Success story of Nagaland's communitisation programme

Success story of Nagaland's communitisation programme
Kohima, May 29 (PTI) At a time when privatization of public sector units has become the buzzword, Nagaland government has utilised its rich social capital for management of public institutions and services through the concept of communitisation.

The venture paid off with the Nagaland government having been selected for United Nations Public Service Awards for communitization programme in recognition of its innovative use of rich social capital.

The award will be conferred to the state government on June 23 at New York.

Nagaland is the only award winner in Asia Pacific region in the category of fostering participation in policy-making decisions through innovative mechanism and one among the 12 awardees selected globally in different areas of public services, official sources said.

The concept of communitisation was introduced in 2002-03 and after enactment of Nagaland Communitisation Act on public institutions and services the same year, the government in phases handed over ownership and management of education, health care, water supply, electricity, tourism and bio-diversity conservation to the communities.

In many places in Nagaland, committees function beyond its given roles and responsibilities for overall development of human capital in their respective areas, the sources said.

There has been a marked improvement in the percentage of school dropouts, teachers' attendance, judicious utilization of fund for infrastructure development and monitoring of the quantity and quality of food for mid-day meal scheme after the entire responsibility of elementary education management was handed over to village education committees (VEC) and ward education committees (WEC), the sources said.

Last week villagers deliberating on community participation in implementation of Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA) at Pfutsero town in Nagaland resolved to enforce study hours for students from 5 am to 8 pm in their respective villages and asked primary schools to subscribe to at least one daily newspaper.

The slogan 'no work no pay' under Communitisation Act also paid dividends since VECs deducted salaries of teachers for unauthorized absence from classes.

But re-deployment of excess teachers from urban centres to rural areas remained a difficult task for the department and here VEC/WECs could play a major role, the officials said.

Besides elementary education, rural health institutions were also taken up for communitization in 2002.

Under this concept, village health committees (VHC), urban health committees (UHC), common sub-centre health committees and health centre management committees (HCMC) were constituted in order to strengthen the system.

Althoug initial response to the concept was mixed, over a period of time the process started taking roots and committees acted on it, the officials said.

With transfer of responsibility to the community, government hospitals too witnessed an improvement in staff attendance, improvement in availability of medicines and timely disbursement of staff salaries, the sources said.

As per the latest annual report of health and family welfare department till March this year, 450 sub-centres, 63 PHCs and 21 CHCs were brought under communitization programme and capacity building exercise was continued at all levels.

Communitization of electricity management through single point metering (SPM) was introduced in 2002 to check the chronic problem of distribution loss, the officials said.

The power department brought 602 villages and 12 urban areas under SPM till March 2008. With transferring of responsibility of tariff collection to village electricity committees, there has been improvement in revenue as collection is shared between the department and the village.

However, the positive responses to SPM in the initial stages could not be sustained in the subsequent years due to fund constraint, but the government allotted Rs two crore to undertake communitisation programme in a massive way during the current fiscal, an official report said.

But in case of tourism sector, privatization and communitisation went hand in hand for efficiently running tourist lodges and other tourism assets created by the government over the years.

Since the department embarked on promotion of rural, cultural and eco tourism in Nagaland most of the assets created in rural areas had been handed over to the village tourism boards, the officials said.

Handing over water supply to the community not only mproved services but the process also helped in popularizing rain water harvest and conservation of water sources in villages, the official said.

Officials pointed out that existence and operation of village development board (VDB) and village councils (panchayats) facilitated the process of communitization taking a firm ground in Nagaland.

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