Quick Guide 08 – Local Government: addressing urban challenges in a participatory and integrated way

Local government has an important role to play in ensuring that all residents of African cities get access to conveniently situated land, services, adequate housing and the benefits of urban life. Even with resources and capacity constraints, local governments can significantly improve the lives of residents through participatory and integrated interventions.

This guide begins by providing a brief overview of local government in Africa, and the urban chal- lenges (and opportunities) that local government bodies need to respond to. Two key approaches in responding to these challenges and opportunities, and particularly to those that involve human settlements issues, are then introduced: participatory planning and an integrated/ holistic approach to urban development. The guide argues that physical development, economic development and social development need to go hand-in-hand in order for interventions to be effective and sustain- able. Some key tools for local governments to use when adopting these approaches are presented, including mobilizing greater financial resources, entering into partnerships with community orga- nizations (and other stakeholders), and the formulation and implementation of holistic city-wide human settlements strategies.

Through developing holistic strategies in a participatory way, entering into partnerships to extend capacity for delivery, and mobilizing additional resources, local governments can ensure that, over time, fewer and fewer households live in inadequate conditions, and, ultimately, that housing and other living conditions for all residents progressively improve. Throughout, it is crucial that urban residents have the space to participate in the development, implementation and monitoring of these strategies.

This guide is not aimed at specialists, but aims to help build the capacities of national and local government officials an policy makers who need to quickly enhance their understanding of low-income housing issues.

Download the rest of the series below, as well as the Facilitator Guide that comes with it: