The United Nations Institute for Training and Research (Unitar), in collaboration with several United Nations agencies and programmes, and several world and regional associations of local authorities, has recognised the role played by local authorities in implementing international development goals at the local level. With this role for local authorities clearly in mind, Unitar is developing a global Cifal Training Network (Cifal is an acronym for the French equivalent of International Training Centre for Local Authorities) based on the public-private partnership model.

The role of these Cifals is to facilitate administrative and technical capacity building for sustainable development and improve access to basic services such as water, sanitation, waste management, transportation, energy, public health and information and communication technologies.

eThekwini Municipality was identified by Unitar as possessing the necessary infrastructure and capabilities to provide training for other local authorities, particularly those in Africa; hence eThekwini Municipality, in partnership with the University of KwZulu-Natal, the Durban Institute of Technology, Mangosuthu Technikon, the Durban Chamber of Commerce and Industry and Unitar established Cifal Durban.

eThekwini Municipality's Cifal which was officially launched by His Worship The Mayor, Councillor Obed Mlaba on October 4, 2004, is part of a worldwide network of 8 Cifals.

  • CIFAL Atlanta
  • CIFAL Curitiba
  • CIFAL Durban
  • CIFAL Ouagadougu
  • CIFAL Findhorn
  • CIFAL Bilbao
  • CIFAL Kuala Lumpur
  • CIFAL Barcelona

As Cifal is expected to provide a number of training programmes each year for local authority personnel, including mayors, councillors, and their key executives, as well as private sector and civil society leaders. Training sessions cover topics relating to sustainable development, which include water and sanitation management, environmental issues, information and communication technology, and human, social and economic development.

In October 2004, Cifal Durban presented its first five-day training programme on Sustainable Water and Sanitation Management. Delegates from various local authorities throughout Africa attended the programme where sessions were presented by experts from eThekwini Municipality, local tertiary institutions, and Umgeni Water. A highly interactive training methodology was used with case studies focusing on real examples of specific projects from the delegates' own local authorities.