25-26 August 2021 | ONE of the key agendas of the UCLG ASPAC SDGs Localisation Programme in Pakistan (LEAD4SDGs) is to mainstream SDGs into local plans via the adoption of an inclusive and participatory development approach. One of the key result areas under LEAD4SDGs is the enhancement of the institutional capacity of the local governments (LGs). In this regard, the programme is planning to implement an extensive capacity building exercise at the district level in Balochistan and Sindh provinces to help the elected and appointed local government officials acquire the knowledge and skills necessary for SDGs localisation. These trainings will enable the participants to accurately use SDGs targets and indicators for the development planning, monitoring, and reporting at their concerned districts.
To achieve these objectives, a training manual is developed. Prior to the large-scale implementation for district level trainings, the manual was pre-tested by engaging 29 participants/trainees from Quetta and Mastung districts in Balochistan. The trainees were mostly invited from district government departments such as Education, Health, Planning and Finance, and Tehsil Municipality, local council association (LCA) members, civil society organisations and local media. It was a two-days pre-test activity that was held in Quetta city on 25th and 26th August 2021.
Topics included in the presentation were:
- The structure of the Local Government in Balochistan and its role, responsibilities, and authorities as per the revised local government Act;
- Introduction to the localisation of SDGs and its roadmap;
- Mapping the existing annual development planning process at district level;
- Introduction to Provincial SDGs frameworks for Balochistan;
- 2020-2021 action plan for implementation of SDGs framework;
- Prioritising SDGs targets and indicators at district level;
- Using prioritised SDGs targets and indicators for district level development planning;
- Mapping the existing data gathering, monitoring and reporting processes at the district level;
- Devising ways and means to use existing capacities at the district level to gather, compile and report SDGs related data; and
- Understanding local government finances.
In addition to enhancing the knowledge and skills of participants in the above listed areas, a secondary objective of this initial training was to pre-test the training manual, assess the suitability of training contents and methodology and improve the manual for the upcoming training sessions to be held in the rest of programme locations. Based on the lessons learnt from pretesting, few changes were made in the training methodology and manual.
All the participants highly appreciated the contributions of LEAD4SSDGs towards ensuring the localisation of SDGs. They rated the overall training experience in the range of ‘excellent’ to ‘good’. Most of the participants said that they haven’t heard about the SDGs framework and a few of them did not even know about the SDGs. To this end, the trainer allocated enough time to help participants understand the SDGs framework including the relationship between its goals, targets, and indicators.
None of the participants had ever seen the SGDs framework while only a few of them knew that something called ‘SDGs’ exists. Therefore, more time was allocated to help participants understand the SDGs framework including the relationship between its goals, targets, and indicators.
This training also helped the trainer to evaluate the knowledge base of participants. Since it is unlikely that the level of understanding of participants from the remaining districts would be very different from this group, it is agreed to include a longer session on global, national, and provincial SDGs frameworks in the future training sessions. The pre-test exercise also informed the need for having a sample district map on upcoming trainings to help participants get hands-on training while developing local level plans.
Pre and post evaluation was also conducted to gauge the skills and expertise of the trainer and the level of participants learning aimed at improving the content and methodology of the trainings. The participants were overall satisfied with the training and asked to organise frequent refresher trainings on similar subjects in the future.