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Development Account Projects

Enhancing the contribution of local authorities and their partners towards achieving the Millennium Development Goals through building the capacity of local government training institutes


Achieving the Millennium Development Goals is possible only if subnational actors, close to the target groups, are empowered to work towards poverty eradication and sustainable development. Given that decentralization and the devolution of power to local governments is a reality in most countries, it is this sphere of government which needs to redouble its efforts.

However, many local governments lack the resources to govern as effectively as would be required to achieve the Millennium Development Goals locally. United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat) has identified national local government training institutes as potential key players in providing needs-based training for locally elected leaders and municipal managers in order to capacitate them to respond to the many challenges they face. Unfortunately, in most countries such training institutes are underfunded and their staff lack capacities to address the changing realities of local governments.

This proposal aims at strengthening local government training institutes in two interrelated ways: strengthening their institutional capacities and building the training skills of their faculty. An expert group meeting would be called to assess the needs of the training institutes. Subregional training of trainers workshops would thematically focus on leadership skills for councillors, transparency, financial management, participatory budgeting, local economic development as well as gender and local governance. In all these areas, UN-Habitat methodologies and tools exist. Tools for institutional strengthening would also be introduced in the subregional workshops (development of business plans, training needs and impact assessment) and would be followed up through regional partnering between institutions, newsletters, a website and selected advisory services.

The ongoing partnership with UNDP on governance, transparency and e-Learning in local governance will be utilized for the respective training modules. The ILO will continue to partner with UN-Habitat on local economic development. It is further planned to strengthen the established contacts with UNIFEM with regard to gender in urban government training, in particular, gender-responsive budget initiatives.


To enhance the contribution and role of local authorities and their partners in achieving the Millennium Development Goals, in particular in addressing poverty, gender inequity and equality and in the realization of improved local governance and sustainable development by strengthening the capacities of local government training institutes.

Expected accomplishments:

  • Strengthened national local government training institutions and international local government training networks to effectively respond to the training needs of local authorities
  • Increased training skills and expanded training curricula of local government trainers

Implementation status:

The first year of the project focused on establishing the network and developing the key tools to support the strengthening of the partners. One of the major activities during 2011  was a Global Expert Group Meeting with Local Government Training Institutions (LGTIs) and other related organizations. From the meeting partnerships have developed and the LGTIs’ networks were strengthened; indeed, several have begun to exchange information and support each other through the partnerships. The Expert Group Meeting served as a foundation for determining future lines of work within the project, ensuring that the support is based on the needs and current capacities of LGTIs. A key partnership for the future implementation of the project has been formed with Danida Fellowship Centre (DFC), which demonstrates a Northern training institution trying to 'move South' and embed their curricula to build the capacity of LGTIs, rather than supplant that capacity through course offerings in the north.
Four key tools that will be essential for the organizational strengthening are being developed. The first is a Capacity Self-Assessment Tool, which has now been drafted. This practically designed tool enables LGTIs of the South to determine their own capacities, challenges and next steps; thereby improving LGTIs’ capacity to effectively promote sustainable urban development to Southern governments. The tool will also serve as a source of information when deciding on the future direction of the project’s work and support. Secondly a Training Needs Assessment and Training Outcome Evaluation Manual has been developed to address the issue of poorly assessed training programmes and lack of evaluations. A first draft of the manual was tested during a workshop with LGTIs and based on the feedback a second version has been drafted. The new version describes the important link between assessment and evaluation, so as to further add value to a manual combining the two. To strengthen the overall quality of the training process, in LGTIs (as well as in UN-HABITAT), a Practice Note on Effective Training has been developed. The practice note focuses on how to incorporate the concept of “transfer of learning” in the training process, to support the trainees in applying their learning to their work in the local governments. Finally, a concept of an online Training Management Tool has been developed. The tool is unique in that it combines cutting edge theory on effective training with functions designed to facilitate effective and efficient implementation of the theory throughout the training process.

Another activity to strengthen the capacities of LGTIs has been to conceptualize new approaches and roles of training institutions in facilitating exchange and learning between cities. A Learning Cities Event was held in Barcelona, bringing together representatives from the private sector, national and local public sector authorities, training institutions, civil society networks, international and regional cities alliances, and independent researchers. Multi-actor and multi-stakeholder learning processes are required in order to address the constantly changing complexity that cities are facing, and it has to be further explored how cities and LGTIs, of the North as well as the South, can act as drivers in this.