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Managing Conflict: Tools for Communication, Negotiation and Problem Solving
Land Center , At 15/03/2007

The LCHR has held a training workshop in partnership with the United States Institute of Peace (USIP) on March 15-17, 2007 in Royal Gardens Hotel. 63 participants attended this workshop "13 women and 50 men" from 12 Egyptian governorates. 12 participants were from Giza, 8 from Behira, 8 from Sohag, 7 from Bany Swief, 7 from Cairo, 4 from Fayoum, 3 from Qena, 3 from Qalubeya, 3 from Daqahleya, 3 from Menya, 3 from Monofeya and 2 from Sharqeya.


At the first day, Mr. Karam Saber, head of the LCHR, welcomed the participants and explained the aim of the workshop, which was to develop farmers' negotiation and communication skills; he briefly presented the workshop agenda for the three days.


Then spoke Ms. Nina Sughrue, senior program officer – professional training. She indicated that their organization tries to help people manage their problems. She said that they work with national foundations, governmental officials, women and parliamentarians in many countries.


Then spoke Mr. Ted Feifer, vice-president of the professional training program. He said that this is the first workshop they organize in Egypt. He started the training by showing a photo of some people who seem to be discussing something to the participants. He asked the participants, what does each of you think is going on in this picture? He wanted to know everyone's impression to learn more about their way of thinking.


Mr. Ted said that a mediator can sometimes help solve a problem and sometimes he cannot. He said that before we decide to have a mediator, first we must ask ourselves questions, like:

·        How can a third party (mediator) be of any help?

·        What kind of mediator do we need to solve a certain problem?

·        What are the characteristics of a good mediator?


The answer to the final question is that a good mediator listens a lot, asks the rights questions, honest, has a strong memory and good communication skills, able to represent people, creative, respects relationships, always ready to negotiate, able to specify interests and needs, educated and well aware of everything around him and he must be always calm and flexible.


Then Ms. Nina distributed a self-assessment exercise to learn the difference between negotiation styles. She said that there are many aspects that should be put into consideration to solve a problem, like:

·        Define the problem, its causes, relevant parties and possible solutions.

·        How and when will these solutions be implemented?

·        Who will implement them?

·        Consider the available financial and human resources to implement them.

·        What are the possible risks and consequences?

·        What are strength and weakness points in these solutions?

·        Evaluation to change the solutions and how these changes will apply?


Ms. Nina said that there are five negotiation styles:

·        Competing.

·        Collaborating.

·        Compromising.

·        Avoiding.

·        Accommodating.


The second day started with an interposition by Mr. Magdy Medany, from the LCHR team. He presented a summery of the first day. Then Mr. Ted distributed some papers among the participants. This paper is a sample problem about conflict over land ownership in Philippine. He asked the participants to study the problem and figure out the best possible solution and how to implement them?


Then, the participants were divided into seven groups. Each group was to study a problem presented by the participants themselves and tries to find the best possible solution for it.


The first group represented by Mr. Gamal Shahat, head of an agrarian association in Giza, presented a problem about a sugar factory that dumps its wastes on farmers' lands leading to the ruin of their lands and the spread of pollution and disease. They said that the best way to solve this problem is to make a drainage that can carry the factory's wastes away from farmers' lands.


The second group represented by Mr. Abdel Shafy Ahmed, head of the teachers' syndicate in Qena, presented a problem about conflict over land ownership between some farmers and an ownership claimer. They proposed that this problem be settled with the agrarian reform corporation.


The third group represented by Mr. Shabam Hasan, a farmer from Behira, presented a problem about 60 families who live on a piece of land for more than 100 years and were threatened to be evicted by the Ministry of Endowment. They asserted the necessity to allow these farmers to own this land and stop their eviction.


The fourth group represented by Mr. Abdullah Al Mamon, prep school principle in Daqahleya, presented a problem about violence against children in schools. They asserted tat schools must be enabled to fulfill their role in developing children's skills and maintaining a good relation between them and their teachers.


The fifth group represented by Mr. Yahia El Hoseiny, a journalist, presented a problem about the lack of irrigation water in one of the villages. The group proposed that the Ministry of Irrigation digs a new waterway for the farmers.


The sixth group represented by Mr. Gabr Abdel Rahim, a farmer from Daqahleya, presented a problem about the refusal of the Ministry of Social Solidarity to register a national association in Rahawa although the association members have fulfilled all requested requirements. The group proposed to resubmit the promulgation papers or resort to the court.


The seventh group represented by Mr. Ahmed El Sayed, a farmer from Monofeya, presented a problem about conflict over land ownership between some farmers and the inheritors of an old feudalist who claim the ownership of farmers' lands and homes. The group proposed to filed lawsuits against the ownership claimers and obtain a court order that allows the farmers to stay in their lands and homes.


The third day started with a brief presentation by Mr. Hamdy Me'bed, an LCHR researcher, about what took place in the past two days.


Then Ms. Nina distributed some papers among the participants. These papers are role-plays of a sample problem and the participants were supposed to act different roles relevant to this problem, as a group of them represented the first village, another group represented the second village, another group represented the mediator and so on. The participants presented different solutions to this problem using the skills they have learned through the workshop.


At the end of the workshop, evaluation forms were distributed among the participants to learn how much they benefited of the workshop and rate each part of the program. Then the organizers presented certificates to the participants.


The participants demanded the LCHR to make a conflict resolution program in the Egyptian countryside to train farmers and their associations about the negotiation and communication skills to improve their conditions and be able to solve their problems.



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