The Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) was established in March 2019 markeing the end of nearly half a century of Moro separatist conflict in the southern Philippines. Consequenctly, due to the long-lasting conflict, the Bangsamoro Region is one of the least developed areas in the country.
Following the recent political and socio-economic development, UNDP in the Philippines is working in close collaboration with the Ministry of Interior and Local Government (MILG), BARMM for its capacity development. UNDP Philippines approached the South-South Network for Public Service Innovation (SSN4PSI) to field a mission to BARMM. A team of experts from the Bangladesh Access to Information (a2i) visited BARMM on a pre-feasibility study mission from 23 June 2019 to 7 July 2019.
The connection between a2i and the Philippines was established during the 1st matchmaking workshop of SSN4PSI in Dhaka on December 2017. Representatives from the UNDP in the Philippines participated in the workshop. They were inspired by the successes of a2i, specifically, in delivering digital solutions to reduce the time, cost, and number of visits (TCV) it takes to access the necessary government services by the citizens. UNDP in the Philippines saw the necessity in introducing the expertise of a2i to the region. It could also be used in achieving the efficiency of Local Government and digitization of services in the newly established MILG in BARMM.
Under the facilitation of SSN4PSI, a2i team from Bangladesh arranged several workshops and met with relevant stakeholders of BARMM. The team conducted a number of field visits in remote areas to understand e-government readiness, local context, and citizens’ demand.
Applying the SSN4PSI methodology to different ministries of BARMM. Various options and opportunities for digital innovations were explored from different perspectives. Representatives from ministries/departments agreed to work on several initiatives identifying priority services especially “Quick Win initiatives”. The initiatives focused on which government staff were trained were in three core areas, namely, Human Resource Development; Digital Service Acceleration, Digital Access; as well as Empathy-Based Public Service Development which was added later on. The Ministry of Interior and Local Government (MILG), BARMM also shown interest in replicating skills for decent employment from Bangladesh such as a Skills Portal, Imam Portal and Teachers Portal for development of Human resources, Digital Services, SDG tracker for digital service acceleration; National Portal and Digital Center to ensure digital access and Empathy Training for development of empathy-based public services.
The mission received the full endorsement from H.E Naguib G. Sinarimbo, the Hon’ble Minister of BARMM Ministry for the Interior and Local Government (MILG) to work together within a jointly developed and agreed-upon timeline. The a2i team developed a framework for the development of Digital Bangsamoro which includes a piloting plan that will commence in September 2019 and continue till December 2019. After an evaluation of the piloting phase a scaled-up business plan will be developed that will be implemented from 2020 to 2021. The a2i team and the MILG, BARMM have expressed an interest to work together following the final report presented by the a2i team. UNDP will provide all the necessary technical and co-ordination support.
This is one more success of the the South-South Network for Public Service Innovation(SSN4PSI) since its inception in 2017. The matchmaking and facilitation work among governments, UN entities and even the private sector has been growing. The identification of the scope of work and partnership collaboration between Bangladesh and the Philippines has set an excellent example of knowledge transfer through South-South Cooperation and once again demonstrated the relevancy of the Network.