Supporting the decentralisation process in Zambia

Programme description

Title: Decentralisation for development (D4D)
Commissioned by: Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)
Country: Zambia
Lead executing agency: Cabinet Office
Overall term: 2018 to 2021

Zambia. Opening of a training measure for local authority financial management. © GIZ


With income distribution in Zambia remaining extremely inequitable, almost two thirds of the population live in poverty and are dependent for their survival on functioning municipal services. Nevertheless, the chance of making a perceptible improvement in the quality of life in Zambia through successful decentralisation of public services is better than ever before. Until recently, Zambia enjoyed steady economic growth and since the change of government in 2011 has demonstrated the political will to push ahead with decentralisation in the country. Since 2012,on behalf of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), GIZ has supported efforts by its Zambian partner institutions to lay the foundations for the ongoing devolution process. The Zambian Government has made substantial administrative and legal preparations for the adoption of reform decisions on the further transfer of responsibilities to local governments.


The relevant national and municipal actors are better able to implement decentralisation, especially fiscal decentralisation, in a more efficient, transparent and coordinated way more closely geared to citizens’ needs and to poverty reduction.

Zambia. Six handbooks on local authority management, developed by partner municipalities of GIZ, later introduced as the national standards and distributed countrywide. © GIZ


The programme supports the efforts of the Zambian Government to steer the decentralisation reform process and to promote local administration. It aims to improve the administrative capabilities of 24 municipalities in the Southern and Northwestern provinces. The strategy builds on the initiatives, experiences and results of the predecessor programme.

The programme helps make experts and managers, as well as municipalities, institutions and ministries, more effective.It uses a combination of formats to meet the specific needs of partners (for example, collaborative learning, specialised training modules, coaching).These provide local councillors, municipal employees and government officials with skills enabling them to fulfil their tasks more effectively and find constructive solutions to conflicts of interest.

The programme provides demand-based, technical and methodological advice for the Decentralisation Secretariat, the Ministry of Local Government, the provincial local government offices, partner municipalities and training institutes, thereby improving the effectiveness and management of service provision as well as the accountability of the partner organisations. Innovative procedures and instruments are being standardised and integrated into municipal service provision (including a fiscal cadastre and results-based performance assessments).

Using examples from the field, the programme advises municipalities and partner ministries on ways of redressing deficits in local service provision and implementing normative requirements. It also supports the provincial institutions’ role as a liaison between upstream and downstream authorities in the areas of information provision and legal, financial and technical monitoring.

Programme activities are closely coordinated with the activities of other programmes being implemented by GIZ in Zambia, in particular the water programme and the programmes on good financial governance and political participation.Since this is a joint programme with KfW Development Bank, the various measures are supported through financial cooperation.

The three areas in which the programme is working are:

  • Steering of the decentralisation reform
  • Generation and administration of local public revenue
  • Better planning and management of municipal services.


Several predecessor programmes completed important preparatory work for the current measures.For example, the Decentralisation Implementation Plan (DIP) for 2013-2017 was adopted, which set out the steps required to fulfil the requirements of the National Decentralisation Policy.

The programme helped the municipalities introduce integrated development plans. These will be applied for the first time in 2019-2020. The integrated planning strategy alignsmunicipal with national development planning, which in turn is reinforcing the process of devolution in decentralisation.

In its three core areas, the programme:

  • Supported the Zambian Decentralisation Secretariat in its efforts to coordinate and implement municipal administration reform processes, also by helping it develop a new DIP;
  • Helped municipalities in the Southern and Northwestern provinces increase their own income, allowing some municipalities to generate a substantial proportion of their total revenue from their own sources.
  • Supported coordination between municipal actors in the provision of important services, especially water supply, wastewater management and health services.As a result, standard procedures have been developed for regulated waste disposal and implemented, for example in the municipality of Choma in the Southern Province.