Kampala City Council established a cooperation link on urban technical matters with the Kirklees metropolitan Council in the United Kingdom
02 / 1999
Context and challenge
Kampala is the Ugandan capital city. It has its own city council chaired by the mayor and with the minicipal administration headed by the Town Clerk.
The City Council team wishes to develop a city whose incomes are sufficient for all the city dwellers, a city where people can find happiness and build a good future.
Decentralisation in Uganda has been done recently. However, there is still a lot to be done until local authorities can really handle local affairs that they are meant to be able to handle. These are still a need to furthter the process. Moreover, local governments must be closely associated to any activity or development process. But as it is now, there are no resources allocated to local governments or very limited ones compared to the scope of the responsibilites of the local authorities.
The City of Kampala initiated a link with a metropolitan council in the United Kingdom. This link focuses on technical cooperation matters through exchanges of expertise. During a first period, the two municipalities exchanged teams of professionals who visited both towns to identify what would be the areas where both towns could benefit from each other and what concrete activities could be launched. This was done in a spirit of mutual benefit and not only as a North-South transfer of capacity. Three areas were selected as crucial for Kampala.
1) Traffic management which aims at re-thinking traffic issues, widening some streets, installing one way streets
2) Municipal finance management: to improve the accountability and transparency, financial management must rely on a modern and computerized system
3) Garbage management: Kampala is a big city and tons of garbage products are now a headache for the city council
On the other hand, Kirklees metropolitan Council showed interests in:
1) market management
2) traffic management since exchange with Kampala assisted them to understand their problems from a new perspective
It is important to point out that this cooperation only relies on exchange of technical staff. There is no political nor citizen exchanges. It is a deliberate decision to go slowly and rely, first, on concrete activities for both parties. Once things will be achieved, other kind of exchanges may be looked upon.
Donors and particularly the European Commission have been instrumental to initiate this link. Once it exists decentralised structures in a country as it is in Uganda, it is important to have a decentralised cooperation. However, it is much more interesting to have a link with a sister local government than to deal with a donor. Terms of relationships are much more balanced and people talk of the same problems without looking at each other as an eventual source of income. There is no financial cooperation between the two city councils and it seems that it is not possible. City councils in the North depends on tax payers money and it would be very difficult for them to justify an overseas utilisation of their money.
It is unfortunate that the European Union just gave a kickstart and then dropped the initiative that was fortunately finally approved by the World Bank. A technical agreement was signed between the two cities with a related plan of action. The World Bank does not interfere in the management of the project at all.
In cities, local councils, private sector and central government are the three key players. To transform incomes from the donors into actions agreeable to the three parties, there is a need to learn to work together. Through decentralisation cooperation, this should be one of the challenge of the European Assistance.
This programme was not financed through EDF but directly by the decentralised cooperation unit of the commission in Brussels. The delegation, the NAO (National Authorising Officer) did not follow-up the initiative. Although it is wise to base the cooperation on concrete links, one can regret that it does not involve the citizens from both sides. It is very funny to hear that local government rely on tax payers money and this is why they cannot afford external aid because their electors would not agree. It seems that EDF’s is not tax payers’ money, or at least that it is not felt as such but just as the money of the delegation for the government.
Town Clerk, City Council of Kampala, P.O. Box 7010, Kampala, UGANDA - Tel: 256 41 231 446 - Fax: 256 41 231 916
[Written for the public debate « Actors and processes of the cooperation », which could feed the next Lome Convention (European Union/ACP countries relations). This debate, animated by the FPH, has been started by the Cooperation and Development Commission of the European Parliament and is supported by the European Commission.]
Interview with GT MWESIGYE