can improve delivery of municipal services in a sustainable manner,” he added.
There is a need to engage public in decision-making related to municipal services. The findings of the survey show more than sixty percent of the people indicated that neither they nor any of their family members had visited municipality in the past one year. The level of women engagement is even far less. “More public engagement is required to ensure accountability and better delivery of municipal services. Municipalities should make efforts to engage public in important processes such as budgeting, monitoring of services, and social audit of projects. In addition, we need proper representation including holding elections of mayors and local councils to ensure public voices are heard in decision-making,” Mr. Afzali added.
With some exceptions, all cities surveyed and districts in Kabul need to do much better in terms of delivering services across all of the 16 indicators covered by this survey. This should involve the adoption of clear plans, with clear targets, for improving service delivery. Beyond that, what is needed depends on the situation but options include diverting resources to weak performing cities, namely Gardiz, Kabul, and Kunduz as long as the municipalities demonstrate the will to effect reforms and changes.
About Citizen Report Card (CRC)
The exercise is designed to extract actual experience of citizens from the quality of services delivery by a public agency. This CRC survey should be understood as a follow-on exercise from two previous Community Scorecard exercises conducted by IWA in Kabul at the end of 2014 and 2015. Those exercises were conducted only in the 22 districts (Nahias) of Kabul4 and relied on a different methodology. However, the main substantive questions on the current CRC survey were the same as in the two previous Community Scorecard exercises.
The Community Scorecard exercises were conducted via direct meetings with around 50 residents from each district of Kabul, selected with the support of local Wakeel Guzars. They started with a question and answer session between local officials and residents, and then the Community Scorecard was filled in by the residents and officials (and the results were recorded separately). In contrast, the current CRC was conducted through a simple survey approach, filled in by randomly selected individuals within randomly selected homes in the target cities.
The CRC exercise asks respondents to give rate provision of municipal services from ‘Very Bad, to ‘Very Good’ in relationships to sixteen different indicators of municipal services. Of these indicators, eleven refers to core services of the municipality such as garbage collection, maintaining infrastructure and providing bus stands. Five others dealing with issues related to governance, such as access to information, accountability, promoting public participation in issues related to the municipality, and providing effective complains mechanism.
Recommendations to improve the provision of municipal services:
- While holding election of mayors is ideal, the government should ensure public participation at least through less formal means such as elections of local council representatives to form municipal assemblies. Such elections would not require huge capacity and resources but would significantly increase public participation.
- Municipalities should invest in measures to address the low level of engagement by citizens with municipalities including by publicizing the services they provide and their benefits, and, where necessary, putting in place new systems to facilitate interactions.
- Municipalities should use participatory budgeting to give people an opportunity to have a say in how their money should be spent and to decide their own priorities.
- All cities and all districts in Kabul need to do much better in terms of delivering services across all the 16 indicators covered by the CRC exercise, including by adopting clear plans, with clear targets, for improving service delivery.
- Particular attention should be given to improving performance on the governance indicators, including because this can have a positive knock-on effect on the delivery of other services.
- Special efforts should be made to reach out to women with a view to engaging them more at the municipal level.
- Efforts should be made to reach out to citizens with lower levels of education and those ethnic groups which engage less with municipalities.
- More research should be done looking into the question of whether and to what extent local residents in municipalities pay small bribes to obtain services.
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