Local Democracy and Decentralization in East and Southern Africa
This publication focuses on the lessons learnt from the decentralization processes in Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, Ethiopia, and Botswana.
This publication is set to highlight the broad range of issues that requires consideration with regard to local democracy and decentralization in East and Southern Africa. It aims at providing brief overviews on decentralization processes in the five selected countries in the region. It summarizes the many different aspects of decentralization highlighting key issues that need to be addressed by practitioners.
The publication is a collective effort of the UN-HABITAT's
Urban Development Branch and the Regional Office for Africa and the
Arab States. Decentralization entails a set of policies that
encompasses fiscal, political, and administrative changes that can
impact virtually all aspects of development. The structure of
intergovernmental relations affects everything from the efficiency
and equity of service delivery, the social safety net, and poverty
alleviation programmes to the development of the financial sector
and macroeconomic stability. The division of power and
responsibility between levels of government also raises issues of
institutional capacity, as well as corruption and governance.
Unfortunately, the far-reaching implications of decentralization
are often overlooked, as the literature and specialists tend to
focus on specific dimensions. Top policymakers in decentralizing
countries are often the only ones who address the full range of
The links between good governance and development are inextricable. Multi-party elections, effective institutions and constitutions that protect human rights and promote the rule of law are all recognized as essential for creating the conditions necessary for growth, justice, investment and peace. What is particularly encouraging about recent developments in Africa is that the pressure for good governance is no longer coming from one side or the other, but from peoples and leaders alike. A spirit of democratic empowerment is challenging all leaders to live up to the ideals of independence and to deliver the freedoms, rights and opportunities that their peoples deserve.
In view of the global trend towards democracy and decentralization, UN-HABITAT has been working on decentralization issues, reviewing current literature, and studying the varied regional and country experience with decentralization. This publication is part of the contribution to our work in this field. The country papers presented in this volume are designed to highlight the broad range of issues that need to be considered with regard to local democracy and decentralization in East and Southern Africa. They are intended to provide brief overviews of decentralization processes in five selected countries in the East and Southern Africa region and to provide a summary of the many different aspects of decentralization.
In this volume, readers are encouraged to consider the cross-cutting nature of decentralization and the importance of a comprehensive approach. A key lesson emerging from these country reports is that the impact of decentralization will depend greatly on the many factors related to design. Simply put, with decentralization, as with many complicated policy issues, the “devil is in the details.” The outcomes of effective decentralization will depend on myriad individual political, fiscal, and administrative policies and institutions, as well as their interaction within a given country.
The notes that make up the volume were drafted by national
consultants and staff of UN-HABITAT. The publication is reviewed
and edited by a number of insightful and experienced people,
namely: Alioune Badiane, Mariam Lady Yunusa, Naison Mutizwa-Mangiza
and Raf Tuts. The overall coordination of this publication and
activity was carried out by Cecilia Kinuthia-Njenga.
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