Public participation in future development plans [Archives:2005/883/Business & Economy]

October 6 2005

Yasser Mohammed Al-Mayyasi
Like all developing countries, Yemen wants to get rid of its economic problems that have undermined its development for so long. The international community was aware of this and a summit called the Earth Summit was held in 1990. Other summits were held in 2002/2003 in Monterey and Johannesburg. A number of decisions known as the Millennium Declaration were made at these summits.

These decisions were meant to enhance development all over the world. Among these aims are the freedom from want, education for all, equality between men and women, empowerment of women, decrease of child mortality and increase of motherhood health, the fight against AIDS and other diseases like malaria. In addition to these goals is the creation of sustained global cooperation. The success of these aims has been set to be assessed through 1990 to 2015.

Yemen has perspectives for poverty fighting, which is contained in its third five-year plan and poverty alleviation for 2006-2010. This plan has been prepared by Ministry of Planning and International Cooperation. During August the ministry held a number of symposiums and workshops in different governorates, which witnessed a wide public and official participation. Public needs and proposals were raised and these will be considered in the plan.

Yemen Times was present at a many of these workshops and symposiums and noticed the exciting public participation and the brilliant points raised by participants that would have been missed by executives. All the proposed projects had focus on the need for education, health and portable water. The plan really gained from these discussions and proposals, because they were the real needs of the cities and governorates.

Alongside these symposiums, Yemen Times met a number of persons who came from different governorates and some of the officials from the Ministry of Planning. Dr. Yahia Almotwakil, Deputy in the Ministry of Planning, said that the plan was engineered according to the resources, taking the international, regional and local trends into consideration. He commented on the symposiums and meetings with the people in the governorates, saying that these would keep the officials in touch with the needs of the public. Dr. Yahia urged all parts to play their roles in supporting the plan. He confirmed the vital role of the private sector, the civil societies and the donors.

Dr. Motahar Albasi, Deputy Minister of Planning Affairs, said that the basis of the plan for poverty alleviation constitutes the strategic perspectives of the Millennium Development Goals of 2015, as well as supporting financial development, creating new jobs, revitalizing partnerships with the private sector and developing local governance to strengthen development. He also spoke of the importance of the regional and international financial partnership and the activation of local governance for sustainable development. He added that development of the local communities would help solve major problems that pose major threats in most of developing countries.

Private sector and public participation were prominent at the symposium. Ibrahim Aljabri, General Director of the Sabah District in Al-bidha, said that the public participation in the preparation will give the planners an important hint as each of the participants will present the real needs of their areas.

“Take me for example. I presented all development needs in my district. We have bad infrastructure, education and health establishments in spite of the dense population of the area,” he explained. Aljabri continued to say that such symposiums will create public awareness. He said that they organize meetings for men and women about how to use economic resources better and why agricultural production is important. The exact priorities can be set through close study of community problems.

A businessman who participated in the symposium, Mr. Mohamed Omar Ba-mashmoos, head of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Aden Governorate, said that the third five-year plan should cater for business needs, so that the private sector could play its role in the development plans. He said that they have presented several work papers on investment deficiencies. In these papers they demand that all investment impediments in the free zone should be resolved, because Aden is the trade capital and should have a different economic status. Local governance laws should also be activated because absence of local governance has a negative impact on investments. Mr. Ba-mashmoos also said that investors should rapidly be invited to industrial zones in Aden, Lahj and Abian, and that partnership and coordination between authorities is important for development efforts.

Mr. Haidrah Saleh Al-shadadi, manager of the International Planning and Cooperation office in Abian, said that the plan has given a chance to let public and private sectors participate in decision making for the first time. He added that in Abian they concentrate on making a development plan for their governorate, as their economy depends mainly on agriculture, tourism and industry. He said that the plan will provide better job opportunities. Here, civil societies have participated for the first time in preparation of the plan. From 2001 to 2005 we benefited from a number of other plans because we participated in this one, Al-shadadi says.

Mrs. Iman Mohamed Abdullah Obied, head of Poverty Alleviation in Aden, said that their participation as a non-governmental organization enabled them to present their comments that were based on their studies on Aden's governorate. She said that they are working on bridging the gap between men and women and encouraging women to study and merge in the community, and that these activities need funding. She also said that they are being listened to now and the support they are receiving will contribute to their success.

Mr. Hizam Al-slahi, a businessman and representative of the private sector of Al-bidha, praised the participation in setting the plan and said that he was critical to any plans where the preparation had been rushed. He added that any development that excludes the private sector will not have the desired success, because the private sector plays an important part in decreasing unemployment.