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.



Local Service Delivery

Theorists argue that decentralisation can bring benefits for service delivery via improved decision making and allocative efficiency (as local government are more sensitive to local priorities), increased revenue collection (as local government will be able to collect new local taxes and improve the collection of user charges) and generally improved administrative efficiency. However, recent studies show that these expected benefits have not always been realised and that elite capture, weak administrative capacity, poor participation, inadequate accountability mechanisms and low levels of revenue collection, coupled with under-financing from central government, have all meant that significant gains in service provision have not yet been seen. Given that service delivery is a primary vehicle for local development, the importance of improvements in developing countries cannot be underestimated.


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