The local self-governance in Macedonia is territorially and administratively organized in 80 municipalities and the City of Skopje. As a consequence of decentralization of competences to the local level, municipal councils play a major role in the management of local governance. Councilors are called to supervise policies enacted by Mayors, and have a primary role in the allocation of municipal resources. The Municipal councils in November 2017 are starting a four year mandate. Many councilors have none or a relatively slim knowledge in municipal management, which impacts their ability in evaluating policies and exercising their decision making role. The Municipal Councils are supposed to be a link between the citizens and the authorities, but because of the insufficient capacities of the councils they are not perceived as such. Even more, experienced and knowledgeable people are completely out of the local political processes, and the decision making process is going on without consultations.
That’s why continuous strengthening of institutional capacities of municipal councilors and promoting good governance principles while performing their responsibilities is very important.
Local Community Development foundation in 2018 has provided trainings for municipal councilors based on training curricula for the councilors on UN HABITAT training modules.
The municipal councils in Eastern Planning Region (11 municipalities) of Macedonia were involved in capacity building programme; total of 11 municipalities and 55 councilors (5 per municipality).
The municipal authorities were informed at the beginning of the programme and meetings with them were held. The meetings were used to inform the Municipal Councils Chairmen and the Mayors for the programme. MoU were signed with each municipality involved. Participants were identified providing equal opportunities and representation to all ethnic groups, gender and political parties represented in the council. The capacity building program is mainly designed for the new (for the first time) councilors.
The municipalities were divided in three groups; two consisted of 4 Municipalities and one group with 3 municipalities, following the criteria to be mixed by the size of the municipality. Each group contained municipalities with different demographic size in order to enable learning among them and positive experience sharing. A general set of criteria for selection were drafted and followed. Ad hoc forms were delivered by the project team to the councilors. They were disseminated to all involved municipal councils prior to the beginning of the trainings and served for selection of candidates. With these forms the councilors actually expressed their interest for capacity building program, and the council chairman of the Council together with the project team made final decision based on the previously mentioned criteria (to be councilor for the first time, councilors from different political parties, gender balance).
Three two-day trainings were conducted for each of the three groups. Total of 9 trainings were held.
This trainings introduced the key aspects of the Law on Local Self - Government; provide a better understanding of the development of Local Self Government (LSG) in the country; describe the municipal bodies their roles and new competencies according to Law on Local Self- Government; elaborate the system of control over the work of the municipality and introduce the forms of citizen participation in the work of the local self-government; The second part, councilor as decision-maker is focused on better understanding of decision-making process and on exploring various styles and methods used by persons responsible for decisions. The training is aimed at identification of blocks and barriers to effective decision-making and on improving of decision-making skills of councilors;
Financing of the local self-government units - legislative framework for financing the local self-government units; municipal budget; budget items analysis; budgeting process and participatory budgeting technique;
The councilor as communicator - gives and receives information, ideas and feelings with accuracy and understanding. The training offers practical experience in communication skills such as: effective communication, active listening, receiving and processing information, communication with community and municipal administration and helps participants to get skills for more effective work with groups, such as committees and community organizations, and to solve communication barriers.
The trainings were delivered by experienced experts in the field, following the UN HABITAT training modules adapted to the local context. In 2004 the FOSM together with the Agency for public servants of RM support the ToT for strengthening capacities of elected leaders. A hub of trainers were trained according UN HABITAT Manuals for elected leadership. More than 20 trainers were trained within the program.
The participants on the trainings had an obligation to share the gained knowledge and experience from the trainings with their colleagues, and to initiate policy changes especially in the field of citizens’ participation in public policy making, consult the citizen’s before making decision etc.