The First National Forum, Effective Cooperation: Ensuring Opportunity for Sustainable Development of Local Communities took place on December 14-15, 2017, in Dushanbe, Tajikistan. The forum was organized by the civil society organization (CSO) “Fidokor” in cooperation with the Civil Society Development Association “ARGO” in the framework of the “Partnership for Innovations – P4I” Program funded by the US Agency for International Development (USAID).
The forum was a remarkable and quite a unique event for Tajikistan, as there has never been such an event in the country before. The participants, who came from all regions of Tajikistan, represented civil society organizations, local administrations, expert community and the media.
We are glad to note that CSOs are actively involved in addressing social issues in partnership with the government, because the goal of this event is to establish and develop a dialogue platform for cooperation between the government and the civil society to ensure sustainable development of local communities in Tajikistan,” – noted in her opening speech Mrs. Dilbar Khalilova, the Director of CSO “Fidokor.”
Addressing the forum participants, the Chief of Party of the “Partnership for Innovations – P4I” Program, Mrs. Kaisha Atakhanova, highlighted the important role of the civil society in addressing social issues, and shared Kazakhstan CSOs’ experience in working with the local self-government bodies.
During the first day, the forum hosted master classes for more than 40 representatives of CSOs, public initiative bodies and local self-government bodies (jamoats) on inclusive local development planning, institutional development of homeowners’ associations, and new approaches to a joint assessment of the local community needs.
International and Kazakhstani TALD (Territorial Approach to Local Development) practice was presented during the forum. Speaking about inclusive agricultural development planning, the ARGO representative in Astana, Kazakhstan, Mr. Abai Myrhin, noted that in this respect civil society organizations of any form should aim at mobilizing resources and using opportunities to implement infrastructure development projects, as well as projects that promote job-creation and skills-training for members of local communities.
Opening the official part of the forum, the Secretary-Coordinator of the Public Council under the President of the Republic of Tajikistan, Mr. Nurali Saidov, emphasized the active role that civil society organizations play in addressing social challenges faced by the local communities.
“It is important for us to work together in this area,” he stated addressing his words to representatives of local administrations, jamoats, and local development committees, as well as civil society organizations.
In turn, Kaisha Atakhanova pointed out the importance of regional cooperation between civil society organizations.
We understand the importance of the community engagement in the implementation of the National Development Strategies of our countries for achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, and more broadly, in order to move forward within the global process. Our “Partnership for Innovations – P4I” Program is aimed at supporting these goals, and every country’s experience is important for us. We can share our best practices, and, in turn, learn something from you. Therefore, let us cooperate.”
The Director of CSO “Fidokor” and the forum initiator, Mrs. Dilbar Khalilova, highlighted the problems encountered by the civil society organizations and emphasized that both CSOs and Public Initiative Bodies (PIBs) should be created at the initiative of the citizens themselves, if they are to be viable. And, to activate community initiative, it is necessary to engage other organizations whose work should be aimed at encouraging creative thinking of local community members in partnership with other stakeholders.
We can help them create own groups, teams, train them in fundraising and developing necessary documents. In other words, we can do everything to develop public initiative bodies”, – she stated.
This consultative format event shows that CSOs are ready to join their efforts for the benefit of the local community development,” – noted USAID/Tajikistan Project Management Specialist, Ms. Dilafruz Zoirova. – This is a very good initiative because every year donor assistance is declining, and it is necessary to seek non-traditional sources of funding. Perhaps, this is the essence of the forum, because local community development is a key to solving the numerous social challenges faced by the country.”
During the forum, the participants reviewed and discussed several reports and presentations, including on: the legislation governing PIB activities; the civil society’s role and contribution to the local community development; the innovative methods and approaches of jamoats in working with local communities; the addressing of social issues through community mobilization by PIBs; and the development and introduction of innovative social technologies at the local community level.
Thus, for example, in her speech, Mrs. Mukharram Jurayeva, Deputy Chairperson of the Khistevarz jamoat of the Bobojon Gafurov District of Sughd Region, shared experience of creating makhalla committees and initiative groups in their jamoat.
The Director of CSO “Chashma” from the Shakhritus District of Khatlon Region, Mrs. Sanavbar Imomnazarova, stressed that it is the cooperation of their organization with the local self-government bodies in support of the rights of vulnerable groups, e.g. lonely women, deported labor migrants, and stateless persons, that produces positive results.
Equally interesting was a presentation delivered by the program manager of the CSO “Rushdi Dekhot,” Mrs. Sitora Kenjayeva, about the pilot program “Vakili Man” – “My Deputy” involving awareness-raising campaigns to encourage local communities to learn how to address important social issues through their deputies in the local and national parliaments.
This forum has become a part of the history of Fidokor and a large group of other CSOs, as well as PIBs and jamoats from all corners of Tajikistan,” – Rustam Bakhriddinov, Director of the Kurgan-Tyube Branch of Fidokor, stated. -“What were the outcomes? On the one hand, we anticipated the signing of a memorandum, and that we will be able to ensure active participation not only of CSOs but also PIBs, pilot jamoats, and representatives of local authorities. However, we were pleasantly surprised to see active involvement of all participants without exception. And, most importantly, the forum became a real dialogue platform. The variety of methodologies, topics, and the pluralism of opinions – all this was possible thanks to the good level of preparation on the part of the ARGO and Fidokor team, amplified by the exceptionally active position and openness of the participants.”
One of the outcomes of the forum was a memorandum signed by the stakeholders establishing a dialogue platform for strengthening the effectiveness of PIBs, the Social Cooperation and Development Network.
The forum participants decided to join forces in support of local community development through capacity and skills building of public initiative bodies. It is encouraging to see that over 20 major CSOs provided their suggestions and recommendations during the forum, and signed a memorandum of cooperation, which is the key achievement of this important event. As a forum participant, I hope that the local administrations, as well as jamoat and makhalla residents will engage with CSOs and together do their utmost to develop local infrastructure, and foster patriotism and the love for the country within their communities in order to make our life and the country better and prosperous. This is just the beginning, because success depends upon mutual understanding and the active position of the communities themselves,” – says the Director of CSO “Khurshed” from Dushanbe, Mrs. Shamigul Aminova.
Fidokor thanked representatives of the Ministry of Justice of the Republic of Tajikistan, Local Development Committee under the President of the Republic of Tajikistan, Women’s and Family Affairs Committee under the Government of the Republic of Tajikistan, Public Council of the Republic of Tajikistan, local executive bodies of B. Gafurov, Rudaki and Bokhtar Districts, local self-government bodies, USAID, international organizations, their Kazakhstan partners from ARGO, and leaders of local CSOs and PIBs, for their interest and active participation.
This is the start of a major work for the benefit of local communities of Tajikistan. I wish success to the newly established national network of CSOs, PIBs and local self-government bodies in strengthening the capacities of local communities. I hope that the energy, optimism and persistence will help the network members complete the most challenging tasks using innovative tools and approaches to improve the quality of life of the local communities”, – noted Mrs. Sokhiba Rakhimova, Country Director of the “Partnership for Innovations – P4I” Program in Tajikistan.