These teams found a way to overcome complex conditions to achieve development projects in their countries. Meet the 2019 finalists from eight projects of the IDB contest “Superheroes of Development”.
The execution of development projects is as complex as the expected results. Endeavors such as the construction of roads, the universalization of health services, access to drinking water and basic sanitation, and activating tourism as a catalyst for development, among others, are not easy to carry out. The execution of these types of operations can mean years of planning, continuous decision-making and devising solutions to difficulties that threaten to delay deliverables, change course or, in some occasions, cancellations that put the original spirit of the projects at risk. This is why in a context of great uncertainty, the “development superheroes” stand out as the ones who face the challenges that often seemed to have no response with creative proposals and innovative solutions.
The “Development Superheroes” contest has become the IDB’s tool to learn directly from our counterparts in governments about what works and what doesn’t, in the execution of development projects. Last year, the IDB launched the “Superheroes of Development” contest for the first time to identify teams that had developed creative solutions to face some challenge during the execution of development projects, with the aim of learning from their experiences and replicating them in other development interventions. After this first contest, we learned that the challenges of execution can be tackled in creative and effective ways without requiring the implementation of cutting-edge technologies. An example of this was the case of the winning team, “The community executes” which, through the empowerment of the community, achieved the development goals of bringing water to severely arid areas in Peru.
This year, we launched the second edition of the contest with much interest and great participation. We received 82 proposals and an internal panel selected eight finalist teams that will be coming to the IDB headquarters in Washington DC from September 9 to 12 for a week of knowledge that aims to share their experiences with IDB staff, and also , select the winning team. These are the teams visiting us:
- Managing a project when multiple parties are responsible – Ecuador
- Earning beneficiaries’ trust during the execution of works in complex areas – Colombia
- Monitoring works in difficult to access areas – Honduras
- Assuring flexibility and autonomy in a project – Jamaica
- Adapting a project after its implementation – Guyana
- Assuring a project’s sustainability – Panama
- Building trust in institucional selection processes – Argentina
- Empowering women in roles where males predominate – Paraguay
In this blog we will briefly tell you about these cases and what we can learn from them.
Managing a project when multiple parties are responsible: The experience of Quito Metro
The Quito Metro is a megaproject in the capital of Ecuador, which is being conceived as the backbone of this city’s transport system. Like all major projects, it has had to face several challenges and solve them effectively. Some of these solutions, such as the way the project is being managed, have been truly innovative. Under the FIDIC contract model (International Federation of Consulting Engineers) the chief engineer has very specific powers and responsibilities that, in practice, were divided into three different project actors. Given the need to have this figure to start the work on time and for the decisions to have a technical basis, the actors involved designed a tripartite management model, with little or no precedence in similar projects in the country. Between the Metropolitan Public Company Metro de Quito (EPMMQ), the Project Management and the Supervisory Team have carried out the construction and administrative tasks impeccably, ensuring that the triple restriction of the project – scope, time and cost – follows its original course.
How to earn beneficiaries’ trust during the execution of works in complex areas? Gualajo River Energy – now or never! from Colombia
Population migration has been a latent phenomenon in Latin America in recent years. The Gualajo River Community in Colombia has not been oblivious to it, although mainly for a reason you might not expect: a lack of electricity. In 2018, the fund for the development of the plan Todos Somos Pacífico (PTSP), together with Nariño Power Plants, began implementing the construction of electricity distribution networks for the interconnection of key localities of that community. Given the situation in Río Gualajo where migrations, lack of trust in institutions and little citizen participation hindered the implementation of the project, the FTSP and CEDENAR made sure that the linkage of this effort with the population was paramount. Presentation spaces, project consultations and activities with the local population, as well as job opportunities for skilled and unskilled labor were created. In turn, the community, as a strategic partner, provided contractor river transport services, access to materials and food supplies, among other services. This two-way dialogue and cooperation has exceeded expectations and gives us a good lesson for the design and implementation of any development project, where rule number one should be not to exclude the actor for whom it is working; that is, the final beneficiary.
How to monitor projects in hard to reach areas? The use of technologies to optimize the progress of works: Innovation Comes Flying, Honduras
A few years ago, the use of drones was almost limited to military intelligence and to a lesser extent and complexity, for recreational use. By pressing the button to advance to this day, these devices are used in a number of fields, from photography, to cadastre, to the delivery of medicines in the jungle. Drones have come to facilitate jobs and functions that were previously very expensive, dangerous and / or inefficient. Infrastructure projects are not alien to their use and in Honduras, this made a significant difference in the way roads are usually built. For the Barca-Pimienta section, the executing team had challenges to have timely and reliable information for decision making in different aspects of the work. The use of drones came to remedy this and many other aspects of construction, such as the capture of visual information on the progress of the construction process, the improvement of the means of verification, and the monitoring and follow-up of work. All this, in turn, increased transparency and the process of dissemination and accountability of public funds for works of national interest. This is a clear example of how innovation goes hand in hand with traditional areas such as road construction.
How to ensure the flexibility and autonomy of a project? Integrated watershed management in small island developing states, Jamaica
Over the years, water resources management has become increasingly complex. Jamaica has made several attempts to establish watershed management in an integrated manner. From this initiative, the integrated management for the project of watershed management areas of Yallahs and Hope River in Jamaica was born. The aim was to integrate all interested parties into the project to ensure that the project was executed successfully. However, during the implementation of the project, theoretical concepts that were taken into account did not correspond to existing realities. Likewise, the idea of implementing innovative ideas was overshadowed by a long acquisition process. Therefore, the project decided to create a plan based on strengthening the governance and supervision framework of the project, which resulted not only in greater flexibility and autonomy, but also in better accountability of the project.
How to adapt a project after its implementation? Small changes yielding great results from Guyana
Housing without access to water, overcrowded and irreparable; these were the conditions in which most of the indigenous communities in regions 1 and 9 of Guyana had to live. In order to meet this need for housing, the government of Guyana and the IDB built 122 houses. Despite extensive consultation with interested parties, the temperature and humidity of the area were never considered in the design of the houses. The residents, although happy with the new homes, expressed discomfort at the high temperatures and humidity inside their homes. However, by that time, the date of delivery and design of the homes that were still to be built was already established. Therefore, the project managers had to find a solution to guarantee air quality, keeping the project within the original schedule and budget. Using different materials, altering the height of the roof and adding additional windows, the high temperatures inside the houses were reduced substantially. Thus, this project shows how important it is that project execution teams are flexible and open to change, especially when the quality of the product delivered is affected.
How to ensure the sustainability of a project? New Employment Opportunities for Youth in Panama
Panama is known as one of the fastest growing economies in Latin America. However, it has been recognized that one of its greatest difficulties is the lack of integration of its educational and labor systems. For this reason, and with the objective of closing the gap between the skills of young people and the demand of qualified personnel by companies, NEO Panama was created; multi-sector alliance of 20 organizations. It was contemplated to transfer an active, reflective methodology and with updated contents to a group of counselors and trainers of trainers so that they could carry out the process of vocational guidance more effectively. The transfer process to those targeted was carried out successfully, but priority factors that were not originally intended as budgetary resources and sustainability put the project at risk. For this reason, NEO Panama created an innovative solution, which contemplated the generation of an Approach and Orientation Model for the Ministry of Education, supported by a virtual platform / App and an Action Plan that would facilitate its implementation. This is a clear example of the importance of considering aspects related to sustainability from the planning phase of the project, to address in time challenges that may affect the permanence and / or escalation of changes or improvements introduced by a project.
How to overcome distrust in institutional selection processes? Magical Places: citizen participation in the tourism development of 6 small towns in the province of Salta, Argentina
The expansion of the tourism offer has been an important issue on the development agenda in Latin America and the Caribbean. In the case of the province of Salta in Argentina, an open call to the localities was promoted, in order to expand the tourist offer of the province and generate better conditions for the development of the activity in these localities, and to strengthen and strengthen those aspects of local cultures that can propose differentiated tourism products. It also sought to benefit sectors of the population with lower possibilities of access to sources of financing.,. However, there was distrust on the part of the interested localities, who believed that there would be no real possibilities of being selected, or that the beneficiary localities would be “pre-selected by hand”, possibly based on interests or political agreements. To address this challenge, the program established a postulation and implementation scheme in stages, where communication with the community and its different actors were priority activities, sharing about the process and adding visions and wills in the construction of the town as an open destination to the development of the tourist activity. To carry out this process, the formation of the Provincial Committee (composed of representatives of provincial bodies) and the Local Committees composed of institutions, associations, local groups and neighbors was key.
How to empower women in trades where male stereotypes predominate? Insertion of Women in non-traditional trades in Paraguay
Within the framework of a program of neighborhood roads financed by the IDB, a Gender Action Plan was consolidated whose starting point was a diagnosis and analysis of the value chain of the sector. The results evidenced the almost null existence of women working in non-traditional trades in the construction and road maintenance sector, despite a deficit in the workforce. The foregoing, mainly because there is no job offer aimed at women, and the prevalence of cultural stereotypes in prejudice of women; therefore, neither were trained, nor did they have the required skills.
The program decided to promote a greater bonding of women during the execution phase of their projects, including training for both men and women of the beneficiary populations.
Most of the courses focused on machinery operation, due to the available offer and the prioritization made to meet the requirements of contractor companies, which subsequently offered to select and incorporate participants into an internship process. Today, this inclusion process, which was initially considered a pilot project, is already being incorporated as a standard process in the project contracting plans.
By Luz Angela García, Jenifer Silva and David Zepeda from the IDB’s Knowledge and Learning Division