In Cambodia, local leaders embrace 'scorecard' as planning tool

Commune meeting
Officials from department of planning in Preah Sihanouk province conduct demonstration for Kampenh commune councilors on how to use CMDG scorecard in preparing development plan for their community. (Photo: UNDP Cambodia)

Preah Sihanouk – At their recent meeting, Kampenh commune officials in this coastal province of Cambodia were presented with a spider graph showing status of various development indicators. In the areas of HIV/AIDS and other communicable diseases, the commune scored 25 out of 100 points. The obtained point is way below average of 50 and that means, on this front, local officials still have a lot to do in their work plan.

The scores were laid out in the form of spider graph, bar chart and map. Better known as “scorecard,” it has been recently rolled out by the government as a new analytical tool for local officials to use in better preparing development plan for their communities.

Highlights

  • The scorecards are used to track progress in Cambodia MDGs in a village, commune, district, province or city and national levels

“Scorecard is a user-friendly and useful device to identify problems in a commune.  When we open it, we can see immediately which indicators we get good score on and where we still have problems that need attention,” Mr. Chhun Vannareth, chief of Kampenh commune, explained to his fellow councilors during a meeting.

First introduced by the Ministry of Planning in 2010 with the support from United Nations Development Programme, the scorecard was designed for planning officers to use in tracking progress in Cambodia Millennium Development Goals (CMDG). In September this year, it was made available for commune-sangkat councils to use in setting development priorities. This has come at a time when local government officials have just assumed their new five-year term following the local election in June 2012.

“Identifying problems is the first and most important step in drawing up commune development and investment plan. In the past, they did not have any scientific tool and only relied on their imagination in identifying problems,” explained Mr. Mean Thavorah, Deputy Director of General Planning Department, Ministry of Planning.

The scorecard works like an evaluation of student’s performance on school subjects. Through it, commune-sangkat councils receive scoring on how well indicators under the CMDGs progress. A goal with 100 points means that it has done well and those with 50 points or below mean more efforts will be needed to improve them.

The scorecard can be generated automatically from commune database (CDB) at provincial department of planning across the country. The CDB holds a wealth of information on a wide range of issues including demography, natural resources, economy, infrastructure, education and health services in each commune and sangkat.

Until now local officials have relied on what is called “Commune Profile,” which also derives from the CDB, as the only reference for statistical information. But they usually face a major challenge in digesting and translating the voluminous data into a usable format for setting priorities in development plan. The scorecard is meant to ease their difficulties.

“When it is not yet made into spider graph, CDB is not really useful because it can create only commune profile and the commune councils do not have enough capacity to analyze the information to find the problems by themselves,” H.E. Hou Taing Eng, Secretary of State, Ministry of Planning, explained.

“Now, when the CDB generates CMDG scorecard, they can see right away which goals have the lowest score. Even average people can see the problems clearly,” he added.

Because the scorecard is a fairly new concept, it is expected that it will take time for many among the local councilors to find their way to use it to their advantage. At the same time, training sessions have been conducted to build their capacity to handle the tool.

The officials at Kampenh commune in Preah Sihanouk province were among the first to experiment it and their reaction was one of enthusiasm. They said that from now on they would be able to do a better planning for directing attention to areas where it is needed the most.

“In the past, I never knew which commune is better than the other, but with the scorecard we can now see at what level a commune is developed,” Mr. Chhun Vannareth, the Kampenh commune chief, said. “It is like a reflector for me.”

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