Supporting and Strengthening Local Authority Associations at ACP national and regional levels (ARIAL) funded by the European Union
- Concept Note *
- Find out how ARIAL will benefit your ACP Local Government Association
- Apply for funding to establish a Local Government Association
Over the last two decades there has been an increasing recognition of the role that local authorities (LAs) play in development. LAs represent a tier of government that is closest to the people and represent the level where basic services are provided. LAs have both roles and responsibilities that are delegated by central governments and autonomous tasks, often based on bottom-up planning and consultation with the citizens. The importance of the role of LAs in development has been recognized by the European Union (EU) as well, and has eventually even led to revising Article 4 of the Cotonou Agreement by adding the mentioning of “local decentralized authorities” and re-emphasizing their “complementary role of and potential for contributions (…) to the development process”. However, in most cases, LAs are not yet able to assume this role. Why? There are two main reasons for this:
1) A lack of knowledge on the available development partners:
- - Lack of relevant information (programming, procedures, contact persons, call for project proposals);
- - Lack of communication with national development partners
LA’s are encouraged to participate in the ACP-EU cooperation processes, such as in: programming, implementation of projects and programs and capacity development. However often LAs do not know what relevant development partners exist, how to access information (e.g. on the content of the Cotonou agreement)and how these partners can address their needs. The EC programming cycle, for instance, is quite difficult to grasp for many LAs.
2) An inability to adequately lobby and advocate their development needs:
- - Lack of contact with other LAs;
- - Lack of adequate representation at the national, regional or continental level;
- - Lack of a proper policy and communication strategy;
- - Lack of procedures and tools to effectively lobby
Of the LAs who do have the knowledge on the available options, it is often a problem of not being able to adequately voice their needs to these partners. Which form of communication should they use? What should the agenda be for a political dialogue? Is it better to work together with other municipalities or approach a development partner alone? For many development partners it would be too time-consuming to talk to each LA separately.
As pointed out in the Guidelines of the ARIAL program, one way to tackle both these problems would be for the LAs to make use of a form of Local Authority Association (LAA) to represent their interests for them. These LAAs often already exist in the ACP region, but are apparently not always able to facilitate the participation of LAs in these political dialogues. Why is this the case? The reasons are the same as the two mentioned above, in some cases added by a third one:
3) An unclear picture of the development needs of their members (LAs):
- - Lack of ownership of members;
- - No platform for exchange of ideas between LAs/between LAAs/between RLAAs;
- - Lack of proper communication between local authority association and its members
Depending on the LAA, there are instances where the representative organization is not sufficiently knowledgeable on the wants and wishes of the individual member LAs.
In order to address some of the issues mentioned above, to enable local authorities and their associations to fulfill their role of providing services and to represent their members in political dialogue, the Municipal Development Partnership for Eastern and Southern Africa (MDP-ESA) has joined a consortium of partners to support and strengthen local authority associations at ACP national and regional levels. This initiative will be funded by the European Union (EU) and will last for 36 months (i.e. 2010-2013). The other partners in the consortium are: (i) Vereniging van Nederlands Gemeenten (VNG) (Contract Leader); (ii) Commonwealth Local Government Forum (CLGF); (iii) Partenariat Pour Le Développement Municipal (PDM); (iv) University of the West Indies (UWI), Trinidad and Tobago; and (v) Foundation of the Peoples of the South Pacific International (FSPI), Fiji.
The overall objective of the program is to promote the political recognition and engagement of the local authorities as important players and partners in development.
The specific objective of the program is to promote and strengthen the capacity of local authorities in ACP countries; in particular it is sought to strengthen local authority representative institutions from national level up to international level so that they are able to take part in the implementation of development policies, in particular with the EU, and play a political role as provided for by the Cotonou Agreement.
The work will entail (a) strengthening the capacity of already existing local authorities associations (LAAs); (b) supporting the creation of local authority associations where these have not yet been established; (c) strengthening the capacity of already existing regional local authority associations (RLAAs); (c) supporting the creation of new RLAAs; and (d) support capacity building for (sub)continental local authority associations.
The main means of implementation will be in the form of trainings, workshops, and seminars where there will be an exchange of knowledge and best practices by applying the “colleague-to-colleague” approach, South-South exchanges (i.e. institutional linking), and dissemination of information.
In order to achieve the stated objectives, the following activities outlined below will be implemented during the lifespan of the program:
- Establish the capacity of the existing LAAs that will also function as base-line survey
- Increase the knowledge of the LAAs on the development possibilities with national institutions and development partners (esp. the EU)
- Support the LAAs in gathering input from the LAs on their development needs
- Support the creation of LAA communication and policy strategies vis-à-vis national institutions and development partners (esp. the EU) on the development needs of Las
- Support the implementation of the LAA communication and policy strategies vis-à-vis national institutions and development partners (esp. the EU) on the development needs of Las
- Support the creation of LAAs where these have not yet been established
- Support the creation of new RLAAs
- Increase the knowledge of the RLAAs on the development possibilities with national institutions and (regional) development partners (esp. the EU)
- Support the RLAAs in gathering input from the LAs on their development needs
- Support the creation of communication and policy strategies of RLAAs, with the participation and input from LAAs
- Support the implementation of the RLAA communication and policy strategies vis-à-vis national institutions and development partners ( the EU)
- Support the strengthening of the capacities of the (sub-)continental LAAs
- Support the creation and management of an information network and the establishment of linkages between actors at ACP (sub-)continental level
- Expected results
- Overview of the capacity needs of the approx. 50 existing LAAs in the ACP region
- 2 representatives (i.e. political and executive) from approx. 50 LAAs are trained on development possibilities with national institutions and development partners
- Information on development possibilities with national institutions and development partners is placed and regularly updated on the electronic knowledge-sharing platform
- 80% of participating LAAs will have improved communication and policy strategies by end of the ARIAL program
- 80% of the LAAs are engaged in a yearly policy dialogue with development partners such as the EC delegations by the end of the ARIAL program
- ARIAL has successfully facilitated 3 initiatives of LAs in countries where no LAA exists
- Six RLAAs are determined, established and have received institutional and organizational support
- 2 RLAA staff members of each of the 6 RLAAs are trained on the development opportunities at the national and regional level
- Information on development possibilities with regional institutions and development partners is placed and regularly updated on the electronic knowledge-sharing platform
- All six RLAAs have adopted solid policy and communication strategies
- All six RLAAs have participated in yearly dialogues with development partners (esp. EC delegations)
- 2 (sub-)continental LAA staff members are trained on the development opportunities at the national, regional and continental level, as well as on how to improve their communication and lobby strategies
- Information on development possibilities with at a continental and sub-continental level is placed and regularly updated on the electronic knowledge-sharing platform
The following countries have been selected to participate in the program: Botswana, Burundi, Ethiopia, Kenya, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Rwanda, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.
The initiative will be officially launched on October 12th 2010 in Brussels and this will be followed by a training of participating partners in the use of the use of the LAA assessment tool on October 13th and 14th 2010. It is anticipated that the first pilot assessment will be implemented in the third week of October. The rest of the assessments will be conducted in the period from November 2010 until mid January 2011.
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