Since the beginning of the 1990s, the Republic of Namibia adopted the policy of decentralization as a national policy to promote participatory democracy and sustainable development. Most importantly, the decentralization policy is designed as a remedy to the exclusion policy of the post-apartheid era, and to bring about equity and social justice. The decentralization programme of Namibia is enshrined in its Constitution, which gives regional and local authorities and the communities the right and responsibility to participate in the democratization process by electing their representatives into regional and local councils. The Constitution has empowered and given authority to the regional councils (Act 22 of 1992) and local authorities (Act 23 of 1992) in all decision-making matters that affect the political and economic conditions of their respective regions. The Constitution has also established the structure and functional responsibilities of regional and local authorities.
The Ministry of Regional and Local Government, Housing and Rural Development (MRLGHRD), which is responsible for implementing the decentralization policy, is at the forefront in building the capacity of national and regional authorities to enhance effective implementation of the decentralization policy. However, over a decade after the launch of the Namibian government's decentralization policy, the implementation process is still moving at a slow pace. Although the decentralization policy in Namibia is supported by the Constitution and enjoys the full support of the central government, some observers have raised concerns that some line ministries are reluctant to devolve power to regional councils. The other challenge is the lack of capacity at the regional and local levels to effectively implement the decentralization programme. To be more effective, planners and regional councillors need requisite planning as well as managerial skills to enable them to perform administrative and planning tasks such as effective analysis of the local socioeconomic problems, and to anchor these into national economic policies.
To ameliorate this capacity problems, the UNCRD Africa Office, in collaboration with the MRLGHRD and the Finnish Government organized and implemented a series to training workshops in Namibia and trained over 103 professional planners and administrators. The training courses aimed at strengthening the institutional capacity of Namibia in regional development planning and management, and supporting the ongoing policy reforms of the country for effective decentralization, accelerating economic growth, reducing existing socioeconomic and regional imbalances, alleviating poverty, and enhancing sustainable development.
During the training courses, the participants were introduced to the concepts and theories of regional development and project planning and management as well as data collection and analysis. The training course also introduced the participants to budgeting issues and the principles of bookkeeping and accounting. Towards the end of the course, the participants were trained on techniques of TOT and prepared a re-entry plan that would assist them to organize similar training courses when they return to their respective workstations. The training course utilized a combination of training techniques, including lectures, group discussions, case study analysis, and field visits. By the end of the training course, the participants were equipped with requisite skills and knowledge of designing and implementing effective decentralization and regional development policies and programmes.