Student Fellowship

Improving Local Area Planning Processes to be more Inclusive and Replicable

Project Area:

Inclusive Governance


Lusaka, Zambia

Reporting to:

Senior Community Development Officer

The Challenge

Lusaka has a population of over 3 million and 70% of residents live in informal settlements. Informal settlements face several challenges, such as urban flooding, disease, poor water and sanitation, and high crime rates that city leaders aim to address collaboratively with the community. The Zambian Constitution encourages the promotion of a clean, safe, and healthy environment, and the involvement of communities and community members in matters of local governance.1 Additional legal frameworks encourage effective participation of people in the development of relevant policies, plans, programs, and access to information to enable people to preserve, protect, and conserve the environment.2 Despite such provisions, the city’s leadership is aware of the many challenges that hinder community empowerment and accountability. These challenges include a lack of platforms for planning and decision-making, lack of capacity in community leaders, inadequate programs for training and knowledge sharing, and inadequate community engagement and empowerment strategies. City leaders see empowerment as a multi-dimensional social process that will help people gain control and enable them to make decisions to improve their lives and community. Improving community engagement and representation in local governance is a key mayoral and city council priority. 

Following an approach originally taken in South African cities, Lusaka is using an Integrated Development Planning (IDP) approach. IDP is an approach to planning that involves the entire municipality and its citizens in improving service delivery and finding the best solutions to long-term development. It is an overarching plan for an area that gives an overall framework for development and aims to coordinate the work of local and other spheres of government into a coherent plan.3 Lusaka city staff are managing a Local Area Planning (LAP) process with their individual wards that feeds into the district’s 5-year IDP. In 2017, a regional planning approach was abandoned in favor of one that would build local institution and community capacity. Ward councilors and members of the ward development committees, who are directly elected from among their local communities, undergo training in local area planning in preparation for the process. The multiphase process itself can last several months starting with an analysis phase, which includes data collection and community mapping to create a ward profile, including key issues and needs, followed by a strategies phase for finding solutions to problems identified in the previous phase. In the next phase, the municipality works on defining projects, costing them out, and identifying partnerships for delivery. This is followed by integration within the larger IDP phase and then approval all the way from the city council to the Ministry of Local Government at the national level, where budget allocation decisions are made. The city piloted this approach during the development of local area plans for four wards (reflecting water and sanitation concerns in particular), which are now complete and will input into the Lusaka District IDP. The city is now looking to assess the approach and make it more inclusive and replicable for other wards. The summer fellow working alongside the Lusaka City Technical Working Group (with representation from seven departments, City Council, and other stakeholders) will help evaluate their approach and seek to answer the following key questions: 

  1. How can the city strengthen platforms for community participation, planning, and decision-making? How does it ensure that residents are aware of their rights and responsibilities?
  2. How does the city align community priorities to government priorities? How can the city improve communication between the community, the council, and other key stakeholders?
  3. How does the city ensure that the local area planning process is socially inclusive and that community priorities are implemented?
  4. What would it take to ensure a consistent and replicable local area planning process with standardized tools and processes for data collection and community engagement?
  5. How was the local area planning process for the four wards community driven and owned?

What You’ll Do

To answer the above questions, the fellow will engage key stakeholders, including the internal technical working group, the German International Development Agency (GIZ) representatives, and Lusaka Water Security Initiative; conduct desktop reviews of the four ward plans completed to date; and closely follow and participate in the planning process for one ward while evaluating the data collection, analysis, and engagement processes and tools for improvement. The fellow will look at peer municipalities to assess effective approaches to engagement that might be useful to consider for Lusaka’s context. In addition, the fellow will help build a project tracker to help the city track progress on identified projects. Key deliverables include: 

  1. Report with recommendations for improvements to the process and key lessons learned from engaging key stakeholders, following the process for one ward, and from peer city research.
  2. Project tracker for monitoring and evaluation.
  3. Presentation to mayor, council, and other key stakeholders like the Lusaka Water Security Initiative and GIZ.
  4. If relevant, help implement the work emerging from the Bloomberg Harvard Data track performance management meeting and help set up a sustainable practice around data-informed performance management.

What You’ll Bring

The fellow will be expected to possess the following skills:

  • Data analysis
  • Qualitative interviewing and analysis
  • Human centered design
  • Stakeholder engagement and management
  • Writing and editing
  • Learning and innovation mindset

1  Cap 66 No 2 of 2016

2  Cap 100 No 88 of 2016


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