Local development planning and management in rural districts of Zambia

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Yasini, Mulimba
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Assessing and improving capacity for Chongwe District Council (CDC) has become more and more important as the Government through the decentralization policy transfers huge responsibilities in terms of planning, implementation of development plans and management of public services to local governments and communities. Apparently, no comprehensive study has been carried out in the District to assess the capacity of the Council to plan, implement development plans and manage public services. Most of the studies have been focusing on city councils. Therefore, the aim of this study was to examine the capacity of CDC in terms of planning, implementation of development plans and management of public services in the district. The study focused on three aspects of capacity namely; managerial, technical and fiscal capacities, and the effectiveness of community participation. Managerial capacity was examined in terms of the effectiveness of services provision by the Council, and availability and qualifications of staff. Technical capacity was examined in relation to the availability of equipment for planning and service provision. While fiscal capacity was examined with respect to sources of revenue and expenditure patterns for the Council. The effectiveness of community participation was examined with regard to the capacity of Area Development Committees (ADCs) to effectively participate in development planning. A Sample size of 86 respondents was selected from Chongwe urban area for interviews using availability sampling method. Senior Council officials, Councillors and members of ADCs were also selected for interviews using purposive sampling method. Further, documents from CDC and Central Statistical Office (CSO) were used. The findings of the study demonstrate that Chongwe District Council does not have adequate capacity with respect to managerial, technical and fiscal capacities. In terms of managerial capacity, the findings have demonstrated that service provision by the Council is ineffective as is evident from poor roads and solid waste collection. Further, the findings have shown that the Council does not have adequate staff with regard to the number and relevant qualifications. Regarding technical capacity, the findings reveal that the Council does not have adequate equipment such as computers, utility vehicles, graders and bull dozers for planning and service provision. In relation to fiscal capacity, the findings indicate that the Council has several sources of revenue of which licenses and levies are the most important source. However, the Council is unable to maximize revenue collection from these sources due to factors such as the abolition of crop levy by the Central Government and the effects of the global credit crunch of 2008 on v export earnings by commercial farmers. In addition, the findings have shown that the Council spends a large portion of its revenue on personal emoluments as opposed to service provision. In terms of community participation, the findings show that community participation in development planning is ineffective as most ADCs face a lot of challenges such as lack of equipment, finances and specific policy and legal framework
Planninig communities , Planning unit developments , Regional planning