Expert Group Meeting on Participatory Community Development
The EGM on "Participatory Community Development"(Manama, 12-14 October 2009) was merged with the Arab League workshop on "Local Community Development", and held under the patronage of Bahraini Minister of Social Development HE Fatima Mohammed Al Belushi, and in close cooperation with the Ministry of Social Development in Bahrain.
The EGM provided a platform for multi-stakeholder dialogue on participatory social development and local development between 22 government representatives, 12 experts and a number of non-governmental organizations. Participants in the meeting included experts and specialists in the social development field, representing governments from the Arab region, civil society institutions, regional and international organizations, media practitioners, academics, as well as concerned ESCWA staff members. The meeting validated both the design and the content of the enhanced and upgraded manual, prepared by ESCWA, on Local Community Development, as well as reviewed the Participatory Action Research Manual. The EGM generated a number of recommendations, of which it called on ESCWA to continue efforts in implementing its participatory and local development programmes and manuals in the Arab region, and in enhancing partnership with the civil society through building their capacities and raising their technical skills towards a more active and dynamic civil society in public policy processes in the Arab region. A number of presentations reflecting national experiences in application of ESCWA local development approach further exemplified the meeting outcomes and promoted experience-sharing among member countries.
As an immediate outcome and impact-based result from the meeting, three ESCWA member countries, namely Jordan, Palestine and Bahrain have directly and formally approached ESCWA to explore avenues for cooperation on capacity-building in the field of participatory community development and concurrently receive technical assistance in this realm. It was also concluded as an additional result from the project preliminary implementation that jointly holding the EGM with the League of Arab States proved to be a win-win situation whereby deliberations of fifteen LAS members and ESCWA member states were enhanced through the experts' substantive and technical contribution; all of which commended the ESCWA approach to participatory and local development in general, and the recently updated and upgraded manual on "local community development" in specific. A final report reflecting the EGM main discussions, conclusions and recommendations, was produced and is available below.