Much effort has focused on strengthening decentralised institutions, such as local government, to support local development. However, frequently the links between decentralised institutions and citizens remain weak. Resources often get captured by these meso-institutions and do not reach the community level. This paper summarises ongoing work to develop and implement systems of community-based planning in Uganda, South Africa, Ghana and Zimbabwe. The approach has generated planning methodologies which have been tested in six large municipalities covering up to 2 million people, and are now being rolled out nationally in Uganda and South Africa, with a national steering committee established to take next steps in Zimbabwe.