The Government of India, the state Government of Nagaland and the World Bank in January 2017 signed a 48 million dollar credit agreement for the ‘Nagaland Health Project’ with the aim to improve health services across the state. Credit for the project, which was approved in December 2016 was from the International Development Association (IDA) – the World Bank’s concessionary lending arm – with a maturity of 25 years, including a 5-year grace period. The total cost of the project, according to the World Bank, was 60 million dollars, with the IDA providing 48 million dollars, and the borrower i.e. the Government of India committing the remaining 12 million dollars. With the Nagaland State Government being the implementing agency, the closing date of the project was set at March 31, 2023. The multimillion dollar health project aimed to, among other things, empower village health committees to deliver better health services across the state and strengthen existing health systems and public health facilities. With the news of the culmination program of Nagaland Health Project being held in Kohima on November 24, one is made to understand that the 60 million dollars, or about 500 crore Indian rupees, has been spent over the span of 5 years or so since the signing of the credit agreement. The Nagaland minister of health has reportedly stated during the culmination program of the project that the NHP has on average achieved 95% physical and 82% financial progress.
The project was designed to strengthen the community and benefit all. It is hoped that the project have met its target. During COVID-19 pandemic, NHP reportedly constructed oxygen generation plant houses at 8 District Hospitals and installed oxygen pipelines at various health facilities. As the agreement was signed in 2017, it is very likely that there was initially no provision for constructing oxygen generation plants under the project. Therefore, we can ascertain that there was some level of ‘flexibility’ in how the funds were to be utilized. It is not known whether the targets achieved by the NHP can be quantified or not, or if there is a mechanism for the same, but how judiciously the massive amount of money was utilized will likely never be known. Corruption, embezzlement and misappropriation of public funds are synonymous to governance in Nagaland, yet there is no way that we can prove it so. That is the sad state of affairs we are made to endure in Nagaland. Whatever be the case, the project has culminated now and we as simpletons need only remain grateful for whatever little ‘progress’ we have made under the NHP.
Mopungchuket HWC, Chungtia VHC and Mongsenyimti PHC were recognized as the Best Performing Committees under the project in Mokokchung district. It is hoped that the other villages have also performed equally well. Government policies will keep changing and funding will come and go. However, it is the community that will remain. Therefore, it is best for the community to make best use of whatever aid comes along the way because the benefits will go to the community and not the government. On the other hand, if the community does not perform well, it is the community’s loss and not the government’s. With the culmination of the NHP, there will no longer be any funding from the government under the project. Therefore, the community must now learn quick how to adapt to the post-NHP scenario.