Supporting the Zambian decentralisation process

Programme description

Title: Decentralisation for development (D4D II)
Commissioned by: German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)
Country: Zambia
Lead executing agency: Ministry of Local Government and Housing (MLGH)
Overall term: 2015 to 2018

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 noticeably improving people’s lives in Zambia through successful decentralisation of public services is better than ever before. Zambia enjoys steady economic growth and since the change of government in 2011 has demonstrated the firm political will to push ahead with devolution in the country. On behalf of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), GIZ has already supported the Zambian partner institutions during the last years to lay the foundation for the current devolution processes. By late 2014, the Zambian Government had made substantial administrative and legal preparations and paved the way for adopting concrete reform decisions on the further transfer of responsibilities to local governments.


The municipal administrations (district and muncipal councils) are better able to provide services for citizens. There are greater opportunities for participation by the population.

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 is supporting the Zambian Government with the swift and gender-sensitive implementation of the reforms it has adopted in connection with the country’s decentralisation process.

The quality of municipal services is determined by a complex interplay of different levels of administration and departments. The programme is advising six councils in the Southern Province and two further councils in the Northwestern Province and the Copperbelt on performing their new steering and coordination functions. The programme’s national and international advisors and development workers are deployed at strategic control centres in partner organisations at local, provincial and national level. They advise on the application of new procedures and the clarification of anticipated practical issues in dialogue with the relevant Zambian agencies.

The programme closely coordinates its activities with other projects being implemented by GIZ in Zambia, in particular the water programme and the projects concerned with 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 main issues addressed are:

  • Municipal finance and domestic financial structures
  • Municipal spatial and development planning
  • Strategic service management
  • Accountability between upstream and downstream authorities.

GFA Consulting Group is supporting implementation of project component A - municipal financial management and financial legislation.


Several predecessor programmes completed important preparatory work for the current measures. For example, strategy and planning papers geared to decentralisation were drawn up or revised. A new implementation plan was finalised in mid 2013, which set out the steps required to fulfil the National Decentralisation Policy.

Municipal budgets traditionally covered a period of one year and were planned around the procurement of goods needed. From 2009 onwards, medium-term fiscal planning and activity-based budgeting were introduced, starting with seven councils. In 2012 and 2013, this system was successfully rolled out across 66 councils. In late 2014, it was expanded to include the remainder of the 103 district councils. The quality of the budgets of the councils advised by GIZ has since been rated as above average by the central government.

Zambia. Elected members of a local council © GIZ

The councils are also being successfully advised on the cross-cutting issues of gender, HIV/AIDS and civil society / citizens‘ participation. Over half of the councils receiving advisory services have developed action plans on gender and HIV/AIDS. Furthermore, they used participatory planning and budgeting processes for the first time in preparing the 2015 budget.


Further information