Integrated Development Planning for Local Government

What is in this guide?

This guide gives a general overview of Integrated Development Planning (IDP). A more detailed guide pack is available from the Department of Provincial and Local Government (DPLG)

In this guide we cover:

  1. What is Integrated Development Planning?
  2. Why is it necessary to do an IDP?
  3. Who are the Stakeholders in the IDP process?
  4. What is the IDP process?
  5. The IDP and Public Participation

For more detail on how local government works, see these guides:

  • Developmental local government
  • Understanding local government
  • Ward committees
  • Municipal budgets and finance
  • Municipal service delivery


Local municipalities in South Africa have to use "integrated development planning" as a method to plan future development in their areas. Apartheid planning left us with cities and towns that:

  • Have racially divided business and residential areas
  • Are badly planned to cater for the poor - with long travelling distances to work and poor access to business and other services.
  • Have great differences in level of services between rich and poor areas
  • Have sprawling informal settlements and spread out residential areas that make cheap service delivery difficult.

Rural areas were left underdeveloped and largely unserviced. The new approach to local government has to be developmental and aims to overcome the poor planning of the past.

Integrated Development Planning is an approach to planning that involves the entire municipality and its citizens in finding the best solutions to achieve good long-term development.

An Integrated Development Plan is a super plan for an area that gives an overall framework for development. It aims to co-ordinate the work of local and other spheres of government in a coherent plan to improve the quality of life for all the people living in an area. It should take into account the existing conditions and problems and resources available for development. The plan should look at economic and social development for the area as a whole. It must set a framework for how land should be used, what infrastructure and services are needed and how the environment should be protected

All municipalities have to produce an Integrated Development Plan (IDP). The municipality is responsible for the co-ordination of the IDP and must draw in other stakeholders in the area who can impact on and/or benefit from development in the area.

Once the IDP is drawn up all municipal planning and projects should happen in terms of the IDP. The annual council budget should be based on the IDP. Other government departments working in the area should take the IDP into account when making their own plans.

It should take 6 to 9 months to develop an IDP. During this period service delivery and development continues.

The IDP is reviewed every year and necessary changes can be made.

The IDP has a lifespan of 5 years that is linked directly to the term of office for local councillors. After every local government elections, the new council has to decide on the future of the IDP. The council can adopt the existing IDP or develop a new IDP that takes into consideration existing plans.

The executive committee or executive mayors of the municipality have to manage the IDP. They may assign this responsibility to the municipal manager.

In most municipalities, an IDP co-ordinator is appointed to oversee the process. The IDP co-ordinator reports directly to the municipal manager and the executive committee or the executive mayor.

The IDP has to be drawn up in consultation with forums and stakeholders. The final IDP document has to be approved by the council.


There are six main reasons why a municipality should have an IDP:

  • Effective use of scarce resources

The IDP will help the local municipality focus on the most important needs of local communities taking into account the resources available at local level.

The local municipality must find the most cost-effective ways of providing services and money will be spent on the causes of problems in local areas.

For example, a municipality may decide to allocate resources to building a canal that will prevent homes being damaged during the flood season. This will reduce the financial burden placed on the municipality’s emergency services.

  • It helps to speed up delivery

The IDP identifies the least serviced and most impoverished areas and points to where municipal funds should be spent. Implementation is made easier because the relevant stakeholders have been part of the process.

The IDP provides deadlock-breaking mechanisms to ensure that projects and programmes are efficiently implemented. The IDP helps to develop realistic project proposals based on the availability of resources.

  • It helps to attract additional funds

Government departments and private investors are willing to invest where municipalities have clear development plans.

  • Strengthens democracy

Through the active participation of all the important stakeholders, decisions are made in a democratic and transparent manner.

  • Helps to overcome the legacy of apartheid

Municipal resources are used to integrate rural and urban areas and to extend services to the poor.

  • Promotes co-ordination between local, provincial and national government

The different spheres of government are encouraged to work in a co-ordinated manner to tackle the development needs in a local area.

For example: The Department of Health plans to build a clinic in an area. It has to check that the municipality can provide services like water and sanitation for the effective functioning of the clinic.

  • Municipality

The IDP guides the development plans of the local municipality.

  • Councillors

The IDP gives councillors an opportunity to make decisions based on the needs and aspirations of their constituencies.

  • Communities and other stakeholders

The IDP is based on community needs and priorities. Communities have the chance to participate in identifying their most important needs.

The IDP process encourages all stakeholders who reside and conduct business within a municipal area to participate in the preparation and implementation of the development plan.

  • National and provincial sector departments

Many government services are delivered by provincial and national government departments at local level -for example: police stations, clinics and schools. Municipalities must take into account the programmes and policies of these departments. The departments should participate in the IDP process so that they can be guided how to use their resources to address local needs.


Before starting the planning process, an IDP Process Plan must be drawn up. This plan is meant to ensure the proper management of the planning process.

This plan should outline:

  • The structures that will manage the planning process
  • How the public can participate and structures that will be created to ensure this participation
  • Time schedule for the planning process
  • Who is responsible for what
  • How will the process be monitored

At District Council level, a framework will be developed in consultation with all local municipalities within the district. This framework will ensure co-ordination, consultation and alignment between the district council and local municipalities. The framework will guide the development of the IDP Process Plan for each local municipality.

The process undertaken to produce the IDP consists of 5 phases:


During this phase information is collected on the existing conditions within the municipality. It focuses on the types of problems faced by people in the area and the causes of these problems.

The identified problems are assessed and prioritised in terms of what is urgent and what needs to be done first.

Information on availability of resources is also collected during this phase.

At the end of this phase, the municipality will be able to provide:

  • An assessment of the existing level of development
  • Details on priority issues and problems and their causes
  • Information on available resources


During this phase, the municipality works on finding solutions to the problems assessed in phase one.

This entails:

  • Developing a vision -

The vision is a statement of the ideal situation the municipality would like to achieve in the long term once it has addressed the problems outlined in phase one. The following is an example of a vision statement:

An economically vibrant city with citizens living in a secure, healthy and comfortable environment

  • Defining development objectives

Development objectives are clear statements of what the municipality would like to achieve in the medium term to deal with the problems outlined in phase one.

For example: Provide access to clean water for all residents living in the informal settlement

  • Development strategies

Once the municipality has worked out where it wants to go and what it needs to do to get there, it needs to work out how to get there. A development strategy is about finding the best way for the municipality to meet a development objective.

For example: Co-operate with the Department of Water Affairs to provide one water stand pipe for every 20 households.

  • Project Identification

Once the municipality has identified the best methods to achieving its development objectives it leads to the identification of specific projects.


During this phase the municipality works on the design and content of projects identified during Phase 2.

Clear details for each project has to be worked out in terms of:

  • Who is going to benefit from the project?
  • How much is it going to cost?
  • How is this project going to be funded?
  • How long would it take to complete?
  • Who is going to manage the project?

Clear targets must be set and indicators worked out to measure performance as well as the impact of individual projects.


Once all projects have been identified, the municipality has to check again that they contribute to meeting the objectives outlined in Phase 2. These projects will provide an overall picture of the development plans.

All the development plans must now be integrated. The municipality should also have overall strategies for issues like dealing with AIDS, poverty alleviation and disaster management.

These strategies should be integrated with the overall IDP.


The IDP is presented to the council for consideration and adoption. The Council may adopt a draft for public comment before approving a finalised IDP.


The DPLG proposes that an IDP Representative Forum be established to encourage the participation of communities and other stakeholders.

The forum may include.

  • Members of the executive committee of the council
  • Councillors including district councillors
  • Traditional leaders
  • Ward committee representative
  • Heads of departments and senior officials from municipal and government department
  • representatives from organised stakeholder groups
  • People who fight for the rights of unorganised groups – e.g. A gender activist
  • Resource people or advisors
  • Community representatives (e.g. RDP Forum)

The purpose of the this forum is to:

  • Provide an opportunity for stakeholders to represent the interests of their constituencies.
  • Provide a structure for discussion, negotiations and joint decision making
  • Ensure proper communication between all stakeholders and the municipality
  • Monitor the planning and implementation process

A code of conduct should be drawn up for these forums that provides details on:

  • Meetings – frequency and attendance
  • Agenda, facilitation and recording of proceedings
  • Understanding the role of various stakeholders as representatives of their constituencies
  • How feedback to constituencies will take place
  • Required majority for decisions to be taken
  • How disputes will be resolved

The Council should also approve a strategy for public participation. The strategy must decide, amongst other things, on:

  • The roles of the different stakeholders during the participation process
  • Ways to encourage the participation of unorganised groups
  • Method to ensure participation during the different phases of planning
  • Timeframes for public and stakeholder response, inputs and comments
  • Ways to disseminate information
  • Means to collect information on community needs

During the different stages of planning participation can be encouraged in these ways:

Planning phaseMethods for Participation
AnalysisCommunity Meetings organised by the ward councillorStakeholder MeetingsSurveys and opinion polls (getting views on how people feel about a particular issue)

IDP Representative Forum
Public Debates on what can work best in solving a problem
Meetings with affected communities and stakeholdersRepresentation of stakeholders on project subcommittees
IntegrationIDP Representative Forum
ApprovalPublic Discussion and consultation with communities and stakeholders
Monitoring and ImplementationIDP Representative Forum

The elected council makes all the final decisions on the IDP.