Decentralizing Urban Local Government for Effective Service Delivery in Ghana

Key Contact
Jonas Ingemann Parby
Start Date
End Date
Funding Amount
$ 47,352
Knowledge-providing Countries
Knowledge-receiving Countries


The Government of Ghana created a specific unit to handle its new Local Government Capacity Support (LGCS) Project. However, this unit had limited capacity and operational experience. Local government officials from Ethiopia and Ghana shared experiences on design and implementation issues. A mix of technical staff from central and local government aimed to improve project management and provide impetus for further networking and input for long-term decision-making in Ghana.


To further its urban development program under the Ghana Shared Growth and Agenda (2010-2013), the Government of Ghana began implementing a Local Government Capacity Support (LGCS) Project in November 2011, funded by a World Bank performance-based grant. A special unit dealing with urban development was specifically created in the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development to handle the project. However, this unit had limited capacity and operational experience.

Ghana set an objective to increase awareness among Ministry staff as well as that of urban local governments to improve financial management and implementation of the LGCS Project that covered 46 local governments. Ghana found an excellent partner in Ethiopia whose Ministry of Urban Development and Construction (MUDC) had been implementing a similar grant system for the Urban Local Government Development (ULGD) Project that started in 2008. Both Ghana and Ethiopia sought increased collaboration between their project managers and city managers on the design and delivery of capacity building to local government staff, fiscal decentralization, and social accountability initiatives.


By 2011, Ethiopia had gained unique experience in the Africa Region on the design and implementation of an urban-focused performance-based grant. This included building networks between cities, managing the assessment process, foreseeing investment plans, and ensuring quality in implementation of local-level subprojects.  The approach to the Ghanaian-Ethiopian knowledge exchange was structured as a study tour planned around key common thematic areas for the Ghana and Ethiopia projects. It featured discussions and consultations at national level as well as visits to six cities served by the ULGD Project.

Ethiopia hosted the first exchange June 17-24, 2012. The visit kicked off with a workshop in Addis Ababa to provide an overview of ULGD Project implementation and its significance in the overall context of urban development in Ethiopia. Participants comprised representatives of the national implementing agencies and 35 delegates from Ghana and Kenya. The delegates were then divided into two teams, each visiting three cities for detailed discussions with city officials and project beneficiaries on management and implementation of performance-based grant systems for urban areas. In a closing workshop toward the end of the exchange in Ethiopia, participants discussed their main observations and learning points from the field visits to the cities, highlighting success factors and challenges, and encouraging continuous learning.

One year later, June 16-23, 2013 the second exchange was a reciprocal visit with Ghana hosting two senior MUDC officials and three mayors representing cities benefitting from the ULGD Project. The combination of national-level discussions and field visits to municipalities in the Greater Accra Metropolitan Area provided an opportunity to learn about implementing fiscal decentralization, performance-based grant systems, and administrative decentralization for urban areas in Ethiopia and Ghana.


The knowledge exchange provided an opportunity for collaborative learning about the management and implementation of performance based grant systems for urban areas in Ethiopia, Ghana, and Kenya. Overall, the exchange increased awareness for potential successes and challenges in implementing projects funded by performance-based grants. Following the exchange,

  • Relevant information about investment planning at local-level government, safeguards management, and effective project management was integrated into the delivery of Ghana’s LGCS Project.
  • Illustrative of a true exchange, Ghana learned from Ethiopia’s unique experience in implementing an urban-focused performance-based grant while Ethiopia learned from Ghana’s experience in fiscal decentralization.
  • A coordination group was established to further deepen the collaboration between Ethiopian and Ghanaian officials working on the two projects.

Gregory Addah, director of Ghana’s Local Government Service Secretariat, noted that the success observed in Ethiopia could be because “there was so much harmony and good team work between the city officials (including the political leadership) on the one hand and the beneficiary communities.”

In their report after visiting Ghana, the team from Ethiopia stated, “this kind of experience sharing would not be limited to two or three countries, but expand to those countries implementing similar projects.”

Lessons Learned

  • Be mindful of details. While urban development grants may share similar overall objectives, the details of the design of one project can have unsuspecting implications for implementation of another. Under the ULGD project, for example, cities that meet the performance benchmarks are given a matching grant. This is not the case in Ghana, where a common fund exists for the purpose.
  • Factor in sustainability. Sustainability needs to be factored into project design. All the cities and municipalities in Ethiopia are engaged in implementation of employment-generating investment projects. The ULGD Project provided opportunity for such activities to materialize.
  • Make it two-way. A knowledge provider can, during the exchange, become a knowledge recipient. During the knowledge providing exchange with Ghana, the Ethiopian delegation noted the process and institutional steps required to undertake administrative decentralization, particularly the transfer of mandates from higher-level officials to lower-level colleagues.

Moving Forward

The network created has continued to be operational following the end of the second visit. The World Bank’s team will follow up to ensure that the gains made during the exchange visit result in continuous engagement between the two delegations as needed. As Ghana continues with its project, additional exchange visits may prove useful. The involvement of Kenyan counterparts implementing a similar project will further enrich the exchange.

World Bank Group Contribution

Bank Group staff brokered this exchange with a grant of US$47,352 from the South-South Experience Exchange Facility (SEETF). The Country Management Unit for Ethiopia provided logistical and technical support to facilitate the exchange visits, including guest speakers from the Poverty Reduction and Economic Management team.


In Ethiopia:
Ministry of Urban Development and Construction
Urban Governance and Capacity Building Bureau
Representatives from local governments in Ethiopia

From Ghana:
Local Government Service Secretariat
Ministry of Finance
Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development
Representatives from municipalities in Ghana

From Kenya:
Ministry of Local Government
Representatives from local governments in Kenya


The Ghanaian delegation consisted of:
Representative from the District Development Fund Secretariat; Director, Local Government Service Secretariat; two municipal coordination directors; two municipal planners; two municipal finance officers; municipal budget analyst and (g) two engineers. 

The Kenyan delegation consisted of: Two Assistant Directors, 10 town clerks, two treasurers, three engineers, and nine staff and advisors directly involved with implementing the Kenya Municipal Program.

Ethiopian participants included senior officials from the Ministry of Urban Development and Construction and the six local governments visited — Adama, Bahar Dar, Bishoftu, Gondar, Hawassa, and Mekelle.

Learn More

Ethiopia Urban Local Government Development Project:

Ghana Local Government Capacity Support Project:

Kenya Municipal Program:


Strengthening the Delivery of Ethiopia's Public Services (Video):

Ethiopia's Poverty Reduction Successes: