120 city consultations have been undertaken during Phase 3, and these consultations represent a major achievement of the programme at the country and city level. The underlying premise of a UMP City Consultation (CC) is that poor city administration is often the result of weak rapport with civil society, particularly where bureaucratic and unresponsive modes of administration are the norm. The UMP City Consultation approach has been designed to bridge this gap so that city administration and key stakeholders in the civil society can participate in decision-making. The aim of a city consultation is to institutionalise the participatory decision making process.
City consultations bring together local authorities, the private sector, community representatives and other stakeholders within a city to discuss specific issues and solutions to key urban problems. They are a continuous process of dialogue among stakeholders and the city government. While there are differences in the city consultation process from region to region and even from city to city, an important outcome of this dialogue is an action plan that has citywide support.
From the 120 UMP City Consultations underway during the current Programme Phase 3, some key lessons have also emerged, despite different circumstances under which local governments operate. Strong leadership was part of every successful city consultation, and the sustainability of the process was directly linked to the existence of well-organised stakeholder groups. A strong sense of ownership in the process is also required – and given the relatively short tenure of local governments it is critical to ensure there is ownership at various levels of government and civil society. Capacity-building at both the local and higher levels of government and the capacity of civil society organisations and the private sector needs to be strengthened. There is now a perceived need to scale-up the efforts initiated at the city level to the national level, involving many more cities and influencing national decentralisation policies. A synthesis of these city consultation experiences and lessons learned has been prepared by the Urban Management Programme. For tools and methodology on pro-Poor Participatory governance see the PUDM toolkit.