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Local economic development shows positive impact in West Africa

1 December 2016

Using local economic development as an approach to tackling poverty and encouraging sustainable development is having a positive impact on communities in West Africa, according to the results of Commonwealth Local Government Forum (CLGF)’s work with national and local governments in the region.
CLGF held a regional conference on “Local economic development: a framework for localising the SDGs” to disseminate the outcomes of its regional programme in West Africa and further explore the role of local government in delivering the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) agreed by the UN in September 2015.
The conference was held in Accra, Ghana from 23-25 November in partnership with the Ghana Ministry for Local Government and Rural Development and the National Association of Local Authorities of Ghana (NALAG).
Participants, including ministers, mayors and senior local government officials, from Cameroon, Ghana, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, were welcomed by Accra’s Mayor Hon Alfred Vanderpuije, Cameroon’s Hon Jules Doret Ndongo, Minister delegate for local councils and decentralisation and CLGF Board member, Hon Isaac Odamtten, NALAG Chairperson and CLGF Board member, and CLGF Deputy Secretary-General Lucy Slack.
Presentations were made by some of the councils involved in the pilot projects, from Cameroon, Ghana and Sierra Leone. Participants will also hear from Swaziland, where similar local economic development (LED) pilots have resulted in more people getting into economic activity. It includes a scheme to set up climate smart gardens where more than 1,000 individuals have been trained in environmental management which has resulted in both improved food security and income generation through reusing waste material into compost.
The lessons from the pilot projects will help in improving national policies as well as boosting employment and tackling poverty at the local level. Working with both central and local government to strengthen relationships, CLGF has brought in a partnership approach for social, economic and environmental transformation. Using the lessons learned from the pilot project, CLGF is hoping to build on the activities and work with local councils to enhance partnership working skills and use LED as a key agent for implementing the SDGs.
CLGF Deputy Secretary-General Lucy Slack who is in charge of the programme said: “Local economic development is a great vehicle for local government to be the leader and enabler to build a cooperative approach to development so that it plays its full part in implementing the SDGs. We hope that CLGF will be able to continue this work in future, with a further focus on strengthening local government’s capacity to develop and implement LED strategies and support members to deliver development on the ground and increase prosperity for local communities.”