Training workshops for CSO, media and councillors successfully held in Masaka

Target groups trained in the promotion of political pluralism, democratic participation and representation at local government level


Programme managers and core staff from Civil Society Organisations from all over the country left Masaka with infectious enthusiasm and motivation after having been trained in a three-day workshop that aimed at strengthening civil society’s capacity in promoting political pluralism, democratic participation and representation at local government level. The workshop was organised by Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung (KAS) with financial support from the European Commission under the European Union’s Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights (EIDHR).

The workshop, facilitated by Dr. Yasin Olum, took the 28 participants through a series of sessions on the concepts of political pluralism, democratic participation and representation, with a particular focus on the situation at local government. Throughout the workshop the selected CSO representatives displayed high commitment and impressed with constructive discussions and interactions. In order to strengthen their organisations’ activities in the promotion of the above mentioned concepts, participants discussed the role of civil society in a democracy, analysed the given working conditions, exchanged concrete experiences and developed ideas for possible interventions. As one of the key challenges the group identified the need for enhanced dialogue and cooperation among the different CSO as well as with other key stakeholders such as the media and local government councillors.

At the end of the workshop the participants drafted a common basis for their future work in democracy promotion at local government level and adopted concrete plans for enhancing synergy among CSO, raising awareness on the discussed concepts and engaging political leaders in the promotion of these concepts. There was consensus among the participants that this workshop provided effective training and should be considered as a starting point for enhanced efforts in democracy promotion at local government level throughout the country. Thus, it was agreed that continuous exchange and networking should be ensured in the future.

Following the CSO workshop, KAS also invited 20 councillors from Masaka district for a three-day training workshop on the same concepts. Facilitator Rose Gamwera from Uganda Local Governments Association (ULGA) led the councillors through interactive sessions in order to enhance their understanding of the three concepts and their capacity to promote them in their local government. The lack of awareness about the real content of the concepts of pluralism, participation and representation was identified as one major challenge concerning their implementation at local government level. It was stated that not only the general population lacks knowledge and understanding of the concepts but even a high number of councillors themselves. Participants therefore expressed their demand for more training and capacity building and commended KAS for making efforts in this direction and providing this training which was considered to be very helpful. In his closing remarks, LC-V chairman Vincent Bamulangaki Ssempijja expressed his concern that the political parties are failing to provide concrete programmes and plans instead of just focussing on individual faces and urged politicians to overcome the existing, to a large extend historically determined divisions and enter into a more constructive dialogue within a pluralistic political system. He furthermore congratulated KAS for the successful training workshop and its continuous efforts in democracy promotion in Uganda and encouraged all councillors to share their knowledge with their fellow councillors in order to effectively promote the concepts they had been trained on.

Both workshops are part of a series of workshops in seven districts in Uganda which will continue throughout the year, with further trainings in Mbale, Soroti, Gulu, Arua, Kasese and Mbarara. The workshop series is an essential element of a broader EU-funded programme that KAS is implementing in cooperation with Uganda Media Development Fund (UMDF), which was also concurrently training media representatives in Masaka on the very same concepts.

Other activities within the programme include the publication of a handbook on the key concepts of political pluralism, democratic participation and representation at local government level which provides the basis for the training workshops and which was launched in May this year. Furthermore, a comprehensive assessment of the state of political pluralism and democracy in the districts will be undertaken in 2010 and a network forum for the three target groups (CSO, media, councillors) shall be established to enhance dialogue and cooperation for democracy promotion at local government level.

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