As shown by results of training needs assessments conducted by
the United Nations Centre for Human Settlements (Habitat), training needs of
local government elected officials (councillors), or of local politicians,
appear among the most urgent world-wide and, at the same time, the least
attended areas of capacity-building for local development and municipal
In the last few years, a number of countries as varied as Nepal
and Poland or Uganda and Paraguay have embarked for the first time in several
decades, and in some cases for the first time ever, on a process of electing
their councillors and mayors. Training needs of local-government elected
officials are also at the top of the agenda in established municipal democracies
such as Ecuador, India, and the United States of America.
To respond to these needs, the United Nations Centre for Human
Settlements (Habitat) has developed and tested a series of training handbooks to
assist councillors to represent the citizens, provide civic leadership and
effectively work with central government and with the management, technical, and
professional staff in local authorities and other local institutions. The
handbooks cover policy and decision-making, communication, negotiation and
leadership, attending, managing and conducting meetings, councillors' enabling
and facilitating activities, financial management and other related needs.
This handbook, The Councillor as Overseer, is one of the series
of 12 and is intended for use primarily by trainers in national training
institutions for local government or training units within local governments
themselves. As an additional assistance for trainers using these handbooks, the
United Nations Centre for Human Settlements (Habitat) has published a companion
Trainer's Guide for Training of Elected Officials containing trainer's notes and
information prepared exclusively for the benefit of these trainers in planning
workshops for local elected officials based on the handbooks.
It's expected that this training handbook will contribute
greatly to strengthening the capacity of local governments through the
introduction of good leadership practices, one of the major objectives of the
1996 United Nations Conference on Human Settlements, Habitat II.
I wish to thank Dr. Fred Fisher and Mr. David W. Tees for
preparing this and other handbooks in the series in collaboration with the staff
of the United Nations Centre for Human Settlements (Habitat) Training Section
within the Centre's training programmes supported by the Government of the
Netherlands. I also wish to acknowledge the contribution of the trainers and
local-government officials in Costa Rica, El Salvador, Kenya, Lithuania, Romania
and Uganda who assisted in the field testing of these training materials.
Dr. Wally N'Dow
Centre for Human Settlements