Cities Alliance Country Partnership Programme Update

There are currently Country Partnership Programmes underway in Uganda, Ghana, Vietnam and Burkina Faso, all in various stages of development.
One of the core instruments of the new Cities Alliance business model is the Country Partnership Programme, which emphasises a long-term commitment to mobilise the different drivers of urban development in a country and to improve both dialogue and coherence of effort among them.
There are currently Country Partnership Programmes underway in Uganda, Ghana, Vietnam and Burkina Faso, in various stages of development.
All of these programmes seek to align urban development efforts at the national government, local government and community level and include the urban poor into the planning and decision-making processes.
The first of the Country Partnership Programmes to be implemented under the new business model is the Transforming the Settlements of the Urban Poor (TSUPU) programme in Uganda. The Government of Uganda is undertaking the initiative with the support of partners including the Cities Alliance, the World Bank, and Shack/Slum Dwellers International (SDI).
Now in its second year, the TSUPU programme has made significant progress in the following areas:
  • Strong ownership. The initiative is the direct result of the Government of Uganda’s desire to proactively manage rapid urbanisation and has strong ownership at all levels. The Uganda National Urban Forum was launched in May 2010, followed by similar forums at the municipal level in the five secondary towns of Arua, Jinja, Kabale, Mbale, and Mbarara, which are participating in the initiative. A number of capacity-building workshops have also been held for municipal leaders.
  • Mobilised, engaged communities. Local slum dweller federations supported by Actogether, SDI’s local affiliate in Uganda, have been established in the five participating towns. Settlement profiles in all five TSUPU municipalities have been completed, validated by local governments and published. In addition, enumeration activities are near completion.  The Uganda federations are so effective that they have arguably become the strongest SDI-affiliated federation in Africa.
  • Leveraging investment. The framework of national dialogue, local-level good governance and community voice is also providing the underpinning for a World Bank investment programme of USD 130 million in 13 secondary towns, including the five TSUPU towns – a great shift in favour of the urban poor. 
Ghana Land, Services and Citizenship for the Urban Poor (LSC) Programme
In Ghana, the emerging LSC programme is in the first phase of development. Activities focus on the Greater Accra Metropolitan Area (GAMA), the country’s largest urban concentration.
The programme will  develop into a national initiative through national dialogue and the extension of municipal training and capacity building to an additional ten secondary cities (with GIZ support).
The Government of Ghana and local partners are implementing the programme with the support of the Cities Alliance, AFD, GIZ, Habitat for Humanity International, SDI, UN-HABITAT, the World Bank and the African Centre for Cities.
A range of activities at the national, municipal and local level are expected to take place during the first phase.  They include developing the Ghana Urban Forum, capacity building and municipal training programmes, a State of Ghanaian Cities Report, and the establishment of slum dweller federations in communities throughout Greater Accra to mobilise and empower the urban poor.
One of the most important features of the Ghana LSC programme is that different development agencies have come together to plan and coordinate a coherent capacity-building programme. The Ghana LSC initiative will complement the substantial investments (EURO 40 million) being made by AFD in secondary cities and the USD 130 million World Bank Ghana Local Government Capacity Support project.
Ghana will also host the upcoming meeting of the Cities Alliance Executive Committee in July 2011, providing members with the opportunity to see an emerging country programme in action. A Special Session of the Ghana Urban Forum is also scheduled to take place at that time.
In Vietnam, the Country Partnership Programme framework is different from those in Uganda and Ghana. Urbanisation in Vietnam is further advanced and is increasingly recognised as a positive process.  With policy in place, the key challenge facing Vietnam is how to give the urban poor an effective voice within a centralised governance framework and how to best replicate the programme and achieve scale.
Given this context, one of the first activities Cities Alliance is supporting in Vietnam through the Country Partnership Programme is a preparatory activity to expand the existing Community Upgrading Fund.
Established by the Asian Coalition for Housing Rights (ACHR) and the Association of Cities of Vietnam (ACVN), the Community Upgrading Fund is a national fund that supports community-based savings groups by providing loans as well as opportunities for capacity building and improved interaction with local authorities.
Other planned activities include strengthening the Vietnam Urban Forum and rolling out a national urban upgrading strategy. Proposals for these activities have been actively supported by the World Bank, AFD, UN-HABITAT, ACVN and GIZ, as the initiative deepens their support to Vietnam’s sustainable urban development. 
Burkina Faso Country Programme
Burkina Faso is the most recent Country Partnership Programme partner, and the process there is in the very early stage of engagement.
Burkina Faso has a relatively low level of urbanisation – 20.4 per cent – which means there is significant opportunity for the country to get ahead of the curve in terms of planning for the future of its cities. Moreover, the World Bank and AFD have committed to investing in Burkina’s urban sector, providing a good chance for aligning activities.
The next step is for national, local, community and international partners to begin engaging on the joint design of the prospective programme.