Integrating Geo-referenced Information Systems in Bolivia’s National Planning
Obsolete and separated information systems have afflicted planning and public investment in Bolivia. Through an experience exchange, the Chilean Ministry of Social Development and the Peruvian Ministry of Economy and Public Finance shared their knowledge and good practice approaches in the design and implementation of geo-referenced information systems leading Bolivia’s Ministry of Development Planning to assess its own information systems for effectiveness.
Public investment has played a critical role in the Bolivian Government’s efforts to deliver its promise of Vivir Bien —“living well”—to the people. However, technical constraints resulting from obsolete and non-integrated information systems afflict planning and public investment in Bolivia, undermining the strategic and integrated vision of development planning. Since 2011, the World Bank has been providing technical assistance to the Bolivian Government to strengthen its capacity in planning and public investment. With this assistance, the Ministry of Development Planning (MDP) of Bolivia developed a geo-referenced information system. The MDP has achieved significant progress in the development and integration of planning instruments, including the design and implementation of this geo-referenced information system. In order to evaluate the system and improve its implementation, the MDP was interested in learning from the experience of other countries in the design and implementation of similar development planning instruments.
In order to support the MDP in evaluating the system and improving its implementation, the World Bank task team invited Chile and Peru to share their knowledge and experience with Bolivia through an experience exchange. Both the Chilean Ministry of Social Development and the Peruvian Ministry of Economy and Public Finance had successfully developed a sophisticated national system of public investment and an administrative structure that facilitates its effective implementation, which made their experience highly relevant for Bolivia.
In preparation for the exchange, two videoconferences to initiate dialogue among participants in La Paz, Santiago de Chile, and Lima were organized. The task team then prepared an agenda based on the interests of Bolivia and the strengths of Chile and Peru.
In January 2015, the Bolivian delegation visited Chile and Peru successively and, through a series of workshops, learned about their good practice approaches in planning and geo-referenced information system. The Chilean and Peruvian participants prepared informative presentations on their respective information systems and their critical role in different stages of planning and public investment. In particular, the Bolivian delegation gained new perspectives and learned new approaches to applying geo-referencing technologies in development planning. Additionally, the National Office of Electronic Government and Information (ONGEI) of Peru presented its operating framework, which effectively integrates various public information systems in the country.
As a follow-up to the workshops, two videoconferences were organized between La Paz, Santiago de Chile, and Lima. Participants discussed possibilities for further cooperation among the three countries.
The experience exchange, with an intensive agenda and proactive participants, achieved satisfactory results. The Bolivian delegation took away enhanced technical knowledge on the information systems and increased implementation know-how on the necessary institutional reforms:
- Enhanced technical knowledge. Having gained perspective on the sophisticated geo-referenced information systems of Peru and Chile, the Bolivian delegation identified the weaknesses in its own systems and developed technical solutions. Particularly, the delegation plans to set specific regulations to ensure the provision and periodic update of data and develop a protocol for the exchange of information on the public platform.
- Increased implementation know-how. The Bolivian delegation gained the knowledge on how to develop organizational structure and act as reform agents to achieve effective implementation of the information system. Particularly, the good practice approach of the National Office of e-Government and Informatics of Peru inspired the delegation to create a similar inter-institutional coordination mechanism to periodically evaluate performance and propose solutions to be prepared for any potential problems that may arise.
The Bolivian delegation consolidated the learning experience in a detailed report, which proved helpful in the preparation of the Bolivian Government’s new Five-year Plan (Plan Quinquenal).
- It is advisable to carry out the exchange-promoted activities in as brief a time as possible after the exchange. Participants, particularly the knowledge-recipient side, are more likely to maintain a higher level of interest when post-exchange enthusiasm is also high. In the case of Bolivia’s information system, the activities were carried out within 5 months and achieved satisfactory results.
- As geo-referencing technology has become increasingly important in development planning, there is great potential for such experience exchanges, particularly in Latin America, given that countries share common technical challenges in this area.
The exchange was financed by a grant of US$23,089 from the South-South Experience Exchange Trust Fund. In addition, the World Bank designed the exchange agenda and facilitated the exchange process.
In addition to the Chilean Ministry of Social Development and the Peruvian Ministry of Economy and Public Finance, the leading knowledge providers, several other agencies in Peru and Chile also contributed to the success of the experience exchange. High-level staff and skilled professionals from the following listed agencies gave informative presentations and shared their abundant knowledge and experience with the Bolivian delegation:
- Ministry of Social Development
- Ministry of Public Works
- Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean of the United Nations (ECLAC)
- Ministry of Economy and Public Finance
- National Office of e-Government and Informatics
- Ministry of Environment
- National Center of Estimation, Prevention and Reduction of Disaster Risks (CENEPRED)
The Bolivian delegation’s detailed report that consolidated the learning experience will be a valuable asset to future development of the planning instruments. Moreover, through other ongoing projects, the World Bank will continue providing assistance to the MDP to strengthen its capacity in planning and public investment. The participants of Chile and Peru have also expressed interest in further cooperation with the MDP in order to share practices and lessons learned.
The Bolivian delegation consisted of high-level staff of the MDP, including the Vice-Minister of Planning and Coordination, Head of the Land-Use Planning Unit, Head of the State Integrated Planning System (SPIE) unit, as well as skilled professionals responsible for the development of the information systems.
Investment Projects Map (Ministry of Social Development of Chile)
Integrated Projects Bank (Ministry of Social Development of Chile)
National Office of E-Government and Informatics (ONGEI) of Peru
Sayhuite (ONGEI, Peru)
Geoservidor (Ministry of Environment of Peru)