Bridging institutional capacity gaps in Karnali Province

May 1, 2024
a picture of Karnali Province Training Academy (KPTA)

In the span of a year, the Karnali Province Training Academy (KPTA) achieved what it had never done before: training around 3,000 elected representatives and staff from both provincial and local governments through approximately 300 sessions covering various topics from periodic planning to local economic development. At a time when there is widespread realization of a capacity gap hindering the effective implementation of federalism at the sub-national level, this accomplishment underscores the need for a training center equipped with all the necessary resources to bridge the gaps.

"The efforts of KPTA are instrumental in bridging the capacity gap at the provincial and local government level in Karnali," says Yuvaraj Neupane, an officer of the academy. Since its launch in early 2022, the European Union Support to Inclusive Federalism (EUSIF), a UNDP project, has been a key ally partner in the journey of KPTA, working closely with it as a complementary support to the Provincial and Local Government Support Programme (PLGSP), a flagship initiative of the Government of Nepal.

The academy provides trainings in a variety of themes such as inclusive local level planning and budgeting, revenue plan, public procurement, accountability systems, gender mainstreaming, management of internal control system, and local economic development.  The law expands KPTA’s scope by private sector capacity building as well, achieving financial independence.   

According to Neupane, the academy, governed by its own legislation, has made significant strides toward becoming a center of excellence. "KPTA's primary focus is on enhancing human resources of provincial and local governments through performance-oriented training, learning and research initiatives is resulting in an increased number of trained elected representatives and government staff." Operating as an autonomous body, KPTA works from capacity-building to supporting the effective implementation of policies, plans, priorities, and programmes at both provincial and local levels.

a picture of Karnali Province Training Academy (KPTA)

Karnali Province Training Academy (KPTA) is responsible for capacity development of the provincial and local government officials including elected representatives in Karnali Province.

KPTA's role doesn't just stop there. It also plays an important role in promoting intergovernmental relations in Karnali and provides policy feedback through research and studies. “Acting as a bridge between provincial and local governments, its capacity-building initiatives have contributed to strengthening collaboration and coordination between the two levels of government,” adds Neupane. This collaborative approach, supported by EUSIF, has been contributing to the increased overall effectiveness of services delivered by provincial and local governments in Karnali.

Dipak Nepali, a local resident of Bheri Municipality, Jajarkot, is one of the beneficiaries of KPTA's capacity-building initiatives with support from EUSIF. "The academy is doing great work in institutional capacity enhancement of the local government and individual capacity-building of the elected representatives and officials," says Nepali, an expert on local economic development (LED). “EUSIF's support for KPTA comes at the right time, as local elected representatives are endeavoring to address the existing capacity gap to effectively implement the devolved powers at the local level.”

EUSIF's support for KPTA's capacity development includes developing institutional frameworks such as GESI strategy, five-year strategic plan, standard operating procedures (SOP) for training management as well as training programmes on transformative leadership targeting elected representatives, LED, public procurement, and mid-term expenditure framework. The project also supported the academy in developing develop knowledge products such as the Ward Function Resource Book, KPTA Training Impact Study, GESI Audit Training Module including a digitized, and a transformative leadership manual for elected local representatives.

Enhancing efficiency

Efforts to enhance efficiency and improve public service delivery in Karnali are gaining momentum. In partnership with EUSIF, the provincial government conducted an Organization and Management (O&M) survey to identify areas for improvement. The survey examines the staffing structures of all provincial government institutions, including KPTA. The O&M report is aimed at helping address staffing gaps at KPTA and clarify job roles for staff, supporting its aim to become a center of excellence. The academy is actively preparing for ISO accreditation and preparations to that effect is underway, according to Neupane. Additionally, KPTA is enhancing its institutional frameworks and evaluating capacity-building programmes. The institution is also leveraging external support and partnerships to strengthen its capabilities.

The O&M survey represents a proactive step in the provincial government's pursuit of increased efficiency, improved planning, and effective resource utilization. Centered on organizational functioning, this survey provides valuable insights to streamline processes, address bottlenecks and enhance the effectiveness of the provincial government. 

Additionally, EUSIF collaborated with the Nepal Administrative Staff College to develop an induction training module for newly appointed provincial government officers. This module will be utilized by KPTA for the service-entry training of these officers. At present, KPTA is developing its five-year strategic plan with assistance from EUSIF and also a business plan with support from International IDEA.

people seated on round tables in a group training session in progress

A training of trainers (ToT) for government officers and managers of private institutions organized by KPTA in 2023.

Earlier, in response to a ministerial-level decision on July 14, the Ministry of Federal Affairs and General Administration (MoFAGA) issued a circular to all government agencies, directing them to complete their O&M surveys by mid-December of this year. 

Applying GESI approach

EUSIF is supporting KPTA in developing a Gender Equality and Social Inclusion (GESI) Assessment Framework to thoroughly evaluate the academy's institutional capacity needs. In this capacity-building effort, EUSIF ensured a competitive and inclusive selection process for a series of Training of Trainers (ToT), aimed at establishing a diverse pool of resource persons proficient in LED, periodic planning, MTEF, and public procurement. Through EUSIF's support, an inclusive selection process resulted in a pool of 32 trainers from the province, including eight women and seven from the Dalit community, who have been actively deployed by KPTA to empower municipal authorities across Karnali.

In collaboration with PLGSP, EUSIF is supporting initiatives to further strengthen KPTA's capacity and realize its vision of becoming a center for excellence in capacity building and research. Neupane emphasizes KPTA's recognition of the importance of incorporating its own GESI strategy, considering GESI as a crucial agenda to deliver responsive services to the provincial and local governments of Karnali.

To this end, EUSIF assists in developing KPTA's GESI Strategy. Following consultations with key stakeholders, a comprehensive draft of the GESI Strategy has been prepared. Krishna Prasad Kharel, former Executive Director of KPTA, notes that the KPTA GESI Strategy is expected to be an implementable document with practical and realistic strategies. Shilpa Kunwar, a member of the three-member Task Force on GESI Strategy, highlights the strategic importance of the document, stating that the strategy can guide KPTA in mainstreaming GESI at institutional and programmatic levels.

Capacity info system upgrade

The Capacity Development Management Information System (CDMIS) developed by PLGSP is being updated by KPTA with EUSIF’s technical support. A demo version of CDMIS with additional features has been completed, making it more user-friendly. EUSIF organized multiple rounds of consultations with the Office of Chief Minister and Council of Minister, KPTA and PLGSP on the upgrade.

The CDMIS originally developed by PLGSP, underwent a significant change with technical support from EUSIF. CDMIS serves as an integrated Event Management Portal created by KPTA to meticulously record every event associated with the Provincial Government of Karnali, including training sessions, workshops, and orientations. It not only aids in event planning and execution but also enables the registration of participants and resource persons, facilitates report generation, and issues event certificates. The system has an interactive dashboard designed to assist managers and decision-makers in monitoring all events scheduled within CDMIS. This technological upgrade was made possible through EUSIF's assistance.

The latest iteration of CDMIS introduces several additional features, enhancing its user-friendliness and easing event management processes for KPTA. With these enhancements, KPTA finds it more convenient to administer its training programmes and related activities.

Since the update, CDMIS has logged a total of 211 planned events, comprising 148 profiles and the creation and printing of 500 certificates. This transition has resulted in a significant 93 percent reduction in printing costs. Furthermore, CDMIS now enables KPTA to simplify its registration process by allowing applicants to register online, create participant profiles, generate certificates in bulk, and compile training completion reports. As of January 2024, a total of 705 participants have successfully enrolled and established their profiles within the CDMIS platform.