As part of a deliberate design and strategy since its inception, VNG International has continued to strengthen the capacity of national associations of Local Governments across the world and in Uganda in particular. This is anchored in the belief that effective decentralization requires strong vertical and horizontal intergovernmental cooperation and engagements between central and local governments. The institutional and technical capacity of local government associations is critical in achieving this, and hence the focus to enable them to improve their advocacy role, strengthen their technical capacity to respond to needs of members, facilitate leadership development and mentorship, and ensure financial sustainability.
In Uganda, the urgency to strengthen the capacity of the Local Government Associations such as the Urban Authorities Association (UAAU) was necessitated by the need to ready and position local governments and urban authorities to respond to emerging themes and trends in a bid deepen decentralization. Some of these themes include climate change, the digital transformation agenda, the urbanization agenda – with the creation of 10 new secondary cities, deepening Local Economic Development, and embracing alternative financing methods to support service delivery and investments. These stand on the sidelines of the need to strengthen leadership engagements, support governance institutions, systems and processes and facilitate an adaptive environment through conducive policy and legal frameworks. The Sustainable Development through Improved Local Governance (SDLG) Programme in Uganda has taken bold steps and adapted strategies to position the associations to strengthen intergovernmental relationships and engagements.
Key among these was to work introspectively with the secretariat and the members of the executive committee of the associations to define and re-orient their focus the value proposition of the association in line with the emerging trends, challenges and needs of their members. Through this, the programme has been able to inspire the association leaders to understand what matters and what priorities the association should focus on in responding to the collective challenges of local governance and decentralization, direct their efforts towards the purpose of their existence. In so doing, the Urban Authorities Association of Uganda was able to identify the need to rebrand the association to reflect their current cooperate image, identity and focus. It was in recognition of this that the president, members of the executive committee and the entire fraternity of the Urban Authorities Association of Uganda acknowledged and appreciated technical and capacity building support from VNG International during their Annual General Assembly (AGA) in Kisoro Municipality - South Western Uganda. The AGA that was held under the theme “Accelerating Social Economic Transformation of Uganda through Urbanisation and Industrialisation – a role for all of us” saw up to 600 delegates across the country converge to discuss share information on key challenges, strategies, and approaches of Urban Authorities in Uganda. During the same event, a new logo, cooperate image and website of the association was launched by the Minister of Local Government, Hon. Raphael Magyezi.