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Jinja, Uganda
Jinja is the second largest urban center in Uganda. Much like the rest of the country, Jinja's population faces problems of widespread poverty, unemployment, insufficient low-cost housing, malnutrition, unaffordable water and energy supplies, and inadequate health and educational facilities.

The political structure of Jinja consists of four levels of Local Councils (LCs) which constitute the political organizations established at each level-municipality, division, parish and village. Jinja Municipality (LC IV) is headed by an elected chairperson (the mayor) and has eight standing committees. The Municipality is further divided into three divisions (LC III). Administrative, planning and financial linkages exist between divisions and the main municipality.

Jinja has been undergoing social and political change toward the decentralization of government and greater public participation in local issues and programmes. Considerable power and decision making have been devolved to the grass-roots level.

Prior to LA 21, there was not a strong working relationship between the municipal council and citizens.

The MCP was adopted by a resolution of the Jinja Municipal Council in February 1995.
Jinja Municipality was interested in participating in the MCP because it wanted to bring together municipal authorities, residents and local organizations to initiate a participatory planning process. The objective of the LA 21 planning process in Jinja has been to improve services to residents while protecting and improving the natural environment. The LA 21 planning process was launched with the visit of ICLEI staff to Jinja in April 1995.

An assistant town clerk was identified as the MCP coordinator. Representatives of NGOs, religious and business communities and councillors were invited to the initial meetings, and the fifteen-member Project Team was formed in May 1995.

The Project Team functioned as the technical and administrative group for the MCP in Jinja. It developed community consultation strategies to identify issues, carry out the environmental assessment, formulate an action plan and assist the MCP researcher in the documentation process for sustainable development planning.

There was some initial confusion about the roles and mandate of the stakeholder group and the Project Team. Within the first few months of the LA 21 planning process, the Project Team became the de facto decision-making body of the Jinja MCP. In March 1996, the stakeholder group was streamlined. Team meetings followed a discussion format and employed a democratic voting process.

The Project Team had many successes. Residents participated actively in all stages of the process. Ninety-three participants attended the action-planning workshop. Project Team members shared the responsibility for decisions made at meetings. They began the process with little skill and experience, but developed more understanding as they carried out the planning process. Despite some constraints, the multi-sector involvement enabled the programme to access different perspectives about the issues, to reach a variety of people, and to bring together the different talents of Jinja's communities.

Actions to increase awareness of LA 21 included visiting communities and holding workshops, meetings and discussions with community members. Council members and ICLEI staff participated in the workshops.

Community-Based Issue Analysis
In this phase Jinja set out to consult with residents and organizations about their highest-priority problems and to inform the public about the LA 21 planning process.

The community consultation process was designed at a meeting of the Project Team with the advice of the ICLEI field manager. To reach the different interest groups within Jinja (NGOs, youth groups, business sector, line departments, etc.), and to optimize the use of the team's limited resources, a representative sampling method was used. The Project Team organized into more effective smaller groups, each covering a different sector. People were asked to rank the issues raised in the questionnaires. For capacity building, a pre-consultation workshop was an important tool.

Issue identification began in November 1995 and concluded in July 1996. A priority-setting working group comprised of Project Team members statistically analyzed the data.

Final priority setting was conducted at a Town Hall meeting on July 23, 1996. Members of the stakeholder group and the Project Team, and three representatives from each target group and division consulted were invited. Waste and sanitation and the natural environment were singled out as the highest priority issues, which were later split into three issues: solid-waste management, sewage and sanitation and natural resources. The Project Team identified and briefed community leaders and target groups, and assigned them the duty of mobilizing community members for information sharing. Participants at Town Hall meetings informed the groups they represented. A document was produced from this phase entitled Report of the Community Consultation, Issue Identification, Priority Setting and Information to the Residents of Jinja.

Issue Assessment
Issue assessment and analysis focused on natural resources, solid-waste management and sewage and sanitation. Seventy-three assessors, selected from organizations identified as having a stake in the priority issues, collected data.

Groups of four to eight assessors conducted surveys on the identified issues, interviewed people and gathered data from various organizations. The MCP coordinator was responsible for overall management and the consultant provided professional guidance. The researcher participated alongside various teams to document the process.

Community-based knowledge played an important part in information gathering. The assessment teams spent considerable time discussing problems with community members, and soliciting their views and suggestions on options for addressing the problems. Representatives at the meeting informed the wider community of the issue-assessment results.

The issue assessment focused on the social and economic dimensions of environmental issues. Despite the difficulty in collecting data, a large volume of information was amassed and analyzed. Based on these findings, recommendations were made. A map of problems, possible solutions and recommendations was produced to be used in the action-planning process to follow.

Action Planning
After issue assessment and analysis was completed, a two-day action-planning workshop was held to assist in the formulation of an action plan. The action plan was developed in a participatory manner by teams comprising representatives of various community interest groups. The action plan was formulated using the guiding principles for sustainable development as developed by ICLEI. The action-plan focused on six long-term goals: improved solid-waste management, proper sanitation, adequate conservation of water and wetlands, appropriate laws and legislation, appropriate agriculture and forest practices, and rehabilitation of green areas and air.

Since documentation of the action plan is incomplete, it has not been formally incorporated into municipal-government policies and procedures. However it is expected that the Jinja Municipal Council will adopt the municipality's LA 21 action plan.

Outcomes of the MCP
The LA 21 planning process addressed the issue of improvement of community services with public participation and consideration for the environment. This objective agreed with the wishes of Jinja Municipal Council and thus was a welcome initiative.

Partnership building was initiated in Jinja through the creation of the Project Team for implementing the planning process. Relevant partners were identified for all stages of the process, making possible the participation of residents in each stage.

Awareness of and interest in the LA 21 planning process were instilled in Jinja residents. The process imparted greater knowledge, understanding and skills to participants. Residents developed environmental sensitivity, and new ideas about sustainable service planning emerged. The environmental assessment process generated greater understanding about priority issues. Commitment to the programme by Project

Team members and community representatives enabled them to conduct the planning process with limited resources and to participate effectively with limited remuneration.

The support of Jinja residents was a key factor that enabled the accomplishments of the LA 21 planning process. The next important stage is action-plan implementation.

Lessons Learned from the LA 21 Planning Process
  • Municipal commitment to the process, including provision of resources, the interest and willingness of residents and community organizations to participate and the commitment of the Project Team is important to a vital LA 21 process.
  • Identification of common interests is necessary. In Jinja, planning with people from different social groups, particularly the very poor segment of the community, was not easy.
  • Identification of local leaders as contact persons is useful in mobilizing the community.
Regardless of the lack of technical orientation, people have a clear sense of environmental concern and the capacity to identify issues and set priorities.
Barriers to success include:
  • unfavorable attitudes of individuals toward community involvement in planning;
  • inadequate experience and skills with the planning process;
  • limited and uncertain funding;
  • limited ability of some community members to understand the process and to speak English; and
  • lack of a clear vision of feasible options in formulating the action plan due to resource uncertainties.
  • Multi-sectoral partnerships must have common interests. It was clear that the groups and institutions whose areas of interest were not related to the identified issues participated little in the planning process.