Sri Lanka

UMC supported the formation and operationalization of Good Governance Resource Centers (GGRCs) across local authorities in Sri Lanka as part of a United States Agency for International Development (USAID) funded program to promote Transparent and Accountable Local Governance in Sri Lanka. GGRCs are district-level technical cells within the district urban governance set up to serve as information hubs. UMC conducted a five-day workshop/study tour/exposure visit for GGRC coordinators and managers to gain insights on urban governance as well as activities of city networks in India. UMC also facilitated signing of affiliation agreements between two Indian City Managers' Associations and two GGRCs.

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As part of UMC’s technical assistance and support to the formation and operationalizing of Good Governance Resource Centers (GGRC’s), a five-day workshop and study tour was organized for the Sri Lankan Transparency and Accountability in Local Governance (TALG), GGRC’s Program Coordinators/Managers and advisory board members from GGRCs (Good Governance Resource Centers) in Bangalore, India to enable the Sri Lankan officials gain insights into good urban governance in India and activities of existing city networks in India.

Sri Lanka is a developing country devastated by conflict. Its city governments have a vision but need assistance to implement recovery and development plans. UMC acts as a handholding agency for them in their effort to affect better governance. The study tour was organized in March, 2007 with support of City Managers’ Association, Karnataka (CMAK) in Bangalore, the capital city of the Indian state of Karnataka.

The purpose of the tour was to expose the GGRCs to sound local governance practices that have been implemented as a result of delegation of authority at the local level. In addition, the participants were exposed to the benefits of City Managers’ Associations — a local body with no political affiliations and whose primary function is to support local governance through information dissemination, capacity building initiatives and advocacy.

The delegation from Sri Lanka, comprising of over 28 delegates arrived at Bangalore to gain from the experience and examples the city had to give them. The lessons learnt included:

  • Municipal reforms addressing urban issues, urban management as understood by ULBs
  • Policy formulation for devolution of power towards regional development
  • Technology application and transferability
  • Global community efforts
  • Maintaining cultural values and customs
  • Good governance tool kits
  • GIS based property tax
  • Citizens charters
  • Performance measurement
  • City cooperation by stakeholders
  • Solid waste management

UMC emphasized the importance of city networks in professionalizing urban management and how they can be mentored. The participants were given insight into the urban management set-up, the government machinery and political structure. They were introduced to reforms like funds-based accounting system, financial reforms and e-governance. The Sri Lanka delegation was taken for site visits to see best practices in solid waste management.Bangalore has seen results evolve out of efforts of self-help groups, awareness building and women’s empowerment in this area.

The Sri Lankan delegates were explained ethics and operational issues of CMAs with the City Managers Association of Karnataka as an example. A trip to City Municipal Council of Ramnagaram, 40 kms from Bangalore helped showcase a full fledged e-governance system. Ramanagaram is ranked the best Urban Local Bodies (ULB) in implementation of GIS-based property tax.

The delegation undertook a tour to Karnataka Compost Development Corporation (KCDC) where the managing director made a presentation on the current status of waste management in India as well as the waste treatment mechanisms being used in KCDC. Explaining the function of the corporation as well as the results achieved in the corporation providing a detailed explanation about the composting mechanisms used at KCDC. This was followed by a field visit of the actual components of the composting facility and detailed study of vermiculture as well as aerobic microbial processes.

The team from Sri Lanka was enriched and pleased with the study tour. The participants felt that the study tour was a good starting point for setting up technical programs on the GGRCs and that they had received adequate feedback on operationalizing as well as facilitation of technical assistance to local bodies.

ICMA and The Asia foundation (TAF) collaborated with local partners from India and Sri Lanka to implement a program supported by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) to promote Transparent and Accountable Local Governance in Sri Lanka. The program consortium partner UMC supported the formation and operationalization of Good Governance Resource Centres (GGRCs) across local authorities in Sri Lanka. GGRCs are district-level technical cells within the district urban governance set-up designed to serve as information hubs and provide opportunities for training to city managers to improve local governance.

The GGRC advisory board members comprise urban sector officials from districts, include ministers, commissioners and assistant commissioners of local governments as well as city managers and elected officials. GGRCs are think tanks with highly competent resource groups with focus on issues ranging from improved service delivery to citizens, citizen’s involvement in urban governance, public-private partnerships to local economic development, leadership management and local government policy reforms and legislations.

The ICMA-TAF teams coordinated with respective CLG and ACLG offices to set up 12 GGRCs at Kandy, Batticaloa, Galle, Ampara, Hambantota, Trincomalee, Nuwara Eliya and Matara, Anuradhapura, Polonnaruwa, Kurunegala and a mother GGRC at the Sri Lanka Institute of Local Self Government (SLILG). UMC’s documentation of leading practices from the South Asian region provided reference material for Sri Lankan local authorities.

As part of the technical assistance to form and operationalize GGRCs, the program coordinators visited Ahmedabad in Gujarat state and Madhya Pradesh to study formation of City Managers Associations in India. Following this, a formation workshop of all 12 GGRCS was organized in Polonnaruwa town of Sri Lanka. There were presentations on issues of starting a GGRCs and technical programs that the centers could initiate for their membership. Coordinators and advisory council members made presentations on the status of their GGRC. There was also an intensive best practice documentation exercise in towns of Wilgamuwa and Lankapura where teams documented the practices from these cities and made presentations.

Later, a select group of GGRC members and staff visited Bangalore, India for a five-day workshop-cum-study tour to gain insight into good governance practices and visit the successful operation of City Managers’ Association, Karnataka (CMAK). The tour was organized with the support of CMAK, coordinators from the City Managers’ Association, Orissa and Hyderabad-based Centre for Good Governance (CGG) who made presentations about their programs and organization structures. The exercise highlighted the importance of proper and correct delegation of authority at the local level.

Hands-on training to GGRCs was provided on how to identify innovative practices and know what information is needed for documentation. The delegation also gained insights into technical areas of solid waste management, local economic development, financial management, improved public service delivery, taxation, gender equality, involving women in administration and carrying out operations, betterment of infrastructure and resource mobilization. The team also learnt the importance of self-help groups, SWM and women empowerment. The trip to Ramanagaram gave the delegates an insight into e-governance. Ramanagaram has been declared the best urban local body in implementing GIS-based property tax. At the end of the five-day tour, the delegates had imbibed the practices and structures and compared it to the Sri Lankan structure. The tour further strengthened the role and determination of GGRCs in spreading good governance in Sri Lanka. The initiative has been successful and the results are already visible.

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