Local officials from the Middle East and North Africa joined our Shiraka Training Programme in Social Affairs and employment. For the programme’s final conference, participants shared their eager plans to help revitalise the economic potential of their local communities. The plans varied from reducing school drop-outs in Oman and employment programmes for youth in Lybia to solving land conflicts in Darfur, Sudan

The Libyan Minister of Youth addresses Shiraka participants.

Cooperation for Growth

The now-graduating class of the Shiraka programme consists of public officials from eight different countries in MENA. Their willingness to cooperate and learn together, along with the multitude of contexts represented, allowed them to adopt various best practices to take home and develop new initiatives that they are eager to implement. During the project’s final conference, Mr Fathallah Abdul Latif Al-Zini, the Libyan Minister of Youth, expressed his appreciation for the programme:

“This is a pioneering initiative that deserves praise and appreciation. This is a unique opportunity to work together and learn from the Hague Academy”.

The Back Home Actions Plans

To bring their newly acquired tools back to their local communities, participants designed Back Home Action Plans. In Oman, for instance, participating officials crafted a national project to reduce school dropout rates, by offering underprivileged students part-time jobs to develop their skills and alleviate some of their families’ economic burdens.

In Sudan, a prolonged conflict over scarce resources between nomadic herd-keepers and farmers in the Golo Jebel Marra region has affected local cohesion and economic growth. Sudanese participants proposed a multi-pronged solution in a context where communities are fighting over land, water, and food. Along with implementing inclusive community dialogues, they will train community leaders on resource management while also commencing on key infrastructure projects – like building deep groundwater wells – to alleviate their immediate concerns.

Finally, in Libya, as the Minister of Youth shared, they aim to take the lessons learned from peer participants and experts in the programme to innovate on a wide-ranging programme that establishes clear communication between the government and youth, establishing a feedback loop from which the government can coordinate social and employment programmes for its youth.

Concluding Remarks

As the programme closed, participants wished to preserve the links they have formed with their peers. In his closing remarks, Mr Abdul Latif Al-Zini called on his peers to “not stop your ambitions at the end of this training, but to continue and network and let our goal always be the development of the region and a prosperous future”.

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The Shiraka Training Programme on Social Affairs and Employment aims to strengthen civil servants’ capacities to contribute to their local communities development. During the course, participants share their experiences as well as with their colleagues from the Netherlands. Together, they build an active international network of civil servants. The Shiraka Social Affairs programme is implemented by the Hague Academy in cooperation with CNV International. The programme is funded by the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs.