For over 25 years decentralisation and local governance have featured prominently on the development agenda in many developing and transition countries. The main arguments for decentralisation are:
Proximity: The delivery of crucial services contributing to the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) is not possible without effective and responsive local institutions that are closer to the common citizen and can therefore better address their needs.
Effectiveness: Participatory decision-making and accountable local public management are crucial for local actors to meet their development goals in the context of Poverty Reduction Strategies (PRS).
Democracy: Participatory local governance reinforces local and national democratisation processes and increases the legitimacy of states.
In spite of this promising scenario, decentralisation and local governance involve significant risks, dilemmas and challenges. It constitutes a highly political process that creates political winners and losers; requires more complex systems of financial allocation, oversight control, and accountability. It demands more widely distributed management and technical capacities linked to service delivery. All in all, reforms on local development and decentralisation have political, institutional, administrative and financial implications on a number of stakeholders in a given country and this complexity requires a thorough analysis and make high demands on intervention strategies.
Local development programmes have very different origins and characteristics. Traditionally they have been influenced by social funds and other multi-sectoral and demand-driven programmes. They aim to increase access among the poor to basic services and thereby contributing to local development and poverty alleviation. These programmes generally include financing -usually in the form of grants- to community groups, civil society organisations and to local governments.
Since a couple of years a consensus has been emerging that in order to ensure sustainable local government structures and service delivery these approaches must be embedded in the decentralisation processes which are on-going in many countries. An existing legal framework is a basic pre conditions for a successful decentralisation process. Further it is very important to ensure that decentralisation policies are integrated in a wider process of public sector reform and improved public finance management. This involves processes of institutional change and good governance that strengthen the linkages and synergies between communities and democratically legitimised local governments. This includes appropriate financial transfers from central to sub-national government levels, as well as to give local governments the authority and capacities to collect their own taxes and fees.
- Governance of Public Policies in Decentralised Contexts: THE MULTI-LEVEL APPROACH
by Claire Charbit (OECD) (2011)
- Decentralisation Processes in Developing and Transition Countries: Evidence Based Lessons Learnt
by SDC (2011)
- SDC Support for Sustainable Local Government Finances by SDC (2011)
- GOLD II: Local Government Finance: The Challenges of the 21st Century
by UCLG (2010)
- Localizing the MDGs. Local Development and MDGs: What Role for Local Governments? (2010)
This Framing Paper aims to outline the key policy issues that underlie the debate over local development and the role that local governments can play in accelerating progress towards the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). The paper puts forward some of the key questions that will be discussed at the Global Forum on Local Development.
- “Efffective Aid through Municipal Contracting”
Working Paper by Mirco Goudrian (2010)
This document aims to provide a better understanding of the Municipal Contract model as an aid modality for supporting local governments. This includes an overview of results and lessons learned with the actual implementation of Municipal Contracts in a selection of countries and a critical analysis of the model in terms of strengths and weaknesses.
- Impact of the financial crisis on decentralisation processes – Literature Review
by Karem Roitman (2009)
Through a broad literature review, this Review contributes to the identification of possible entry points to mitigate the effects of the current global financial crisis (GFC) while ensuring macro economic stability and proper functioning of public services.
- Sourcebook of donor approaches to governance assessments by OECD (2009)
The Sourcebook is divided in two parts: Part I explains why donors assess governance, what they assess and how they assess. Part II provides a succinct overview of the tools and methodologies that aid agencies have reported during
the survey carried out around 2007
- From Porto Alegre to Europe: Potentials and Limitations of Participatory Budgeting by Yves Sintomer, Carsten Herzberg, Anja Röcke (2008)
Participatory budgets have been one of the most successful participatory instruments of the past 15 years. Ever since it was invented in Latin America, it spread over the entire globe.
- “Local level service delivery, decentralisation and governance. A comparative study of Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania Education, Health and Agriculture Sectors – Synthesis Report.”
by Per Tidemand, Jesper Steffensen and Hans Bjorn Olsen (2007)
Decentralisation reforms are currently ongoing in the majority of developing countries. The nature of reforms varies greatly – ranging from mundane technical adjustments of the public administration largely in the form of deconcentration to radical redistribution of political power between central governments and relatively autonomous local governments. This document is a synthesized final report of a comprehensive comparative study of the Health, Education and Agriculture sectors of Uganda, Tanzania and Kenya and provides a basic comparative analysis of the forms and processes of decentralisation in those countries.
- Supporting Decentralisation and Local Governance in Third Countries by European Commission (2007)
This Reference document tries to provide strategic and operational guidance on how best to support processes of DLG in third countries and how to ensure that EC support to sector policies (eg. in health, education, water & sanitation) take into account and reinforce ongoing decentralisation processes.
- Lessons Learned on Donor Support to Decentralisation and Local Governance by OECD (2004)
Focusing on knowledge production, LogoLink works to systematize, analyze, debate and diffuse the knowledge arising from field-based innovations and expressions of democracy in local governance.
The Network for Decentralization and Municipal Development is a web-based knowledge network for the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH, associated professionals and researchers in the field of regional and local governance, urban development and decentralization.