Central and provincial governments have progressively realized that effective service delivery to the community is best delegated to local government. This decentralization trend has obliged local governments to enhance their professionalism and performance. Yet, in many developing countries, the weakness of local governments is a key challenge in managing development processes. Many local government authorities in Kenya now go beyond one year budgeting and capital expenditure planning for longer-term results focused strategies. To achieve this focus they use robust strategic and operational planning processes. These strategic processes have had the benefit of allowing local authorities to have linkages to national planning, accommodate the need to respond to local priorities, and ensure accountability to their communities. Examination of some local government processes provides insights on results-based management in action at a local level and on how a results focus can transform performance.
Strategic planning – as a framework for action – is one of the significant tools that has enabled local authorities in Kenya to cope with far-reaching responsibilities geared to promote development. Strategic planning requires the integration of professional knowledge and capacities, and the creation of organizational platforms. This enables local governments to promote the best practices and manage the development process through harnessing local resources, assets and opportunities to achieve strategic goals.
In the mid 1980s, as an example, a model was successfully established in Israel to assist local authorities – the Municipal Strategic Planning Unit (MSPU). Kisumu was selected to implement the MSPU pilot project due to its development potential and given the fact that the promotion of the city is a priority of the Government of Kenya and significant development partners. Units based on this model were designed to lead and promote strategic planning processes, identify and create assets and opportunities for development, and improve the work of local authorities. This implementation was done with great success in Kisumu.