Resource Guide on Decentralisation and Local Government

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Estimates suggest that decentralisation is currently being pursued in over 80 per cent of developing countries worldwide. For many people, local government is the part of government that most directly impacts on their lives, particularly via the provision of local services like water, sanitation, primary education and primary healthcare.

This resource guide provides practical guidance for designing, implementing and evaluating decentralisation reforms and local government practices to ensure they are as effective as possible. It also synthesises and presents current debates on the impact of decentralisation and local government on poverty reduction, service delivery and conflict as well as providing links to cuttingedge research and recent case studies.

The guide includes summaries of key texts. Each short summary provides a link to an extended summary which can be found in the alphabetised appendix.



Decentralisation, Conflict and Fragile Contexts

The study of local government and decentralisation in conflict or fragile situations is a new, relatively small area of research. Much of the general conflict literature focuses on governance at a central level, although a small body of literature is now emerging that considers local level dynamics. Most of this research focuses on the question of whether and how decentralisation and local government impact on conflict or state fragility, primarily addressing the question of whether decentralisation exacerbates or mitigates conflict. Very little has been published that offers practical advice or technical approaches to local government in conflict/fragile environments. Most authors recommend a cautious approach, and some express concern that decentralisation in conflict, fragile or ethnically divided societies may risk intensifying conflict if it is not designed an appropriate way.


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