KAS: Decentralization and Local Development in Jordan (2010-2012)

From 2010 to 2012, the Vision Center for Strategic and Development Studies along with Konrad Adenauer Stiftung (KAS) designed and implemented special capacity building programs for the Ministry of Parliamentary Affairs and Political Development on empowering and developing skills for the Legislative and Executive branch in terms of advocacy and lobbying for legislative and political reform within the government.

 

The theme of the project was to instigating enhanced political and social participation in Jordan as part of a national effort towards decentralization and local democracy. There is a lack of civic participation with government institutions at the local level; as the Kingdom is moving towards decentralization, citizens of the target communities need to better prepared to take this responsibility on. Fortunately, more recently over the past ten years, change in the Jordanian region advocated by the King himself and the government, calls for reform towards modernization and openness based on good governance practices and more government-citizen partnerships in the decision making process and priority setting. However, such an effort has not yet been fully developed by the concerned parties, and is in dire need of heavy investment for creating an atmosphere for such reform. Citizens are also in need of understanding their civic rights and duties in order to have a say in determining how their communities are run and becoming more involved in the decision-making process at the local level. As such, this project seeks to tackle the most basic issues that impede the development of a more open and inclusive political system.

 

The overall objective it to increase civic engagement with government institutions in a movement towards enhancing local democracy that falls in line with recent efforts towards decentralization. Specifically, to increase civic engagement there is a need to apply good governance through decentralization in administration, empower women and youth participation in the political process, facilitate and enhance local civic and political dialogue, enhance cultural awareness of tolerance, diversity, and acceptance, and increase the level of representation of local citizens in community institutions.

 

The Visions Center sought the direct involvement of officials in promoting civic engagement taking place in parallel with an increase by citizens in participation in local development, as the result of this project. To see that these objectives are achieved the Vision Center conducted pre and post socio-economic surveys and evaluations of their results. They also facilitated and conducted regular “town hall” meetings. Conducted capacity building for local community institutions, organizations, and government institutions. Developed and initiated a media campaign aimed at raising awareness on the citizen’s rights and duties. Organized and conducted workshops and seminars to increase public awareness on local democratic participation. And lastly, the Vision Center held one community dialogue in each governorate on issues such as diversity, tolerance, acceptance, and conflict resolution.

 

There were three events held on the topics of civic participation and local democratic participation, as well as three training sessions about conflict resolution and conflict management throughout the 2010 year.

 

 

February 21, 2011 Conference:

Under the Patronage of His Excellency Mr. Faisal Al-Fayez, Chairman of the House of Parliament in cooperation with the Ministry of Municipal Affairs, Greater Amman Municipality, Konrad Adenauer Stiftung, and Vision Center for Strategic and Development Studies.

 

This conference, “Decentralization and Local Development in Jordan” sought to create a debate, and initiate a national strategy to create more comprehensive development plans. Part of this strategy is to fight poverty and unemployment, and to create business and investment opportunities. It also aims to improve the living conditions of citizens by focusing on institutional capacity building for institutions in the public and private sectors working on local development issues. The official objectives of the workshop were: Define the main concepts related to decentralization, civic participation, and strategic planning for local development, Present comparative experiences in local development and civic participation from other countries, Establish approaches based on scientific analysis and methodology to make decentralization and civic participation more effective, and to provide participants with new skills and principles of urban planning and civic participation dimensions.

 

March 24, 2011 Conference:

Under the Patronage of His Excellency Dr. Hazem Qasho, Minister of Municipal Affairs, in cooperation with the Ministry of Municipal Affairs, Konrad Adenauer Stiftung, Greater Ajloun Municipality, Ajloun National University, and Vision Center for Strategic and Development Studies.

 

This conference, “The Role of Municipalities in Local Development in Jordan” aimed at enhancing the roles of municipality and governorates in local development as a new public management approach in administering local governments according to the principle of community and civic participation in the local development and decision making process. With the main objectives of the conference being: Define the main concepts related to the management of local resources of municipalities, Present comparative global experiences on local development and civic participation, Identify obstacles to civic participation and local development; and establish scientific approaches towards resolving them, and to highlight the role of master planning in preparing local development strategies for municipalities. The four main sections of the conference were: 1) Responsibilities and duties of municipalities, government institutions, and civic society organizations in local development. 2) Role of private sectors, NGOs, and citizen associations in local development. 3) Institutional capacity building for municipalities and governorates in local resource management. 4) Managing financial resources and economic resources, creating efficient budges for municipalities.

 

July 19, 2011 Conference:

Under the Patronage of His Excellency Dr. Hazem Qasho, Minister of Municipal Affairs, in cooperation with the Ministry of Municipal Affairs, Madaba Government, Greater Madaba Municipality, Konrad Adenauer Stiftung, and Vision Center for Strategic and Development Studies.

 

 

This conference, “Empowering Local Governments in Jordan: Enhancing Political and Developmental Relations between Local Governments and Local Communities” aimed at to implement decentralization as a new public management approach for running local development, it will encourage civic participation and development in the decision making process. The objectives of this conference were: to define the basic concepts of local resources management in the provinces, to introduce some global models of local government and civic participation in local development, to identify the risks and challenges affecting the role of local governments and communities in local development, explore the role of universal charts, maps, investment in the preparation of local development strategies for municipalities, and to explore the role of local self-financing in the overall local development and sustainable development. The four main sections of this confrence were as follows: 1) Identify available investment and development opportunities to attract local and foreign investors. 2) Identify opportunities to strengthen and enhance the role of local government institutions, civil society, the private sector, civil organizations and local development. 3) Institutional capacity building for local governments in strengthening the role of communities in the management of local resources. 4) Propose practical mechanisms to find sources of funding for local projects.

 

October 26, 2011 Conference:

Under the Patronage of His Excellency, The Minister of Municipal Affairs Eng. Maher Abu-Alsamn, in collaboration with the Ministry of Municipal Affairs, Greater Jerash Municipality, Konrad Adenauer Stiftung Amman Office, and Vision Center for Strategic and Development Studies.

 

This conference, “Empowering Local Governments in Jordan, Enhancing Political and Developmental Relations between Local Governments and Local Communities” consisted of four main sections. 1) Identify available investment and development opportunities to attract local and foreign investors. 2) Identify opportunities to strengthen and enhance the role of local government institutions, civil society, the private sector, civil organizations and local development. 3) Institutional capacity building for local governments in strengthening the role of communities in the management of local resources. 4) Propose practical mechanisms to find sources of funding for local projects. With the objectives of the conference being: to define the basic concepts of local resource management in the provinces, to introduce some global models of local governments and civic participation in local development, to identify the risk and challenges affecting the role of local governments and communities’ concerning local development, to explore the role of charts, maps, and investments in the preparation of local development strategies for municipalities, and to explore the role of local self-financing in the overall scheme of local and sustainable development. 

 

 

“Strengthening the Principles of Good Governance through institutional capacity building for the charity organizations and Ministry of Social Development Employees” – Project Proposal:

 

This training program was one of the programs that aimed at strengthening the role of the charities’ governing bodies in improving their institutional performance towards developing the local community. This was achieved through providing them with skills and good governance concepts in building their administrative, financial and technical capacities. It aims at presenting practical and life cases, exchanging technical and academic expertise, confining the problems and obstacles facing the charity organizations and proposing solutions and best alternatives to address these obstacles. The program was executed twice to cover the middle south of Jordan through the participation of approximately 30-40 representatives from the Charity organizations and Ministry of Social development.

 

The objectives of this training program were as follow: Promote awareness of good governance’ rules and concepts in managing the charity associations’ affairs, Increase the knowledge and understanding for the regulations and legislations that govern the work and powers of the charity associations, Refine the skills and practices related to the institutional working methods in the administrative, financial and technical affairs, Provide participants with methods and practices of good governance in innovation, development, and institutional renovation, Identify ways for analyzing projects in terms of funding sources and elements of feasibility studies vis-à-vis available alternatives, and Build technical skills in the areas of strategic planning, action plans development, setting performance indicators and technical reports writing methodology.

 

The planned activates for this training program were institutional capacity building training programs, which included manuals, power point presentations, practical applications, examples, and open discussions. As well as workshops for building NGO’s alliances and team work between organizations.

 

The expected results of this training program were to provide new institutional expertise to the charity associations so they can be an active partner in achieving the sustainable development goals. Also, participants acquired necessary skills to enable them to create a vision and a mission, set goals, develop strategies and action plans, as well as monitor and evaluate the associations programs in the field. It also develop the skills of the associations’ members to generate ideas for pilot projects and mechanisms for developing them. That will be through introducing the participants with concepts of good governance and its relation with funding and managing the proposed development projects. Participants enriched their knowledge about the legal frameworks that govern the charity associations’ work and their powers. In return, that reinforced the cognitive and practical skills to stimulate positive practices – in the administrative, financial, legal and technical affairs – and follow-up mechanism for the associations’ achievements and their development impact on the target group and local community.

 

May 8-9, 2012: Training Program

Under the Patronage of His Excellency, the Minister of Interior Mr. Ghaleb Al Zoubi, in cooperation with the Ministry of Interior Affairs – Department of Local Development, KAS, and Vision Center for Strategic and Development Studies.

 

The objectives of this study, “Administrative Reform and Local Development in Jordan”, include introducing the principle concepts of administrative reform and its relation with the management of local resources for development. Discussing the role of good governance principles in enhancing the institutional performance for local development units. Promoting self-reliance on independent financing for sustainable local development projects. Supporting the administrative reform program within the private sector, which results in enhancing the financial and economic performance in local development. Adopting modern methodologies to design feasibility studies for local development programs and projects based on monitoring mechanisms. Enhancing the institutional capacity building for management and funding of financial and economical development projects. Promoting the cooperation between the government sector and investors within the private sector and local communities. Lastly, adopting a set of investment rules that support initiatives related to local investment maps and attracting international and regional investment as means to achieve local sustainable development goals.

 

The areas of focus for this training program were: The relation between local development and social development, Administrative responsibilities and tasks of official institutions and civil society organizations in local development, Institutional capacity building for local development units in the public sector, Social responsibilities and community roles of the private sector, community based organizations, and civil society organizations in local development, Prepare feasibility studies which focus on the financial management of local development programs, Good governance concepts and principles related to local development, and using local development indicators in strategic planning and administrative reform.

 

Project Proposal 2012:

 

Local actors are more aware of the needs of their local population and therefore are essential, and more equipped than the central government, in designing development plans as well as policies pertinent to their local needs.  However, local development and engagement of local communities are dependent on developing the capacity of local governments and local communities for a more decentralised government. This will promote the establishment of a suitable political atmosphere for the improvement of political life in Jordan.  Decentralization requires the involvement, support, and pro-active role, of local communities, local actors and the central government. It also calls for local communities to be provided with a certain degree of local autonomy although within the framework of a national agenda defined by parliament, to collect local revenues, taxes, fees and so forth as part of the decentralization process. This also entails investment in building new infrastructures of local communities, and training them on public services and systems, and financial management skills.

 

This project therefore aims at enhancing the role of local citizens, actors and municipalities, enabling them to be more pro-active and to develop their capacity to reach a level of autonomy and self-sufficiency whereby to mobilize their capabilities and resources towards improving service standards, ability to design financial management strategies, and work efficiently and effectively in an environment which nurtures the concept of good governance. The overall goal was to increase institutional capacity of local governments, municipalities and governorates by enhancing their coordination and participatory role with local communities, civil society organisations in managing local resources and developing policies beneficial to the local needs. This accomplished through designing and improving technical skills of target groups of officials, decision makers and employees of municipalities and local common services councils in promoting and encouraging civil participation and local development in Jordan.

 

The target groups of this project were; two governorates in Jordan (Amman, Irbid). The Private sector: Chamber of Commerce and Industry, businesses, and financial institutions. Civic Organisations and Communities: Youth and women organizations, media outlets, charity associations, voluntary and service organizations, welfare associations, tribal leaderships, labour unions, local associations, citizenship associations, citizens’ groups, community leaders. Government institutions and affiliates: Ministry of Parliamentary Affairs, Ministry of Interior, Ministry of Public Sector Development, Ministry Social Development, Ministry of Economic Council, political parties, local development units, academic institutions.

 

The planned activates of this project were; an Assessment and Analysis: Prior to implementing the designed activities, Visions Centre will conduct a thorough assessment on the capacities and needs of municipalities in terms of their interactive participatory role with NGOs and local communities in local development and civil participation. One workshop: Conducting a 2-day workshop on activating the contribution of NGOs and local associations in local development in partnership and coordination with municipalities and other government authorities. This will also include sessions on legislations, regulations and systems in force relating to the requirements for the success of the role of municipalities and NGOs in local development. And a second workshop: Conducting a 2-day workshop on the importance of information and indicators in measuring the performance and assessing the achievements of local development plans.

 

The expected outcomes of this project were: to strengthen and build institutional capacity for more effective decentralization techniques and methods. Enable local governments, NGOs and local communities to effectively manage local resources and coordinate economic and social development project. Assist municipalities, NGOs and local communities in inventing and creating sustainable income generating development projects using an effective participatory and coordination approach. Increase active participation of local community in local development. And to create partnership between the government, local communities, civic society organisations, and the private sector to promote and implement decentralization process.

 

In order to achieve and meet the assigned objectives of this projects various training workshops, meetings and counselling activities will be designed and conducted. Prior to implementing the designed activities, Visions Centre will conduct a thorough assessment on the capacities and needs of municipalities in terms of their interactive participatory role with NGOs and local communities in local development and civil participation. The first workshop conducted was a 2-day workshop on activating the contribution of NGOs and local associations in local development in partnership and coordination with municipalities and other government authorities. This also included sessions on legislations, regulations and systems in force relating to the requirements for the success of the role of municipalities and NGOs in local development. The second workshop conducted was a 2-day workshop on the importance of information and indicators in measuring the performance and assessing the achievements of local development plans.

The indications for having reached the planned results came from pre and post questionnaires and interviews used to measure governmental representatives and participants understanding of the issues and topics discussed pertaining to decentralization. Finally, a thorough comprehensive report was provided, including the feedback on the applicability and necessity of the event, to sum up the results and conclusions of the addressed program.

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