“To improve the living environment for all on a sustainable basis, by promoting resource development and institutional capacity building for the management and human settlements, and ensure the implementation of the Millennium target on improving the lives of slum dwellers.”
Without strong local institutions and motivated staff, decentralization and human settlements reform will not deliver the desired development outcomes. Yet, many local authorities lack human resources required to meet urgent needs. Training and capacity building is therefore a wise investment into the future sustainability of our cities.
“Building capacity to build capacity” is the cornerstone of the UN-HABITAT’s training and capacity building strategy. Based on this premise, UN-HABITAT offers technical support to training institutions to build their capacity to effectively implement innovative training programmes with significant multiplier effect that target local governments and development oriented non-governmental and community based organizations (NGO/CBOs). UN-HABITAT specifically provides these institutions with training manuals and methodologies to enable these institutions to adapt internationally recognised tools to local contexts and language.
UN-HABITAT supports regional and national training institutions through a number of ways; (1) organising regional workshops to develop capacity-building strategies (2) organising expert group meetings that involve demand and supply side actors to analyse training need assessments (3) design new training manuals and other tools; (4) developing, jointly with partners, generic training manuals and handbooks; (5) conducting training of trainers and action planning workshops; (6) supporting adaptation of these tools to national languages and context; and finally, (7) assisting selected institutions to design and implement national training programmes.
Through these means, UN-HABITAT assists local authorities and civil society organizations to build core skills in competencies in diverse areas including leadership, financial management, local economic development, participatory planning and conflict management. Through cutting edge training tools and methodologies, it assists the institutional partners and clients in developing managerial, technical and policy-making capacity —all within the framework of good local governance and sustainable urban development— to carry out their mandate. Equipped with such competencies, these partners and clients are better able to provide services to their local communities and at the same time address urban problems, inadequate shelter and poor performance of municipal services.
UN-HABITAT’s strategy of building national capacity to respond to capacity building needs of local governments and their partners has been tested and vindicated positively through its experience in the last 20 years or so. The translation and adaptation of the training manuals to over 25 languages and the long standing collaboration with national training institutions in all the major regions around the world are testament to this fact. This has been possible, partly due to their proven methodology and to the systematic effort to address crucial capacity building needs of local governments and their stakeholders. The financial support UN-HABITAT enjoyed from the Government of the Netherlands over this past decade has been instrumental in realising these results.
In 2002, the Government of the Netherlands approved a UN-HABITAT proposal on “strengthening national training capabilities for better local governance and urban development” for funding (see activity brief). The programme started in April 2002 and the current phase will end in September 2007. The overall goal of the programme is to strengthen the capacity of at least 30 institutions in a period of five years. The three specific objectives of this programme are as follows;
- To effectively respond to the constantly growing demand by local authorities and local development NGOS and CBOs for tools in a range of thematic areas covering local leadership and management, municipal finance and budgeting and combating corruption
- To support at least 30 training and capacity building institutions to effectively respond to the needs and demand of local authorities and local development NGOs and CBOs
- To improve and strengthen linkages between demand and supply side players through partnerships and networking
Since 2002, UN-HABITAT has partnered with some 60 capacity building institutions in 40 countries to strengthen institutional and national capacities.