USAID and UNDP Train Councilors from Merged Districts on Local Government System

The US Agency for International Development (USAID) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) partnered with the Government of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s (KP) Local Governance School (LGS) to train the newly elected councilors from KP’s Merged Areas on the local government system. The local government system has been introduced for the first time in the Merged Areas in the history of Pakistan.

The training, supported under the USAID-funded and UNDP-implemented Merged Areas Governance Project (MAGP) took place in Peshawar with a total of 262 tehsil councilors, including 49 women councilors, as well as councilors representing religious minorities from districts Bajaur and Mohmand.

“This is a learning curve for the newly elected councilors, and we support them to understand the devolution of power, the structure and composition of local governments, and the authority and responsibilities of the elected representatives,” said Raluca Eddon, UNDP’s Program Manager for the Merged Areas Governance Project.

The Secretary for KP Local Government, Elections and Rural Development, Syed Zaheer-ul-Islam Shah, appreciated the participants’ passion for learning and said that the provincial government had allocated Rs. 37 billion development budget for the local bodies to improve service delivery.

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Azra Gul, a general councilor belonging to the Lower Mohmand subdivision said that the training helped her understand the local government system and that she would now serve the women in her community effectively.

The Merged Area Governance Program is a $15.7 million USAID-funded activity, implemented by the United Nations Development Program to facilitate the integration of the merged districts by supporting the KP Government in reform implementation, strengthening the government’s capacity, and strengthening local governance systems.