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Philippines to geo-tag World Bank projects to fight corruption

Philippines: The Department of Agriculture (DA), Philippines is training their team on the use of geo-tagging technology for project management. Their innovative use of the technology is the first among government agencies in the Philippines.

The geo-tagging process involves attaching location-specific information such as geographical coordinates to pictures, videos and even SMS messages. Users would need a GPS-enabled phone and internet connection to upload multimedia to a web-based application such as Google, which provides the platform to geo-tag at no cost. This geo-tagging activity is part of the Second Mindanao Rural Development Program (MRDP2) being implemented by the DA.

Deputy program director for MRDP2, Arnel de Mesa’s team and participating local governments in Mindanao, armed with GPS-enabled cameras and tablets, have started documenting various project sites. They have taken various photos, before and after, of project implementation that include bridges, farm-to-market roads, irrigation systems, livelihood and even marine sanctuaries with a special underwater camera. Reluctant before to use the technology, the team is now counting its many benefits:

-Cost-efficient and safe: The technology enables the project team to validate, monitor and evaluate actual progress on the ground without having to travel to hard-to-access locations and areas with high security risk, saving them precious manpower resources, time and effort.

-Easy reference: The technology provides donors, implementing agencies, contractors and other partners with useful information about its sub-projects such as exact locations, dates of operation, land areas, distance covered and where they are situated in relation to other landmarks in the area.

-Transparent: Other information, such as invitations to bid for projects, is also available on the maps for the benefit of prospective bidders. At the same time, it allows citizens to better monitor the bidding and procurement process. The GPS data compiled in the system assigns a unique identification tag for each project , avoiding duplication and overlapping of infrastructure projects, thus eliminating fictitious projects, as well as false reporting of data.

Mindanao Rural Development Program Phase 2 was recently hailed by the Philippine National Economic and Development Authority for applying geo-tagging technology in “resolving recurrent issues in project implementation”.

For De Mesa, the ‘Good Practice Award’ granted to the program reinforces the Aquino administration’s efforts to curb corruption and improve governance. While it marked the first time that the technology had been used by a government agency to promote transparency in a development project, it was not going to be the last.

Source: World Bank