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Local Level Capacity Strengthening in Guelph/Ontario and in Jinga/Uganda

Keywords: Community Participation & Urban Governance


This partnership program was established between the local governments of Guelph, Ontario and Jinja, Uganda as a co-operative initiative to improve the quality of community life in a sustainable way. It has provided the opportunity for two different cultures, political climates and economical and industrial bases to work toward a sharing of ideas, methods and procedures of staff training and administration and ways of enhancing community life.

The partnership has met its objectives. The program has had and continues to have a significant impact on key areas such as governance, community participation and environmental protection.


This partnership program was established as a co-operative initiative with local governments, namely, The City of Guelph, Ontario and Jinja, Uganda to improve the quality of community life in a sustainable way. It has provided the opportunity for two different cultures, political climates, and economical and industrial bases to work toward a sharing of ideas methods and procedures of staff training and administration and ways of enhancing community involvement.

Jinja is the second largest city in Uganda, on the shores of Lake Victoria, approximately 100 miles from the capital City of Kampala. It has a population of 65,000 that swells to 100,000 during the day, when trade and commerce is active.

Guelph is a city in the Province of Ontario, Canada, approximately 50 miles west of Toronto. It has a population of some 90,000 and is located within a technology triangle and is well-known nationally for its leading environmental initiatives.

The partnership between the City of Guelph, Ontario and Jinja, Uganda continues to strengthen and grow and is focused on a number of key areas, such as governance and community participation, and environmental protection.


Governance is a method or system of government or management. Jinja Municipal Council has not, due to its history, afforded the range of public involvement in many of the decision-making processes. However, they are eager to learn and develop such a process. In our many meetings with staff and municipal council, priorities were established and together an action plan was developed. Emphasis was placed on assisting council and staff in improving public involvement in the local government decision-making process and in getting involved in community development, as well as providing training in municipal management for administration of local government. These areas include planning, involving the community in decision-making, accounting, and in council meetings.

Walukuba Community Centre Renovations

The Walukuba Centre was once the focus of community activities in Jinja and was indeed in need of repairs to make it once again the focal point to a population of 20,000 in the north-east section of Jinja. Repairs costs were established by the partnership and priorities were set. The program invested $15,000 for renovations by setting up a committee of community volunteers to oversee the renovations.

In exchange for one good meal per day, 20 youths volunteered their time and energy to be trained in methods of construction. This was made possible through a working co-operation with the local Municipal council and staff. Work commenced early in 1994 and was completed in December 1994.

The renovations at the centre were made possible by all parties agreeing upon and collectively working toward a common goal: the community volunteer committee established ownership and has worked together with Jinja Municipal Council to carry out the renovations. Once completed the whole rededication program was developed and put in place by the community. Use of the centre has grown by 600%. Direct community ownership has reduced vandalism and has promoted community pride. The Community Volunteer Committee will continue to operate the centre in co-operation with Jinja Municipal Council. An agreement has been made to continue with the maintenance of the building and to improve upon the activities provided. A separate, self-sustaining account has been established for this purpose.

This is an excellent example of how volunteers can work co-operatively to improve the community and develop a greater sense of community pride. It also provided an ideal opportunity to train youth in construction labour.

When a country such as Uganda has undergone a number of years of turmoil, citizens typically lose faith, and therefore it will take time to re-establish the will to work together.

In order to establish a closer working relationship with the community, Jinja Municipal Council has posted a Deputy Clerk - previously situated only at the Town Hall - at Walukuba as well as two other centre. This grassroots approach provides a direct link from community to council and vice versa. The community centre will act as a meeting place and a facility for activities and recreation and also be a key focal point for municipal administration and politicians to interact with the community.

Council and staff have a better understanding of the value of community and will support and promote expansion of this ideal throughout Jinja.

Municipal Staff Training Needs

Jinja Municipal Staff is a willing group, eager to learn new methods of improving their operation and the services they provide to the Town. Initially, Jinja had one computer in use with its primary function being for accounting purposes. At present, a total of eight staff members have been provided with basic training in computer skills. Eight additional staff members will be trained in different areas including word processing and spreadsheets. Two staff members will also train in the area of accounting. This phase of the program should be completed by the end of December, 1996. The computer equipment and subsequent training provided has helped with the day to day word processing requirements for committee and council meetings, record-keeping and inventory and with accounting, payrolls and staff records. As staff training continues, with some individuals becoming instructors themselves, further computerization and efficiency in administration will continue.

In addition to the ongoing expansion of Council's computer inventory, the partnership has provided office equipment including a fax machine and photocopier. These have helped to improve the quality and efficiency of municipal administration's internal and external communications. Significant cost reductions were also achieved with regard to the amount of outside services required by Council. Plumbing and carpentry tools have been provided, enabling staff to carry out maintenance and repairs to municipal facilities, thereby improving services. In Jinja, between 30-50 newborns per medical centre are delivered each month. Medical equipment, such as sterilizers and delivery kits, now play a crucial role in providing better health care. The equipment will significantly reduce infections and transmission of diseases. It will also allow for equipment to be more readily available.

Other forms of training have taken place through political and staff exchanges that have provided first hand experience on issues and items. After the initial exchange visit, the Mayor of Jinja was so impressed that public participation in Guelph, that he set up a task force, Jinja Development Consultative Forum Committee, to deal with economic development and public participation in local government. This task force will assist and advise Council on community affairs and industrial commercial development. At our recent meeting in Jinja with the Chair and Committee members, it was discovered that the committee has had growing pains, but continues to work hard toward betterment of Jinja's economy and an improved level of community involvement. They have focused on a number of areas that include: a tourism brochure developed for the Source of the Nile; support and promotion of tourism in general; information and guidance on economic and local matters and well as providing assistance in regard to short and long term strategies for development.


Enviromental concerns and the need to replace tree vegetation in Jinja, as well as Uganda is extremely important. The community needs wood to with - land clearing for crop growing and vegetable gardens has devestated the forest areas. Approximately 96% of Ugandans depend on wood fuel for cooking. As the population grows, the need for trees and wood products also increases. Reforestation will help to control erosion, provide urban tree shading and wood for future generations. In the Ugandan climate, trees grow over ten feet per year, making such a project a fast growing operation with almost instantaneous results.

Nursery and Greening Initiatives

Lack of trained staff and resources to establish nurseries has in the past, made it impossible to deal with the propagation of trees in the community. Through the partnership, we have developed and improved upon, a nursery. Production of plant material commenced in 1994, followed by the opening of a sales kiosk at the central market. The sales centre permits staff to market plants in the same manner as our garden centre sales outlets and plant sales have increased steadily to 700% over the first year. Training in this area involved visiting areas where plants are produced in large quantity, such as the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources, who produce 8,000,000 plants per year to smaller nurseries. The key learning experience was the observation and involvement in the techniques used in plant production and sales, so that elements of this could be applied to the present conditions in Jinja. The Source of the Nile Rotary Club, which is twinned with the Guelph Rotary Club, will provide assistance in co-ordinating the project development to its completion. A total of 55,000 plants, will be produced by mid 1996 (20,000 trees, 15,000 shrubs and 20,000 flowers). A tree planting program is now in place for the downtown and surrounding area. A list of appropriate trees for specific landscape and beautification is to be developed and promoted to the community. Within five years, the nursery should be self-sustaining with revenues set aside for the purpose of capital improvements.


In Jinja, landfill material is 90-95% organic. As a result, composting ability does exist. Through exchange visits and videos, several composting projects have commenced and being successful. Council is looking into expanding the program by subsidizing the construction of compost bins and distributing throughout Jinja. It is their intention to reduce the number of containers required for transporting refuse, so that some of the funds can be redirected to the composting projects. The objective of reducing the cost of transporting refuse and conservation of energy and improving the environment is a driving force in this program. Interest from other local and central government agencies has begun. This program will more than likely be expanded outside of Jinja. Jinja staff will continue to work with available resources, seeking methods of recycling plastics.


We are very pleased to great strides in the short time this program has been in operation. In our view, the success has been made possible for the following reasons:

* the goals set are achievable, measurable and sustainable

* allowing change to occur from within by providing support and realistic examples

* political buy-in in Jinja and Guelph

* strong willingness to help and be helped

* communications between the two partners must be constant and develop a friendship

* invested dollars were not simply spent on material items, but also on training, staff and politicians on a one to one basis

* together we are developing projects that support environmental concerns, and in turn generate revenue

* projects involve volunteers, community and local government

* soliciting the involvement of other organizations, such as schools, women's groups and the co-operation of the Guelph/Jinja Rotary Clubs, to assist in program areas

* involving Council and staff in the municipalities to keep the public informed and involved

* rewarding and recognizing both communities, and informing of progress through radio, newspaper and television

The Partnership Program was made possible due to the insight and global caring of the Federation of Canadian Municipalities, who providing the funding supported by Canadian International Development Agency.

Although we are only a small part of this world, we are pleased to be participating in a program that embodies a willingness to learn and change so that life as we know it can be healthier and more rewarding.

If all of us just do a little, collectively we can accomplish a lot.


* 20 street youths, now trained in construction
* increase plant sales by 700%
* increase community centre utilization by 600%
* increase in public involvement in the decision-making process
* Walukuba Community Centre renovations
* Committee of Community Volunteers
* increase in tree planting and greening
* 3 Deputy Clerks now located more grassroots, in the community centres
* 18 staff members now computer trained
* development of a task force, Jinja Development Consultative Forum Committee
* tourism brochure developed
* tree nursery
* sales kiosk for plants
* increase partnerships within communities; Rotary Clubs; pen pals etc.
* significant cost reductions via municipal administrative efficiencies
* decrease infections and transmission of diseases with respect to sterilizers and delivery kits.


The partnership program between Guelph, Ontario and Jinja, Uganda is indeed unique. It is discernible in that it demonstrates changes and initiatives that are sustainable in the areas of governance, public participation and environmental protection.

Governance has evolved to be inclusive of public participation in decision-making processes. A commitment to this is evident by the formation and ongoing work with community volunteer and task force committees. A more grassroots approach to government has been adopted by Jinja Municipal Council. Their progressiveness in establishing a closer working relationship with the community is evident by moving their Deputy Clerks to the community centres and to the people.

Efficiencies in record-keeping, accounting, payroll and staff records have been identified through computer training and applications. Both internal and external governmental communications have been improved.

In infrastructure, the newly renovated Walukuba Community Centre, is a model in communities working together with government for their betterment. The Centre has seen utilization increase by 600%. There has been a decrease in vandalism within the community, relating to a feeling of ownership. It is an additional benefit that the community also has youth training in construction. The sustainability of the centre is also evident by its self-supporting account.

The establishment of a tree nursery has continued to develop and improve. This project has seen an increase in plant sales of some 700% in the first year. With a marked improvement in the quality and reorganization of plant material as well as increase sales, the project will be self-sustaining within five years. Additional revenues will be set aside for capital improvements. The development of a sales kiosk in the market area has improved the availability of plant materials to the community.

A tree planting program is now in place for the downtown and surrounding area. This greening initiative will have a positive impact on the environment.

Several composting projects have commenced and been successful. The expansion of this program will divert landfill waste, create a useable compost material and reduce the amount of fuel energy utilized on refuse transport. Interest shown by other levels of government and agencies would indicate a likely expansion of this project outside of Jinja.

This partnership has seen great strides in the short time this program has been in operation. The goals set were achieveable, measurable and sustainable. Communications between the two partners have been constant. The projects have involved volunteers, both communities, organizations as well as local government.

The project is a proven success and demonstrates how a partnership can have a substantial and tangible impact in bringing about lasting changes.


    Jinja Municipal Council
    P.O. BOX 659


    City of Guelph, Ontario
    The City of Guelph, Ontario
    59 Carden Street
    N1H 3A1


    City of Guelph, Ontario, Canada
    Kovach, Gloria (Councillor)
    59 Carden Street
    N1H 3A1

    Federation of Canadian Municipalities
    St. Ahlmann, Gus
    59 Carden Street
    N1H 3A1

    Jinja Municipal Council, Jinga, Uganda

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