Step 1 - Identify needs and opportunities

From Municipal Cooperation

Establishing IMC
PHASE 1: Initiating cooperation
PHASE 2: Establishing cooperation
PHASE 3: Implementing IMC
PHASE 4: Evaluating IMC

IMC should be based on addressing the needs of the municipality and/or its citizens as well as seizing opportunities to mobilize external funding either from the central government or donors.

A municipality may realize that it is faced with high costs of performing certain municipal tasks and delivering certain services to citizens, or that it lacks adequate staffing and/or financial means to implement initiatives that would contribute to its socio-economic development. This realization can be triggered by financial difficulties faced by the municipality, a feeling of dissatisfaction by citizens on the cost or quality of delivering a given service, rising unemployment, or the need to establish a new service required by citizens.

Someone in the municipality must take the initiative to explore options to address the existing issues. This could be the mayor, top civil servants of the municipality, members of the municipal council or representative of civil society organizations. The importance of leadership in successful IMC should not be underestimated (Box 12). Performing a needs assessment may be a practical first step in determining the range of issues that the municipality is faced with and possible solutions. Through this assessment, the municipality should identify those functions or service areas that can be performed better and cheaper through IMC.

Box 12: The importance of leadership

Although IMC concerns non-hierarchical relations among municipalities, empirical experience suggests that strong leader is helpful in building an IMC institution, someone with charisma who has skills to convince others and mobilize them to work together. Such a leader does not need to have hierarchical power over other partners, but he or she must be capable of mobilizing people to achieve formulated goals. Having a strong leader is not necessarily a pre-condition for establishing IMC, but it can be very advantageous

The initiation of IMC may also be the result of factors (opportunities) that are external to the municipality. For instance, central government grants or funds from institutions such as the EU or international financial institutions may finance major projects in the area of energy or water supply that require cooperation among several municipalities. There may be a private firm interested in obtaining a concession and investing in the modernization of the water supply system on the territory of several municipalities. The company may try to convince the municipalities to engage in a public-private partnership.

In assessing the needs and opportunities, the following questions need to be answered:

  • Would IMC be an adequate and appropriate way to solve the problem/achieve the goal?
  • Are the potential partners (municipalities) motivated to cooperate?
  • What are the barriers that might hinder IMC (lack of resources or capacities, political considerations) and what can be done to overcome them?