The Municipal Development Programme is an active and hands-on capacity building facility with the aim of enabling effective self-governance at local level in Sub-Saharan Africa. It promotes alternative development approaches to problems and issues that affect local authorities by placing emphasis on ownership and direct participation of key stakeholders.

The MDP Programme operates in 25 countries in Eastern and Southern Africa with focus placed on the following countries; Botswana, Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Rwanda, South Africa, Swaziland,  Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.   


The Municipal Development Programme (MDP) was launched in May 1991 to improve the capacity of local governments and support the process of decentralization in Sub-Saharan Africa. The Programme has two regional offices: the Western and Central African office in Cotonou, Benin and the Eastern and Southern African office in Harare, Zimbabwe. Both units collaborate closely but maintain separate regional offices in order to increase administrative flexibility and respond to different local government modalities in Western and Eastern and Southern Africa. Each unit has a Board of Directors composed of Mayors, Town Clerks and local government practitioners and representatives of donor agencies.  


The traditional donors have been the:

- Government of the Netherlands
- International, Development Research Centre (IDRC)
- The World Bank Institute (WBI).
- Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM),

In addition, other partners who have come board to fund specific activities in collaboration with MDP include the:

- United Nations Centre for Human Settlement (UNCHS-Habitat) through the Urban Management Programme (UMP)
- Government of Finland.   

Furthermore, national governments and participating local governments and related institutions provide counterpart contributions in form of cash and in kind.

Our Vision  

MDP aspires to become a leading, credible and respectable center of excellence on critical and strategic matters relating to local government in Sub-Saharan Africa.  

Our Mission  

To enable local governments and associated institutions increasingly deliver quality services to the satisfaction of their constituencies.


 In pursuit of its mission MDP’s main objectives are to:  

- Provide a platform for analyzing, debating and promoting policy leading to more democratic and responsive governing   structures at local level.
- Build capacities of local government and their associations.
- Act as a catalyst for improving communication and generating consensus among African institutions, NGOs and international development agencies.
- Promote municipal partnerships, decentralised cooperation and joint action.
- Complement and support regional initiatives relevant to local government..
- Manage and disseminate good practices.

Strategies              (Follow this link to download a WinZip ® compressed MDP   Strategy Document)  

 Respond to African initiatives that are self-identified, defined and requested.
 Link policy studies to active debate through seminars and training sessions
 Emphasize regional issues that can be applied nationally and locally.
 Forge closer and more participatory relationships between and amongst local government actors at local level.
 Forge closer and more participatory relationships between African local government institutions and donors
 Build African capacities by having activities identified and conducted by African experts and institutions.
 Encourage civic education empowerment and participation in local decision-making.
 Encourage networking as a way of strengthening local government institutions.

Activities Funded

 Specific municipal sector studies and seminars on issues such as; local economic development; Needs Assessments, Project preparation, Investment planning; Value for money audits, participatory budgeting    
 Social policy oriented research
 Strengthening local government finance   
 Strengthening civic participation in municipal governance
 Participatory assessments
 Strategic Planning and management   
 Service delivery surveys.
 Training and institution strengthening
 Performance management systems   
 City consultations on municipal issues.
 Technical Exchange visits
 Municipal International Cooperation and Decentralised Cooperation
 Gender analysis and mainstreaming   
 Materials development and publication
 Urban Agriculture
 HIV/AIDS in Municipal governments
 Materials development and publication
 Municipal international cooperation, Decentralised Cooperation and joint action.

 Eligibility For Funding
Local government institutions
Central government agencies dealing with local government matters
African Institutions supporting local government like research and training institutes, NGOs, universities
Regional and national associations of local governments
Eligibility criteria and guidelines for application for funding are available upon request.

MDP's Overall Achievements  

 Extended the debate on decentralization and local government issues across the region and sectors, resulting in better understanding of how to manage change, foster good governance and related reforms   
 Facilitated an extensive and solid analysis of sectorial issues such as improved service deliveries, financial local governments from the perspective of beneficiaries and local practitioners resulting in informed decision making   
 Assisted local governments to develop specific problem solving tools and how to apply them in carrying out their mandates   
 Assisted to establish an enabling environment for local government by supporting policy level interventions. Policy debates generated by local governments and their associations have resulted in positive and constructive engagement between central governments and local actors   
 Brought to the fore value adding local initiatives that would otherwise go unattended to for lack of alternative sources of financial and technical support. MDP provided critical assistance at strategic points through a sequence of operations   
 Cultivated a sense of ownership and commitment through participatory processes in planning, budgeting and problem solving that has contributed towards sustainable and cost-effective interventions   
 Developed a niche in the region as a hands on capacity building and development agency that seeks to improve the quality of life of local communities   
 established mechanisms and tools for managing interfaces and conflicts between various levels of governance and functions   
 Gained recognition as a credible and respectable organization capable of building cohesive partnerships and networks that respond to regional challenges effectively   
 Established a network of partners dealing with decentralization, local government capacity building and local economic development issues   
 Exposed participating institutions to new ideas and approaches