Call for Research to Describe the Relationship between National and Urban Government in Tanzania.


    Tanzania’s urban population is expected to grow from 15 million people in 2012 to 60 million people by mid-century. Tanzania already has the fourth largest population in Africa living under poverty (World Bank, 2016)1 and national statistics suggest, unusually that infant mortality and life expectancy are worse in urban centres than in rural areas. The country’s Five Year Development Plan anticipates urbanisation placing additional pressure on urban infrastructure and services in spite of high levels of GDP growth in recent years.

    In partnership with the Tanzania’s National Government, the New Climate Economy (NCE’s) Coalition for Urban Transitions (CUT) is looking to support sustainable urbanisation in Tanzania. The NCE’s experience conducting National Urban Transition Assessments (NUTA) in Ethiopia and Uganda reveals the importance of such efforts being firmly grounded in local knowledge, the local policy cycle and available institutional capacity.

    Building on this experience the CUT team in Tanzania has established an Urbanisation Laboratory, that is chaired by Tanzania’s National Planning Commission and coordinated by Economic and Social Research Foundation (ESRF). The Laboratory will commission research that is required to produce a credible and implementable NUTA and to outline a plausible “roadmap” for better urbanisation. The primary audience for this work will be national government departments in Tanzania, although it is understood that effective urbanisation involves government and non-government actors at multiple scales.

    Thriving cities in Tanzania will necessarily require support from National Government and State Owned Utilities. Thriving cities are also the most likely driver of future national economic growth, which in turn could serve political interests.

    The African Union’s gathering in June 2014 recognised the importance of cities and local decision making when it adopted the African Charter on Values and Principles of Decentralisation, Local governance and Local Development. Tellingly, only four African countries have ratified the African Charter, hinting at widespread reluctance among national leaders on the continent to invest in the formation of accountable, duly-constituted local governments that could incubate political opposition (UN-Habitat, 2010). The reasons for this reluctance are varied, but often relate to contested political economic issues between tiers of government.

    A growing number of African countries have produced National Urban Policies (NUPs), but to date most National Urban Policies have ignored the power dynamics that inform access to resources, information and decision making between national and sub-national governments and state owned entities. This makes for an incomplete analysis and for inappropriate prescriptions, which is one of the reasons NUPs prove difficult to implement.


    This call from Tanzania’s Urbanisation Laboratory outlines the need for a piece of research that is critical for compiling a workable urbanisation roadmap, namely a documentation of the political, governance and economic (including fiscal) relationship between National Government and the various entities that constitute local government (Municipalities, Divisions, Wards and Streets) (Streets) and State Owned Utilities.

    The research will apply United Cities and Local Government’s (UCLG) distinction between political decentralization, administrative decentralization and fiscal devolution (or the lack thereof) in describing the prevailing relationship in Tanzania between national and local entities. Reference should be made to policies, decision making, fiscal transfers and governance rationales in substantiating the description.

    The research will feed into an Urbanisation Roadmap to be produced in 2018. It should aim to provide a balanced and meaningful grounding in Tanzania’s political economy for the diagnoses and recommendations in the roadmap. As such the research should document both the prevailing political economy and its evolution over (at least) the past three decades.


    The suitable research team will:

    • Understand the political and institutional landscape in Tanzania so as to have a realistic grasp on the nature of budget transfers between tiers of government and the associated opportunities and limitations for cities seeking to deliver infrastructure and services.
    • Be able to distinguish between policy rhetoric, public commentary and actual governance modalities.
    • Be sufficiently familiar with decentralization and devolution discourses so as to describe the essential features of these processes in Tanzania, and comment on their underlying merits and limitations in the context of sustainable urban development.
    • Be sufficiently experienced in East African research to be able to interview key political, administrative, civil society and academic leaders, and to be able to identify the relevant policy documents in Tanzania.


    • The key deliverable on this research will be a written report, not to exceed 40 pages, that addresses the points above in documenting the political economy between national and local government in Tanzania.
    • The report should be accompanied by a 2-page Executive Summary.
    • The all-inclusive budget for this work should not exceed $45,000, but proposals will compete in terms of budget and value for money. Budgets less than the threshold amount will count favourably in the evaluation of proposals.
    • The final report must be submitted by 30 June 2018.
    • The research team will be expected to engage local stakeholders including government departments and will draw on existing data, but may need to look for new sources of information in compiling a credible and useful report.
    • It is the intention that the research be enriched by the Urbanisation Laboratory. The successful research team will be required to present their proposal and methodology to the Laboratory in Tanzania, in person, in mid-November 2017 and again in mid-March 2018. At each event the appointed researcher should be open to peer review and recommendations from the Laboratory members. This process is designed to ensure a better research product and understanding of the research findings among local decision makers.


    • Short proposals should be submitted to Dr Kate Owens at the World Resources Institute [] and Anton Cartwright at the African Centre for Cities [] and Mussa Martine at ESRF [] in the same email by 6pm East African Time, Friday 22 September 2017.
    • Proposals should be explicit about the key criteria against which they will be judged, namely: composition and competence of the research team, all-inclusive costs, track-record in conducting this type of research and knowledge of Tanzanian public finance.
    • Proposals will be evaluated by a core team within the Urbanisation Laboratory comprised of members from African Centre for Cities (ACC), World Resources Institute (WRI) (Ross Centre), Economic and Social Research Foundation (ESRF) and Tanzanian Government. All conflicts of interest will be declared and managed so as to ensure they do not interfere with the appointment process.
    • All submissions will be acknowledged by email and successful contractors will be announced by 10 October 2017 and expected to begin work by 1 November 2017 at the latest.
    • The successful researchers will be required to enter into a contract with WRI Ross Centre, who is responsible for disbursing fees on this project. The final payment will only be made once a satisfactory report has been received.
    • Member of the Tanzanian Urbanization Laboratory are eligible to submit proposals but will be required to declare conflicts of interest and recuse themselves from evaluation of proposals.
    • Queries on this call for research can be submitted by email to

    1World Bank. 2016. Tanzania economic update: the road less traveled – unleashing public private partnerships

    Last updated on 2017-09-06

ESRFs activities are supported by the Government of the United Republic of Tanzania, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), African Capacity Building Foundation (ACBF) and International Development Research Centre (IDRC)