New Delhi, Dec.5 : The Planning Commission, Government of India and the United Nations signed a Joint Programme on Convergence to help India's backward districts achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) by better utilization of government resources. The Programme document was signed by Dr. Bhaskar Chatterjee (Principal Adviser, Planning Commission) and Dr. Maxine Olson (UN Resident Coordinator).
Currently, each district receives approximately US$ 75 million per year from a large number of government schemes. However, the absence of convergence leads to poor utilization and results. The Joint Programme on Convergence aims to address this lacuna through improved district planning, better budgeting and collaborative implementation where departments do not duplicate efforts. The Programme also provides for better monitoring of outcomes from government programmes. State Governments and District Administrations are the key partners in this exercise.
Speaking on the occasion, Dr Maxine Olson, UN Resident Coordinator stated that the Joint Programme would be a good example of the United Nations working together with the national, state and district authorities to build a vision and plan of action to achieve the MDGs and ensure that the vision is implemented and lessons from the monitoring of the implementation feed back into subsequent plans and policies.
Bhaskar Chatterjee, Principal Adviser, Planning Commission stated that the two projects, namely, Capacity Building for District Planning and State Level Support to Livelihoods Promotion Strategies for which the Planning Commission will be the Implementing Partner will supplement the efforts of the Government of India in enhancing the capacity of district level officials and PRIs. Further, the projects would serve as a catalyst in the process of inclusive development as spelt out in the Eleventh Plan by developing replicable approaches to participatory planning and monitoring.
As a part of the Joint Programme, the United Nations has committed about US$ 15 million for select backward districts in seven states with low Human Development Indices (HDI). The Programme will supplement the proposed GOI Scheme on Support to the Planning Process at the National, State and District Levels, under which infrastructure and expertise will be provided to State Governments and District Planning Committees (DPCs) such that planning becomes more participatory and effective linkages are established between planning, budgeting, implementation and monitoring.
This would be a coordinated and harmonised UN programme where UNICEF, UNDP and UNFPA will provide expertise and training to the districts, with a focus on using local capacity to strengthen local capacity. Other UN entities (FAO, ILO, UNAIDS, UNESCO, UNIFEM, WFP, UN-Habitat and WHO) will provide relevant expertise to improve implementation of sectoral programmes and schemes in selected districts, based on the situation analysis and priorities identified.