Politically, economically, and culturally diverse, the wider Asia region accounts for more than half of the world’s population and a growing share of the world’s GNP; Asia has emerged as an important player in the global economy.

In many parts of the region, major trends are pushing toward openness and accountability, decentralization, democracy of local governments, and globalization. These political and economic forces are creating a demand for new skills in local and national governments to improve public and business confidence, public financial management, and delivery of vital public services.

At the same time, a large proportion of the world’s poor live in Asia, and some countries have very basic needs—to restore deteriorated physical infrastructure and improve local services to meet the requirements of growing urban populations. Cities in Afghanistan, for example, have suffered years of neglect during a lengthy period of conflict, and communities in the region are faced with climate-related natural disasters on a regular basis.

ICMA has been building strong, responsive institutions that boost citizen participation at the local level throughout much of South and East Asia since 1994. And we have helped rebuild physical and civic infrastructure in cities recovering from conflict or natural disasters. Training and technical assistance in areas that strengthen good governance and service delivery are at the heart of ICMA’s efforts to build skills and enhance local government performance. 

In 2005, ICMA opened a field office in the region that evolved to became the Urban Management Centre (UMC) in Ahmedabad, India. Through the development of local associations, leagues of cities and municipalities, and local government units, ICMA and UMC promote more effective, responsible, and accountable local government by focusing on expanded and equitable delivery of services, good governance, and sound financial and management practices at the city, county, and provincial levels. UMC has been a strong partner in ICMA’s work in India and Afghanistan.

In 2011, ICMA and the China University of Political Science and Law established the ICMA China Center, housed at the university’s School of Politics and Public Administration in Beijing. The mission of the Center is to improve the quality of city management in China by providing information and services to Chinese city officials and to provide professionals from the United States with an opportunity to learn from the Chinese experience with rapid, large-scale urbanization. 

Through a large portfolio of programs in Afghanistan, ICMA has promoted stability, civility, professional management, improved service delivery, and opportunities for women and youth—based on an underlying principle of building capacity at the local and national levels.

ICMA has provided municipal finance certification training to professionals from Indonesia, Malaysia, Mongolia, the Philippines, Thailand, and Vietnam, using the World Bank’s interactive videoconferencing network. And through a Professional Fellows Program funded by the U.S. Department of State, ICMA has facilitated partnerships focusing on sustainable communities and on the legislative process and governance between professionals from China, Indonesia, and Thailand and their counterparts in U.S. local governments.

In Pakistan, ICMA provided integrated solid waste management training for top-level and other managerial staff in the Punjab.

Following the 2004 tsunami in South Asia, ICMA helped the storm-ravaged coastal cities of Cuddalore and Nagapattinam, India, rebuild infrastructure, implement flood mitigation measures, and improve the availability of clean, reliable drinking water for residents. Through the Post Tsunami Recovery Program, ICMA facilitated a CityLinks partnership between the two municipalities and three Florida cities that offered experience in disaster management because of their vulnerability to hurricanes.

ICMA is a member of a team that was awarded funding to carry out a program in Sri Lanka to stimulate economic growth in communities of the Eastern province by developing the capacity of the local governments to create an enabling environment for their private firms. A major goal of the program is to create new jobs and attract investment in the region. In an earlier program (Transparent Accountable Local Governance, 2005-2007), ICMA supported Sri Lanka’s transition to a democratic society through inclusive and peaceful approaches to politics and governance.

ICMA has worked on projects in Indonesia to help strengthen local governments through

  • Direct technical assistance in financial and management reforms, strengthening professional qualifications in performance-based budgeting and performance management and increasing citizen participation
  • Capacity building for local government associations
  • Development of partnerships between Indonesian cities and counties and cities in the U.S. to work on technical issues such as improved solid waste management services and financial management.

ICMA also has past performance in Vietnam, Thailand, the Philippines, and Mongolia.