DRC : Bank Group Organizes Seminar on Participation and Civil Engagement

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The African Development Bank is currently organizing a training session in the Democratic Republic of Congo on stakeholders’ participation and civic engagement. The objective of the training, which runs from March 4-7, is to provide national experts, representatives of civil society organizations and beneficiaries with tools on participation techniques, and to ensure project impact and sustainability through effective dialogue among all stakeholders involved in the implementation of Bank-funded projects and programmes. The event is being organized by the AfDB Sustainable Development Division, in collaboration with the institution’s field office in the DRC.

With poverty reduction as its overarching objective, the Bank underscores the importance of "community-driven development" and highlights the fact that sustainable development can hardly be achieved without stakeholder involvement. A sound community involvement process therefore increases a community’s sense of ownership, commitment and support. Similarly, the Bank Group holds that if those concerned are excluded from the process, development projects will lack stakeholder perspectives. Such stakeholders may also adversely affect the project’s outcome by resisting any changes or engaging negatively in the development process.

The benefits of participation will lead to improved project design, through local input and expertise, in terms of conceptualization, identification and prioritization of specific needs and in terms of pre-empting potential negative social, economic and environmental impacts. It will also result in the involvement of beneficiaries and their subsequent ownership of the project leading to effective sustainability. Similarly, beneficiary participation in the project will contribute to the building of trust and the strengthening of the working relationships between the Bank and stakeholders where, on the one hand, local technical expertise is enhanced and, on the other hand, Bank staff capacity to propose innovative solutions to issues facing beneficiaries will greatly improve.

Against this background, the general objective of the training is to strengthen the capacity of participants to successfully engage in public consultation with regard to the design and impact of project or programme processes, and to capitalize on synergies derived from the diversity of background and expertise to develop more sustainable, bottom-up driven projects.

More specifically, this training aims at introducing key concepts of participation and civic engagement and exposing participants to an array of methods and tools. It will also help them to undertake stakeholder analysis and design participatory interventions for the entire project cycle. The training will facilitate the integration of participatory methods into policy and project work as well as helping them apply the tools to a real life situation through focus group discussions during field exercises.

On March 7, participants will visit a water project in Mpasa, a semi-rural area outside Kinshasa, and they will conduct focus group discussions with project stakeholders to test participation tools.

During the official opening of the workshop in Kinshasa, the country’s Finance Minister, Athanase Matenda Kyelu, underscored the importance of participation in the country’s ongoing democratic and governance processes. He also welcomed participants from Congo Brazzaville, Gabon and Chad who joined those from Kinshasa and the provinces.

This training is the sixth in a series of workshops on participation that have been conducted since 2005 both in Tunis (twice) for headquarters Bank staff, and in field offices (Burkina Faso, Uganda and Rwanda) for staff, experts from key line ministries; national project managers and stakeholders.