The notion that civic education runs parallel to state and economic reform is fundamental to ensuring the success of fiscal, political and functional decentralisation at the local level in many Eastern and Southern African Countries. This programme aims at strengthening the capacities of both civil society and local governments to work together productively to design and implement government programs. It is based on the belief that such a relationship leads to greater accountability and transparency in decentralised government, as well as to stronger social networks and improved co-operation among associations in civil society (as in the creation of social capital). Together these work toward more effective governance, and ensure a more strongly rooted system of decentralisation within transition.

Program Objectives

The objectives of the program are as follows:

  1. To determine the regulatory and institutional frameworks, and existing interaction between civil society and local government in a select number of countries through conducting participatory assessments. This work will begin by looking at what is currently being undertaken to identify what points of engagement now exist between civil society and municipal governments. It will also look at the actual use of participatory mechanisms between civic society and municipal government, as well as the ability of groups in civil society to represent their concerns in the public debate. Assessments will include a compilation of civic associations in the participating country.

  2. Based on the participatory assessment, to prepare a regional workshop on Civic Participation and Municipal Governance in Eastern and Southern Africa. The workshop, while concentrating on the African experience, will also look at experiences outside of Africa from which useful lessons can be drawn. As background to the workshop, documents will be prepared that reflect relevant policy issues and that consolidate lessons learned on civic participation and municipal governance activities to date. The objective of the workshop will be to define action plans for 4 to 5 municipalities in the countries selected. These pilots will be designed to evaluate and establish effective mechanisms for increasing civic participation and improving municipal governance.

  3. To assist African NGOs, civic associations and municipal governments in establishing pilot programs that evaluate and improve the capacity of civil society to interact with municipal government. This will include developing activities within the pilots that sensitise the civil society on what local governance means, their rights and responsibilities with respect to the local government, and practical ways in which they can participate in the allocative process. Mechanisms developed should concentrate on solving identifiable problems (by sector), but also include components that go beyond problem solving to instilling concepts of participation, accountability and transparency within the general population and the municipal governments identified.

  4. Establish a permanent regional resource in Eastern and Southern Africa for civic associations and municipal governments wishing to establish effective interaction between the public and municipal governments.

Program  Content and Design

The program will consist of a series of discrete activities consistent with the above objectives. These include:

  1. Participatory Assessments. Teams comprised of representatives from civic associations, academia and local government will be hired in x countries to undertake an assessment of the existing formal and informal mechanisms by which civic society is able to interact with municipal government as well as other formal and informal providers of public services. The assessment will document and provide a basic evaluation of the effectiveness of the participation as well as what is currently working on the ground. These assessments will be launched according to terms of reference originally prepared by the WBI/MDP/FINN team but reviewed and modified by the assembled in-country team. In each team a lead counterpart will be identified who will help select other members of the team, and take the lead in designing the assessment process. The assessments should be approximately two months in duration. Assessments will be conducted in 4 countries (namely: Mozambique, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia).

  2. Consolidating Lessons Learnt in Africa and Abroad. Based on the assessment the program will seek to better understand and codify best practices (both regionally and globally), including to identify key issues that define the success or sub-optimal performance of participatory mechanisms and civil society’s role in the governing process. This will take place as part of a workshop that includes representatives of civil society and municipal officials from local governments in which successful civil society-municipal government interaction has taken place. The output of the workshop will be to identify best practice, to document this practice, and to identify ways to implement lessons learned during these pilots within the countries selected as pilots.

  3. Pilot Programs. Based on the output from the workshop [“Consolidating lessons learned in East and Southern Africa”] at least 5 pilot municipalities in 4 countries selected (based on the results of the assessments and output from the workshop) will implement a civic participation and municipal governance program. The pilot programs will adapt, through consultations with stakeholders, appropriate mechanisms to enable civil society to more effectively participate in the process of municipal governance. The final report will define lessons learned.

  4. Building Capacity [within identified institutions in each of the partner countries]. A local institution will be identified to take the lead in implementing the pilot project in each of the countries identified. This institution will manage pilot activities, with the goal of building capacity and expertise in the area of civic participation in municipal governance. This institution may be a university, government agency or non-governmental organisation.

  5. Establishing the Eastern and Southern Africa Regional Civic Participation and Municipal Governance Information Facility. Establishing the Eastern and Southern Africa Regional Civic Participation and Municipal Governance Information Facility as part of the Municipal Information Centre being established in collaboration with the Africa Union of Local Authorities (AULA) and the Municipal Development Program.

Targeted Region:

Programme will initially focus on four countries [Mozambique, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia] where the civic movement has gained ground but needs assistance in building mechanisms for it to best relate with local government institutions.


  • Municipal government officials
  • National policy-makers
  • Academics working on the issue of municipal governance and civil society
    Leaders of civic groups
  • Representatives from associations of local governments

Potential Participatory Mechanisms

  • participatory budgeting, 
  • strategic planning,
  • urban land use/ physical planning [regional, master, local and subject plans]
    consultative processes, 
  • civic education [the powers/ obligations of local governments],  
    establishment of local action plans, 
  • priority setting.

Partners and Their Roles:


  1. Country teams established will constitute partners in the programme for participatory assessments.  

    Other partners will be identified as the programme is implemented.

Regionally and globally:

  • Government of Finland [Institute of Development Studies, Universities of Helsinki and Tampere] Has provided financial resources for the programme through the WBI.

  • World Bank Institute [WBI] will;

    be responsible for mobilising resources

    provide substantive and pedagogical support during implementation of the programme

    assist in mobilising case studies from abroad

    participate as peer reviewers of outputs

    assist in preparation of material for resource book on civic participation in municipal governance

Municipal Development Programme [MDP] in consultation with other partners will;


  • Co-ordinate the implementation of national teams in participating countries
  • develop guidelines for national teams  
  • co-ordinate participatory assessments by national teams  
  • be a member of and provide professional and pedagogical support to national teams
  • co-ordinate production of national manuals  
  • organise and facilitate regional pilot design workshop in September 1999  
  • establish, together with a specialist, evaluation parameters and strategy  
  • monitor progress according to evaluation strategy  
  • develop communication and dissemination strategy  
  • generate quarterly, midterm and final program reports  
  • assemble, codify and update searchable database on civic participation & governance

  • Africa Union of Local Authorities [AULA]

    participate as peer reviewers of outputs

    Expected Outcomes

    National Level. By the end of the project, local institutions in the countries selected should have improved their capacity to provide technical assistance to municipalities implementing more participatory mechanisms for governance. They should be a resource for best practice within the country and contribute to regional expertise on the subject.

    Civic Level. At the civic level, communities and civic associations should be able to participate more fully in the governing process. They should be able to interact more productively with local governments on critical development issues, and to have the capacity to sustain their participation in the public debate, as well as in the delivery of services.

    Municipal Level. At the municipal level, governments should demonstrate a more open dialogue with their constituencies, leading to greater transparency and accountability. They should be able to demonstrate a better understanding of the needs of the population within their jurisdictions and show evidence that local government is working to meet those needs. Participatory mechanisms should have been refined and implemented successfully in the pilots chosen, and best practice discerned and disseminated more broadly.
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