Commonwealth Local Government Forum

Projects in Southern Africa

Programmes and projects in Southern Africa are helping CLGF to work more closely with members, build on the success of past activities and strengthen its regional presence. More detailed information about activities and projects can be found on the country pages. 

Supporting local governance and local economic development in Southern Africa (2012-2020)

CLGF has been supporting its members to promote local governance and local economic development (LED) in the region through a two-phased programme. The first phase was for the period 2012 to 2016: and the second is currently being implemented (2017-2020). 

Under the first phase (2012-2016), the programme achieved the following:  

At local level: the programme piloted LED in 15 local authorities in Botswana, South Africa, Eswatini and Zambia by: 

  • institutionalising LED in 15 target local authorities; 
  • establishing multi-stakeholder forums enabling local authorities and their stakeholders to work together; 
  • developing strategies to address identified weaknesses within local economies; jointly implementing agreed strategies through various projects; and 
  • building local government capacity in implementing the above activities. 

At national level: ministries responsible for local government and LGAs were supported in developing enabling policies for local government and rolling out piloted initiatives within their countries through:

  • revision of the LED Framework in South Africa
  • development of the LED Framework and decentralisation policy in Botswana; and 
  • formulation of LED Guidelines in Eswatini and Zambia.

At regional level: policy dialogues were held to promote closer working relationships with the regional economic groupings. The programme also provided support to meetings of the SADC Local Government Ministers Forum. 

The programme supported the following events:
Regional conference on the role of local government and local development in the Southern African Development Community - Towards closer regional cooperation - April 2013, Luanda, Angola.
Purpose: to deliberate on the role of local government in promoting development in the region and the importance of engagement with SADC; and to agree on the regional development priorities for local government and development, to inform programming and resource mobilisation in the region.

Regional conference on creating opportunities for developmental local government through regional engagement on LED: March 2014, Lilongwe, Malawi.
Purpose: to cultivate a shared understanding of LED approach; promote regional engagement on local government policy around LED approach to development, including exploring how better to reflect the role of local government in economic development within the SADC agenda; and seek commitment to embracing the LED approach to development to inform national frameworks and local LED strategies.
Regional conference on LED - A framework for Localising Sustainable Development Goals - June 2016, South Africa.
Purpose: to share experiences on the implementation and outcomes of the CLGF Southern Africa Regional Programme, raise awareness of SDGs and localising process, including the role of local government in their successful delivery; and explore partnership opportunities in the implementation of the SDGs and for ongoing regional exchange and knowledge sharing.

Regional conference on promoting local governance and economic development in Southern Africa - Towards the localisation of the SDGs - June 2019, Lusaka, Zambia.
Purpose: to share regional experiences on supporting local governance and LED, including taking stock of the progress made towards empowering local government to play a role in development, including through LED.

The regional meeting identified the achievements, challenges and opportunities which exist and resolved to develop a regional strategy and plan of action to enhance regional collaboration. 

Under the second phase of the LED is being rolled out nationally in councils as follows: Botswana - 12; Eswatini - 10; Zambia - 10; Zimbabwe - 15. 

CLGF is supporting:

  • the implementation of LED strategies (developed under phase one) of the regional programme in Zambia and Botswana through initiatives such as mapping the value chains and development of business plans to mobilise additional resources and expertise to strengthen local economies;
  • its partners in South Africa to promote the regional approach (municipal cooperation) to economic development through the formulation of guidelines and capacity building.

Main activities:

  • capacity building to plan and implement LED in Botswana, Eswatini, Zambia and Zimbabwe;
  • undertaking local economic assessments in 40 target local authorities in 5 target countries;
  • developing LED strategies in 40 target local authorities;
  • implementing LED strategies through various initiatives including the development of bankable business plans, promoting business enabling environment at the local level and promoting inward investment;
  • supporting the regional approach (inter-municipal cooperation in planning and implementing LED;
  • documenting and disseminating good practice emerging from the project

Connecting the dots: local actions for women political and economic empowerment 2019-2021

The project seeks to strengthen the political and economic empowerment of women and girls in Southern Africa through interlocking on-the-ground and online networks linked to Centres of Excellence for Gender in Local Government. The project is expected to achieve four outcomes:

  • strengthened gender-responsive service delivery through undertaking gender audits and supporting women in local government networks;
  • empowered aspiring young women leaders to participate in local governance through networking and mentorship;
  • improved participation of women in LED by networking, mentoring and providing marketing support to women entrepreneurs, including survivors of gender-based violence; and 
  • enhanced learning and sharing through establishing a Community of Practice targeting 1000 women in the region, holding annual SADC Gender Protocol@Work summits and curating and sharing stories of change through blogs and social media.

Main activities:

  • building networks of women in local government - young women and entrepreneurs;
  • linking these distinct networks through mentorship and peer support;
  • lobbying and advocating for increased participation of women in decision-making in political and economic sectors;.
  • building skills and capacity for networking and use of IT for women networks; and
  • documenting, learning and sharing lessons on promoting gender equality at the local level.

Read the stories of women who took part in the project: Connecting the Dots: Stories of Change

Project Partners: CLGF and Gender Links

Target countries: Lesotho, Eswatini, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

Enhancing local government capacity for development in Zambia (2018-2021)

The project aims to enhance local governance for effective and efficient inclusive service delivery and development in ten local authorities in Lusaka, Copperbelt and Northern provinces. CLGF is implementing the project in partnership with the Local Government Association of Zambia (LGAZ) and the Ministry of Local Government (MLG). Anticipated outcomes: 

  • improved leadership, institutional and operational capacities of local authorities for enhanced local governance;
  • enhanced capacity of local authorities to plan and implement inclusive service delivery and promote local economic development; and 
  • increased capacity for LGAZ to represent and support the local government sector in the decentralisation process in Zambia.

Main activities

  • undertaking local authority capacity assessments.
  • building capacity of local authorities at individual and organisational levels.
  • facilitating peer learning between Zambian and European local authorities.
  • supporting the development and implementation of Integrated Development Plans (IDPs) in five selected local authorities.
  • supporting the development of Local Economic Development strategies in 10 local authorities.
  • facilitating the implementation of the Health Sector Devolution plan in target local authorities.
  • developing and implementing LGAZ stakeholder engagement and advocacy strategy.
  • produce and disseminate knowledge products on the decentralisation process and local government.
  • raising general public awareness on the decentralisation process and the role of local government in promoting sustainable development.

Project partners: CLGF, LGAZ and MLG.

Enhancing local authorities' contributions to governance and development processes in Zimbabwe (2018-2021)

CLGF is implementing this three-and-a-half-year project in partnership with the Urban Councils Association of Zimbabwe (UCAZ), Association of Rural and District Councils of Zimbabwe (ARDCZ), the Ministry of Local Government, Public Works and National Housing (MLPWNH) and Gender Links. The project aims to enhance accountable local governance for inclusive and participatory socio-economic development and effective and efficient gender-responsive service delivery in Zimbabwe.

Expected outcomes:

  • strengthened Local Authorities (LAs) and Associations of Local Authorities' (ALAs) governance institutional capacity; 
  • enhanced capacity of local authorities to create an enabling environment for inclusive and sustainable citizen participation in local governance; and 
  • promoting local economic development and enhancing local authorities’ financial sustainability. 

Main activities

  • building capacity of local governments and associations of local authorities at individual and organisational levels; 
  • formulating and implementing public finance management and accountability systems in selected local authorities;
  • strengthening local governance research and knowledge management;
  • formulating and implementing ward-based local planning and budgeting;
  • support multi-stakeholder engagements on local governance;
  • promote gender-responsive in local governance; 
  • formulating and implementing LED strategies in 15 local authorities.
  • facilitating an enabling environment for LED.

Project partners: CLGF, UCAZ, ARDCZ, MLGPWNH and Gender Links


CLGF’s past projects in Southern Africa

Strengthening local government's role as a partner in development (2014-2017) 

This project, funded by the European Commission (EC) within the strategic partnership agreement between CLGF and the EC, focused on improving local governance and development in line with the EC's policy on empowering local authorities. In Southern Africa, the project supported local government organisations and institutions in the region to come together, share experience and develop a joint position on localising the SDGs, as well as build their capacity to interact with their national EC delegations. The project supported a pilot project on localising the SDGs through policy and practical actions at both the national and local level in Malawi.

Strengthening capacity of local governance and service delivery and enhancing local authorities' financial sustainability and local economic development in Zimbabwe (2015-2017)

CLGF, with funding from the European Union (EU), implemented two projects: strengthening capacity of local governance and service delivery and enhancing local authorities' financial sustainability and LED. Under the two projects, CLGF strengthened the capacity of local authorities to: lead in the development of their localities; extensively engage their citizens on development and service delivery; improve revenue mobilisation and financial management; and promote LED.

Commonwealth local government good practice scheme (1998-2011)

One of the flagship projects and delivery mechanisms for supporting local government in the region was the Commonwealth Local Government Good Practice Scheme which, in Southern Africa, ran from 1998 until 2011. It facilitating partnership projects between local authorities in Australian, Canada, New Zealand, United Kingdom and partners in Ghana and South Africa, alongside similar schemes in South Asia and the Pacific.

Projects included: the development of a job brokerage system; assistance in reviving heritage tourism through mobilisation of local stakeholders; economic development and tourism strategies; strengthening local government association’s lobbying and advocacy work; promoting community safety; supporting SMMEs; facilitating LED in the agricultural sector; establishing an integrated marketing and events bureau; and attracting inward investment for job creation.

More information on the Commonwealth Local Government Good Practice Scheme.

Zimbabwe democracy enhancement project (2004-2008)

This project targeted five cities in Zimbabwe with the aim of assessing the state of democracy in the selected municipalities using the UN-Habitat Urban Governance Index and peer review mechanisms - a tool developed by the project. The assessments lead to the identification of strengths and weaknesses in target cities’ governance systems, formulation and implementation of change plans. A key output was a step-by-step guide on conducting local government peer reviews. The project was rolled out in a further ten municipalities in Zimbabwe and extended to Zambia, Gambia and Ghana. 

Local government international peer review toolkit.


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