FEATURE STORY

In the Kyrgyz Republic, a “Knowledge Marathon” to Improve Budgeting Skills of Rural Municipal Governments

July 28, 2016


World Bank Group

One year ago, a new project was launched in the Kyrgyz Republic that is quite unique in terms of its geographic scope and population coverage. The project, Scaling-Up Peer-to-Peer Learning in Public Finance at the Local Self-Government Level, is being implemented by the State Agency for Local Governance and Interethnic Relations (SALGIR), with financial support from the World Bank.

Administratively, the Kyrgyz Republic is divided into 7 oblasts (provinces) and 2 cities (Bishkek and Osh). Oblasts are divided into 40 rayons (districts), while rural areas of rayons are divided into 453 Ayil Aymak (municipalities or local self-government units).

Under the project, learning events have rolled out across the country – covering all 453 rural local self-governments, not just a few pilot rayons or oblasts – which means that thousands of participants will benefit directly from the project.

The uniqueness of the project also lies in its approach: an innovative peer-to-peer learning concept. The project help beneficiaries to organize three communities of practice (CoPs), for heads of rural municipalities, heads of financial departments in these municipalities, and elected members of local councils heading budget commissions.

The beneficiaries have selected CoP leaders at rayon level (40 for each CoP). Rayon CoP leaders attend intensive quarterly learning events where they receive knowledge and information on budget-related topics selected by CoP membership.


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Under the Scaling-Up Peer-to-Peer Learning in Public Finance at the Local Self-Government Level project, learning events have rolled out across the country – covering all 453 rural local self-governments – which means that thousands of participants will benefit directly from the project.

Photo: Kyrgyz Republic SALGIR

The most recent learning event for rayon leaders took place in June, 2016 in the Issyk-Kul oblast, and gathered representatives from all over the country. Based on suggestions and requests from the CoPs, the workshop organizers developed a curriculum and invited leading experts from the Ministry of Finance, the Government’s Office, the Ministry of Agriculture’s Department of Pastures, and the State Agency of Architecture, Construction and Housing Services.

Over three days, participants discussed issues related to public accounting standards and financial reporting of municipal organizations, ways to generate increased revenues in local budgets through the effective use of land resources and improved management of municipal property, as well as the Government’s anti-corruption policies and measures in the country’s public sector.

The rayon leaders then shared what they had learned with colleagues at rayon-level meetings in their home municipalities, including how budgets are executed in other regions of the country and how other municipalities work to improve the welfare of the local population by better managing their budgets. This is the essence of the peer-to-peer learning principle, which is fundamental to the project.

“If you have learned something new, share it with your friend,” says Mikhail Khalitov, SALGIR Deputy Director. “No one, not even a professor, can explain it better and more clearly to a head of a local municipality about how they should streamline expenditure and where they can find additional sources of revenues for their budget, than their colleague who managed to successfully resolve these tasks in their municipality.”


Kyrgyz Family. Abd. Halim Hadi. Shutterstock

Through an innovative approach to peer-to-peer learning, the Kyrgyz Republic is improving governance and budget execution practices so that all residents of rural municipalities will benefit from the improved quality of public and municipal services.

Photo: Abd Halim Hadi

Thanks to the project, local governments can not only improve their competence and professionalism, but they can also network with their colleagues, who will gladly share success stories and best practices, notes Elena Trofimova, head of the Nizhny Chui rural municipality.

“The project not only gives us an opportunity to learn, but also brings us together by expanding the boundaries of our municipalities,” says Trofimova. “Now, we have a better understanding of the developments at the country level, while before we focused only on our problems that existed at the local level.”

District-level authorities provide every possible assistance to SALGIR to ensure successful implementation of the project. For example, during district-level meetings of CoPs, district authorities help foster the process by providing premises or sending specialists from the State Tax Service or Social Fund to provide consultations and clarifications to meeting participants.

Through an innovative approach to peer-to-peer learning, SALGIR aims to improve governance and budget execution practices so that all residents of rural municipalities in the Kyrgyz Republic will benefit from the improved quality of public and municipal services provided at the local level.

Indeed, the ultimate goal of this two-year “knowledge marathon” for local government is that there will be no losers, only winners, at the finish line.

Larisa Lee, Media Consultant at Kyrgyz Republic SALGIR, offers this story.