The UCLG Africa’s (www.UCLGA.org) African Local Governments Academy (ALGA) and the African Centre for the Constructive Resolution of Disputes (ACCORD) based in Durban, South Africa, kicked off their Training-of-Trainers (ToT) Programme on “Conflict Management” with a Workshop that took place from July 16th to 22nd 2023, in Al Akhawayn Conference Center, Ifrane, Kingdom of Morocco.
This Workshop was the first step of the important Conflict Management ToT Programme that will end with the graduation Ceremony and awarding of Certificates in 2025, during the 10th Africities Summit in Cairo, Egypt.
Fifteen (15) Participants from 10 countries across 3 African Regions, namely North Africa (Morocco, Tunisia and Libya), West Africa (The Gambia, Ghana and Benin) and East Africa (Somaliland, Uganda, Mozambique and Malawi) gathered to attend the workshop. The cohort is composed of UCLG Africa’s members who are Local Government representatives, as well as the Organization’s Network and staff.
The opening of the workshop was marked by the speeches addressed to the participants by:
- Dr. Najat Zarrouk, Director of Development, Knowledge Management and ALGA of UCLG Africa;
- Ms. Savannah Wilmot, Senior Programme Officer at ACCORD;
- Mr. Abdelkrim Marzouk, Dean of Public Sector Partnerships & Continuing Education at Al Akhawayn University;
- Mr. Bouchaib Es-Skali, Secretary General of the Province of Ifrane.
“ACCORD brings 30 years of rich experience in conflict management, while UCLG Africa possesses extensive knowledge and understanding of the reality of conflict at grassroots level. In this critical time where conflict continues to challenge and impact Communities, it is paramount to equip ourselves to actively address such issues. The timing of this ToT on Conflict Management could not be more crucial. By investing in the development of skills in leading and facilitating conflict resolution processes, we are taking a proactive stance towards building peaceful and prosperous communities across our continent. It is through the collective efforts of training individuals like yourselves that we can create lasting change and pave the way for a brighter future for the Africa we want.” said ALGA’s Director Dr. Najat Zarrouk, who expressed her heartfelt appreciation for the sound and strategic partnership with ACCORD, and for their trust and support.
ACCORD’s Senior Programme Officer, Ms. Savannah Wilmot, thanked the trainees for their commitment to a better future and UCLG Africa as ACCORD’s “esteemed partner”. She added: “We have long since recognized the very important role of Local Government Stakeholders in preventing, mitigating and resolving conflict. We believe that resolving conflict through dialogue and constructive approaches is a way to prevent conflict from escalating from a local level to regional or even national level, which has even bigger ramifications. You, as Local Government Stakeholders, are in best position to be the first responders to these types of conflicts. You, as skilled trainers, can conduct high quality training using your first-hand experience and hands-on competence in ways that we as an external organization could never replicate”.
For his part, the Secretary General of the Ifrane Province Mr. Bouchaib Es-Skali, welcomed the participants to Morocco and expressed the honor for Ifrane City to be hosting the Training-of-Trainer’s workshop. “The presence of our African brothers and sisters from different countries shows our shared destiny, and we also highly appreciate the presence of women in this workshop as a sign of Leadership in the continent”, he added.
Participants were also welcomed by Al Akhawayn University Dean of Public Sector Partnerships & Continuing Education Mr. Abdelkrim Marzouk, in the name of the University President. “We are happy that the organizers have chosen the Akhawayn Conference Center in Ifrane. You will find that this is learning place.”, he said, before briefly introducing the Master’s degree in City Management which was opened by Al Akhawayn in collaboration with ALGA. “The first French-speaking cohort is following the Master’s online and will graduate this year from a one of a kind accredited Institution. The second cohort is English-speaking and will attend in-person later in 2023 to also benefit from our high expertise in the field”.
The training and facilitation was provided by key peacebuilding experts and practitioners Mr. Philip Visser, ACCORD’s Manager of Applied Knowledge and Learning and Ms. René Ngwenya, ACCORD’s Consultant Trainer and Conflict Analyst.
“My hope for this first cohort of trainees is to use what they have learned and what they will learn in their daily job. It would be great if they manage to solve conflict in ways they did not think of before, prevent escalation, and share this knowledge as trainers or facilitators. We know that pressure and challenges are increasing in African Local Governments, which is one of the reasons that make this partnership between ACCORD and UCLG Africa very important”, said ACCORD’s Manager of Applied Knowledge and Learning Mr. Philip Visser.
“I feel satisfied about this workshop. People participated willingly and there was very good spirit. Local Government Stakeholders have so much to do, they may not always have the time to sit back and upskill in Conflict Management, Negotiation, in how to engage constituencies and Communities in non-violent but effective ways, so this is a great opportunity and what adds to its importance is the voluntary commitment of the participants. As a trainer, I feel there was a reciprocal process of give and take in the training.” said ACCORD’s Consultant Trainer Ms. René Ngwenya. According to her, “one of the biggest challenges regarding conflict management in the Local context is the disconnect that may exist between low-down and high-up”. To ensure the success of this ToT programme, “continuity” is key. It will maintain the cohesion and the motivation of the trainees. The second important element is “awareness”, said Ms. Ngwenya. “I hope we all become able to implement what we have learned in our projects and apply the different methodologies on the ground with good results”.
Among the beneficiaries of this ToT programme, Mr. Hatem Amir, Executive Director of the Libyan Municipalities Association, said that Conflict Management plays a crucial role in his position: “Given the political division in Libya and the ongoing decentralization process, conflicts at the Local Level are prevalent and have significant implications for our communities. Effectively managing these conflicts is essential to ensure Stability, Social Cohesion, and progress in the Municipalities we serve.” He added that this first ToT workshop was an “invaluable experience that provided insights into the mindset required to be an effective trainer in Conflict Management. The case study exercises were particularly helpful, allowing me to apply theoretical knowledge to practical scenarios. The process of the training itself, including interactive sessions, group discussions, and role-playing, fostered a dynamic learning environment”. Mr. Amir aspires to promote conflict management practices at the Local Government level in Libya and extend support to other African countries facing similar challenges to implement effective peacebuilding initiatives that empower Local Governments and citizens alike.
Conflict Management is also “central” in the position of the Acting Secretary General of the Uganda Local Governments’ Association (ULGA), Ms. Josephine Kalege. “At the Local level, conflicts are inevitable since we have different levels of training and awareness, different interests and tasks to undertake. This is largely due to failure to communicate effectively, high expectations from the teams and failure to appreciate each other’s role or mandate”. By committing to the ToT programme, Ms. Kalege aspires to become a skilled facilitator in her field to prevent conflict escalation, and to share this knowledge. “I intend to support my Local Governments in Conflict Management as I get home and I look forward for more capacity enhancement as I continue to support my Local Governments and staff as well as in my personal relationship at family level and in the community I stay”.
For the Secretary General of the Gambia Association of Local Government Authorities (GALGA), Mr. Amadou Tambedou, Conflict Management and negotiation are “key” in his position, and “conflict issues are prevalent at the local government level, in communities, and there are also cases involving different levels of government from subnational to higher at the central level”. What makes conflict management challenging is “the political motivation that may be driving the conflict, which complicates the issue”. For Mr. Tambedou, “this workshop was very important, because it is a process that will help us train many other people on Conflict Management. It is also an opportunity to upskill in negotiation. This training reinforced the importance of systematically creating an implementation plan after an agreement, and it has inculcated the determination in me not to give up, regardless of the complexity of the case that needs to be solved”.
During the week of training in Ifrane City, the participants had the opportunity to visit Al Akhawayn University Campus, the old medina of Fez city, the cultural and spiritual center of Morocco dubbed the “Athens of Africa”, and Azrou City, where the cohort discovered the tallest, 800-year-old “Gouraud” Cedar Tree, a natural and historic Moroccan monument.
As this training journey began, UCLG Africa and their partner ACCORD placed their trust in the commitment and dedication of the trainees to effectively share this training in their Countries, Regions and Municipalities, and to build a culture of peace in Africa. The participants and Local and Regional Governments representatives showed high commitment, strong motivation and demonstrated shared goals and values, a momentum that shall be maintained all throughout the Training-of-Trainers workshop on Conflict Management and beyond graduation, as online meetings and training sessions take place, assignments are given and completed, and more in-person ToT events are organized. The cohort will gather once again with their case-study in hand for a second in-person ToT training, during the 7th edition of the African Forum of Territorial Managers and Training Institutes targeting the Local Government (FAMI VII – 2023), to be held from November 20th to 26th, 2023, in the City of El Jadida, Region of Casablanca-Settat, Kingdom of Morocco.
Know more about ACCORD’s team of trainers behind the Training-of-Trainers Conflict Management Program:
Philip is a South African reflective peacebuilding practitioner. He brings extensive and grounded experience working in active conflict, humanitarian and political transitional contexts.
His career began in his home country, South Africa, working as a fieldworker and senior manager for a local anti-apartheid NGO during the crucial political transition of the 1990s. Since, he worked with international NGOs and the UN, across South East Asia, Nepal, Yemen and several countries in East Africa, as advisor, trainer and mentor.
As a professional he offers grounded experience, technical quality, academic knowledge and exceptional conceptual and strategic thinking. As a person he brings a strong sense of fairness, integrity, humility, respect for diversity and sensitivity.
He obtained a Master degree in Conflict Analysis and Resolution from George Mason University, USA in 1989.
René is a Conflict Analyst & Process Designer. She is a consummate capacity building and institutional change professional with three decades of experience in the fields of adult education, youth development, community development, diversity management, conflict transformation, gender education, leadership and designing educational events.
An intuitive and compassionate manager with a strong democratic practice, a successful record of project management, teambuilding and fund development. She has strong and extensive experience in adult education, youth development, conflict resolution, gender education, peace education, diversity management, both as a practitioner and trainer.
René obtained a Master of Education in Educational Leadership and Management from the Royal Melbourne Institute for Technology University, Australia in 1999.
She is on the resource panel of ACCORD as a Trainer and Process Facilitator.
Distributed by APO Group on behalf of United Cities and Local Governments of Africa (UCLG Africa).
More images: https://apo-opa.info/3QpODCc
About UCLG Africa:
United Cities and Local Governments of Africa (UCLG Africa) is the umbrella organization of local authorities in Africa whose founding congress took place in 2005 in the city of Tshwane, South Africa. UCLG Africa stems from the unification of three continental groupings of local governments following the official language inherited from the colonial period, namely: the African Union of Local Authorities (AULA), mainly English-speaking; the Union of African Cities (UVA), essentially French-speaking; and the Africa chapter of the União das Cidades e Capitais Lusófonas Africanas, Americanas e Asiáticas (UCCLA), mainly Portuguese-speaking.
UCLG Africa currently brings together the 51 national associations of local governments operating in Africa as well as 2,000 cities and territories with more than 100,000 inhabitants. Through its members, UCLG Africa represents more than 350 million African citizens. Founding member of the world organization of United Cities and Local Governments (UCLG), UCLG Africa is its regional chapter for Africa.
The general secretariat of the organization is established in Rabat, capital of the Kingdom of Morocco, where UCLG Africa enjoys diplomatic status as an International Pan-African organization. UCLG Africa is also represented in the five regions of Africa through regional offices. based: in Cairo, Egypt, for the North Africa Region; in Accra, Ghana, for the West Africa Region; in Libreville, Gabon, for the Central Africa Region; in Nairobi, Kenya, for the Eastern Africa Region; and in Pretoria, South Africa, for the Southern Africa Region.
About ALGA of UCLG Africa:
At the origin: a “Moroccan Initiative for an African Vision”. The African Local Governments Academy (ALGA) was created based on the Resolution adopted by the Hon. Members of UCLG Africa, the Hon. Ministers of Decentralization and their Partners, at the end of the Summit V of Africities, organized in the Kingdom of Morocco, in Marrakech in 2009.
«The promotion of the territorial dimension of development in Africa cannot be fully effective without the support of trained Human Resources that are involved in implementing it. This is why the African Ministers and Mayors who attended the Marrakech Meeting subscribed to Morocco’s Proposal to create a « Support Centre for the reinforcement of Local Authorities’ managerial and technical capacities ». The goal is to build up, share and spread best experiences and practices in Africa. This recommendation gave rise to the plan to create an African Academy of Local Authorities». (Source: Report of Africities Summit V, Local Africa moves Africa. Marrakech 16-20 December 2019, pp. 32-33).
After several feasibility studies, including a mapping of the Training Institutes targeting the Local Governance, organized with the support of the Ministry of the Interior of Morocco, ALGA of UCLG Africa became operational since 2016.
The African Centre for the Constructive Resolution of Disputes (ACCORD) is a conflict management institution based in Durban, South Africa, that seeks to encourage and promote the constructive resolution of disputes, by the peoples of Africa, and so assist in achieving political stability and socio-economic recovery, within just and democratic societies, towards peaceful co-existence.
ACCORD works to bring conflict resolution, dialogue and institutional development to the forefront as a preferred approach to deal with protracted conflict and escalation to violence and armed combat. ACCORD builds capacity and skills through training, policy development and research, and recognizes the important role of the stakeholders at the local and national level, such as local governments and civil society organizations.
Within ACCORD, its Applied Knowledge and Learning cluster/unit is responsible for the design and implementation of strategic training and learning to position ACCORD as the continent’s leading peacebuilding capacity development organization.