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CLGF Conference 2011: News from Wednesday 15 March

On the first full day of the conference, we highlight some of the activities.

CLGF makes its mark

Day two of a packed conference agenda opened with an overview of CLGF's achievements since 2009 by Secretary General Carl Wright. He highlighted five areas where CLGF had made a real impact on member countries' local government, and included some examples:

  • Democratic values and good governance – eg contributing to the Commonwealth Eminent Persons Group Review, and supporting local democracy in Pakistan and the election process in Malawi;
  • Building local government capacity – eg good practice schemes in Ghana, India, and Jamaica, new funding agreed for a Pacific regional programme, and a €5 million ACP local government capacity building programme with the Dutch local government association, VNG;
  • Exchanging good practice – eg CLGF's roundtables in Mauritus, Gabarone, Valetta and Port Vila and the new e-journal now allows members to learn quickly from each others' experience;
  • Serving our members –improved communications with members and plans to recruit new members;
  • Strengthening CLGF's organisation – through the strategic review, a new participatory business planning cycle and stronger corporate partner support.

Delivering the MDGs

UNDP Administrator and former Prime Minister of New Zealand, Rt Hon Helen Clark set out why local government was much more than 'roads, rates and rubbish' in her keynote speech. UNDP and CLGF have a shared vision for helping communities reach their potential, she said.

Twenty years after UNDP launched its first Human Development Report, it still supports countries' efforts to strengthen their democratic institutions through free and fair elections, Helen Clark told delegates. Responding to countries' requests for assistance to build democratic governance was an important area of her organisation's work, she said.

Describing the role of local governance in supporting the Millennium Development Goals and the importance of nationally and locally owned development strategies, Helen Clark explained how UNDP and the UN Capital Development Fund (UNCDF) were helping to advance opportunities for women and girls, including encouraging women to become councillors, and were investing in schemes aimed at helping local authorities to manage their investment in infrastructure better, so as to improve service delivery and save energy.

She looked forward to ongoing collaboration with CLGF and its constituent organisations. "Our shared vision is to maximise the potential of local government to contribute to the economic and social well-being of its people," she concluded.

Rwanda grows stronger

James Musoni, Rwanda’s Minister of Local Government, told the conference how his country had moved from being a failed state in the 1990s to a country that had seen its GDP grow at 7% annually. Rwanda was now self sufficient in food production and on track to meeting the Millennium Development Goals.

He described how the introduction of an integrated local government programme, with specific schemes to help small and medium-sized businesses, had contributed to his country’s growth.

HIV/AIDS and economic development

Attendees at the working group on Addressing the Impact of HIV/AIDS were enthralled by case studies looking at how Namibia, Uganda and Zambia had brought people with HIV/AIDS back into the economy.

Practitioners described how their local authorities had become catalysts for change, with the aim of helping people living with HIV/AIDS to become more self sufficient and economically active. In Uganda, where 6.4% of the adult population were infected, they had concentrated on providing basic entrepreneurial skills for AIDS orphans. In Zambia, with a national average infection rate of 14.3%, the local authority provided local leadership to encourage district business associations to take people with HIV/AIDS so that they could acquire business skills.

In all cases, the schemes changed the attitudes of the people with HIV/AIDS, enabling them to become less stigmatised and more socially and economically involved. This, in turn, helped encourage them to talk about their status and become more health conscious.

Bridging the gulf between working women and city governments

Women are bringing a new vibrancy to local economic development, argued Councillor April Crowther-Gow, Chair of the Caribbean Association of Government Authorities, in chairing the workshop on supporting women in LED.  The Inclusive Citiesprogramme is finding new ways to bridge the gulf between working women and city governments.  Representing two million workers worldwide - home-based workers, street vendors, waste-pickers and other micro-entrepreneurs - the IC network is developing new partnerships and working to document the scale and economic contribution of the informal economy. Alison Brown of Cardiff University explained how women are grasping the opportunities of globalisation to establish new trades in city economies. The Kudumbashree programme in Kerala involves some three million women workers collaborating at community and neighbourhood level to strengthen rural work, and empower women to make decisions over their own working lives. Providing support on access to vacant land, marketing, access to credit, organisation and skills development, and many other aspects in a rich and evolving programme, helps women set up micro-enterprises in animal husbandry, food processing and many other aspects, as Sarada Muraleedharan of the Kerala Government explained. The lively debate covered challenges and opportunities from Swaziland to the Bahamas.

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Highlights for Thursday 17 March

Tanmoy Chakrabarty , Vice President of Tata Consultancy Services will talk about delivering high quality public services when finances are being squeezed.

Tata Consultancy Services is one of our two platinum sponsors. Delegates can visit Stand 14 to meet with representatives for more information about their work with local government.

During lunch, delegates are invited to attend a special lunchtime session on pan-Commonwealth community partnerships.

In the afternoon delegates will get a chance to see at first hand some local economic development and regeneration projects that have helped transform Cardiff and nearby areas.

There will also be a special workshop on Innovations in public service management and local government efficiency savings run by the Local Government Association of England and Wales in Room C at 2.30.

We wish delegates an enjoyable and productive conference.

Commonwealth Local Government Forum
16a Northumberland Avenue
London WC2N 5AP
Tel: +44 (0)20 7389 1490
Fax: +44 (0)20 7389 1499

Disclaimer: CLGF e-news is compiled by the CLGF communications team. Information is collected from articles sent in by members and other sources. Views expressed do not necessarily reflect the policies and opinions of CLGF.

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