Local governments in developing countries play an increasing role in stimulating and facilitating economic and social development. Not only are citizens demanding better government services; central governments are delegating ever more tasks to local governments' duties. One can think of clean streets, clean drinking water, working sewers, a valid title deed registration system, support in setting up businesses. Local administrators are not always well equipped to properly fulfil this role.

The Dutch ministry of Foreign Affairs 2013-2017 international cooperation policy was called 'A world to gain: A New Agenda for Aid, Trade and Investment'. Within that context, the Local Government Capacity Programme (LGCP 2012-2016), mostly financed by the Dutch ministry of Foreign Affairs and implemented by VNG International, aimed to develop the capacity of local governments and local government associations in ten countries and Central America, in order to contribute to sustainable local economic development and the four prioritised themes of the Dutch international cooperation policy: water; security and rule of law; food security; and sexual and reproductive health and rights.

The overall and specific objectives and results of the LGCP Country programmes were:

Benin: Changed policy and practice lead to improved local economic development (LED), specifically in the field of food security, in Benin
• 6 municipalities are undertaking action to deliver services on LED
o Increased capacity of 6 municipalities to create an enabling environment and deliver services on LED
• ANCB is undertaking action to provide better services and represent its members on national level for an improved visibility.
o Increased capacity of ANCB to act on behalf of its members
• 15 municipalities are aware of their role in creating an enabling environment for LED in agriculture.
o Increased capacity of 15 municipalities to create an enabling environment for LED

Burundi: Improved public services by local governments with respect to family planning and land registration for food security in Burundi
• ABELO is undertaking action that allows to provide services on decentralised land registration, councillors' functioning and family planning to its members
o Increased capacity of ABELO to deliver services on decentralised land registration, councillor functioning and family planning to its members and organising platforms for exchange

Central America: Improved regional security and conflict prevention policies and practices lead to a more secure Central America
• LGAs in Central America undertake action to influence on regional security policies
o Increased capacity of the LGAs in Central America to influence on regional security policies

Ghana: Improved policies and practices lead to better sanitation in Ghana.
* The five participating MMDAs are undertaking action to deliver on sanitation
* Increased capacity of five Metropolitan, Municipal or District Assemblies (MMDAs) in Ghana to provide basic sanitation services

Mali: Changed national policy in decentralization in the interest of AMM members and improved municipal practices in Mali
• AMM is undertaking action to influence national policy development in the field of decentralization and to provide needs-based services to its members
o Increased capacity of AMM to effectively influence the national policy development in the field of decentralisation and to deliver needs-based services

Nicaragua: Improved municipal policies and practices in the field of LED (urbanization of lots and housing) and financial management in Nicaragua
• The 13 AMHNH municipalities in Nicaragua are undertaking action that allows for LED (urbanized lots and housing services)
o Increased capacity of the Association of Nicaraguan Municipalities with a city link with the Netherlands (AMHNH) member municipalities to facilitate and institutionalise LED (urbanization of lots and housing services)
• AMUNIC is undertaking action to provide needs-based services in the fields of LED, food security and financial auditing.
o Increased capacity of AMUNIC to provide for needs-based services on LED, food security and financial audit

The Palestinian Territories: More employment, more conducive business environment, more overall income in the Palestinian Territories and better living conditions in Rawabi
• Selected grantee municipalities are undertaking action to stimulate LED
o Increased capacity of selected Palestinian municipalities to enhance, organise and institutionalise LED services
• Rawabi is undertaking action to create an enjoyable living environment
o Increased capacity of the municipality of Rawabi to create an enjoyable living environment.

Rwanda: Improved public services by local governments with respect to land governance and local economic development in Rwanda
• RALGA is undertaking action that allows to provide services on PPP and land management to its members
o Increased capacity of RALGA to deliver services on land management and PPP to its members and organising platforms for exchange
• 6 pilot districts are undertaking action that allows to participate in PPPs
o Increased capacity of 6 pilot districts to participate in PPPs

South Africa: Improved economic development and integrated water resource management in South Africa
• 12 Local Governments are undertaking action to deliver on LED services
o Increased capacity of 12 local governments to enhance, organise and institutionalise LED services
• 3 Catchment Management Agencies (CMAs) are undertaking action to deliver on their water regulating role at catchment level
o Increased capacity of three CMAs to deliver on their water regulating role at catchment level

South Sudan: Improved functioning of South Sudanese government institutions to provide sustainable WASH services
• Selected state and county governments are undertaking action to provide sustainable WASH services
o Increased capacity of selected state and counties to provide sustainable WASH services

Uganda: Improved policies and practices lead to a more food secure Uganda
• Eight Local Governments (LGs) better fulfil their mandates to develop the regulatory and policy environment for food security
o Increased capacity of eight district, municipal and town council local governments (hereafter referred to as LGs) in Uganda to create an enabling environment and deliver services for improved food security
• UAAU and ULGA are undertaking action to influence food security policies and practices and deliver relevant services to their members
o Increased capacity of UAAU and ULGA to lobby and advocate for local governments on food security issues as well as to deliver services to their membership

Capacity development is the term we use to denote a process of improving the overall ability of a local government organisation to create value for its inhabitants by adequately executing its core mandates and tasks. Capacity covers awareness and attitude, knowledge and experience, including technical, administrative, managerial, political, and communication skills. The empowerment of local politicians and officials is context-specific, but can mean o.a. increased understanding of their roles and mandates, enhanced political will to collaborate and perform on responsibilities, developed attitudes and skills that make their approaches more inclusive, including systematic consideration of gender equality.