(June 8, 2024, The Hague, Netherlands) A delegation of Ethiopian Cities Association (ECA), which was attended by Dire Dawa City Administration and Mekelle City Deputy Mayors, Wolkite City Mayor and a member of the Association’s management team, headed to the Netherlands for Study visit returned back home with different Experiences.

The delegation arrived in Amsterdam, the Netherlands and highly welcomed by Mr. Rolf Swart, Business Development Manager (Global) of the Netherlands Association of Municipalities (VNG International) and Mr. Joppe Bastiansen, the ULGE project manager at VNG International.

This group, which includes the mayors of the member cities and management of ECA, headed to the place for study visit and exchange of experiences with VNG International, which is the equivalent institution, and began their first study visit at The Hague city.

On the occasion of the study visit, Management director of VNG International, Pieter Jeroense, presented the services of his organization, which has been serving three hundred and forty-two members for more than a hundred years, to the delegation and particularly shared their successful experiences on advocating different issues of their member municipalities. On that day, the delegation had also gain an experience with the Institute of Public Economy of the Netherlands, which focuses on economic development.

Later on, the delegation visited the municipal services of The Hague. During the visit, the representative of The Hague City Mayor’s Office gave a presentation about the city’s municipal service deliveries (giving Passport, ID, Driving license and others with in a short period of time) and its general aspect.

The participants of this study visit, Honorable Mayors, who said that if these services are efficient in their respective cities, the regular questions of the society can be solved in a short period of time and also said that they will do their part to make this task successful in the future.

On the second day of the study visit, the delegation of the Ethiopian Cities Association visited the city of Rotterdam and visited the smart city technologies that are being implemented in the city.

Particularly the Dutch Societal Innovation Hub (DSIH) presented the benefits of digitalization and artificial intelligence for Smart City, and it was understood that technology has solutions to many problems of humanity.

In the meantime, the delegation learned how the cities of the Netherlands were able to solve urban problems by using knowledge transfer, how they were able to reconcile nature and human beings in a way that did not harm the other, and how they were able to make cities comfortable for their residents.

Then the delegation visited Die Barel Farm, an organization with extensive experience in urban agriculture. This company, which is run by husband and wife, is known for raising two hundred and fifty dairy cows and fifty thousand chickens.

It is said that Dai Barrel Farm uses modern technology to produce thousands of liters of milk per day and 40,000 chickens and provide it for food in seventy days.

In the meantime, the delegation learned how the cities of the Netherlands were able to solve urban problems by using knowledge transfer, how they were able to reconcile nature and human beings in a way that did not harm the other, and how they were able to make cities comfortable for their residents. In particular, how to use knowledge transfer methods to share experience and information from one city to another, and how to grow and become smarter together.

Besides, a half-day workshop held in The Hague regarding on the Organizational Capacity Assessment of Ethiopian Cities Association (ECA), prepared by the Association in collaboration with the Dutch Municipal Association (VNGI).

In this workshop, the organizational structure of ECA and its capacity in the last 3 years in comparison with what it has reached now was presented and discussed. In particular, it was learned that the implementation of the ULGE project by the Association in the past three years has changed the overall capacity of ECA.

On the fourth day of the Study visit, the delegation of the Ethiopian Cities Association observed the best practice of Rhenen City Municipality’s service deliveries.

According to Rhenen city deputy mayor, Hans Burkamp, ​​and the city’s tax chief, Nils Van Santen presentations, the city of Rhenen, which has about 20,000 inhabitants, is known for its agricultural production, tourist attractions, museums and parks, as well as its natural resources, and it has a modern, efficient and all-inclusive municipality services for its residents.

Particularly, from the Rhenen city revenue collection system, the honorable mayors had gained different experiences and the Honorable mayors said in their comments that they want to take these experiences and expand them to their cities so as to increase their income.

During the last day of the ECA delegation’s stay in the Netherlands, there were a presentations and a field visit focusing on the planning of the Nethrlands cities and the municipal services deliveries of in the Laakkwartier district, which is found on the city of The Hague.

Dr. Aletti Fleischer, who explained to the group that the Netherlands cities facing the threat of flooding and facing nature to make them comfortable and inclusive for their residents, and the extensive experience of sophisticated urban planning methods. She added that it is possible to urbanize and make cities smart by defeating nature.

On the other hand, Mr. Lawrence, manager of Laakkwartier district, said that his district is providing many municipal services, and that he is very proud of the way they have established a community center that will benefit the low-income communities.

Honorable mayors who have been on this study visit to various cities in the Netherlands for the past few days have announced that they have gained many experiences related to urban development and ECA has to praise by organizing such experiences and expand it to other member cities.



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