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This content is taken from the UCL (University College London) , Sierra Leone Urban Research Centre & Njala University's online course, Development and Planning in African Cities: Exploring theories, policies and practices from Sierra Leone. Join the course to learn more.

Skip to 0 minutes and 11 seconds Urban governance is how responsible institutions manage the urban environment. And in most cases, in Sierra Leone, for example, it’s the responsibility of our local councils, as per the 2004 act, Local Government Act, they have a mandate to manage the cities and towns, and the objective there is to make sure the cities or the towns function effectively with efficient service delivery to their constituents. Well, with urban governance, again, it should be based on principles of accountability and transparency, to ensure we deliver efficient services to the citizens, right. And to do that, it has to be very inclusive and participatory, meaning citizens should be able to participate and be in a position to hold their political leaders accountable.

Skip to 1 minute and 28 seconds And, of course, also the civil society organisations have also a key role to monitor the process, making sure it’s transparent. All of that will happen when we have an effective and semi-autonomous, or autonomous, local councils. But for that to happen, again, local councils should be able, should be, financially independent. In our case, almost all of our local councils depend on government subventions. Those are some subventions that tie to certain conditions, and that makes them, to a large extent, not, you know, independent.

Skip to 2 minutes and 14 seconds And so it is very key that local councils have put in a good financial management system in place to be in a position to provide those services, making sure it is open, transparent, and inclusive, so that citizens will participate, and we have a public to hold them accountable.

Skip to 2 minutes and 43 seconds Well, the urban governance, although the primary responsibility rests on local councils, as defined in the 2004 act, but it is a multi-level structure. That means it involves all the players, all the active players, put vertically and horizontally, meaning at the national, regional, and the local level. And you also have players at the horizontal structure. So it involves a lot of players, and it also involves not only the central and local government, but also the private sector, as well as civil society organisations. They also play a critical role in urban governance, to make sure we’re able to deliver the required services to the citizenship.

Urban governance in Freetown

In this video, Dr Alphajor Cham (Ministry of Lands, Country Planning and the Environment, Government of Sierra Leone) discusses the importance of urban governance in Freetown, highlighting the challenges facing the Freetown City Council.

Do you see similar challenges relating to the devolution of powers, resources, and capacities in your city or a city you know about? If so, consider writing a short paragraph in the Comments area below. If not, you might respond to the comment of another learner.

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Development and Planning in African Cities: Exploring theories, policies and practices from Sierra Leone

UCL (University College London)

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