Solid Waste Management Khar Bazzar- TMA Khar and Disinfection Spray-TMA Nawagai


Are there any working streetlights? Is the garbage being picked up? How many clean, working public toilets are there? Is a fire brigade vehicle maintained? These are just a few of the questions confronting the 25 Tehsil Municipal Administrations (TMAs) in the newly merged areas of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, erstwhile Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), where improvements to municipal services are urgently needed.

Basic municipal services have largely been absent throughout the history of the former FATA, where 73 percent of people live in multidimensional poverty. Improving them – through the provision of quality water and sanitation facilities, waste disposal, markets, and green spaces – would contribute greatly to a range of development outcomes, including health, economic opportunities, and environmental protection.

Charged with making essential improvements to services, these young TMAs (formed in December 2019, under the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Local Government (Amendment) Act) face massive capacity constraints themselves. While most organizations face some capacity challenges, few have to contend with issues as fundamental as whether the office has electricity or an internet connection, or even a fraction of its intended staff. Furthermore, the absence of local government elections in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa - the previous term ended August 28, 2019, with elections due to have been held within 120 days thereafter - has meant that there are no elected local councils to approve TMAs’ spending of the funds allocated to them (approximately PKR 3.6 billion was allocated to Tehsil Local Governments in the Merged Areas in FY2020-21).


Khar Bazzar Bypass Drain Cleanness- TMA Khar


To help strengthen the TMAs, UNDP is assisting the government’s engagement of Technical Associates (TAs) who provide much-needed additional human resource power. Their work aims at enabling the TMAs to do more with their own resources in the future.

One of the first activities of the Technical Associates was an assessment of the Tehsil Municipal Administrations’ institutional capacity, against which future progress on both TMA capacity and service delivery could be measured. And based on the needs identified in the assessment, the Associates helped develop project proposals to support Tehsil Municipal Administrations to access government funding for development projects. Budget preparation and following up on the release of funds was also part of the assistance provided.

TA-provided support can indeed be catalytic. In one Sub-Division, when a new TA joined his post, he found that the TMA was not functioning at all - the assigned officer was absent from his duties. When this was followed up, the government assigned a new staff member – and the TMA is now in operation. Similarly, in TMA Hassan Khel, a full-time Tehsil Municipal Officer was posted by the government after the need for one was raised.


Disinfection Spray Jirga Hall-TMA Upper Mohmand


The ability to work remotely effectively - for example, by using phone surveys to gauge public opinion - is extremely fortunate. This option works to our benefit given the challenges arising from the pandemic, security, and some hard-to-access locations in the Merged Areas. At the same time, the fact that the support provided by the TAs is direct and in-person has been significant. In TMA Bara, for example, TA support helped improve the waste collection and disposal system in the famous Bara Bazaar, where approximately 4000 different shops, businesses, and trades are operating. Discussions of how to measure and improve governance quality can be technical and academic, but here the focus is largely on concrete and immediate needs – starting with enough implementation capacity, funding, security, and political authorization to operate.

The pressing need to deliver services to citizens living in the newly merged areas comes within a historical and political context that makes this even more important. Much more needs to be done to ensure that citizens living in the Merged Areas experience tangible benefits from the merger, in their everyday lives. Strengthening the TMAs is an important step in this direction.


UNDP appreciates the contributions of USAID and FCDO in this vital activity. 



Gul Muhammad Khan

Gul Muhammad Khan works as a Project Officer – Local Government with Merged Areas Governance Project at UNDP Pakistan. He holds post-graduate degrees in Development Studies and Political Science. He has over 12 years of professional experience with public sector institutions, UN agencies, and civil society organizations.

Leylac Naqvi 

Leylac Naqvi is a consultant with the Merged Areas Governance Project, UNDP Pakistan. She holds a Master of Arts in Law and Diplomacy from The Fletcher School at Tufts University and a B.A. in International Relations from Mount Holyoke College. 

Skye Christensen

Governance Advisor, DGU, UNDP Pakistan



Edited by:

Ayesha Babar

Ayesha Babar is the Communications Analyst and Head of Communication Unit at UNDP, Pakistan.

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