UCLG learning module on SDGs and decentralized cooperation capacitates African trainers with UCLG-Africa

The new UCLG Learning Module 4 on localizing the SDGs through decentralized cooperation, developed by UCLG, Platforma, United Nations Development Programme and UN Habitat, has started its roll out with the different regional sections of UCLG.

From the 28th June to the 1st July UCLG Africa, in collaboration with its African Local Government Academy (ALGA), was the first regional section to coordinate a live online Training of Trainers on Module 4 with the presence of more than 40 participants (local public officers and local association representatives) from 15 countries. During these training sessions, participants learned about how decentralized cooperation can be an effective driver for the implementation of the SDGs through a series of lectures and dynamic activities overviewing the six chapters of the Decentralized Cooperation (DC) module. While the training addressed most of the module’s chapters, UCLG Africa decided to have a specific focus on strengthening the capacity of trainers to develop and manage DC projects, and to mobilize alternative sources of funding.

During the training, the future trainers discussed the history of Decentralized Cooperation, its relations with the principles of the SDGs, the new possibilities of partnerships, resources and funding and how to design SDG-linked projects and policies. In this sense, one of the trainees, Urban Planner Mr. Tirafalo Jongilizwe affirmed that "for projects to be successful, you need to have civil society [on board] because they contribute to the planning and contextual understanding of DC projects."

Within the training schedule, specific time was allocated for trainees to learn, analyze and share interesting practices and projects on DC. Participants had the opportunity to learn how DC works in practice: from the cultural exchange and education in Blantyre (Malawi); to sanitation and environment competitions in the Lake Victoria Region; public space heritage South-South exchange between Rabat & Dakar. Additionally, trainees reflected on the National Association of Mozambican Municipality (ANAMM)’s experience of south-south cooperation in Mozambique and the eThekwini Municipality model of developing a DC policy.

The lectures and activities also focused on partnerships, communication, monitoring and evaluation processes. Furthermore, emphasis was also given to SDG 17 as a call to mobilize territorial partnerships to build better and long lasting impact in DC interventions and a key way to engage stakeholders and to strengthen the role of local government as the center of this mobilization.

The training concluded with an extensive feedback round from the new trainers, who presented their own plans for future local multiplication of new trainings, with common certification and support from UCLG-Africa. Participants brought up suggestions and also proposals to roll out training in 8 countries (Zimbabwe, Namibia, Mozambique, Botswana, Uganda, Rwanda, Kenya and Zambia). Two role plays activities highlighted the challenge of decentralized cooperation communication, as stated by a participant that was head of a village: “In our African context, the different cultures and hierarchies of communications is often underestimated, later we see why, just like in the games.”

In his final remarks, Jean Piere Elong Mbassi, UCLG Africa Secretary General mentioned “Knowledge transforms. We need to understand that the most important ingredient to change living conditions of the people & the performance of LRGs is human capital, also for achieving the SDG."

The online Module 4’s Training of Trainers will continue this year, with some activities already defined: in Africa, with a new ToT in French from the 13th to 16th of September; at the UCLG ASPAC Congress, in September 8th, in English; and in Spanish, for Latin America, next October.

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