Tuesday, 1 March 2016

Local Road Financing Innovations in the Philippines

Access to global markets can move a new business from a backyard garage to a local warehouse to a global network. In fact, small businesses that export are more productive, have greater job growth and are more likely to stay financially solvent than non-exporters.

In 2014 RouteShoot were contacted by the World Bank who were seeking a collaborative tool that would assist in the monitoring of strategic investments in local roads in the Philippines. The World Bank is a United Nations international financial institution that provides loans to developing countries for capital programs, with a membership of 188 countries, 6 official languages and 12,000 plus staff and consultants who work in Washington, DC and in more than 130 countries worldwide.

The Department for Public Works and Highways (DPWH) vowed to further upgrade and fully pave the national network, and finance, implement, and monitor strategic investments in local roads in the Philippines. The current Aquino administration, governing from mid-2010 to 2016, has prioritised over $3billion for Farm to Market Roads (FMRs) and Tourism Road Infrastructure (TRIP) alone.

In August 2014 the World Bank approved the Philippines Rural Development Program (PRDP), of which the majority of the $500million financing is allocated for FMRs. The Rural Development Project for the Philippines aims to increase rural incomes and enhance farm and fishery productivity in targeted areas by supporting smallholders and fishers to increase their marketable surpluses and their access to markets.

The Philippines, and for that matter most local governments, have no comprehensive, open, and validated map to their road network and those levels of government responsible for it. Main road investment programs have historically been both opaque and highly politicised. Project budget credibility has been weak, with roads being apparently funded not getting built. Tracking public roads investments from budgeting, procurement, implementation, audit, and maintenance has more often than not been a broken chain.

In September 2014 RouteShoot partnered with web developers out in the Philippines to create an on-line interactive, Open Government, multi-media platform to digitally map the whole national and local roads network in the Philippines, and track associated priority public investment projects.

The platform called 'Open Roads' captures geo-coded digital images and videos through notably mobile devices to promote better planning, budgeting, procurement, implementation, and participatory audits. More timely and better information across the public investment delivery chain provides the basis for closing feedback and performance monitoring loops. RouteShoot has now become a government mandated tool that must be used as part of the project management process across the the Philippine archipelago comprising 7,107 islands. 

In February 2016, RouteShoot and the World Bank signed a new extension to the contract which saw a couple of our team heading out to visit the guys in the Philippines. A blog post published by the World Bank discussing 'Local road financing innovations in the Philippiness' can be found here: