UNICEF-ADB to Hold Regional Workshop on The Role of Non-State Providers in Delivering Basic Social Services for Children, Manila, Philippines, 19-20 April 2010
As part of a joint ADB-UNICEF initiative to enhance understanding of the political, legal and institutional mechanisms needed to support the non-state role in basic service delivery, UNICEF East Asia and Pacific Regional Office (EAPRO) and ADB organized a regional workshop, 19-20 April 2010, focusing on NSP delivery of services in health - including nutrition and HIV/AIDS, education, and water and sanitation. The outcomes of the two-day workshop will help inform policy interventions and systems for advancing access to basic services across Asia and the Pacific.
Effective provision of basic services, such as primary education, healthcare, and clean water supply and sanitation is fundamental to the socio-economic development of any country, vital to its poverty eradication efforts, and essential to achieving the Millennium Development Goals.
Though states are committed to fulfilling the rights of people to access such basic services, many developing countries in Asia and the Pacific face daunting challenges in service delivery. Public spending does not always reach society's poorest members. Rates of child mortality and sickness are substantially higher for poor people than wealthy individuals, while school attendance rates are much lower for disadvantaged groups. When services do reach those far down the economic ladder, facilities and resources are often substandard. In response to public service delivery deficits, non-state providers (NSPs) in the public and nonprofit sectors become an important contributor, and at times, the only alternative for reaching those without access to services.
NSPs include nongovernment organizations (NGOs), community-based organizations (CBOs), faith-based organizations (FBOs), and both formal and informal private enterprises. Their involvement in the delivery of social services can improve efficiencies, expand service coverage, mobilize financial resources to supplement inadequate national budgets, and free up public resources to redirect them to other pressing needs. Collaboration with NSPs allows the state to retain the stewardship role in guaranteeing access to affordable quality services, and maintaining the regulatory framework, while leaving the actual delivery of those services to NSPs.
The issue is not one of favoring one modality at the exclusion of another, but rather finding an appropriate combination of options that enhances service delivery while leveraging investments on behalf of poor people. However, the process for contracting with NSPs is not without problems. They often function in a difficult regulatory environment where a lack of competition and oversight allows one or more service providers to set prices too high, and/or deliver poor quality services. Though these NSPs deliver key services across Asia and the Pacific, their involvement is often informal and falls beyond the purview of government regulation, potentially leaving communities vulnerable to poor quality services, inconsistent supply, and high consumption prices.
When the role of the state changes from that of a direct provider to an enabler and regulator, it retains the responsibility of ensuring that services are affordable, non-discriminatory, and accessible to all. This implies a more systematic analysis of the broader governance context within which contracting and sub-contracting takes place, with special focus on accountability frameworks that address multiple relationships within the service delivery chain: between poor people and providers, between poor people and the state, and between the state and providers.
The workshop discussed the experience of UNICEF, ADB, civil society, private sector and governments in NSP involvement in basic service delivery. It also explored mechanisms by which governments can undertake pro-active, contextual and contemporary policy-making by partnering with the private and nonprofit sectors. Finally, the workshop focused on concrete regional and country-level actions; and generate recommendations to inform policy interventions and systems for advancing access to basic social services.
The workshop has built on cross-cutting and sectoral papers, case studies, and discussions related to:
Inputs were provided by UNICEF, ADB, NGOs, CBOs, the private sector, and governments.
Senior government officials from national line ministries; UNICEF and ADB senior staff and sectoral practitioners; representatives of the private sector, civil society organizations; and international experts.
Final background papers