Namibia: Ministry of Local Government and Municipalities

Author: 
UNDP

Access to basic services is vital to reducing poverty in Namibia. Limited access to services such as primary education, health care, a clean water supply, sanitation, waste management and a local energy supply plagues the poorest segments of the population and limits their opportunity to emerge from below the poverty line. Newly established local governments are working to ensure that all citizens have adequate access to these basic services, but are constrained by weak capacity for urban planning, scarce financial resources and a small skilled labour pool.

Several examples demonstrate the challenges of local governments to deliver basic services. Unsolicited proposals to local governments from a dynamic private sector have resulted in unsustainable contracts with private service providers which have led to litigation and actual deterioration in service delivery. Road infrastructure required to facilitate solid waste management services is often inaccessible. Compounding matters, due to short and long-term climatic vagaries, households located within the floodplain zones of the north central region are vulnerable to floods and other natural hazards, making uninterrupted delivery of services uncertain.

Local governments have responded with ad hoc developments and without the proper use of integrated planning systems, demonstrating the need for an integrated urban development policy with clear strategies.

Response

Confronted with these challenges, the Government of Namibia Ministry of Local Government, with the support of UNDP, initiated a multi-stakeholder partnership strategy to improve local service delivery to the poor.  The Ministry of Local Government, with the support of the UNDP Country Office and the UNDP Public-Private Partnerships for Service Delivery (PPPSD) programme, designed and implemented a national PPP programme in collaboration with other government partners and non-state actors such as private partners, NGOs, community-based organizations and academic institutions. The first phase of the initiative (2001 to 2004) involved consultations with various stakeholders regarding strategic direction and an assessment of capacities needed to get there. This inclusive process led to the establishment of legal and institutional frameworks conducive to pro-poor PPP practice, and increased awareness of the opportunities pro-poor PPP presents and the legal frameworks in which they must be implemented. To help increase the pool of talent to participate in PPPs, the Ministry developed a partnership with Polytechnic of Nambia, a higher-level learning institution, leading to the design and offering of courses on PPPs for current and future local government authorities. The initiative also included the temporary placement of technical advisors in several municipalities to provide assistance in the implementation of PPPs and promote empowerment of community- and women-led businesses as service providers. During this same time, there was also higher-level policy dialogue between the Ministry of Local Government, private financial sector and development partners to help the Government of Namibia mobilize additional resources for implementation of PPPs.

Subsequently, the second phase of the initiative (beginning in 2005) focused on implementation within pilot municipalities in sanitation, solid waste management and social service facility management. The capacity development interventions targeted the strengthening of negotiation skills, contract management, risk analysis and local investment planning.

Results

The initiative by the Namibia Ministry of Local Government resulted in significant development of capacities in the Ministry itself and within the pilot municipalities to implement innovative approaches for sustainable delivery of local services and improve the lives of poor people. Specific outcomes include:

  • the PPP approach was mainstreamed into the activities of the Ministry Local Government;
  • more than 100 jobs were created for women and other disadvantaged groups;
  • waste management service coverage expanded to over 7,000 people;
  • empowerment of women and local entrepreneurs with business development and record-keeping skills improved the delivery of services in the poorer settlement areas;
  • enhanced hygienic standards and improvement of general health among informal settlement dwellers was achieved through the reduction in pollution from indiscriminate waste disposal; and
  • strengthened capacities and enabling policy, legislation and regulation was put in place to ensure an inclusive PPP.

The sustainability of the PPP initiative was supported by strong, visible commitment to pro-poor PPPs by political leaders at the national and municipal levels. In addition, PPP units and yearly budget provisions were established at the national (Ministry of Local Government) and municipal levels.

These interventions contributed to progress on MDG 1 (eradicate poverty and hunger) through the creation of jobs and income-earning opportunities for poor local communities, on MDG 3 (promote gender equality and empower women) by the empowerment of women, and on MDG7 (ensure environmental sustainability) through the improvement of environmental conditions in pilot municipalities. Increased awareness of the pro-poor PPP approach to basic service delivery, capacity development interventions, learning by doing and strong partnerships between different stakeholders have ensured the success of public-private partnerships as a contributing factor to improved delivery of services to the poor of Namibia.

Year of publication: 
2010
Collection: 
UNDP Capacity is Development: Stories of Institutions
Country: 
NAMIBIA
Themes and sectors: 
Public administration
Themes and sectors: 
Urban management

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