What is the MDP?

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.   

Organizational Background

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.  

Our Donors and Partners

Federation of Canadian Municipalities

The World Bank Institute

Government of the Netherlands


Government of Finland

International, Development Research Centre

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.

Organization's Strategies

 In pursuit of its mission MDP’s main strategies are:  

  • 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.

Organization's Objectives

 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.

Our 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 

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