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Advising, facilitating, supporting, connecting

Dory Abou Jaoude, who recently joined the team in Lebanon, has now met the responsible officers in the partner municipalities in Germany.

Dory Abou Jaoude, project manager at Democracy Reporting International and advisor to the 'Municipal know-how for host communities in the Middle East' programme at the Lebanon Country Office, travelled to Germany from 10 to 18 July 2019 to gain a first-hand impression of the joint work and the project partners.

He began his visit with a meeting at Engagement Global and its Service Agency Communities in One World. This enabled him to get to know the programme officers better and to familiarise himself with the Service Agency's procedures and processes, as well as related programmes such as Experts for municipal partnerships worldwide. Dory Abou Jaoude was visibly impressed. As he put it: 'One way or another, the various departments and projects are all inter-related'. At a workshop with the programme team, participants planned further work up to the end of 2019. The plan includes a networking meeting and a training day for the municipalities in Lebanon.

The focus of the mission, however, was to meet the actors in the Allgäu and Traunstein municipalities who are responsible for the project partnerships with municipalities hosting refugees in Lebanon. 

From left to right: Michaela Nobis, volunteer in the Gestratz team for cooperation with Bar Elias, Dory Abou Jaoude, project manager Democracy-Reporting International, Beirut, Omar Chahal, honorary consultant for intercultural communication of the Intercommunal Committee, Mayor Johannes Buhmann, Gestratz | Photo: Engagement Global

From left to right: Michaela Nobis, volunteer in the Gestratz team for cooperation with Bar Elias, Dory Abou Jaoude, project manager Democracy-Reporting International, Beirut, Omar Chahal, honorary consultant for intercultural communication of the Intercommunal Committee, Mayor Johannes Buhmann, Gestratz | Photo: Engagement Global

Building on an exploratory trip made in November 2017 the five municipalities from the Allgäu region – Gestratz, Heimenkirch, Opfenbach, Hergatz and Amtzell – formed the inter-municipal committee on 'Municipal know-how for host communities in the Middle East'. They were the first municipalities in Germany seeking partners in Lebanon. The initial ideas for cooperation have now become concrete projects: The municipality of Heimenkirch is using its know-how to help redesign and revitalise the public park in Ghazzé. Since the war broke out, a further roughly 36,000 people have sought refuge from bombs and grenades in this municipality, which previously had a population of 7,000 and is located just 20km from Syria. The park is now being developed into a meeting point for refugees and locals. Amtzell is supporting Rachiine in planning a biogas plant; Hergatz intends to work together with Bwarej to equip a medical supply centre and install a photovoltaic system; Opfenbach has advised Al Mohamara on developing educational offerings, and Gestratz is helping establish a camp school in Bar Elias.

The Intercommunal Committee supports not only international cooperation with Lebanon, but also cooperation between the German municipalities. Two further municipalities – Weingarten and Kisslegg – have since joined the committee. In his capacity as advisor and liaison officer for the German and the Lebanese municipalities, Dory Abou Jaoude held individual meetings with actors in Germany including Mayor Johannes Buhmann and Michaela Nobis from Gestratz, Mayor Markus Reichart and landscape architect Maria Lindl from Heimenkirch, and Mayor Christian Renn from Hergatz. Christian Renn summed up the outcome as follows: 'Dory's visit helped us a great deal in further planning and supporting our projects in Lebanon'. Dory Abou Jaoude provides information on contexts, structures and key political developments at the local level in Lebanon, and supports communication among all partners. 'When it comes to communication and coordination between the various stakeholders in a project, each municipality has its own way of working', he noted.

Markus Reichart, Mayor of Markt Heimenkirch, Maria Lindl, landscape architect and Heimenkirch team volunteer for cooperation with Ghazzée in Lebanon, seen here talking to Dory Abou Jaoude. Photo: Engagement Global

Markus Reichart, Mayor of Markt Heimenkirch, Maria Lindl, landscape architect and Heimenkirch team volunteer for cooperation with Ghazzée in Lebanon, seen here talking to Dory Abou Jaoude. Photo: Engagement Global

After visiting the municipalities in the Allgäu, Dory Abou Jaoude continued on to the District of Traunstein. There he visited the District Administration and the Traunstein Business Development Association, actively accompanied by Birgit Seeholzer, director of the association. The aim was to concretise planned projects. In September 2019, for instance, an expert delegation from Traunstein will travel to the Lebanese municipalities of Jabal Cheick and Qrayyeh, and Bouhaira Union. The mission will focus on increasing the use of solar power and improving vocational training. In October 2019 a Lebanese delegation will pay a week-long return visit to the training centre of the Chamber of Skilled Trades and Crafts for Munich and Upper Bavaria. There, delegates will pursue intensive dialogue on approaches to vocational training.

Young people at the training centre of the Chamber of Skilled Trades and Crafts for Munich and Upper Bavaria. Photo: Bildungszentrum der Handwerkskammer für München und Oberbayern.

Young people at the training centre of the Chamber of Skilled Trades and Crafts for Munich and Upper Bavaria. Photo: Bildungszentrum der Handwerkskammer für München und Oberbayern.

The mission ended with a meeting with Caroline Kern, responsible desk officer in the Division for Federal States and Local Authorities at the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ). As Dory Abou Jaoude put it: 'Now I have a better understanding of the BMZ's concerns and needs, and the key aspects of management that we need to take into account'. Advising, facilitating, supporting, connecting – Dory Abou Jaoude is at the disposal of the German-Lebanese project partners as a professional service provider who now understands better what makes the German municipalities 'tick'.