Moldovan Citizens Do a Lot with a Little

November 26, 2012

Victor Neagu, Communications Associate in the Moldova World Bank Office, offers this story.

Ordinary citizens can increase the capacity and transparency of their government agencies, from city councils to education departments. In 2011, non-governmental organizations in Moldova took advantage of small World Bank grants to develop innovative ways of making their public servants more responsive, and their public services more efficient.

Ina Negruta of the NGO AsproAgro used her grant to make the face of bureaucracy in the central Moldovan town of Orhei friendlier and more efficient. People in the town of about 35,000 once queued up outside the mayor's office to ask simple questions about how to obtain a license or apply for social assistance. It was time consuming for citizens and city officials.

Negruta worked with Orhei's mayor and the city administration to develop and buy an interactive touch-screen monitor that offers citizens useful information without having to stand in line or make several trips to the municipal office.

" If we want to find information about the mayor, we press the mayor button and see his agenda and meeting schedule. We can also send the mayor a message; we write our name and question here. We can take a picture of ourselves, so that the mayor knows who is asking the question. "
Ina Negruta, NGO AsproAgro

Ina Negruta

NGO AsproAgro

"If we want to get a building certificate, we can find all the information pertaining to this document right here. The documentation required for the certificate can be attached to the application and addressed to the Architecture Service, without standing in line at the municipal architect's office," says Negruta.

Negruta's idea is an important step in changing the mindset of local public authorities, focusing it on citizens rather than process. And it helps citizens know what to expect. Overall, it increases transparency in government.

Another grant winner, NGO Generatia Pro Moldova, built a website (http://gradinitamea.md) where parents can read about what their child is doing and learning in kindergarten and provide input on activities, the curriculum and teacher's methods. It makes interaction with local education authorities more transparent and encourages them to respond to feedback.

In the capital Chisinau, the first electronic school library in Moldova was built with help of a World Bank grant. The website (http://biblionline.md/) gathers comprehensive information for students, parents and teachers in one place. It offers information such as curricula, learning materials and other useful information grouped by school year and subject.

"The idea of this portal emerged as I saw my own children looking up useful information on various subjects. They were faced with the issue of finding a library or resource for unique information. There was no electronic library or information resource in Moldova combining different materials that students could use for to find out more for themselves," said Ghenadie Gorincioi, who developed the website for CAPTES, the small non-profit for which he works.

This electronic library already has a life of its own thanks to contributions from students and teachers, whose support proves the usefulness of the library.

The modest World Bank grants—totaling $40,000 dollars—show results. Winning NGOs prove that a little money can go a long way in helping good and innovative ideas encourage social change.

Throughout the years the World Bank has supported civil society organizations in countries where it has engaged governments on important reforms. The role of civil society as a catalyst of change in Moldova is remarkable. It ranges from grassroots initiatives that aim to bring cheaper and more accessible public services to the regular citizen, mapping pollution areas and working with citizens to reduce environmental degradation or building online platforms where students, parents and teachers can work together for better education.