In my early career I worked with poor communities in townships and villages all around the country, supporting motivated residents to build small businesses that could help meet their community’s need for food, water, sanitation and energy. Much of the work focused on local government engagement, because no matter the level of success these enterprising people could reach, they should never be required to allow the state to abdicate its responsibilities.

During these engagements we would discuss the integrated development plans (IDPs) associated with each community, and the community mostly would point me towards the section that addressed the needs of their community, to demonstrate how they were “part of the plan”. Then I would pull out the service delivery & budget implementation plan (the budget for their area) and we would assess whether any of the stated items in the IDP had received budget allocations for the foreseeable future. About 95% of the time they had not...

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