ICMA carried out a World Bank-funded contract with the Government of the Republic of Tajikistan, local governments in the country, and the central agency in charge of public services to design a mid-term strategy and action plan to improve the performance of local governments and utilities in municipal service delivery.
The purpose of the strategy and plan was to "de-monopolize" local infrastructure development and service provision, transferring more responsibility for water, sewerage, solid waste management, and district heating to local governments. The context for this project was the country’s National Development Strategy 2015, which identifies reforms in local infrastructure services as a key challenge. Recent legislation also supports decentralization.
ICMA conducted a fiscal and institutional capacity survey in nine municipalities and the water-sewer and solid waste management enterprises in these urban centers. Data gathering included household surveys, focus groups, and interviews with municipal officials. Based on the data, ICMA prepared a report summarizing the findings and analyzing the legal and institutional framework of the municipal and communal services sector in Tajikistan in terms of
- Current institutional structure, legal framework, and capacity
- Financial resources and sustainability
- Accountability and transparency
- Involvement of communities and the private sector.
ICMA then convened a stakeholders' workshop with officials from relevant ministries (finance, economic development and trade, energy and water resources), government agencies, the President's office, and interested donors to discuss the findings. Based on the report and feedback from stakeholders, ICMA developed a comprehensive strategy and recommendations for reforms, including restructuring at the municipal and agency levels.
The ultimate objective of the project was to help the World Bank and the Government of Tajikistan establish a Communal Services Development Fund (CSDF) to support infrastructure services. To meet that objective, the project included the following activities:
- Analyzing various financing mechanisms to increase investment in infrastructure services and make recommendations about such options as user charges, local taxes, fiscal transfers, and donor funds
- Establishing guidelines for loans and grants from the fund (financing priorities, eligibility criteria for beneficiaries)
- Developing a financial model and financial management system, including budgeting and accounting systems, based on current best practices
- Formalizing CSDF business procedures in an operations manual
- Identifying priority projects and inviting the municipalities and utilities to submit proposals for funding.
Throughout, ICMA engaged stakeholders, which included households that use the services, government officials, representatives of professional associations and other nongovernmental organizations, private-sector participants, academics, and interested donors.