City Development Strategy Peshawar

Peshawar, Pakistan

The strategy aimed at improving governance to foster sustainable urban development in a context of weak institutional capacities.

Developed within two years, the Peshawar City Development Strategy (CDS) helped determining a long-term vision, focused on institutional development and improved governance. It aimed at creating an enabling environment for urban development by making a better use of existing resources and institutions. The strategy was mainly developed as a pragmatic response to citizens’ day-to-day problems. The three main principles of the Peshawar CDS were good governance, enablement, and capacity building.

The strategy's development process was characterized by large public participation and consultations with key city stakeholders. It was conceived as a learning-by-doing exercise in which outputs weren't predetermined. The elaboration of the strategy faced many challenges. First, it was developed both in a changing institutional context, due to the National Devolution Plan, and in an unstable political environment. Second, the strategy had to gain support from all stakeholders and to shift from a sectoral approach of urban development to an overlapping conception of institutions and governance as key factors for Peshawar's development.

The organization of a broad participatory process, the development of a long-term framework strategy and the recognition of institutional arrangements as common sense ways to foster development make of the Peshawar CDS a good practice example. 


City information

Size and population development
2011: 1,523,000; 1990: 769,000; 2025: 2,352,000; 2010-2015: +3.19% / year

Population composition
unknown, but considerable number of Afghans

Main functions
regional Capital City, industrial city

Main industries / business
textile industries, leather industries, ceramics industry

Political structure
political centre of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa

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Background and objectives

Peshawar is the largest city and administrative capital in the North West Frontier Province (NWFP) of Pakistan. Located close to the Afghan border, Afghan refugees represented 18% of the city's population as the CDS was developed. Due to the Peshawar Municipal Corporation's (PMC) weak management capacity, their arrival has led to many problems, such as the proliferation of informal settlements in and around the city and the difficulty to provide the population with urban infrastructure and services. Moreover, Greater Peshawar is composed of different areas governed by different authorities which made the collection of revenues and delivery of services even more difficult.

The main objective of the CDS was to improve urban governance by strengthening participatory processes and building new institutions that increase civic capacity. An overall governance reform was seen as the most practical approach to decentralisation, fiscal reform, economic development, scaling-up, and upgrading city-wide infrastructure strategies. The PMC was suffering from resource constraints and a lack of authority to implement development strategies. This resulted in municipal leaders not focusing on policy and systemic changes as well as the rationalization of service delivery, as priorities to obtain significant results in terms of development.

The process of developing the Peshawar City Development Strategy began in May 2001. In August 2001, the federal government launched the Devolution of Powers Plan, which deeply changed the system of governance and the administration's organization. It transferred new powers and resources to local governments and decentralized the main agencies responsible for service delivery. The detailed Institutional Assessments (IAs) conducted in the frame of the CDS's development helped to identify the reasons for poor institutional capacity, such as lack of or unclear policies and institutional mandates or insufficient resources for effective operations as well as a poor law and order situation. Objectives in the proposed Peshawar CDS supported and complemented the Devolution of Powers Plan to formulate a framework. The City Municipal and Development Department (CMDD) was created for the management of the macro-municipal functions at the District level and became the new institutional home for the CDS.


The CDS was developed within two years, between May 2001 and April 2003. Four main steps characterised the strategy's development process:

1. Preparation and stakeholder mobilization

Peshawar Municipal Corporation (assisted by a technical assistance team) discussed with international partner institutions (World Bank and UNCHS) about the strategy’s development modalities. This common work resulted in an inception report and a Participation Strategy and Plan. Key stakeholder groups (including the most marginalized ones) were identified in order to guarantee the representation of their interests during the strategy development process; existing institutions have been mobilized and three additional mechanisms have been created:

The TA-Team was hired, composed of specialists in participatory planning; municipal finance; institutional development; & municipal engineering

a) Steering Committee (SC)

High provincial presence and civil society representatives as members; mandated to provide:

- support to the CDS when needed;

- guidance and advise on provincial policies effecting local governments in general, and the Peshawar City District in particular.

b) Interdepartmental Task Team (ITT)

Chaired by District Coordination Officer, with all Executive District Officers as members; mandated to:

- support and internalize CDS process within Peshawar City District government

- validate key outputs

- make recommendations to the Steering Committee

- designate sectoral working groups and focal points

- provide data on Peshawar City District and various sectoral issues

- provide technical support during the strategy development process

- facilitate consultations and ensure departmental participation

- hold fortnightly meetings to review and steer the strategic process;

- disseminate information on CDS objectives, process and its outputs

c) Planning Team

A multi-stakeholder forum to work on a day-to-day basis with TA-team for strategy formulation and internalization of the process. The forum was composed of representatives of civil society and elected representatives and appointed staff of Peshawar City District government and mandated to:

- facilitate and coordinate the process of data collection

- prepare a city profile

- organize consultations with stakeholder groups with support from TA-team

- maintain close liaison with the Interdepartmental Task Team

- provide inputs in the preparation of the CDS and City Assistance Plan

2. Consultations

Consultations were organized with the main stakeholders identified during the first phase, including officials from the provincial and local governments; elected representatives from the Local Governments; private sector representatives; professionals; academicians; and representatives of NGOs/Community Based Organisations.

There were various types of consultations held to ensure inclusiveness. They included individual meetings, group meetings or multi-stakeholder workshops, as well as an e-discussion group and press announcements. Using the SWOT-method, the consultations helped to identify strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats in Peshawar City District from the perspective of Peshawar’s citizens and to gather ideas for the development of the district.

The first City-wide Consultation Workshop was held in mid-march 2002. Thanks to broad participation of key stakeholders it allowed the drafting of a consensus vision (“A City of Peace and Prosperity”).

3. Issue Prioritization

Feedback gathered during the consultation period was then analyzed in order to prioritize issues for Peshawar's development. While some problems could be categorized as sectoral, the majority of issues were related to basic service provision and governance issues (representing nearly 80%). With Governance and Institutional Development as the overarching theme, the main categories of focus were: 

(a) Municipal Services;

(b) Agriculture;

(c) Health;

(d) Education;

(e) Local Revenue Generation

Following the consultation period, the new institutions created by the Devolution Plan were in place but still faced serious constraints, among others a lack of policy direction and resources, low capacities, weak systems and procedures and a low level of awareness of the new responsibilities. Recognizing local governance and institutional shortcomings as serious challenges gradually emerged among officials and as a key priority for Peshawar’s City Development Strategy.

One of the main concerns for officials was to ensure that although long-term planning was useful, the CDS must focus on the immediate and short-term needs of the Peshawar City District government. Thus following priorities were:

(i) focus on institutional development and governance issues as low-investment, high-return actions;

(ii) largely rely on Peshawar City District mandate and potential resource generation capacity for implementation;

(iii) ensure consistency with provincial and federal policy frameworks

4. Strategy Formulation

At the end of September 2002, the second city-wide Consultation Workshop took place with the aim of:

(1) reviewing recommendations that evolved in priority sectors and in cross-sectoral areas and to seek feedback;

(2) ensuring political ownership and obtain commitments from provincial and Peshawar City District governments for the implementation of recommendations;

(3) agreeing on next steps

The CDS development process was based on public participation. It was aimed at better including marginalized groups and to identify and address population's daily concerns. New institutional arrangements and new steering bodies were created in order to guarantee the implementation of the strategy in the long run. Finally, the strategy aimed at increasing administrators' capacity to govern by clarifying their competences and responsibilities and providing them with more resources. 

Financing and resources

The organization of the CDS in Peshawar is owned by the World Bank and members of Cities Alliance. The majority of the financial resources were sponsored by Cities Alliance funding, amounting to USD 37,500. Additional co-financing amount, including local partners, is intended to be USD 70,000.00. This included MCP in kind support amounting to USD 30,000, by way of personnel, office space, equipment and logistical support, and an addition by the World Bank of USD 40,000 – i.e. a total project budget of USD 210,000.00. Monitoring project development was primarily carried out by CDS SC, which submitted periodic progress reports to the Bank and UNCHS. Apart from this, consultants also submitted periodic reports starting with an inception report.

Results and impacts

The CDS was a framework strategy coupled with a participatory approach which allowed the emergence of a shared vision for Peshawar's development. While the federal devolution plan shed light on existing institutional weaknesses, the CDS helped to identify institutional and governance arrangements as a key overarching theme for Peshawar's development.

The process of drafting the CDS was a unique learning-by-doing experience. The process was very different from previous experiences insofar that it was:

- a bottom-up approach, with the organization of broad public participation

- an integrated and multi-year strategy based on existing structures and institutions

The strategy was also about capacity building of its stakeholders by mobilizing and generating interest among Peshawar's residents to actively participate in the formulation of a vision for their city. It was also aimed at administrators, by making the Mayor and Peshawar City District Government aware of potentials and constraints, of available local resource generation avenues and expenditure controls.

Existing institutions have been strengthened by new consultative and integrated steering bodies dedicated to the CDS development and implementation. The CDS process accompanied the implementation of the National Devolution of Powers Plan and facilitated its implementation by putting new institutional arrangements at the top of the local political agenda. 

Barriers and challenges

The city district government (divided in four towns, Peshawar I, II, III and IV) had to deal with political pressures and high expectations from rural constituencies (representing 50% of the City district). Consequently, it decided the expansion of the geographic and sectoral scope of the CDS in the course of the strategy’s development, moving beyond the initial focus on urban development and municipal service provision.

Two major unexpected disruptions occurred in the course of the strategy development process: the National Devolution of Powers Plan and the military action on neighboring Afghanistan.

From August 2001, the Devolution of Powers Plan to the local levels changed institutional arrangements. Its main characteristics with impact on the CDS were:

- a fundamental restructuring of local governments’ institutions - many agencies merged, others closed down;

- the CDS counterpart institution transformed from a Municipal Corporation to the Peshawar City District Government ;

- the geographic boundary of Peshawar was re-defined and the territory increased from 245 to 1257 sq. kms;

- as a result, the population increased from 983,648 to 2,242,000.

Local governments were not properly prepared for such radical changes. This led to confusions in roles and responsibilities, as well as to a lack of institutional capacity to support local levels in their newly acquired responsibilities and tasks.  

A second event that unexpectedly impacted the CDS development process was the military intervention on neighboring Afghanistan from October 2001. It caused severe adverse effects on the North West Frontier Province and Peshawar, such as a large influx of Afghan refugees, increased protests, deterioration in working conditions, uncertainty about the future and a generally poor security situation. For several months the process nearly came to a standstill. It challenged the CDS process both with respect to its prioritization of work as well as keeping full commitment and financial support of its stakeholders. 

Lessons learned and transferability

The city district government (divided in four towns, Peshawar I, II, III and IV) had to deal with political pressures and high expectations from rural constituencies (representing 50% of the City district). Consequently, it decided the expansion of the geographic and sectoral scope of the CDS in the course of the strategy’s development, moving beyond the initial focus on urban development and municipal service provision.

The three main lessons learned during the process are the followings:

- Institutionalization of a novel initiative like the CDS process requires champions within the government, private sector and civil society, identified at an early stage to promote and to speed up the process.

- Readiness of the city hall / local government is important. In Peshawar, the fundamental institutional transition within the city government during the CDS exercise became a key challenge.

- Some follow-up assistance for the implementation of critical strategic actions is necessary to develop demonstrable models for replication and enhance confidence of involved stakeholders.

The strategy was taking into account existing local opportunities, resources and capacities. New steering bodies were created to embolden both the representation of stakeholders as well as the strategy development process.

The organizational and financial support received by international organizations also contributed to the success of the strategy’s development. The four main steps characterizing the strategy's development (preparation and stakeholders mobilization; consultation; issue prioritization and strategy formulation) may be replicable to structure other framework strategies in cities.


- City Development Strategy Peshawar Volume I and II

- City Development Strategy (CDS), Peshawar, PAKISTAN, Shahnaz Arshad, November 2003



External links / documents