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With reference to Dar es Salaam, this paper examines experience to date with the concept of urban environmental planning and management (EPM), an approach promoted by the UN agencies concerned with human settlements (UNCHS) and environment (UNEP) to enhance the capacity of local governments to manage rapid urban growth and development in partnership with key stakeholders. The paper highlights the opportunities EPM provides to revitalise urban management, particularly in capacity-starved contexts such as those seen in Tanzania. Militating against sustained partnership between local governments and key stakeholders are constraints including weak political will, overemphasis on short-term physical outputs, reluctance to share power, and the protracted nature of the EPM process. Changing entrenched attitudes and habits of the political and administrative elites (e.g. conservatism or inflexibility, mystification of urban planning and management, and the monopolisation of power) is imperative if EPM is to be institutionalised within Tanzania. Other issues include how to sustain consensus among diverse stakeholders, the balancing of long-term strategies with immediate or short-term expectations in poverty-stricken environments, in addition to problems of dialogue with substantive participation by civil society in immature multi-party democracies.

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