Building the Capacity of Government to Serve Farmers and Agribusiness
Reforming a large, government ministry that employs more than 9,000 civil servants is a daunting task. Doing so in a conflict environment such as Afghanistan, where the ministry and its employees are spread across 34 provinces, is even more of a challenge. Yet, the VEGA LWA Capacity Building and Change Management Program (CBCMP) demonstrated that measurable reforms of the government infrastructure within a conflict zone are possible, especially when there is a cadre of dedicated, local staff. Started in November 2010, CBCMP was a $36 million, VEGA LWA program to develop capacity at every level of Afghanistan’s Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Livestock (MAIL). The program was implemented by VEGA Members IESC in partnership with the International City/County Management Association (ICMA), the Institute of International Education (IIE), and Land O’Lakes International Development Fund. CBCMP embedded up to 200 change-management specialists, educated and qualified Afghanis, who worked side-by-side with civil service counterparts to provide on-the-job training. Remote volunteers also provided technical assistance. CBCMP illustrates how the VEGA LWA allowed VEGA members to combine efforts to achieve development objectives, and these change-management specialists were the secret to the success.
Realizing that more needed to be done to institutionalize reforms, USAID awarded a three-year, $20 million follow-on program in July, 2014. Under the VEGA LWA, the CBCMP II was implemented by IESC and ICMA. Formal and on-the-job trainings during the life of CBCMP-II resulted with more than 70 approved proposals to assist famers and agribusiness valued more than US$122 million. After six and a half years of continuous improvements through the training of civil servants in financial management, budget, procurement, reporting and proposal writing, the MAIL budget execution rate was doubled, lifting it from 31% in 2010 to 82% in 2016.
Key successes of CBCMP I include introducing an electronic attendance system that enables that saves time and increases efficiency of MAIL employees, extending internet connectivity to DAIL offices, introducing an inventory management system and training various Directorates on grants management. Between 2011-2014, CBCMP’s efforts with MAIL and the DAILs led to:
- An increase in MAIL’s ability to execute its budget from 25% to 56%
- An increase in on-budget funding from $205 million to $243 million
- Measurable increases in employee satisfaction
- Decentralizing the ministry by creating a horizontal intranet