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POLA-LAB project aims to mentor youth political and community leaders to be more effective in analysing the political and social economic problems in their constituencies. Similarly, the project aims to create a breed of leaders who can effectively advocate for their communities and successfully mobilize the requisite resources to address their needs and aspirations.
The workshop started with remarks from Ayub Kiranda, the programme manager at University Forum on Governance. He highlighted to the participants the background of the training emphasising the failure among the youth to have common grounds on which to engage the state and other leaders for effective gains. He further noted that youth leaders were not taking initiative to bring the youth population together to dialogue and collectively advocate for their interests. On his part, Donnas Ojok, our programme manager emphasised the need for young leaders to understand the intricacies of political leadership reiterating that PoLA-LAB training sessions provide certain basics which when refined further will enable the leaders to become good breed of more and effective political leaders. Concluding his opening remarks, Donnas re-echoed the support of KAS as a political foundation to continue implementing projects that support youth to be more politically conscious, curious and effective.
After the remarks, the training started with a session on political economy analysis. Political Economy Analysis (PEA) is a key component of our #POLALAB training programme. The PEA training is to enable young community leaders do better diagnostic analyses of the challenges their constituents face and come up with better and feasible solutions. Similarly, Political Economy Analysis enables us to design programme and projects that are politically sensible and technically feasible. During the session, participants were introduced to an analytical approach to defining the cause of social problem. This session was aimed at making participants to be able to critically analyse social problems and not take them for their face value. Through a participatory discussion approach facilitated by Ayub Kiranda the session provided a deeper understanding of how politics determine economic opportunities and how economy drives politics and so how PEA is relevant to development work, the different tools used under PEA and the key PEA issues they ought to know.
The second session facilitated by Donnas Ojok was on lobbing and advocacy. In the evaluation forms participants seem to like this session more, this was not only because of how well it was delivered, but most importantly because they felt, it’s something they have to focus on after being elected to serve their population. During the session, the facilitator dived deep into the concepts of lobbing and advocacy, the participants got in-depth understanding of functional lobbing and advocacy, the different approaches to impactful advocacy. The session made participants to feel and realise that advocacy does not only mean advocating big things but even for small things and even at the lowest levels of governance. The facilitator also emphasised that leaders do not have to wait for a big following in advocacy campaigns rather they have to start and the crowds joins them on the way. Therefore, participants got to realise that every person can be an advocate and a change maker in their communities.
The last session on social, political mobilisation and collective action which was facilitated Phionah Kanyorobe who manages Youth4Policy, a collaborative project with KAS and the Centre for Development Alternatives (CDA) that enables youth in Uganda to influence policy formulation and implementation processes. During the session, participants through a participative approach including sharing experience dived deep into the concepts of social and political mobilisation looking at how best mobilisation could be achieved within the societal settings of the participants. As a way to facilitate/ease mobilisation, the facilitator also focused on understanding communities and societies as these are key to achieving effective mobilisation. Emphasising that mobilisation can only be achieved where the mobiliser understands the community she/he is mobilising in order to leverage the relationships among the people in different communities. This session ended with a look at collective action, getting to know why social dilemmas exist and how to deal with them for the good of the community.
The political economy session was followed by a short session in which participants read and interpreted a poem on apolitical intellectuals by Otto Rene Castillo. The poem focuses on the intellectuals who choose not to participate in politics in their communities and how they will be called to account by generations after theirs. This picked the views of the participants on why some intellectuals choose not to participate in politics but most importantly why the intellectuals should participate and how they can do this.
The youth leaders who attended the training were greatly inspired by the training and highly rating it for providing a unique platform to equip them with skills that are crucial for shaping their political leadership careers and enabling them to be more effective in analysing community problems, mobilizing people and other resources to address such problems and advocating to make sure their relevant policies are formulated and implemented to address such problems.