Lilongwe, Malawi

2012-12-31 00:00:00

Cities Mentorship Program

Background Information

Malawi is a signatory of the Millennium Declaration which was adopted by 189 nations and signed by 147 heads of state at the UN millennium Summit in September, 2000. After the Summit, Malawi prepared a National Growth and Development Strategy to guide the country’s development in addressing the Millennium Development Goals. Unfortunately, this national strategy could not effectively address particular challenges found within Lilongwe City. A high rate of urbanization (one of the highest in Africa) which has from the year 2000 to 2010 stagnated at 5.22 percent, the mushrooming of slums where 76 percent of the city’s population live, urban poverty, laxity on the part of the city council staff and a lack of basic infrastructure development in the city are all part of the complex social and economic development challenges found in Lilongwe city. These and global environmental challenges have required the development of long term-plans for ensuring the sustainability of the city. Lilongwe needed such plans and has worked toward developing one.

In 2007, Lilongwe, a proud member of UCLG/Africa, participated in a city future workshop in Johannesburg where it submitted a proposal requesting to be mentored by a member city which had already developed a productive City Development Strategy. An approval was granted by the mayoral Committee of the city of Johannesburg, UCLG, UCLGA and the South African Local Government association (SALGA) in 2008.

Goals of the Initiative

For the mentor city (Johannesburg) to provide expert advice and technical assistance to the Lilongwe City Council to develop a City Development Strategy (CDS), a document explaining key decisions in relation to what should be prioritized in order to accelerate growth, to reduce poverty, build sustainable settlements and as such contribute towards the achievement of MDGs was drafted.

The program ran from 2008 to 2012 with Cities Alliance, the Malawi Government and other donors expected to finance the program.

The CDS was meant to be valid for the period from 2010 to 2015 within which the status of Lilongwe could change.

Parties and Partners of the Initiative and Resources Used for Implementation

The LCC, the City of Johannesburg, Cities Alliance and the Ministry of Local government served as leading partners.

The LCC facilitated the whole program. The City of Johannesburg was tasked to provide expert advice and technical assistance to Lilongwe, especially on how to develop a CDS. They also co-financed the program. Cities alliance was the major financier of this program and also provided general technical assistance. The Ministry of Local Government provided the technical policy aspect so as to ensure program adherence to the MGDS and MDGs.

The resources used for implementing the initiative include:

After the first contact session in April 2008, Lilongwe submitted a funding request to Cities Alliance for $72,000 for the development of the first phase of the CDS which was approved in October, 2008. Cities Alliance also approved a grant of $249,000 for the implementation of the CDS that was disbursed in 2012. These grants were disbursed upon request through a proposal from the LCC. Council staff, the Ministry of lands, UN-Habitat and officials from the City of Johannesburg and Cities Alliance also contributed to the success of the program.

Innovation for the Initiative

The innovation is being applied in many key priority areas by the Lilongwe City Council, such as governance, economic management, shelter and land, infrastructure and environment and community development.

The innovation has a strategic directive for governance and administration, which is to ensure that by the year 2015 Lilongwe City should have a well governed, transparent and accountable city council with clear decentralized powers and functions where participatory decision making is systematically strengthened and adherence to the rule of law is cultivated.

Governance goal No.1 seeks an effective well managed secretariat with efficient systems and a measurable performance. Key priority areas under this goal include undertaking an institutional capacity and skills audit, and developing and implementing a staff attraction and retention strategy.

Physical staff verification exercises are being done, and 60 percent of critical vacancies have so far been properly filled. This means the strategy is indeed working to improve the efficiency of the city council.

The Innovation was borrowed from the experiences of Johannesburg, a fellow African city with urban problems similar to those of Lilongwe. Culturally, residents in the two cities have much in common. The LCC is a member of UCLG and Cities Alliance’s city future program, which supports exchange of experiences and best practices in the region.