New Era (NE): The National Planning Commission (NPC) guides and informs the formulation of the country’s future development plans, through the National Development Plans, NDP1, NDP2, NDP3. Yet rural areas still seem to continue to cry out for development. How does the Commission view development planning for rural areas and the implementation of such development plans?
Peter Katjavivi (PK): NDP3 is the first plan which is systematically translating our vision into action. Policy directions were drawn from Vision 2030, the Swapo Party Manifesto, November 2005 Cabinet Special Retreat, the Millennium Declaration and the lessons we have learned in NDP2; translating into the theme: “Accelerated Economic Growth and Deepening Rural Development”.
The reduction of poverty and inequality remains an overarching priority for the Government of the Republic of Namibia. Inequality and poverty endanger the social harmony, peace and democracy.
Thus, with Namibia’s majority people staying in the rural areas and facing development challenges of poverty, unemployment, housing, sanitation and HIV/AIDS to name a few, it became a pressing matter to focus on rural areas to ensure development.
This, in addition, is also an attempt to lure the people back to the rural areas who are migrating to urban areas which is further contributing to problems such as the high crime rate in urban areas, overpopulation causing illegal squatting, sanitation problems in those areas, unemployment, to name but a few.
Strategies to implement the 1998 Poverty Reduction Strategy and the 2001 National Poverty Reduction Action Programme all have reduction of poverty and inequality amongst its major objectives. With Namibia’s commitment to achieve the MDGs, by cutting poverty in half before 2015 and a range of other social development objectives, we believe we are on track to achieve these outcomes. NPC has finalised and launched the 13 Regional Poverty Profiles which serve as guiding documents to address development issues which vary from region to region.
Within the Rural Poverty Reduction Programme (RPRP), the component of Decentralized Demand Driven Actions provided for grants to rural development projects, it aided on and off farm income generation, community based tourism, SME enterprises and it improved access to credit to start own business in rural areas.
NE: Why does the realisation of the development objectives put forth in the past development plans, i.e. NDP1 and NDP2 seem to be taking time? Or is the populace being unjustly impatient?
PK: Namibia shares many developmental challenges with the partner countries of East and Southern Africa. The progress in development areas achieved to date indicates Government’s profound commitment to working towards addressing the issues of poverty, unemployment, housing, sanitation and HIV/AIDS, to name a few, which continue to remain development challenges to the Government of the Republic of Namibia.
With the active and continuous involvement of local, regional and national leadership as well as civil society, these challenges can be addressed. Experience has shown that national development must be linked with realities faced by the people. Reality unfortunately also remains that socio-development challenges continue to persist; the only difference is that the levels of impact vary.
The NDP3 thus serves as Namibia’s road map for sustainable social and economic development, since Namibia has far reaching strategic development policy decisions which are guided by the Vision 2030.
NE: Does the commission have an estimate of how much is required to execute the current development plan (NDP3)?
PK: The Third National Development Plan (NDP3) which covers the period 2007/08-2011/12 projects an average growth rate of 5% per annum in gross domestic product (GDP) under an economic growth scenario which assumes no policy interventions and 6.5% per annum under an economic growth scenario which assumes redoubled efforts.
A total investment of N$76.3 billion is required from public, private and international stakeholders over the five-year period in order to achieve the set NDP3 targets, and realise the baseline average growth rate of 5%.
This compares with the actual growth rate of 4.7% and in order to achieve the higher growth rate of 6.5%, an investment of N$94.6 billion will be required.
These growth rates are higher than the average annual growth rate of 4.7% achieved in NDP2 and 3.5% recorded in NDP1.
NE: NDP3 is the first plan that includes monitoring and evaluation; can you enlighten us on how this would work?
PK: NDP3 formulation utilizes the Integrated Results-Based Management (IRBM) approach and is based on the systematic and strategic identification and performance planning for achieving results at every step from the grassroots to regional and Offices/Ministries/Agency levels.
Under the IRBM approach, all Key Result Areas and NDP3 goals, and sub-sector goals and programmes under them are results-oriented. Thus, the approach ensures that NDP3 programmes at all levels are identified and prepared with the end results in mind, building on the traditional focus on expenditure performance and physical activity completion.
NDP3 planning focuses on systematic monitoring of performance at all levels on an integrated basis and incorporates programme implementation plans for each programme, sub-sector goal and NDP3 goal to facilitate the monitoring of progress on their implementation and it contains indicators, baselines and targets at the programme (programme output and outcome), sub-sector (sub-sector goal) and national (NDP3 goal) levels to evaluate the results and impacts.
For each programme identified under a sub-sector within a Thematic Working Group/KRA or Sub-KRA, a programme contains detailed information on each programme outcome, output, activity and costs on an annual basis for the duration of the NDP3 period.
For each outcome and output indicator, the annual targets are also stated, which will assist in systematic performance monitoring and reporting. The programmes are summarised and presented by regions and O/M/As including parastatals.
For each sub-sector, the concerned Sub-Sector Coordinating Entity under each TWG contains information on the sub-sector outcomes and outputs (and the associated indicators, baselines and targets with data sources) for each programme under it for the duration of the NDP3 period on an annual basis. Also, it includes the sub-sector policies.
For each KRA/Sub-KRA, the Coordinating Ministry/Office of the TWG for that KRA/Sub-KRA, a consolidation of the NDP3 goals, sub-sector goals and programmes are presented.
Evaluations will be carried out at three levels. At the first level are evaluations of individual programmes at the implementation level, which will be the responsibility of implementing institutions. At the second level are evaluations of two or more interrelated programmes in a sub-sector and/or region, which will be the responsibility of the sub-sector coordinating entity (O/M/A) and/or the Regional Council. They will evaluate simultaneously several programmes that contribute to a sub-sector goal. For example, a sub-sector evaluation might assess together four different programmes to develop small and medium enterprises, rather than examining the programmes individually. At the third level are evaluations of the implementation of NDP3 as a whole, which will be the responsibility of the NPCS.
NE: Ministries have been accused of failing to implement development projects. What seems to be the problem and how does the Commission intend to address the problems or has been addressing them? Or is it not up to the Commission to make sure that the line ministries implement the development projects?
PK: The National Planning Commission considers every annual development budget as an under-linement to achievements and thus hosts the annual budget hearings with individual Offices/Ministries/Agencies from September each year to pinpoint problems and bottlenecks in the implementation of the national development programmes/projects.
The reasons for low execution by OMAs in general range from limited capacities in planning and implementation to weak coordination and consultation.
The modalities of monitoring the implementation of these development programmes/projects by the OMAs include periodic reports on financial and physical progress, site visits by NPCS staff assisted by the OMAs and Regional Councils. The monitoring is affected by the OMAs not adhering to timely and quality reporting, lack of adequate resources to carry out site visits to large-scale projects.
NPCs coordinate the preparation of the Development Budget based on submissions by the OMAs including parastatals within inputs from the Regional Councils and Local Authorities.
The development projects of Offices/Ministries and Agencies are contained in the Development Budget, which is the most important tool of the national development planning process as it indicates Government’s actions and public sector funding for development programmes/projects.
The Development Budget is linked to Vision 2030, and the focused results of programmes contribute to the achievement of NDP3, which in turn helps us to make progress to achieve Vision 2030. Through the budget, the Government acts as facilitator and provider of important services, most of which would not be provided by the private sector.
NE: Could you appraise us, and through us the Nation, on the volume and nature of Namibia’s development cooperation agreements with development partners?
PK: Namibia has been fortunate that amidst the current economic and financial crisis, the value of our development assistance from donors has remained stable and with some of our partners it increased. For the financial year 2008/2009, the total amount of grant funding mobilized amounted to approximately N$1.9 billion and concessional loan financing amounts to approximately N$3.4 billion.
This does not constitute disbursements but funding mobilized via a range of instruments such as Country Programmes, Multilateral and Bilateral Cooperation Frameworks amongst others. A wide range of sectors are being supported and include: Rural Development; Human Resource Development (mainly through ETSIP); Infrastructure; Water; Health; HIV/AIDS; Culture; Local Governance, Land Reform, Gender, Transport amongst others.
NE: Are there any of them that you would single out as more important in terms of priority, and why if there are any?
PK: All our development partners are valued and important to the GRN. It is difficult to single out some. In line with NDP3’s overall theme “Accelerated Economic Growth and Deepening Rural Development” and in line with the Paris Declaration that promotes principles of ownership and using beneficiary countries’ systems, programmes supported by the US (through MCA) to boost rural development, the 10th EDF Rural Development support Programme committed to rural development and new commitments from Germany and Spain to Transport, Land Reform, Water and Sanitation have the potential to greatly impact rural development.
Human Resource Development remains a prerequisite for all of our development efforts and commitments from the Republic of Cuba to provide over 100 health professionals to Namibia, training of 130 Namibian students at various institutions of higher learning in Cuba amongst others, cooperation with Egypt in crop production and food processing technology and extensive training programmes in various sectors are important inputs in this sector. During the recent State visit to India, the Government of India offered very concessional loan facilities of some 100 Million US$ for projects in sectors such as agriculture, education and energy.
Since Namibia is classified as an upper middle-income country, access to concessional loan financing is becoming increasingly important.
NE: Are you satisfied with the extent to which we have been able to follow up such agreements and implement them?
PK: The success rates and progress when it comes to following up on agreements are mixed. We have seen good implementation of agreements in, for example, water and sanitation as well as education and slower progress in others. The reasons for this are manifold and include our internal procedures to get agreements cleared, donor procedures and requirements that are in some cases lengthy and complicated, not sufficient capacity within various sectors to implement agreements, etc. There will always be room for improvement to speed up the conclusion of agreements and their implementation.
NE: Are there any development indicators pointing to the fruitfulness of such development agreements?
PK: I think a good indicator is the MDGs. When we look at the 2nd MDG Report of September 2008, we do notice that good progress had been made with most of our set targets, such as poverty reduction, primary education and gender equality. An improvement in reducing the prevalence of HIV/AIDS was also noticed. Unfortunately, we cannot say the same when it comes to maternal health and under-five mortality rates, where an upward trend is observed and here the GRN and our development partners will need to double our efforts to improve the current trend.