From the 27th to the 30th of March, the city of eThekwini welcomed a high-level delegation from the Sri Lankan Federation of Local Authorities (FSLGA) to discuss how to develop inclusive urban policies, within the context of a city’s transformation process. Sri Lanka is currently shifting from being a country with violent unrest to a stable situation – a shift which South Africa experienced as well. Coming from a comparable background, the exchange aimed at exchanging about South Africa’s lessons learnt, in their transformation process. This exchange is the third of its kind, funded by the Sri Lankan government. The first exchange took place as a UCLG/ASPAC learning on decent work and Local Economic Development in Negombo. After this, the FSLGA mobilized 7 out of a total of 8 Chief ministers (governors) to learn about urban management and performance in eThekwini, hosted by MILE in partnership with UCLG and UNDP.
This third learning exchange provided a platform for officials from regional and national governments to engage on challenges and opportunities in the practice and implementation of urban planning and development management. eThekwini provided several presentations and facilitated discussions, amongst others on strategic planning, community engagement and long term development planning. eThekwini’s integrated development plans raised much interest among the delegates.
Learning from the experiences of eThekwini
Ethekwini’s experiences deemed to be useful for the Sri Lankan context as well: “For true development to happen and to address the needs of our communities, strategists have to consult at grass roots level. The engagement in developing the long term development framework and integrated development plans in eThekwini is commendable as it was inclusive of all stakeholders,” said Nimesha Thiwankara (programme officer FSGLA).
The Chief Secretary for the North Western Province in Sri Lanka, Mr. P.B.M Sirisena, found the learning experience enlightening. “This experience will definitely help our country achieve its targets and goals. The planning processes followed and the presentation on the monitoring and evaluation of performance were informative,” said Sirisena.
eThekwini’s international engagement
EThekwini Municipality is also active in the field of urban development and city-to-city learning at the global level: it currently chairs UCLG’s Committee on Urban Strategic Planning, as well as the City-to-City Learning Agenda.