Governance from below – listening to and representing the voices of people through local participation in decision making and ensuring accountability towards local communities – is crucial for sustaining peace and security, for ensuring sustainable development and for fostering social cohesion. This report explores how local civil society can contribute to local participation and engagement of local communities, in response to and in accordance with the 2015 Decentralization Law and the Municipality Law. ARDD (2016) understands civic participation as the engagement and active awareness of people in ongoing development of and by their communities. This differs from other conceptualizations of civic participation which tend to frame it in terms of wider political participation through more formal structures.
In this report, ARDD draws upon lessons learned from two years of continuous work with local civil society and local communities in three municipalities in the north of Jordan (Mafraq, Sarhan and Ramtha) – including women, youth, and refugees – with the goal to increase their participation and local engagement. This project, Ma’an Lenabne: Empowering Communities through Political Engagement is part of Qudra, an EU-funded regional initiative for strengthening the resilience of displaced persons and their host communities in response to the Syria and Iraq crises. The primary activity consisted of community initiatives which started with carefully selecting, partnering with and training 7 CBOs that were working with youth, women, and refugees and were strongly rooted in local networks. Tools were provided to support their engagement with communities and in developing roles, relationships and responsibilities that underpinned the formulation and development of bottom-up initiatives to address local communities’ concerns and needs.
The report explores the many challenges and opportunities that exist for local engagement and participation by community members – including youth, women and refugees – within their communities and the municipalities. It contributes to understanding the potential roles civil society can play to further support effective local engagement by and of communities.