In the Community-Based Monitoring program, we struggle with the challenge of how to train community members, our Local Monitors, who are volunteering to properly monitor infrastructure projects.
This type of training has a number of challenges, but in this chapter we have tried to address the 2 MAJOR CHALLENGES:
1-DIFFERENT LEVELS OF LITERACY
One of the criteria for being nominated and elected as a Local Monitor is that he or she should be literate. We use a basic definition of this, meaning that they can read and write in their local language (generally Dari or Pashto). However, a person who can simply read and write is different from a person who has finished high school, or a person that has attended college. Literacy also is related to a person’s job experience. The largest group of our local monitors tend to be teachers (22%) and students (20%). The remaining 58% comprise of individuals like mullahs, farmers, shopkeepers and government officials. A farmer may have excellent technical knowledge of irrigation canals, but may have poor knowledge of social accountability literature. Where as a college student studying political science may understand the concepts of corruption and social accountability very well, but may be severely lacking in technical, practical knowledge of building materials and construction.
This is why this toolkit and this chapter is largely dedicated to providing accessible SUPPORTING TRAINING MATERIALS, which consist of technical training videos, comic books, an animation, social training videos and a coloring book that illustrate both the social and technical aspects of being a local monitor. All the materials have been produced in Dari. A tool like the coloring book is targeted towards teaching children about collective responsibility and monitoring of projects, but it is also helpful for their parents who will learn from the book as they read it to their children. The comic books are helpful to explain the local monitoring process to both youth and adults, using pictures and simple explanations. The short animation on school construction, which was executed by a well-known Afghan animator Abbas Ali, is targeted towards the general Afghan population in order to raise public awareness about the importance and collective responsibility of monitoring. Animations are thus, one important tool to help DECENTRALIZE KNOWLEDGE about monitoring across the country.
2-COMPLEX TECHNICAL CONCEPTS
Effective monitoring of infrastructure projects requires at least basic technical, engineering knowledge. Since the types of projects that local monitors deal with are smaller, such as school buildings, clinics and roads, they need to understand how to detect low quality materials, such as concrete, cement, bricks and steel rods.
Even though our local monitors receive 2 days of technical training during their training workshop, this is not sufficient in itself. They continue to learn on the job through project visits and especially when the provincial Integrity Watch engineer comes to visit the project and better explains the technical aspects of the project. The OBJECTIVE OF OUR TECHNICAL TRAINING is not to turn local monitors into engineers, but rather refine their technical observation skills so that they can quickly detect and report major quality problems.
The technical training videos are thus an easy tool for engineers to use during training sessions to illustrate the major technical issues related to certain materials. The videos were filmed in various provinces of Afghanistan (Balkh, Parwan, Herat, Nangarhar) and show the actual construction conditions and process occurring in the country.
WE MUST CONTINUE TO PRODUCE INNOVATIVE MATERIALS TO BETTER TRAIN COMMUNITY MEMBERS WHO WANT TO MONITOR THEIR LOCAL PROJECTS. This toolkit tries to provide some accessible, fun and helpful models for training materials. We hope that more materials of this type will be developed in the future here and in other countries.