summary poverty reduction and social strategy
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SUMMARY POVERTY REDUCTION AND SOCIAL STRATEGY Country:
Proposed Loan: Republic of Palau: North Pacific Regional Connectivity Investment Project
I. POVERTY ANALYSIS AND STRATEGY Links to the National Poverty Reduction Strategy and Country Partnership Strategy
As part of the Pacific Plan, the Pacific Regional Digital Strategy fully recognizes the important role of ICT in regional development. A Pacific ICT Ministerial Forum meeting in March 2006 endorsed the regional ICT priorities as (i) improving access to communication technologies through both cable and satellite technologies, (ii) reducing ICT costs, (iii) providing more bandwidth to the global ICT backbone technology, and (iv) strengthening ICT skills. Recognizing the essential role that connectivity has for supporting economic growth in Palau’s main industry, ADB’s country partnership strategy (CPS) for Palau and Palau’s medium-term development strategy (MTDS), 2009–2014 prioritize (i) facilitating private sector development, and (ii) improving public sector effectiveness. The proposed project will contribute to poverty reduction in Palau by reducing the cost of communication for businesses and individuals and increase access to information and services essential for socio-economic development. It will contribute to improved efficiency and effectiveness of private sector activities as well as public services. It will also open up new opportunities for business activities such as business process outsourcing thus creating new employment opportunities. In addition, the project will enhance regional integration and cooperation by expanding regional communication network offering cheaper and better quality communications, which would encourage regional trade and regional public goods. B.
Targeting Classification: General Intervention
From the 2013 Millennium Development Report, Palau has achieved most of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) in: universal primary education (MDG 2); promote gender equality and empower women (MDG 3); reduce child mortality (MDG 4); improve maternal health (MDG 5); combat HIV/AIDS, malaria, and other diseases (MDG 5a); and ensure environmental sustainability (MDG 6). In addition, Palauans enjoy relatively high standards of health, education and other public utilities that have been provided mostly free or heavily subsidized by the Government. However, although 97% of the total 4,926 households in Palau reported to have power, only 662 households or 13% reported to have internet connection at home (2013 Yearbook). During the consultations, poor internet connection was cited as a major barrier for students and professionals pursuing tertiary or higher qualifications in-country thus faster internet speed may encourage more young people to pursue higher/relevant labor market qualifications without going overseas. 2.
Through connection to international fiber optic hub in Guam, the project will provide faster and reliable internet connections to Koror and other States in Palau. With faster and reliable internet connection, local people including low-income households, small and large businesses, and government institutions will have access to faster communications services enabling e-governance. Businesses will also benefit through efficient business operations and reduce operational and opportunity costs from slow and unreliable internet. The project, through internet service providers, will also increase community awareness regarding internet safety controls such as filtering mechanisms and parental control devices by targeting new and young internet users and parents, including the low-income population. The project documents include pro-poor or poverty reduction measures to address poverty issues. The project's measures on poverty reduction measures include provision of work for unskilled and semi-skilled labor for local people in the project area whenever possible. Contractor(s) will be encouraged to employ local men and women in
project activities. Low-income households in the project area, whenever possible, will be engaged in labor-based construction and/or maintenance work. II. SOCIAL ANALYSIS AND STRATEGY A. Findings of Social Analysis Key issues. High cost and unreliable telecommunications and/or internet services contribute to hardship for the majority of the population and businesses operating in Palau. The project will provide a reliable, faster and affordable internet by connecting Palau to the global internet hub thus will contribute to poverty reduction by improving communications speed to households that use telecommunications and internet services, improve access to basic services and economic opportunities. In addition, it will improve opportunities for rural and urban households to easily connect families particularly those overseas, improve delivery of key government services to local population through distance education and e-health consultations, and increase e-marketing opportunities for young entrepreneur-minded and existing and new businesses. Overall Project Beneficiaries. The primary beneficiaries will be the people of Palau as well as businesses who use telecommunications and internet services as submarine cable will enable internet providers to provide improved internet speed at lower costs. Other primary project beneficiaries will include telecommunication operators and Internet service providers. With lower costs to provide services and facilitate competition in the market, businesses, in particular those related to tourism, are expected to improve services and lower costs, thus creating additional employment opportunities particularly for lower skilled labor. Needs and constraints of beneficiaries in relation to the proposed project. Faster speed, wider coverage, and lower costs were identified priorities by stakeholders from the project during consultations. Specifically, improved speed and wider distribution facilities and reduced end-user price are expected to increase usage by households particularly those in the rural areas. B. 1.
Consultation and Participation Provide a summary of the consultation and participation (C&P) process during project preparation.
A two-stage consultations (key respondent interviews, focus group discussions, and public consultation) were held at national and state level from June and July 2014. Interviews involving national and state government representatives including a minister, state governors, and department heads. Others included the president of community college, executive director of Palau Chamber of Commerce, civil society organizations including women’s groups’ traditional leader, selected students, and public internet users were held from 1-6 July 2014. Following the individual interviews and focus group discussions, a public consultation, attended by key national, state and community representatives, was held on 29 July 2014. These included at least two ministers, two state governors, Office of the President, government agencies, hotel operators, telecom operators in Palau, conservation groups, school officials and students, traditional women’s leader (Bilung or Queen of Koror), and elected women leaders of Palau. 2.What level of C&P is envisaged during the project implementation and monitoring? Information sharing 3.
Collaborative decision making
Was a C&P plan prepared for project implementation?
Consultation and participation plans are built in the projects’ gender action plan (GAP). State Governments, civil society and local communities will be consulted throughout the project cycle. Local communities including women’s organizations will be continuously consulted during detail design, implementation and monitoring through key respondent interviews, focus group discussions, and community meetings. C.
Gender and Development
Gender Mainstreaming Category: Effective Gender Mainstreaming
Key issues. From the ADB 2009 Palau Gender Assessment Report, gender issues in the country are characterized by (i) gender gaps and opportunities where women have less tertiary qualifications than men (ii) Increasing risky sexual behavior among the youth (iii) low representation of women in political decision making (iv) violence against women and girls (v) limited property and inheritance rights (vi) limited access to infrastructure e.g. communications services and (vii) low government’s capacity on gender analysis. There is little gender difference in Palau’s gross secondary school enrollment rates of 89% (2001). According to the draft ADB Social Sector Report, more girls than boys graduate from high school, but more men than women have tertiary qualifications. (This was confirmed by the 2008 survey results from the Water Sector Improvement Program where 46% males had college degrees compared to only 33% females among members of household respondents.) While there is universal enrollment at primary level, there is an obvious attrition through the secondary years. As with
other Pacific countries, the curricula do not necessarily meet the needs of the country, providing limited skills for entrepreneurship and commerce.1 Palau Community College, the only two-year college education provider in the country (644 enrolled students in 2013; 47% males and 53% females full time and part time studies) has a relatively high intake of secondary school graduates but about 50% transfer to studies overseas mid-way through their programs and 80% of graduates migrate to work overseas. Reasons cited during the consultations included difficulties in accessing online course materials limiting learning and limited local economic opportunities. While women in Palau have decision-making powers anchored in their matrilineal heritage and play a key role in household and clan decision-making, they are severely under-represented in the political arena. Only 3 of 16 state governors are women, 3 of 9 senators are women, state delegates for the 16 states are all men, and 1 out of 8 ministers is female. During consultations, mobile phones reportedly improved multi-tasking by women at home and at work. It also improved women’s access (young and elderly) to family members within Palau and overseas. Moreover, it have also helped improve time management between home and work (rural women) and home and taro patch (rural areas). With access to faster and cheaper internet, it is expected to further improve people’s opportunities to communicate their needs easily. With improved telecommunications and access points made available in communities, women can easily communicate with their counterparts in other areas without having to travel and incurring high expenses as well as relying on other people for information and transactions. Women’s participation in the labor force is concentrated in the technical and administrative sectors and in the public service. Although women have the right to work, and pay equity legislation is in place, less than 50% of women are engaged in the formal labor force. There are fewer women than men at senior management and administrative levels.2 Lastly, government’s technical capacity to carry out gender analysis is low and gender equality is not perceived to be a ‘problem’ despite the growing rates of violence against women, trafficking of foreign workers for the sex trade, and increasing suicides among women. There is a strong need for improved sex/age-disaggregated statistics across all sectors and for both Palauans and non-Palauans. This would support the development of evidence-based rationales for relevant policy dialogue, analysis and programming.3 The key gender issues that the project will impact are (i) women’s improve access to social services as a result of improved communications services; (ii) employment opportunities for women in both project management and maintenance including creation of spin-off employment or business opportunities from fiber optic cable; (iii) capacity within Ministry of Public Infrastructure, Industries and Commerce (MPIIC) and/or MicroPal to mainstream gender in communications; (iv) mainstreaming of gender within MPIIC human resource development strategy and plan; and (v) increasing awareness on internet security and safety among girls and women. III. Issue Involuntary Resettlement
SOCIAL SAFEGUARD ISSUES AND OTHER SOCIAL RISKS Strategy to Plan or Other Measures Significant/Limited/ No Impact Address Issue Included in Design The project will not require land No Action acquisition. It will utilize existing government land.
Social assessment has confirmed that the local people in the project area do not meet the ADB criteria of Indigenous Peoples (distinctiveness and vulnerability).
Labor Employment opportunities
Project is expected to generate minimal local employment opportunities in the project sites during construction and operation but presents a capacity building opportunities for government and non-
Core labor standards
Palau Gender Assessment, Country Partnership Strategy, ADB, 2009 ADB 2007. ibid. 3 Palau Gender Assessment, Country Partnership Strategy, ADB, 2009 2
Plan Other action No action
government related staff. Affordability
Other Risks and/or Vulnerabilities
Project will improve affordability through efficient service and possible reduction in service charges. No potential risks are anticipated. IV.
Action No action No impact
MONITORING AND EVALUATION
The GAP will be implemented by MPIIC and PMU which will recruit one international social/community development/ gender specialist (intermittent) and one national social/community development/gender specialist (intermittent). The international specialist will train/advise the national staff in developing gender awareness training and incorporating gender perspectives in MicroPal, Palau ICT Project Committee, and MPIIC corporate management and/or project plans. The specialists will be responsible for incorporating the GAP into project planning and programs, including awareness workshops and establishment of sex-disaggregated indicators for project performance and monitoring framework. The PMU will include reporting on progress of GAP activities in quarterly progress reports on overall project activities to the ADB and the Government.
Source: Asian Development Bank