Step Up Undertakes Research Project in 4 Asian Cities

Manila, Image Courtesy of https://pxhere.com/en/photo/472223

Step Up Consulting works with Goethe Institute in a research project that looks into environmental data in four key cities in Southeast Asia, namely, Manila, Hanoi, Bangkok, and Jakarta.

The research project is part of the “Visual Unearthing Project” implemeted by Goethe Institut, the cultural institute of the Federal Republic of Germany.

The regional project “visual unearthing”, will use Open Access Data (AQI, etc.) to analyze the interactions of air-water quality and other indicators (groundwater level, etc.) that are important especially in climate change in very specific environments (cities, regions, ecosystems).  The purpose of this research is to assess available data based and initiate the process of undertaking data visualization on available data based on the results of the mapping process. 

Step Up strategy advisor Michael Canares leads the regional team of researchers from the Philippines, Vietnam, Indonesia, and Thailand to accomplish the project. Results will be made available by June this year.

Step Up Signs Evaluation Contract with SWCF

Step Up Consulting signed a contract with Soil and Water Conservation to conduct the end-of-project evaluation of its project implemented in Bohol, Philippines.

The project entitled the project “Strengthening the Capacity of a Farmers Federation and their Communities to Address Climate Change in Bohol, Philippines”, was implemented in the Province of Bohol with funding support from Misereor.  The project aimed to continue to address the institutional strengthening of a farmer’s federation by providing (1) organizational management and technical training/workshops, monitoring, and evaluation; (2) further capacity building for members of the federation; (3) assistance for sustainable management and conservation of the environment including climate change adaptation, DRRM, biodiversity conservation and protection while strengthening environmental ethics in the local community, especially the youth; and (4) facilitation in formulating implementable Disaster Risk Reduction Management and Contingency Plan of the barangays.

The project is implemented benefitting the farmers federation composed of more than 10 cooperatives and farmers associations located in several towns in central Bohol, 15 Barangay Local Government Units (BLGUs) in the municipality of Batuan, selected elementary or secondary school students and teachers in the project municipalities, and community residents in barangay Bahi, Albuquerque, where the SWCF office is located.

Project evaluation is part of Step Up Consulting’s primary expertise. The team at Step Up will be lead by its Research Lead, Ms. Jean Celeste Paredes.

Step Up Facilitates GAD Planning and Budgeting for the Municipality of Catigbian

Michael Canares, strategy advisor of Step Up Consulting was invited by the Municipality of Catigbian to facilitate the Gender and Development (GAD) planning and budgeting workshop for 2022. The activity was held at the Bohol Bee Farm Resort in Dauis, Bohol last March 3-5, 2021, and was attended by department heads and key officials of the municipality as well as representatives from civil society groups.

The workshop was held after a series of sessions on gender sensitivity, the Magna Carta of Women, Gender Monitoring and Evaluation Framework, and Gender Analysis Tools facilitated by several resource persons, including Step Up’s gender expert, Ester Espinosa.

In the workshop, Mr. Canares emphasized the essential elements of GAD Planning and Budgeting, namely, GAD focal point system (GPFS), GAD capacity development, gender audit, and GAD database and sex-disaggregated data. He advised the municipality stakeholders that if these elements are not yet present, they should invest considerable resources to have these in place. For example, he emphasized that without a GAD database, the identification and analysis of gender issues will be difficult.

Vice Mayor Esteban Angilan Jr. in his closing remarks, encouraged the stakeholders present to consciously monitor the plans and programs they were able to identify during the workshop to ensure that this will result to concrete benefits to the people of the municipality.

Step Up Completes Research on Youth and Technology Use in Mindanao

Step Up Consulting just recently completed a research project entitled “Analysing Social Media Use and Preferences of Young People in Mindanao” that sought to better understand social media use and preference amongst young people in the region as input into the design of initiatives that use technology and social media in engaging with young people. The research was commissioned by the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH.

The research,  implemented from December 2020 to January 2021,  was designed to collect basic information about the target users in four regions in Mindanao to test assumptions onuser attitudes regarding social media use. It underwent three phases as illustrated in Figure 1 below.

Figure 1. Overall Approach of the Research

Phase 1 – Exploring was about getting a preliminary understanding of the users that the program would like to reach out to, generating necessary demographics to have a better sense of who target users are, where they live, what their preferences, are how they use technology, and what their experiences in using internet and social media have been like.  This phase of the research is largely quantitative made possible through an online survey. 

Phase 2 – Focusing was about initiating conversations with key personal, or fictional character types that represent user needs, feelings, and behaviors, that arose from the exploring phase.  This phase sought to have a deeper understanding of key users to inform the design of the use of technology in engaging with young people. Because of limitations in mobility due to COVID-19, the conversations were held online.

Phase 3 – The Harvesting phase was about generating insights from both quantitative and qualitative data to inform the GIZ, as it embarks on the process of using technology to reach out to young people, and the designers of the proposed initiatives on how to best approach the systems development process. 

The project team was led by Step Up’s strategy advisor, Mr. Michael Canares. Frei Sangil and Ica Fernandez are team members. The team is also supported by Hedz Paredes and Tet Pepito.

Step Up Consulting Trains DTI- Assisted Coops

Step Up Consulting was contracted by the Bohol provincial office of the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) to conduct organizational management trainings to at least 10 cooperatives assisted by the agency the Integrated Natural Resources and Environmental Management Project (INREMP).

INREMP is a joint project of the Philippine Government and Asian Development Bank (ADB). The ultimate goal of the project is to address unsustainable watershed management issues affecting the Wahig-Inabanga Upper River Basin, and at the same time support poverty reduction in the communities.

The trainings were conducted to a limited set of participants, given current regulations issued by the Bohol Inter-Agency Task Force in the management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (BIATF) and was held in 21-24 October, with another session conducted two weeks after. The topics discussed were on leadership, effective communications and business management. All trainings were held at JJs Seafood Village, Tagbilaran City.

Two months prior, Step Up Consulting was also the one contracted by DTI

Step Up Trains Cooperatives on Gender and Development

Step Up Consulting was hired by the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) to train cooperatives and community associations on gender and development. The trainings were conducted in September to October 2020 in the municipalities of Sierra Bullones, Pilar, Inabanga, Danao, and Buenavista. These benefitted 10 community associations in several rural barangays.

The trainings were part of the activities implemented by DTI in the Integrated Natural Resources and Environmental Management Project (INREMP). The objective was to help community associations address gender inequality issues through mainstreaming gender and development principles and practice in policies, programs, projects and activities of the associations.

The trainings were conducted in project areas by lead gender advocate and trainer Esther Espinosa with a training design formulated by strategy advisor Michael Canares. Both have worked together in the first phase of the GREAT WOMEN project implemented by the Philippine Commission on Women.

Strict protocols were implemented in the conduct of the trainings.

Step Up Consulting Publishes Open Contracting Research Training Module

Step Up Consulting recently released its new publication, the Open Contracting Research Training Module, a product of a 5 month-long research mentoring and training with researchers from Notre Dame of Marbel University funded by HIVOS and implemented in coordination with the European Chamber of Commerce in the Philippines. To download the file, click on this link.

Transparency in the procurement process and the implementation of procurement contracts is one of the principles enshrined in Republic Act 9184 (Government Procurement Reform Act) alongside the principles of competitiveness, public monitoring, accountability, and streamlined procurement process. In promoting transparency in government procurement activities, government agencies are mandated to publish all bid opportunities and post all awards and contracts in the Philippine Government Electronic Procurement System (PhilGEPS).  

However, public access to contracting information from planning up to implementation is limited. Most contracting documents are not published online and are being kept internally by agencies. The current version of the PhilGEPS does not have information on the planning and implementation stage. This situation makes tracking and monitoring of government projects difficult, which in turn makes government procurement activities susceptible to fraud, collusion, and corruption. 

With support from HIVOS, the Provincial Government of South Cotabato, in partnership with the European Chamber of Commerce in the Philippines, implemented an open contracting program to strengthen transparency and accountability in local procurement systems in the province of South Cotabato.  This culminated with the publication of local procurement activities in a centralised portal in compliance with the Open Contracting Data Standard (OCDS). 

HIVOS has conducted similar initiatives in the Philippines.  The publication of data, however, is not sufficient to fully realise the value of open contracting. It is critical and important that users are trained to use open contracting data for different purposes as advocacy, research, and development projects.

Researchers are one of the potential users of contracting data.  But only very few are trained in this area.  This research module is intended to help guide organisations wanting to train researchers in open contracting data.

Step Up Strategy Advisor Facilitates ADB-GIZ Workshop

Michael Canares, Strategy Advisor of Step Up Consulting, was contracted by the Build for Skills Project to help design and facilitate a lessons-harvesting workshop to reflect on the two-years of project implementation in Mongolia and Pakistan. Build4Skills is a project jointly implemented by GIZ and the Asian Development Bank to sustainably improve vocational education and training in countries. It aims to integrate technical and vocational education and training as a standard in public invitations to tender for infrastructure projects over the long term.

The workshop was conducted over two days – from September 14 to 15, via MS Teams. In attendance were representatives from GIZ operating units in Germany, Mongolia, Pakistan and the Philippines, together with their ADB counterparts from the Philippines, Mongolia and Pakistan. The first day workshop was organized as an internal learning event while the second workshop was designed as a sharing event to other development partners who may be interested to use Build4Skills as an approach in promoting employment through technical and vocational education and training (TVET) in partnership with country governments, funding agencies, private companies, and TVET institutions.

Step Up’s 5 Case Studies Published by HIVOS

Five case studies that were part of the research paper on Open Contracting and Inclusion were published by HIVOS. The research project, managed by Step Up Consulting, was led by Michael Canares, Strategy Advisor of Step Up Consulting and Francois Van Schalkwyk of Stellenbosch University, South Africa.

As can be remembered, Miko (Michael) and Francois wrote the research paper “Open Contracting and Inclusion – A Synthesis Study” published by HIVOS two months ago. The five case studies that were the basis of the synthesis papers are as follows (click on the link to access the case studies):

  1. Bandung, Indonesia: an open contracting pilot project implemented the City of Bandung with the support of the World Bank and the National Procurement Agency. The citizen engagement component of the project was implemented by World Wide Web Foundation’s Open Data Lab Jakarta, the aim of which is to cultivate use of published contracting data by the city government of Bandung, Indonesia.  (download here)
  2. Bantay Kita, Philippines: Open mining governance to increase access, understanding and use of mining contract data in Cebu and Palawan provinces in the Philippines. (download here)
  3. Budeshi, Nigeria aims to ensure that public service delivery in Nigeria is opened to public scrutiny. Budeshi also requires that data across the budget and procurement processes are structured enough to enable various stages to be linked to each other and, eventually, to public services. (download here)
  4. Preferential Procurement, South Africa: Public procurement regulations introduced by the national government in 2017 stipulating that at least 30% of the value of all government contracts of ZAR30 million or more must be subcontracted to specified disadvantaged groups, including youth and women. (download here)
  5. Access to Government Procurement Opportunities, Kenya: Public procurement regulations introduced by the national government in 2013 stipulating that at least 30% of all government contracts must be subcontracted to specified disadvantaged groups, including youth and women. (download here)

Step Up Managing Consultant Assists NCCA in the Nationwide Study on the Impact of COVID-19 on Culture and the Arts

Michael Canares, managing consultant of Step Up consulting, joins a team of experts tasked by the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA) to assess the impact of COVID-19 on culture and the arts. The study involved a survey of culture and arts practitioners, consumers and institutions and businesses involved in the promotion of culture and the arts in the country.

The results of the study will be used as inputs in the development of a Cultural Response and Resiliency Plan (CRRP). The information collected will assist NCCA and other government agencies prepare and implement immediate and medium-to-long-term measures to sustain the culture and arts sector of the Philippines given the pandemic.

For  organizations/offices that are involved in culture and arts, regardless of whether they are of a public, civil society, or business nature, please click on this link to access the survey.

For individuals working in creative industries and those engaged in or practicing different art forms, please click on this link to answer the questionnaire.