Remarks by UNDP Country Director at the 2nd Meeting of the East African Local Government Forum

19 Sep 2013

Honorable Ministers present
Permanent Secretaries
Representative from the Commonwealth Local Government Forum
Representative from European Union
Colleagues from the United Nations
Representatives from the Local Government Associations
Ladies and gentlemen - All protocol observed

It is my great pleasure to participate in the opening ceremony of the 2nd East Africa Local Government Forum and extend warm greetings on behalf of UNDP in Uganda and the UNDP Regional Centre for Africa based in Addis Ababa. The UN Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative, Ms. Ahunna- Eziakonwa-Onochie, sends her warm greetings to you all, as she could not make it for this morning official opening - due to prior engagements.

Ladies and Gentlemen,
UNDP welcomes the idea of a regular East African Local Government Forum and is proud to be associated with such regional platforms and forums as they provide an opportunity to share practical lessons and advance proven development solutions.

The centrality and importance of local governance and role of Local Governments continues to feature prominently in key development debates, globally, regionally, at national and local levels.

From our global experience, we have observed that the success of any development agenda depends on the ownership and leadership generated at both the national and the local levels. This is because local governments play a critical role in governance and in delivery of basic service, such as education, water, housing, sanitation and health.

Distinguished guests - You will agree with me that Local Governments with a clear mandate, adequate financing, and sufficient capacity provide opportunities for inclusive and participatory development.

For such reasons, the strengths and attributes of Local Governments continue to be pertinent today and in the future. As you all know, recent global dialogues such as the Rio+20 and the Post 2015 agenda attest to the growing recognition of Local Governments as core to a sustainable development discourse. (I know that details on these dialogues are to be shared during the course of this forum)

In this respect, UNDP based on its Strategic Plan and through its Regional Service Centre for Africa, is currently supporting the African Union in the development of The African Charter on the Values and Principles of Decentralization, Local Government and Local Development. The draft charter is currently in its final stages of validation by member states.

Furthermore, support is being provided for the establishment of the High Council of local authorities within the governance architecture of the African Union. The finalized proposals will subsequently be submitted to AU Heads of State and Government in January 2014.

In Uganda, UNDP together with UNCDF have supported Local Governance since the early 1990s – starting with the operationalisation of the decentralization policy. Focus was placed on testing and refining core elements of governance and service delivery including Planning, Allocation, Investment and Management Procedures for local governments.

Currently, UNDP and UNCDF continue to work with the Government of Uganda in deepening the decentralization policy. From our experience, we have learnt that;

• Having a manageable number of Local Governments is pertinent -
• The formula for establishing administrative structures needs to be clear, viable and adhered to.
• The flow of finances from the centre to the Local Governments should be re-examined to ensure adequacy of funding and equity in the allocation.
• Local Governments should be empowered to carry out their mandate through adequate staffing, knowledge and skill improvement.
• Emphasis on creation of wealth in the Local Governments, through approaches such as the Public-Private Partnerships is very key in promoting local development

These lessons, if considered appropriately, would be vital in promoting local development - led by Local Governments.

Ladies and Gentlemen,
In conclusion, I take this opportunity to reaffirm UNDP's and indeed the United Nations’ commitment for continued engagements.

The need for implementation and follow-up of resolutions emerging from this meeting cannot be over-emphasized, if we are to collectively and at respective national levels, make a difference to the lives of our people in this region.

I wish you all successful deliberations and a good stay in Uganda.

Thank you for your attention.