The first Round Table in Cahul district (August 2011).
Photo: Jens Treffner

08.05.2012

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The authors were part of an international team that entered uncharted territory by designing and implementing a participatory and integrated development planning approach in a post-Soviet country with a legacy of central planning – the Republic of Moldova. The article traces the pilot process of facilitating broad-based participation in planning for improved water supply and sanitation at district level while simultaneously bringing together stakeholders at all levels in a national policy dialogue.

The Republic of Moldova is in the middle of a profound socioeconomic restructuring process that has a particular effect on rural areas. After the breakdown of the Soviet system, state revenues were cut dramatically, which reduced the ability of the government to provide adequate and effective public services such as water supply and sanitation (WatSan).

Today, the country is considered to be the poorest European economy. As part of an attempt to close the gap in meeting public demands, responsibility for efficient public services provision was handed over to local government units. However, the decentralisation reform to strengthen sub-national development capacities is still underway. In parallel, a regional development policy has been adopted to overcome disparities and the uneven distribution of economic activities across regions. Since 2009, regional development institutions have been developing integrated strategies and bringing together a multitude of actors across different levels and sectors. 

A changing planning paradigm

There is an unambiguous correlation between the quality of services and the degree of public participation during local development planning.

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