The SC and the CDS team will need to put together a team to execute the situation analysis. They will most probably be working with consultants, as the situation analysis constitutes a body of research that requires particular skills. It is however, extremely important that staff 1) learn from the experts with whom they are working 2) develop knowledge and ownership of the issues identified. Putting together a local government team with which the experts can work is essential.


The local government can make use of university students and researchers to provide support in gathering information.

It is useful to review the issue areas likely to require research as this will help to highlight where efforts should be focused.  Step 4, below, provides some indicative areas that should be relevant, but each town or city will be different in specific needs, availability of information and collection ability.

Prior to getting started on the review of resources, it will be necessary for the experts and local government team to review local data sources (including maps) and assess the availability (and the value) of information. It is essential to know if there is information available, and the reliability of this data, or if there are severe constraints to obtaining data. The team will look at statistics, existing publications and documentations, existing studies and evaluations reports (made by universities, consultants and donors).  It is good also to be aware of the potential of local communities to collect information and innovative approaches such as community based mapping.

The team will have to strategize on 1) the quantity of data to be gathered as well as 2) the quality, accuracy and reliability of the data collected. Attention should be paid to being judicious about the amount of data collected. Where possible, it is advisable to focus on existing documentation and statistics when these are available. In some cases, the team can consider executing primary research in the form of business and citizen surveys and interviews.

In any case, the team should prepare for the process, and hold a first round of consultations with different bodies to promote and prepare them for the upcoming situation analysis. These bodies may also have at their disposal accurate information that they are willing to provide to the city. These consultations will also be used to discuss with them future involvement in the development of the strategy and, in the future, in the implementation of the strategy.

Understanding the current situation in the city also means understanding the external factors that influence the city. The experts and team will analyse the strategic context: the external environment that influences the municipality, general trends (Note: this is an input to the SWOT-Analysis).


VNG (2010) advises: beware of your influence!
When assessing local issues, it is important for the city to be aware of its sphere of influence: certain factors that influence the city are within the control of the city, others are not. It is of importance to focus on the factors over which the city has control and is able to influence. In some instance, the city may be able to execute indirect influence, by lobbying for change (e.g. requests for the allocation of grants from Central Government to be done on time).

As mentioned in Step 2, above, the team will have to collect data on the sectors and themes that are of importance to the city. The bullets below provide a general idea of the topics that should be covered in a diagnosis:

  1. An institutional analysis – which organizations -public and private are operating in the city and what are their potential roles and capacities;
  2. An initial demographic analysis and spatial analysis (assessment of maps and planning documentation);
  3. Assessment of land use, ownership and markets, as well as municipal assets;
  4. An analysis of the local economic development status and potential;
  5. An assessment of the natural resources, environmental issues and climate change vulnerability;
  6. An analysis of key social issues;
  7. A rapid appraisal of poverty context and situation;
  8. An appraisal of approaches to gender issues across the different sectors as well as marginalized communities and individuals with special needs.
  9. An assessment of other locally chosen priority topics / sectors (such as infrastructure, basic services, housing, health, education, safety, heritage and cultural assets, etc.).

It depends on the local situation how these themes are organised and dealt with in the write-up of the situation.

Figure 1: An example of the structure of a situation analysis

The Figure above provides one example of how themes can be organised in the write up of a situation analysis. The structure of the analysis will depend on the context.

See the section on ‘frameworks for executing situation analysis’ below for some frameworks that can be used in this sub-phase. Whatever framework is chosen, it is important for the city to be clear how to use it and to be comfortable with working with the framework. It is also important that the information generated is relevant and reflects the ‘real’ situation in the city. The results of the analysis have to be ‘recognisable’ for the inhabitants of the city.

Please also note the Future Cities Africa programme, that is currently developing a data management toolkit for cities.

The experts and the CDS team will organise events to discuss the situation analysis with the thematic working groups, made up of different stakeholders. They will also organise, on completion of the situation analysis, a stakeholder forum to discuss the profile and agree on the issues that come out of the report. The team will derive out of these discussions a sense of the perception of (the severity of) problems in the city. They should also identify the opportunities.

Output of this sub-phase: Situation Analysis

Situation analysis, gender and poverty

The situation analysis, gender and poverty

The situation analysis should assess the implication for women, men, the poor and physically challenged of the current legislation, policies or programmes in each sector or related to each theme. This can be dealt with in the final output in a separate chapter or can be integral to each topic.

General issues and trends in gender

The UN [1], in their publication on gender, mentions a series of issues and trends to be conscious of when doing the situation analysis. Women have a tendency to face inequalities in political power (access to decision-making, representation, etc.), as well as in households. They are subject to differences in legal status and entitlements. It is also necessary to look at the gender division of labour within the economy, and in particular at the inequalities in the domestic/unpaid sector. Finally, there continues to be a trend in discriminatory attitudes to woman and incidences of violence against women. When setting up the situation analysis, it is important to consider these aspects.

Data collection, analysis and dissemination

The UN (2002: 21-22) also addresses directly the collection, analysis and dissemination of statistics and information.

“Given the centrality of data collection, analysis and dissemination, the mainstreaming of gender perspectives in statistics is crucial. Mainstreaming gender perspectives in statistics implies that all statistics are produced taking in consideration gender roles and gender differences and inequalities in society.

All data – both those on individuals as well as those not directly related to individuals – should be collected, compiled and analysed taking in account the gender-based factors that influence women’s and men’s roles, access to resources, and the way women and men benefit from access to resources, facilities and services.

Disaggregation of all statistics by sex is one of the means of ensuring attention to gender perspectives in statistics. However, disaggregation by itself is inadequate. Sex-disaggregated data are simply data collected and tabulated separately for women and men. Having data by sex does not guarantee that concepts, definitions and methods used in data production are conceived to reflect gender roles and relations in society. It is equally important to consider whether the types of data collected are adequate to responding to the basic questions that need to be asked about sectors/issues from a gender equality perspective. Gender mainstreaming in statistics can involve collecting new types of data or expanding data collection in some areas to fill existing knowledge gaps. In addition, gender mainstreaming requires attention to the basic concepts utilized and to methods of collection and analysis to ensure that gender equality issues are being covered adequately. Attention needs also to be given to methods of presentation and dissemination to ensure the issues are presented in an adequate manner and reach all potential target groups. The gender perspectives in the use of statistics as an instrument for policy change needs also to be looked at. All of the above changes require greater collaboration between the producers and users of statistics”. [1]

[1] United Nations, 2002. Gender mainstreaming : an overview. New York: Office of Special Adviser on Gender Issues, Department of Economic and Social Affairs, United Nations. Available at: [Accessed 8 September 2016].

The Cities Alliance, under its Future Cities Africa programme, is helping 8 cities in 4 countries to become future proofed to climate, environment and natural resource challenges, so that they are inclusive and resilient, and have growing economies.

It is currently developing a normative/ analytic framework that could provide one approach to structure the situation analysis. This framework defines the five core dimensions of resilience; these are then further broken down into sub-dimensions and variables. These are the further detailed into indicators.

Figure 2: Five core dimensions of resilience.

Another approach that provides an analytic framework for the situation analysis is the City Resilience Framework of the Rockefeller Foundation (see figure below). The framework attempts to provide a lens through which to capture the complexity of the cities and the factors that contribute to resilience.

The framework defines what makes up a resilient city. The 12 goals defined (also called outcomes) fall within 4 broad categories; these then are broken down into 12 ‘qualities’. These are further detailed into variables and indicators.

Both approaches provide a framework of analysis for resilient cities, with a series of indicators, which can be used in monitoring and evaluation.

Figure 3: Indicators to be uses when monitoring and evaluating.

Please see Arup 2015, City resilience framework for more information.

There are other frameworks available that cities can use. Cities in India involved in the Smart Cities programme, for instance, use a Smart Cities analytic framework. This is current policy in India.

In 2007, TU Vienna, TU Delft and the University of Ljubljana, developed the European Smart Cities framework, an integrative approach to profile and benchmark European cities. They benchmarked cities across different city characteristics and factors, starting with medium size cities, and going on to larger cities. To do this, the framework developed 74 indicators. The research performed by the three universities was able to benchmark different cites to allow for comparison across different factors and indicators.

Please see europeansmartcities for more information. The fourth version of the analysis is now available.

Figure 4: Characteristics of smart cities; see

Sources: The Normative framework: Arup Review and Recommendations pg. 5[1], City Resilience Framework website, and the European Smart Cities Model.


[1] Sources include: the FCA toolkit version 2.1 (17 April 2015), FCA Inception Report Annexes (17 April 2015) and the Normative framework: Arup Review and recommendations (8 February 2016).