UNICEF Strengthens IT Capacity of the Ministry of Planning and Investment to Increase Effectiveness of Government Services During COVID-19

UNICEF on Dec 18 handed over IT equipment to the Ministry of Planning and Investment (MPI) via the Department of International Cooperation (DIC) to address the need to digitize work processes within the Ministry and strengthen the government’s field monitoring capacity during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The equipment provided by UNICEF include six mini PCs and eight tablets, alongside an Android application for Field Project Monitoring and Evaluation that has been specifically developed for internal use within the MPI/DIC to facilitate official development assistance (ODA) data collection during field monitoring visits.

The equipment and the Android Application have an approximate combined value of USD 19,620 and will contribute to the Rapid Response Facility (RRF) project that UNDP is currently implementing with MPI.

“The combination of stronger targeting in the COVID-19 recovery work and stronger tracking and coordination of financial flows from development partners will in turn also strengthen the programming by development partners, ensuring that development partners’ resources and interventions are aligned to the government’s identified recovery priorities,” stated Vice Minister of Planning and Investment Kikeo Chanthaboury.

When the Government of Lao PDR announced a nation-wide lockdown in early 2020 to contain the pandemic, the shortcomings of the paper-based system currently in use among government agencies were evident and the MPI/DIC faced challenges in effectively performing their planning and coordinating role due to limitations relating to equipment, digital tools and connectivity issues for personnel in the provinces.

Based on UNDP’s consultation with the MPI, an area of support identified as critical to current and future emergency operations executed by the government is the need to digitize work processes. Therefore, the RFF project’s objective is twofold: firstly to support the digitization of work processes within MPI/DIC to enhance the efficiency of its inter-sectoral coordination capacity as the country’s focal point for non-health related COVID-19 response and for coordinating all incoming official development assistance (ODA); and secondly, to establish an online ODA database with validated data for development partners’ response to the COVID-19 pandemic and/or future disaster and emergency scenarios.

“UNICEF’s support will complement UNDP’s ongoing assistance to the government’s efforts to strengthen service delivery. The initiative will be catalytic in strengthening the efficiency and effectiveness of key government services across government agencies,” remarked UNICEF Representative to the Lao PDR Pia Rebello Britto.

The IT hardware and the Android application that UNICEF has provided to the MPI will specifically support the DIC in gathering baseline data on the most vulnerable groups in the country to form the basis for pandemic recovery interventions, along with helping the DIC with monitoring the implementation progress and delivery of ODA from development partners during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The data collected will contribute towards the establishment of the online ODA database, which will be critical for the DIC in collecting and validating partners’ assistance online and then using this information for the effective coordination of assistance and resource mobilization during the pandemic.

Source: Lao News Agency