The web-platform of the Decentralization and Local Governance Network
Find more information about various topics and discussions on the DLGN web-platform
Decentralization - Facilitating relationships between civil society and local governments
Civil society must have a stronger political presence at all levels of the State. Decentralization and the transfer of central government powers, competences and resources to medium-sized economic centres are at the core of the democratization process.
|•||Centralized States worldwide are tending towards decentralization.|
|•||The single-party system has crumbled in almost all African States.|
|•||In Latin America, decentralization is closely linked to the democratization of political structures and the integration of population groups and regions which have till now been highly disadvantaged.|
|•||For the countries of Central and Eastern Europe, the transition to a market economy also meant that centralized State power tended to disintegrate. The EU would also like these countries to decentralize.|
Many States are reforming government and public powers at local level to make services more effective and better adapted to people's needs.
The SDC's decentralization work focuses on three areas:
Political decentralization that consolidates the process of "grass-roots" democracy and aligns public services on citizens' requirements. For the SDC, this is a powerful lever for citizenry and the fight against poverty at local level, provided the political process is well managed. The aim is to avoid this process being taken over by local elites which could intensify certain marginalization effects.
Administrative decentralization enables central government to delegate responsibility for planning, operational management and – to some extent – for funding infrastructure and services to subordinate levels. The SDC has decentralization support programmes in several countries, mainly aimed at helping newly elected local authorities to acquire the extensive coordination skills needed to liaise with various national sectoral services in their area.
The fiscal stakes in this process also represent a major challenge which the SDC tackles in many contexts. Often, central government transfers much more responsibility to local level than the allocated funding can cope with. The SDC therefore provides local authorities with external funding and encourage political dialogue with central government to have it transfer sufficient funding to local authorities for them to do their job.
The SDC focus: Political dialogue with the StateIn practice, these three forms of decentralization intersect, so SDC decentralization measures generally concentrate on the following areas:
In some cases, the SDC also participates in the development of local economies or of fiscal decentralization.
Theme contact: Mona M’Bikay
Additional Information and DocumentsDocuments
- Local public governance in western Africa: developing the countries from the grass-roots up
Africa Brief – October 2012
Download (PDF, 1350 KB) : [de] [en] [fr]
- Decentralization - a guide for orientation
Download (PDF, 160 KB) : [de] [en] [fr] [es]
- Decentralisation in SDC's Bilateral Cooperation
Download (PDF, 1988 KB) : [en]
- Decentralization and Development
SDC Publications on Development Nr. 2
Download (PDF, 1274 KB) : [de] [en] [fr] [it] [es]
- Forum Process
Download : [en]
Articles and Press releases
- Fourth International Conference on Federalism in Delhi: Unity in diversity – Learning from each other