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Participatory human development in post-conflict countries

Background:

The concept of participatory development is not new in the region, neither is the practice of social dialogue and popular participation at the local level. Little however, has been done by governments undergoing or emerging from conflict to hold broad public consultations to identify development priorities.

In particular, Iraqis, Palestinians, Lebanese and Yemenis have, over the past years, passed through many destructive wars, internal uprisings, conflicts, terrorism and debilitating sanctions. Vital infrastructures of the countries have been considerably devastated, malnutrition and abject poverty have spread and social conditions have worsened. Further, the respective governments and authorities faced difficulties to meet the most pressing needs of their people, inter alia health care, education, and job opportunities.

The unique edge of ESCWA in undertaking this activity is three-fold: (a) the regional mutually inter-influencing scope of many of the ingredients of the conflict (e.g., shared social culture environment and history, cross boundary extremism, weak post independence governance records, lack of public participation etc); (b) the normative and standardization type of investigation involved; and (c) the promise of probing and validating comparable approaches and policy synthesis in empowering civil society institutions across the region. ESCWA is well positioned to identify regional patterns and dynamics, as they evolve and emerge. In addition, through its network with other regional commissions and international agencies, it has the ability to channel knowledge acquired in other parts of the world. Moreover, ESCWA has launched several field projects and capacity-building programmes in Syria, Jordan and Egypt within the field of community-based development. Through these projects, ESCWA has built expertise and has already developed powerful partnerships among stakeholders and successful models for replication. The project builds on and creates synergies with those successfully implemented initiatives.

Objective:

To strengthen government-civil society participation in war-torn ESCWA member countries in matters of initiating social policy dialogue, and supporting and contributing to the formulation, implementation and monitoring of social policy.

Expected Accomplishments:

  • Increased capacity to develop and implement development projects, based on the participatory approach, aimed at alleviating poverty and generating employment;

  • Improved technical and institutional capacities to develop and implement participatory methods towards a more effective and sustainable human development.

Implementation Status:

The impact of the four workshops held in 2010 was highly significant at both substantive and technical levels. They constituted a good opportunity to share knowledge and experience on participatory practices and acquire skills in participatory-oriented project management and training methodologies for the replicability of such a concept. So far, the four workshops induced formal requests from end-users in Iraq, Lebanon and Yemen to explore avenues for cooperation with ESCWA so as to replicate ESCWA participatory development approach and capacity-building programmes in their countries. Accordingly, ESCWA provided technical and substantive servicing for 5 workshops replicated by end-users in three out of the four targeted countries within the project (Iraq, 1 national workshop and 1 lecture; Yemen, 2 workshops and Lebanon, 1 workshop). Such an investment in national capacities has expanded the circle of the project end-users in Iraq, Lebanon and Yemen and brought the total number of beneficiaries from 80 to 208, which ascertains the multiplier effect of these programmes and its impact on national strategies and local plans. The workshops also generated the inception of an ‘Arab Network on Participatory Social Development’, aiming at universalizing ESCWA participatory approach in the region and sharing knowledge and experiences on effective participatory practices through capacity-building, inter-regional consultations and brainstorming activities.