Volunteers trained in trial observation and the identification of defects in infrastructural projects

Ahmad Bilal Popalzai, Integrity Watch Afghanistan 

Integrity Watch Afghanistan recently conducted a  training refreshment programme for community members on topics such as access to information, monitoring of schools, infrastructure projects and working with communities to help them reflect on their experiences.

Challenges facing the volunteers came up for detailed discussion during the training course which was attended by more than 400 integrity volunteers. The training took place in 10 provinces of Afghanistan, including Kabul, Nangarhar, Bamyan, Balkh, Herat, Kapisa, Jawzjan, Parwan, Laghman and Kunar, over the past two months.

The training is designed to enhance technical and methodical knowledge of the community volunteers who are monitoring construction projects, court trials and schools.

Frequent provision of training and support is considered essential for improving the performance of volunteers and to help them measure up to various challenges.

The volunteers received fresh training on topics such as quality control, construction design and plans, safety issues and quality of construction material etc. In addition, the training involved site visits where the volunteers were briefed on flagging up frequent issues relating to construction projects and inspection of these particularly in  cases where there is no access to maps and drawings. An example is approaching local people who have witnessed the use of poor-quality construction materials or other defects is a way which can help volunteers find out the quality of public projects.

Similar training was organized for volunteers monitoring schools and trials in their communities. Discussions revolved around integrity clubs and student-centric bodies which help resolve problems at schools.

Interaction with court officials, the proper conduct of court proceedings and the handling of legal matters were the topics community volunteers monitoring trials were trained on.

Haji Dawood Shah, a volunteer from Kunar province who monitors trials in the eastern province, described the training as “helpful” and maintained that the session helped him better understand issues related to court proceedings.

The training is used as a platform for experience-sharing by community volunteers while trainers provide fresh information and discuss the challenges raised by volunteers.