Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire, April 2014 – In partnership with the European Forum for Urban Security, the Ivorian Forum organised a training course for the municipal safety coordinators of Côte d’Ivoire, with the aim to develop the officers’ theoretical knowledge and to build on their experiences. The training course lasted three days between 23 and 25 April 2014, in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire.
This training was held as part of the ongoing cooperation between the European Forum and the Ivorian Forum, within the framework of the municipal support programme for the governance of urban security, which is co-financed by the European Union. The training combined thematic presentations, accounts of national and European experiences and field visits to the intervention sites of the Urban Security Support Programme (PASU, according to its French acronym) in certain neighbourhoods of Abidjan and its periphery. The European Forum was represented by Maye Seck, Project Manager, and the expert Patrick Salou.
A better understanding of security issues
The training course allowed participants to have a better understanding of global security issues, from the sovereign responsibilities of the State (Police and Gendarmerie missions) to those of the Mayor, on a local level. Furthermore, it presented the services offered by certain operators such as private security providers. The contractors drew particular attention to the central role of the Mayor in launching a security dynamic based on local partnerships.
Around 70 participants took part in this training course, from a variety of disciplines: officials from different administrations, municipal police officers, elected representatives from major cities and rural municipalities. The diversity of the institutional representatives reflected the diversity of local alliances: the Prefect, the Mayor, the national and municipal police forces, the Gendarmerie, the prison service, representatives of co-ownership associations, etc. However, it is to be noted that representatives of other institutions were absent, particularly Justice officials – prosecutor, judges, judicial services – despite the presence of the prison service, representatives of national education, the voluntary sector, transport companies and health and social workers.
A still uncertain context
Due, in particular, to the serious civil conflict of 2010-2011, physical security remains the main concern for Ivorian citizens. The failings of the State and the lack of public services compound an already complicated situation; in certain neighbourhoods, for example, the inhabitants are taking their security into their own hands by ‘privatising’ certain public spaces using a barrier to control access to a road.
Sometimes, as a last resort, it falls to the Mayor to deal with the failures of the State.However, in most cases, Mayors do not have sufficient financial and technical means to do this. As a result, it is necessary for the Mayor’s responsibilities to be clearly defined in terms of urban security, because even though the Mayor has real decision making authority he or she cannot be held responsible for all the regulatory aspects. For example, a Mayor is responsible for the municipal police but not for the professional organisation of the force (official status, recruitment, training…).
Consolidating a sense of identity
The coordinators play an essential role in the neighbourhoods of Ivorian cities, where, for example, they act against incivilities such as noise disturbances or the dumping of waste. The training highlighted the need to reinforce communication between security coordinators, as this will ensure that they share the same global vision and are able to capitalise on their own experiences while exchanging good practices. An Internet tool could meet these requirements.
Moreover, the participants stressed their need for continuous and formalised training and expressed their wish for the Ivorian Forum to strengthen its support to municipalities.
This training should be continued through regular meetings, following a programme of thematic training sessions spread over several of months.