PRETORIA, January 20, 2011 – The World Bank’s Board of Executive Directors in Washington today approved a US$26.9 million loan to the Kingdom of Swaziland to strengthen the capacity of urban and rural (Tinkhundla) local governments to deliver effective and sustainable services to citizens.
“The Government of Swaziland welcomes the strategic engagement with the World Bank for strengthening the capacities of local governments,” said H.E. Majozi Sithole, Minister of Finance, Swaziland. “The project will help the government to achieve the goal of improving service delivery in rural and urban areas.”
The project has three components:
- Support to eight Tinkhundla to promote the participation of local communities in small-scale public infrastructure projects, together with access to on-the-job, just-in-time capacity building support;
- Support to urban local governments, with performance-based grants to be used for investment in local road infrastructure, as well as as-needed capacity-building support; and
- Additional technical assistance, including to support implementation of a performance assessment system, review potential local government fiscal support models, strengthen capacity in key ministries, and provide targeted technical support in areas such as municipal finance, where needed, to local governments.
“In the aftermath of the global financial crisis, enabling urban and rural local governments to deliver services efficiently and cost-effectively is vital for securing broad-based economic growth,” said Ruth Kagia, World Bank Country Director for Swaziland.
The project provides support to eight of the nation’s 55 rural local governments known as Tinkhundla, and 12 urban local governments. Swaziland is a lower-middle-income country with a population of one million, with high income inequality and the highest HIV/AIDS prevalence rate in the world. Migration to peri-urban areas as well as to traditionally administered centers within rural Tinkhundla has placed growing pressure on local government structures to deliver services. The project aims to support the ability of local governments to deliver efficient and sustainable local services within the framework of the Government’s decentralization program.
“The project will help to bridge the urban-rural divide and deliver positive development outcomes well past its life cycle,” said Elisabeth Sherwood, World Bank Senior Financial Specialist and project team leader. “We look forward to successful implementation.”
The Government of Swaziland is facing macroeconomic challenges brought on by the global financial crisis and the resulting precipitous decline of income from the Southern Africa Customs Union (SACU), a source for nearly 60 percent of government revenues. Discussions are underway with the World Bank (and jointly with other development partners) to determine a program of support.