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Background to EALGF

The East Africa Local Government Forum (EALGF) was officially launched in 2012 in Arusha (Tanzania). This was the culmination of a process of discussion and agreement over the course of 2011 both on the part of the Ministers of local government from across the East Africa Community (EAC) and the members of the East African Local Government Association (EALGA), in partnership with CLGF, that a regional Forum to bring regional actors in the local government sphere would be beneficial to addressing the key challenges facing local government and to building a stronger relationship between local government and the EAC. The EALGF brings together the Ministries of local government, the local government associations and organizations with an interest in local government in the East African Region. The Forum was launched by the Ministers of local government of the five countries of the EAC, EALGA and its five member associations, in partnership with CLGF, UCLG, EU, and UNDP. These stakeholders committed to working together as a region to strengthen decentralisation, and improve local governance and service delivery in their efforts to reduce poverty and achieve the MDGs, and later the SDGs. The key priorities identified for the EALGF were:
• To foster dialogue between Ministers and local governments to address challenges being faced at the local level and look for solutions;
• To work closely with the East African Community (EAC) to institutionalize the Local Government sector within the EAC, to promote the principle of subsidiarity and strengthen the role of local government in the regional integration process;
• To provide a platform and leadership for closer regional cooperation and joint working;
• To be a space for exchange of knowledge, information, best practices and innovations in as far as local governance and local democracy is concerned, within and outside the region.

The EALGF is not an institution but rather a network of key players and stakeholders from both local and central government, involved in promoting effective decentralization, empowering local government to deliver development at the local level, and engaging with the EAC and other formal regional structures. The Forum is chaired by Hon. Ministers of Local Governments on an annual rotational basis and co-chaired by the Chairperson of the East African Local Government Association (EALGA).
To date the EALGF has met four times: in Arusha, Tanzania (September 2012), Kampala, Uganda (May 2013), Nairobi, Kenya (October 2014), and Bujumbura, Burundi (March 2016). A technical regional meeting was held in December 2016 bringing together representatives of the Ministries of local government with the Secretary Generals of the five east African LGAs and EALGA to take stock of the state of decentralisation in East Africa, share knowledge on key development work underway and discuss priorities for EALGF. The upcoming meeting in Nairobi will be the 5th EALGF, and is being hosted by the Kenyan Ministry of Devolution and ASAL and the Kenya Council of Governors. The
current chair of the EALGF is Hon Jean Bosco Hitimana, Burundi Minister of Decentralisation and Institutional Reform. At the 5th EALGF Hon Francis Kaboneka, Rwanda Minister of Local Government will take on the chairing of the Forum.

Thematic Focus
The 5th EALGF will focus on the localisation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and specifically the role for local government and other local and national actors in their implementation. The regional meeting will provide the opportunity to exchange on the common issues facing local government, make progress on EALGFs strategic support to greater decentralisation, and to discuss the role of local government in achieving the SDGs. The meeting will also provide a space to share experience from work currently underway on localising the SDGs in East Africa and more widely, and in particular will present outcomes to date from CLGF’s EU funded project “Strengthening local government’s role as a partner in development”.

Expected Results:
- A clearer understanding of the work underway in each of the countries of the EAC to
strengthen decentralisation and localise the SDGs.
- A clearer overview of the strategic direction of key regional actors supporting or representing
local government in the East Africa Region (EALGA, EU, UN Habitat, EAC)
- Commitment to concrete activities supporting women’s political inclusion
- A review of EALGF strategic priorities and a roadmap for achieving key goals
- Priorities for future collaboration across the region

The meeting is being co-hosted by the Kenya Ministry of Devolution and ASAL, the Kenya Council of Governors and CLGF and will bring together the following participants:
- Ministers in charge of local government and/or decentralization in EAC partner states;
- Ministers in charge of East African affairs in Kenya;
- Presidents of associations of local governments from the EAC partner states;
- Secretary Generals of the association of local governments from the EAC partner states;
- The Chairperson of the East African Local Government Association (EALGA);
- Development partners supporting decentralization (Commonwealth Local Government Forum, UNDP, UN Habitat and EU);
- Key civil society organizations and private sector partners (including Microsoft).

CLGF is a membership organisation, bringing together local government, ministries of local government, national associations of local government and individual cities and councils from across the 53 countries of the Commonwealth. It also has research, training and professional organisations as associate members. CLGF’s work focuses on promoting local democracy and good governance; strengthening national policy and local government capacity to support local government as an actor in development, with a particular focus on localising the SDGs and local economic development; and strengthening cities and the voice of cities in policy making and development. CLGF also works to build a strong network of members and partners across the Commonwealth with a strong learning and advocacy agenda.

CLGF has been active in East Africa since it was established in 1995, working with the Ministries of local government, national local government associations and municipalities in member countries to implement decentralisation and the reforms that will empower local government and improve governance and service delivery. In partnership with its national membership in Tanzania, Uganda and Rwanda CLGF has undertaken assessments of the local government system to assess progress in implementing the principles that are contained in the Aberdeen Agenda. The Commonwealth Local
Government Conference (CLGC) was held in Kampala (Uganda) in 2013.

In 2017 CLGF launched its Commonwealth Network of Women in Local Government which focuses identifying and addressing barriers to women’s inclusion and impact in local governances, supporting and networking existing local leaders, and ensuring that CLGF and other Commonwealth organisations mainstream gender across their work.

CLGF-EC Project “Strengthening local government’s role as a partner in development”

The 5th EALGF meeting is supported through CLGF’s EU funded project “Strengthening local government’s role as a partner in development”. The Project which is working in East Africa as one of five focal regions runs May 2015 to December 2018. It was agreed as part of a wider strategic partnership between CLGF and the European Commission on their joint objective to support and strengthen local government as a partner in development.

The project has three specific objectives:
- to Strengthen the structures and capacity of the CLGF
- to Enhance local government capacity at the national level
- to Improve the capacity of LGAs and their members to influence the interests and practices of national government, as well as regional and international mechanisms, therefore contributing to national, regional and global policy-making and policy implementation processes, including at the EU level.

In East Africa the project has been supporting the networking of the local government sector (LGAs and Ministries of Local Government and regional associations) to share experience and challenges, foster exchange on localising the SDGs and other key issues of importance at local, national and regional level, including closer engagement with the EC delegations. Supporting the East African Local Government Forum (EALGF) has been a key mechanism to do this. In addition the project has been supporting pilot work in Rwanda on localising the SDGs, in partnership with RALGA and achievements to date will be shared with participants during the 5th EALGF.

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