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About this book

Various forms of decentralization are recently pursued in the world, including developing countries. However, there has not been a coherent framework to access these intended outcomes generated by decentralization measures implemented in Asian and African countries. This book provides such a framework based on comparative analyses of different experiences of decentralization measures in six developing countries, where the policy rationale to “bring services closer to people” originated in different socio-political backgrounds. Although decentralization measures are potentially useful for attaining both political democratization and economic efficiency, what is often packaged under the umbrella of “decentralization” needs to be disaggregated analytically. Successful reforms need coherent approaches in which a range of stakeholders would become willing to share responsibilities and resources in order to achieve the ultimate outcome of poverty reduction in the developing countries.

Table of Contents


1. Decentralization and Local Governance: Introduction and Overview

In many parts of the world today, various forms of decentralization measures are now implemented. It is hoped that decentralized states will fulfill high expectations reflecting the demands of our time. These measures are expected to make the states both democratic and developmental. Toward democratization, decentralization intends to widen the opportunities for citizens to participate in local decision-making processes. As for economic development, the decentralized states are expected to reduce poverty by making public services more responsive to the needs of people. Decentralization, therefore, has often been regarded as a “panacea” as well as a normatively justified policy that has no room for criticism.
Fumihiko Saito

2. Indonesia towards Decentralization and Democracy

Indonesia is the largest South East Asian Country, which gained independence from Japanese colonial rule on 17 August 1945, after more than 300 years of Dutch colonialism. Total independence was obtained in December 1949, after the war against the Netherlands, who tried to regain its colonial power. This ethnic Malayan dominated country covers of an area of 1,919,440 sq. km, which is composed of 1,826,440 sq. km of land and 93,000 sq. km of water. According to the Central Bureau of Statistics, the estimated total population in 2006 was 245.453 million with a 1.41% growth rate. It is bounded by Singapore and Malaysia to the north and Australia to the South, and composed of 17,508 islands, 6,000 of which are uninhabited. Admistratively, Indonesia is divided into 34 provinces and 410 “regencies” (kabupaten), which are comparable to municipalities. The term “regency” is adopted from the Dutch colonial rule, when the local leaders were appointed by the Monarch as “regents.” In addition, 98 cities (kota) represent the urban areas, which are the governmental status comparable to kabupaten. The capital Jakarta is regarded as a special city/province within the governmental system, headed by a Governor and composed of five kota, each headed by a mayor. The province of Yogyakarta (in central Java) and Aceh (in far north Sumatra) are regarded as special provinces as a cultural and religious arrangement. It reflects the complex socio-cultural composition of the society, associated with the colonial past and adherence to Islam.
Deddy T. Tikson

3. Entangled Democracy, Decentralization and Lifeworld in Flores under Global Trends

In May 1998 Soeharto stepped down from the presidency of the Republic of Indonesia; his resignation had been strongly demanded, especially by university students in Jakarta. Since then decentralization has been promoted rapidly, encompassing changes in laws, administration and fiscal management. Changes in response to the decentralization measures occurred in various ways.
Eriko Aoki

4. Redesigning Local Governance in India: Lessons from the Kerala Experiment

Studies on the Kerala model of development attribute its widely acclaimed achievements in human development, realized as they were in spite of the region’s development deficit, to the legacy of “public action” (Dreaze and Sen 1989; Franke and Chasin 1992; Ramachandran 1996). The experiment of democratic decentralization launched in the mode of a People’s Campaign in 1996 represents a certain continuity in this history of democratization of Kerala society.1 The essence of democratic decentralization is to deepen democracy by augmenting the space for “public action” and peoples’ participation in governance, in general, and planning, in particular. The Campaign was initiated by the left front government with a historical decision to devolve 35 to 40% of the state’s plan funds to the local governments.2 The local governments were given the right to use grant-in-aid, and resources mobilized locally, for formulating and implementing local development plans. The process and outcomes of the experiment in Kerala vary significantly among local governments (LGs) belonging to the same level/tier, across different tiers, between regions, and across different development sectors. The LGs in Kerala, therefore, have become interesting sites for studies on participatory local-level planning (Bandhopadyaya 1997; Franke and Chasin 1997; Isaac Thomas and Franke 2000). (While the term “local self governments” (LSGs) is legally correct, this chapter uses the term “local governments” (LGs) as a more conventional expression.)
K. N. Harilal

5. Contrasting Experiences of Decentralization in Two States in India

As similar trends towards decentralization in the developing world became apparent in the 1990s, India enacted the Seventy-third and Seventy-fourth Constitutional Amendments in 1993. Direct elections were required in each of the three tiers of local self-government, panchayat (which generally mean rural local government).1 Some of the representation came to be reserved for women and people from low-caste groups. In this way, authority principally over local infrastructure and welfare schemes was devolved in India. However, the details of the new system of local government were left to each state and therefore the systems differ significantly. In reality, the average extent of genuine functional or fiscal devolution remains low, with state bureaucrats continuing to retain control over public services in all but three or four states (Chaudhuri 2006).
Chihiro Saito, Rika Kato

6. Challenges of Moving into a Devolved Polity in Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka, called Ceylon prior to 1972, was a colony in the British Empire for nearly a century and a half from 1802. In 1948 it re-obtained its independence as a “dominion” in the British Commonwealth of Nations with the British Queen as head of state represented in Sri Lanka by a governor general. In the Westminster style of cabinet government at the time, the head of the government was the prime minister with a cabinet of ministers selected by him/her from the parliament. The prime minister and the cabinet formed the executive arm of the government. The parliament was bicameral at the time, consisting of a popularly elected house of representatives and a senate, half of which was appointed by the government in power and the other half elected by the house of representatives. People in Sri Lanka enjoyed the right of universal adult franchise from 1931, many years before political independence. In 1972, a new Constitution was promulgated making the country a republic within the Commonwealth with its “dominion” link to the British Queen severed. The governor general was replaced by a president appointed by the parliament on the recommendation of the prime minister. The second chamber, the Senate, was abolished in 1972. The unicameral legislature was called the National State Assembly.
Asoka Gunawardena, Weligamage D. Lakshman

7. Politics and Local Government in Uganda

Uganda became independent in 1962. Under the rule of presidents, Idi Amin and Milton Obote from the 1960s to the 1980s, it experienced civil strife and economic stagnation and counted among Africa’s failed states. 1 Under the National Resistance Movement (NRM) since 1986, it came to be seen as a remarkable success story (Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars 2005). More recently, however, it has been characterized in some quarters as a fragile state (USAID 2005), and in others as an authoritarian “neo-patrimonial” state under the personal rule of a president who maintains his authority through distribution of patronage and prebends, intimidation, and force (Barkan et al. 2004).
Frederick Golooba-Mutebi

8. Possibility of Creating a Deliberative Solution in Uganda

As we have seen in the previous chapter, Uganda’s attempt at decentralization is at least one of the most ambitious in Africa, and could possibly be the most ambitious in Sub-Saharan Africa except for South Africa (Ndegwa 2002). It is thus worth revisiting its experience with a particular focus on the extent to which the decentralized structure of the LC system facilitates deliberative processes for resolving common issues at the grassroots. Assessing deliberation in Uganda generates important lessons for debating the direction and likelihood of development in the world in general, and Africa in particular.
Fumihiko Saito

9. Democratic Decentralization in Post-Apartheid South Africa

Since the late 1980s, the need for strong decentralized local government received increased impetus as “African states became subject to external as well as internal ‘democratic’ pressures” (Tordoff and Young 1994: 287). Mahwood (1992: vii) has argued that the demise of the “centralized party state” in many parts of Africa has resulted in a growing emphasis on “good government” at the local level. The focus on decentralization and local government is significant in a period of economic and political restructuring because “it tends to be an important manifestation of pluralist democracy” (Mahwood 1992: vii).
Purshottama Reddy, Brij Maharaj

10. The Challenges of Deepening Democracy in Post-Apartheid South Africa

Unlike many other countries in sub-Saharan Africa, post-apartheid South Africa has moved beyond political rhetoric in its efforts to decentralize administrative responsibilities to the local level. In a marked departure from the apartheid era, where local authorities had little delegated authority, the new Constitution of 1996 elevated the status of municipalities significantly. Local authorities are now recognized as a distinct tier of government with their own originating powers. Affirming that a “municipality has the right to govern on its own initiative the local government affairs of its community, subject to national and provincial legislation,” the Constitution further states that national and provincial governments “may not compromise or impede a municipality’s ability or right to exercise its powers or perform its functions” (Republic of South Africa, RSA 1996). Underlying this formulation, was the conviction that local government constitutes the foundation stone of democracy and represents the first line of service to local communities.
Chris Tapscott

11. The Balance Sheet of Decentralization in Ghana

Ghana is the first sub-Saharan African country to attain independence from British rule. It did so on 6 March 1957. Because of this legacy of the pioneer spirit, many of its policy initiatives have been tested and evaluated. Numerous scholars recognize Ghana in the twentieth century as “a microcosm of social, political and economic processes in Africa. The Ghanaian proclivity for experimentation has made Ghana into a veritable laboratory for the investigation of different approaches to endemic African problems” (Pellow and Chazan 1986: 209–210). This has turned the country into “everyone’s African favourite” (Dowse 1985: 280).
Joseph R. A. Ayee

12. Potential and Limitation of Local Radio in Information Accessibility in Ghana

In September 2006, Ghanaians went to the poll to elect district assembly members for the 138 districts. Prior to the 2006 elections, district assemblies (DAs) elections were held in 1988, 1994, 1998 and 2002. It is heart warming to point out that an elective local government system has been functional for more than a decade and a half, and four consecutive free, fair, transparent and peacefully implemented general elections for constitutional democracy have also been held in Ghana.
Kingsley Senyo Agomor, Minoru Obayashi

13. Conclusions

Chapter 1 of this book has introduced the actor perspective as a useful and unique contribution of this volume. The subsequent chapters have proven this point relatively convincingly. This perspective reveals dynamic interactions among diverse stakeholders who may have competing interests over the change of political and administrative systems in the name of decentralization. Often, dynamic changes taking place in one relationship influence other relationships. For example, if the allocation of authority is shifted between central and local governments, this change in central-local relations affects how other non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and/or civil representatives approach government offices both nationally as well as locally. The actor perspective, therefore, has a certain value.
Fumihiko Saito


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