Event Reports

Civic Participation and Local Development: Building Effective Communities in Jordan - 8. Apr. 2010

by Martin Beck, Lea Johanna Collet
Event: Regional WorkshopDate/Place: April 8th, 2010, Zarqa Chamber of Industry and Commerce Concept: Dr. Khaled Awamleh, Dr. Martin Beck Organization: KAS Amman, Visions Center For Strategic and Development Studies

1. Program Overview

Thursday, April 8th, 2010

Dr. Khaled Al Awamleh - Visions Center for Strategic And Development Studies - Amman, Jordanien

Dr. Martin BeckResident Representative of theKonrad-Adenauer-Stiftung e.V., Amman, Jordan

HE Mr. Saad Al Manseer - Governor of Zarqa

Dr. Raad Al Adwan - Local Development DirectorateMinistry of Interior – Amman, Jordan

Mr. Mohmmad Arsalan - Chairman Board of Directors Member, Boardof Director, Jordan Chamber of Industry and Commerce

First Session: Civic Participation in Local Communities

Basic concepts of Local Development Planning

Dr. Jamal Al - NsourHead of Regional and PlanningDepartment, Ministry of Municipal Affairs

The Role of the Ministry of Municipal Affairsin the Decentralization Process in Jordan

Mr. Saleh Jaradat - Director, Head of Regional and PlanningDepartment, Ministry of Municipal Affairs

How to Empower and to Run a Municipality, A German Experience

Dr. Christoph Strünck - Professor of Political SciencesUniversity Siegen

Moderator: Dr. Raad Al Adwan -Local Development DirectorateMinistry of Interior – Amman, Jordan

Seconded Session: Decentralization and Institutional Capacity Building for Local Administration

Local Community and EconomicDevelopment “Roles and Achievements”

Dr. Khaled Al Wazzani - Chairman of Darat Holding, Co.

The Industrial Sector in Zarqa City

Mr. Mohmmad Arsalan - Chairman Board of Directors Member,Board of Director, Jordan Chamber of Industry

Decentralization and Local Public Media

Dr. Raad Al AdwanLocal Development DirectorateMinistry of Interior – Amman, Jordan

Moderator: Ms. Reem ObeidatSenior Consultant/Trainer for LeadershipDevelopmentMedia Gender and Communication

Third Session: Public Media and local development in Jordan

Public Media and Social Responsibility

Ms. Reem Obeidat - Senior Consultant/Trainer for LeadershipDevelopment Media Gender and Communication

Media and Local Development in Jordan

Dr. Basim Al – Tweissi - Director of the Center of Studies andCommunity Department. Al- Hussein BinTalal University, Ma’an Jordan

Moderator: Dr. Amjad Al-KadiDirector und ManagerAudiovisual Commission

2. Objectives

With the first competitive elections in 1989 Jordan’s late King Hussein paved the way for enhancing the political participation, which is a substantial component of a functioning political system. King Abdullah II initiated the first measures to improve the political, social and economic framework of a political and equal participation. He therefore founded a royal commission in 2005 to work out a decentralization plan for Jordan’s political system. This plan officially aims at enhancing the political participation of citizens on the local community level, creating an open, transparent and citizen friendly political system and delegating power form the highly centralized government bureaucracy to the governorate and community level. Though it is the main objective of the regime to stabilize the prevalent political order with its limited opportunities of political participation, Jordan’s citizens should take the government by its word and should seize the chance of widening the civic participation.During the workshop on April 8th, 2010, organized by KAS Amman and the VisionsCenter for Strategic and Development Studies at the Zarqa chamber of industry andCommerce, 20 experts discussed with over 100 participants from the private, publicand scientific sector the possibilities to improve the civic participation and the local development in building effective communities in Jordan in the context of the decentralization plan launched in 2005 by the government.

3. Details

The seconded part of the workshop on CivicParticipation and Local Development wasinaugurated by the Chairman of the ZarqaChamber of Industry and Commerce, Mr.Hussein Shraim.

The governor of Zarqa Mr. Saad Al Manseerwelcomed the participants and the experts.In his opening speech he identifiedthe private and public sector as key sectorsto achieve a sustainable economic and socialdevelopment. All members of society inJordan should be regarded as responsiblepartners and integrated in the decisionmakingprocess to better determine theneeds and priorities of the population. Inthe modern globalized world local developmentand civic participation are main toolsto use the human capacity of the Jordaniansociety efficiently. Furthermore, the civicparticipation supports governmental programsand integrates the citizens in governmentactivities.

Dr. Arsalan and Mr. Adwan identified theprivate and public sector as key sectors inthe local development policies, too. Dr. Arsalanpointed out to the important role ofthe Zarqa Chamber of Industry and Commercein educating and advanced training ofstudents, employees and self-employedpeople.

Dr. Awamleh, director of the Visons Centerfor Strategic and Development Studies andDr. Beck, Resident Representative of theKonrad-Adenauer-Stiftung thanked the Ministryof Interior for its cooperation and expressedtheir hope for future joint events ondecentralization. Dr. Beck pointed out thatthe workshop can be traced back to thepromising initiative of King Abdullah II todecentralize the political decision-makingprocess in Jordan. However, this decentralizationprocess should further enhance thecapacities of municipalities and strengthenthe participation on the local level. The governmentshould therefore take measures tohelp citizens getting the opportunity to takepart in decision-making processes and toimplement their interests on the local level.Hence, the government has to provide themunicipalities and governorates with thenecessary financial means.

Both Dr. Awamleh and Dr. Beck statedthat the KAS-Visions Center workshop isparticularly important as it is the first coordinatedeffort between the government,represented by the directory of the local developmentat the ministry of interior, municipalities,local media departments, institutionsof higher education and advocacygroups to organize a joint event on localdevelopment and civic participation in governoratesand local communities.

Dr. Jamal Al-Nsour introduced the firstsession with a lecture on “Basic concepts ofLocal Development Planning”. He depictedin five steps a possible model for developmentplanning. First, data and expertise(geographic, demographic, socioeconomicand cultural) on governorates and localcommunities should be compiled. Then, internaland external financial resourcesshould be acquired and administrativemeasures should be taken to decentralizethe political system and to strengthen thelocal administrative and decision-makingcompetences.

Mr. Salah Jeredat, Director of the Regionaland Planning Department in theMinistry of Municipal Affairs, highlightedthe difference between sustainable andlocal development. Sustainable developmentdeals with the protection and preservationof resources for future generations.Local communities, for example,should safeguard their real estate againstgovernmental actions in order to decidefreely on the purpose of their landedproperty. In contrast, local developmentis a participatory effort aiming at integratingthe citizens in the political decision-making process and improving theliving standard of the society.In this context, the Ministry of Municipal Affairssupports financially various projects onpolitical participation and local development.The amount of the financial aid depends,however, on the efforts and meritsof the governorates and local communities.In the following, Professor ChristophStrünck lectured on the basic principles ofthe German civil society and underlinedthat self-government at local level is enshrinedin Germany’s constitutional law.

Germany has about 14.000 municipalities inwhich the citizens vote for a mayor, who isthe representative of the people and thelocal public administration and their districtrepresentatives in the city. The two maintasks of the local government are to attractand keep businesses and to take care forneedy people, since the municipalities predominantlyprovide public services in Germany.

Hence, he talked about the maingroups of the civil society, i.e. the associations,citizen groups, local political parties,local media and non-profit-organizations.He then focused on citizen loans as a newsource of local revenue: citizens lend moneyto the city and will get it back with a fixedinterest rate. The city uses the money forexample to refurbish schools.The German experience shows clearly thatthrough the decentralization of the politicalsystem the citizens can assert their right ofparticipation and their preferences in thesocioeconomic process.

At the beginning of the seconded sessionDr. Wazzani remarked that every economicdevelopment is always a socioeconomicdevelopment in society. Since Jordanis neither an oil nor a cash economy, thegovernment has to enhance its human resourcesi.e. to improve the labour marketpolicy and to reduce poverty. In stabilizingeconomic priorities with the governoratesthe government could promote actively localdevelopment policy strategies.

According to Dr. Wazzani the reciprocal aidamong governorates constitutes a good basisfor close cooperation in different areas.Mr. Arsalan talked about Zarqa’s role as animportant economic and industrial hub inthe country. Zarqa holds more than 50 % offactories in the Kingdom as well as some18,000 licensed outlets which contribute toZarqa’s image as a profitable investmentsector. Zarqa was hit, nonetheless, by theimpacts of the international financial andeconomic crisis. That is why the governmenthas to focus now on supporting thelocal government structures in the governoratesand enhancing the civic participatingof Jordan’s citizens.

Therefore, the Chamber of Industry andCommerce plays a major role in bringingtogether people working in the private andin the public sector and contributingthrough numerous projects to the cooperationbetween the private sector and the civilsociety. In the future, the Chamber willwork together closely with Jordan’s universitiesto carry out studies on the prioritiesand needs of the citizens.

Dr. Al Adwan presented in his lecture on“Decentralization and Local Administration”the decentralization plan of the government.A new committee works since 2009on compiling the financial, political, organizationaland judicial framework for the implementationof the decentralization plan.The decentralization envisions a delegationof power, capacities and resources on thegovernmental and communal level. The capabilitiesand financial means of the 12governorates have to be strengthened insuch a way as to enable the civil society toparticipate at the political life of the state onall levels. The huge socioeconomic gap betweenthe rural and urban population showsthat the decisions of the government do notalways reflect the needs and priorities of thecitizens.

Ms. Reem Obeidat opened the third sessionanalyzing a picture of a young Jordanianstreet child, published in one of Jordan’snewspapers, to discuss the communicationmethods of print media. She consideredthe fact that the media in Jordan doesnot report on social and humanitarian problemsas problematic and said that this is themain reason why the media does not contributeto local development. Therefore, themedia should be more open and improve itsquality standards in reporting to serve as areal exchange platform for citizens. Sheadded that the media plays a significant rolein the decentralization process as a communicationtool between the national administrativeand the local level.

Dr. Al-Tweissi identified in this respect themedia as a key tool in the local developmentpolicies and transformation process ofthe Jordanian society. The support of thelocal media in the different governoratesshould be a crucial task of the governmentin order to push for its reform measures andto bridge the gap between the north andthe south and between the rural and theurban population in Jordan. The media isnot only an indispensable connector betweenthe public and the private sector, butit allows the citizens to participate activelyin the decision-making process. To enhancetransparency, accountability, to combat corruptionand to diversify the economic structures,the infrastructure of the media has toimprove significantly.

In the final discussion participants and expertscommented on the role of the mediain Jordan. Due to the tribal structures in society,some participants considered a socioeconomictransformation through the influenceof the new media as unrealistic.The experts were of the opinion, thatthough the development of the local mediais not fully accomplished yet, it plays a crucialrole in the local development process.

4. Conclusion

As a first coordinated effort between thegovernment, represented by the directory ofthe local development at the ministry of interior,municipalities, local media departments,institutions of higher education, advocacygroups, the joint workshop of thethe Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung and the VisionsCenter for Strategic and DevelopmentStudies on civic participation and local developmenthas paved the way for futurediscussions on decentralization.

The participation of the governor of Zarqa,Mr. Saad Al Manseer, as well as of otherhigh ranking experts showed that politicaldecision-makers in Jordan consider workingon concepts of local development, civic participationand decentralization of the politicalsystem as highly important. The workshopfulfilled the function of bringing togetherexperts from different sectors to discussexplosive topics such as the decentralizationof power and financial resources inJordan. The feedback in the workshop waspositive. The participants enjoyed the opportunityof a free exchange of opinions onsuch rarely debated subjects. The livelycontribution of the participants and expertsclearly showed that there is a major interestin attending a following event and continuingthe decentralization talks. The workshopwas recorded by important Jordanian televisionchannels as Jordan TV, JoStar, 7Starsund Nourmina TV ans was covered by famousdaily newspapers such as al-Dusturand al-Ghad. Short comments and reportson the workshop can be also found on severalwebsites as www.fananews.com,www.shbeebnews.net, serajjnews.com orwww.albalqanews.net. An overview on themain articles can befo und underhttp://www.kas.de/wf/doc/kas_546-1442-1-30.pdf.

April 8, 2010
Chamber of Industry, Zarqa City
Civic Participation and Local Development