Joint Mechanism for Political Party Strengthening (JOMPOPS) – DIPD’s partner in Nepal – recently conducted a four-day Training of Trainers (ToT) seminar in Kathmandu. The training was based on the Guide for Strengthening Political Parties at local level, developed jointly by Danish and Nepalese politicians.
Report by Shrishti Rana, DIPD Representative in Nepal
Photo: All the participants with the Nepali trainers and the four Danish facilitators.
Opening of the Programme
A brief opening programme was organized by the Steering Committee members of JOMPOPS before the formal training sessions began. Around 50 participants from major political parties of Nepal including JOMPOPS Steering Committee members attended the programme.
DIPD Chair Henrik Bach Mortensen and DIPD Director Bjørn Førde also visited Nepal to attend this opening. Moreover, four Danish politicians — Kisser Franciska Lehnert from the Liberal Alliance party, Leon Sebbelin from the Social Liberal Party, Rasmus Falck Ostergaard from the Red-Green Alliance, and Rolf Aagaard-Svendsen, from the Conservative Party flew to Nepal for the training.
During this programme, JOMPOPS Co-Chair Khimlal Devkota pointed out that political parties in Nepal are centralized and local branches are not empowered enough. He added that Danish experiences on strong local branches are useful in the context of Nepal especially given the upcoming local elections.
DIPD Chair Henrik Bach Mortensen highlighted the importance of local party branches in the Danish context. He argued that local party branches are the root of successful democracy. He also made the interesting note that while parties of course need ‘star-like’ politicians as leaders, our democratic culture really needs the local level active party members. This is also necessary for the national parties to be in touch with the grassroots level in order to make relevant policy proposals.
Similarly, the Governance Facility head Niels Hjortdal, who spoke on behalf of Danish Ambassador to Nepal, Kirsten Geelan, said that the Guide developed by Danish and Nepalese politicians together is like a “catalogue of ideas for inspiration.” And he appreciated that the Guide has been locally adaptable to make it relevant for Nepal’s political parties.
JOMPOPS SC members also presented cultural dance programmes reflecting Nepal’s cultural diversity.
The JOMPOPS Steering Committee members with the support from external consultants developed manuals (Trainers and Participants) for the training based on the Guide for local party branches. The manuals focused on the four themes of the Guide: 1) The Importance of local branches 2) How to form a new local branch 3) How to organize a new local branch 4) How to campaign effectively.
The four Danish facilitators gave presentations in all the four themes. Discussions on these themes were moderated by the Nepalese facilitators. JOMPOPS Steering Committee members commented on the presentations by the Danish politicians and emphasized on the experiences that are relevant to Nepal. The Nepalese experts covered a few sessions such as Facilitation Skill, Gender, and Social Inclusion.
Around 24 politicians from political parties in JOMPOPS attended the training. These politicians were members of parliament as well as district level leaders. A remarkable aspect was the presence of a substantial number of women. In the past, representation of women in such party programmes was found to be limited.
The most challenging part of the training was managing four days of time of the participants for the training because of their other poli
tical priorities. Despite that, all the participants attended the full training. This was only possible due to the firm commitment of the JOMPOPS Steering Committee members, who regularly came to motivate their respective participants.
Most participants said that the training was very practical and useful in their political life. The participants also appreciated the collaborative political culture fostered by JOMPOPS and said that there should be a platform for them also to communicate with each other. However, one major criticism by the participants was the lack of enough female trainers and facilitators.
Overall, the politicians in Nepal appreciated training based on Danish experiences. One of the participants has commented:
“I learnt a lot about good practices from Denmark on this training. I was particularly impressed by the coalition culture and lack of corruption in Denmark. I have now understood that this was possible due to strong party branches at local level.”