Decentralization is highly linked with local government system and has been practiced in the country in varying degrees since colonial times. Historically, the concept of decentralization has never been a new concept in countries across the globe. The term attracted attention in the 1950s and 1960s when British and French colonial administrations prepared colonies for independence by devolving responsibilities programs to local authorities
Types of Decentralization
Types of decentralization include political, administrative, fiscal, and market decentralization. Drawing distinctions between these various concepts is useful for highlighting the many dimensions to successful decentralization and the need for coordination among them. Nevertheless, there is clearly overlap in defining any of these terms and the precise definitions are not as important as the need for a comprehensive approach. Political, administrative, fiscal and market decentralization can also appear in different forms and combinations across countries, within countries and even within sectors.
Political decentralization aims to give citizens or their elected representatives more power in public decision-making. It is often associated with pluralistic politics and representative government, but it can also support democratization by giving citizens, or their representatives, more influence in the formulation and implementation of policies.
Administrative decentralization seeks to redistribute authority, responsibility and financial resources for providing public services among different levels of government. It is the transfer of responsibility for the planning, financing and management of certain public functions from the central government and its agencies to field units of government agencies, subordinate units or levels of government, semi-autonomous public authorities or corporations, or area-wide, regional or functional authorities. The three major forms of administrative decentralization — deconcentration, delegation, and devolution — each have different characteristics.
Is the shifting of the management workload from centrally located officials to offices outside the national capital or headquarters. In this case, final authority is retained in the centre. De-concentration—which is often considered to be the weakest form of decentralization and is used most frequently in unitary states redistributes decision-making authority and financial and management responsibilities among different levels of the central government.
Delegation is a more extensive form of decentralization. Delegation refers to the transfer of power and responsibility of specifically defined functions to organizations that are outside regular bureaucratic structures and are indirectly controlled by the central government. Through delegation central governments transfer responsibility for decision-making and administration of public functions to semi-autonomous organizations not wholly controlled by the central government, but ultimately accountable to it.
A third type of administrative decentralization is devolution. Devolution is the process where the central government consciously creates or strengthens the structures of the sub-national units of government, thereby, lessening the direct control of the central government. When governments devolve functions, they transfer authority for decision-making, finance, and management to quasi-autonomous units of local government with corporate status.
Financial responsibility is a core component of decentralization. If local governments and private organizations are to carry out decentralized functions effectively, they must have an adequate level of revenues –either raised locally or transferred from the central government– as well as the authority to make decisions about expenditures. Fiscal decentralization can take many forms, including
a) self-financing or cost recovery through user charges,
b) co-financing or co-production arrangements through which the users participate in providing services and infrastructure through monetary or labor contributions;
c) expansion of local revenues through property or sales taxes, or indirect charges;
d) intergovernmental transfers that shift general revenues from taxes collected by the central government to local governments for general or specific uses; and
e) authorization of municipal borrowing and the mobilization of either national or local government resources through loan guarantees
Economic or Market Decentralization
The most complete forms of decentralization from a government's perspective are privatization and deregulation because they shift responsibility for functions from the public to the private sector.
Privatization can range in scope from leaving the provision of goods and services entirely to the free operation of the market to "public-private partnerships" in which government and the private sector cooperate to provide services or infrastructure. Privatization can include: (1) allowing private enterprises to perform functions that had previously been monopolized by government; (2) contracting out the provision or management of public services or facilities to commercial enterprises indeed, there is a wide range of possible ways in which function can be organized and many examples of within public sector and public-private institutional forms, particularly in infrastructure; (3) financing public sector programs through the capital market (with adequate regulation or measures to prevent situations where the central government bears the risk for this borrowing) and allowing private organizations to participate; and (4) transferring responsibility for providing services from the public to the private sector through the divestiture of state-owned enterprises.
Deregulation reduces the legal constraints on private participation in service provision or allows competition among private suppliers for services that in the past had been provided by the government or by regulated monopolies. In recent years privatization and deregulation have become more attractive alternatives to governments in developing countries.
Decentralization, Participation and Empowerment
Decentralization is and will continue to be recognized as a means to involve communities directly in development programmes. Tendency of decentralization from central governments not only to local governments but also to civil society organization encourage more involvement (divestment). It is therefore relevant to local government reforms. Local governments and communities are the most effective institutions for solving local problems of the people (Subsidiary).
The advantages of participation in development planning
True participation is possible only when the poor are facilitated to recognize their situation and pool their efforts and resources in pursuit of objectives they set for themselves. However, real democratic and forming small groups according to their interest is very important, these small groups should comprise 8 to 15 members.
i. Economies of scale. It is costly to provide development services to scattered population; because small-scale producers are a major constraint on poverty-oriented programmes. Participatory groups constitute a grassroots "receiving system" that allows development agencies to reduce the unit delivery or transaction costs of their services, thus broadening their impact.
ii. Higher productivity. Given access to resources and a guarantee that they will share fully in the benefits of their efforts, the poor become more amenable to new technologies and services, and achieve higher levels of production and income. This helps to build net cash surpluses that strengthen their capacity and the groups' economic base and contribute to rural capital formation.
iii. Reduced costs and increased efficiency. Local community can contribute to project planning and implementation and represent savings that reduce project costs. Furthermore, people’s participation contribute their knowledge in respect to local conditions, facilitating the diagnosis of environmental, social and institutional constraints, as well as the search for solutions.
iv. Building of democratic organizations. Organized and limited size and informality of small groups is suited to the poor’s scarce organizational experience and low literacy levels. Moreover, the small group environment is ideal for the diffusion of collective decision-making and leadership skills, which can be used in the following development of inter-group federations.
v. Sustainability. Participatory development leads to increased self-reliance among the poor and the establishment of a network of self-sustaining rural organizations. This stimulates economic growth in rural areas and broadens domestic markets, thus favoring balanced national development; politically, participatory approaches provide opportunities for the poor to contribute constructively to development.
This concept is not new according to UN it is as old as human civilization. Governance refers to the process of decision-making and the process by which decisions are implemented (or not implemented). Governance can be used in various contexts such as corporate governance, international governance, national governance and local governance.
Elements of Good Governance
Currently, the term “governance” and “good governance” are being increasingly used and emphasized in development scenarios for example in urban development planning, regional and district planning. Bad “governance” is being increasingly and considered as one of the causative of all evil within our societies for instance using government fund for fulfilling individual interests, lack of transparency and poor accountability among actors is seen everywhere especially in the developing countries. This results to economic retardation hence poor economic well being of the society as a whole.
Challenges associated with implementation of Good governance
i. For long time, there are indicators which present risks of cracks in social consistency and national unity.
ii. Corruption is occurring day after day, no strong measures taken to ward off.
iii. The rule of law and the voices of the people in the development process have tended to be weak
iv. The national institutional and organizational structures have not been reviewed to cope with the demands of the on-going reforms.
v. Poor participation of stakeholders in resource development and failure of the existing government to effectively mobilize domestic resource to meet the emerging challenges hence poor living standard not only in rural areas but also in urban areas.
vi. People have loose confidence and trust to their leaders, due to misbehavior among leaders in different institutions of the government as well as in some non-governmental organizations.
vii. Lack of property rights
Joint action facilitates partnerships as a form of collaboration among people and their local councils. It influences the way in which local development actors cooperate. The joint action concept offer forum and mechanism for dialogue; enhance a shared decision-making process in planning. It also facilitate development actors to work together in developing strategies and in realizing them (Planning and implementation) because the sector or area for cooperation is chosen on the basis of priorities of the people, feasibility and available capacities and experts.
Accessibility simply refers to;
i. Means of reaching a certain place or services
ii. Ability to reach and use it (Connectivity and cost)
iii. Movement of people with their goods from one place to another (mobility)
Accessibility (also called access or convenience) refers to the ability to reach desired goods, services, activities and destinations (together called opportunities). For example, a stepladder provides access to a high shelf; a store provides access to goods, and a library or telecommunications device provide access to information. Walking, cycling, ridesharing and public transit provide access to jobs, services and other activities.
Factors affecting physical accessibility:
I. Mobility, that is, physical movement. Mobility can be provided by walking, cycling, public transit, taxi, automobiles, trucks and other modes.
II. Transportation System Connectivity, which refers to the directness of links and the density of connections in path or road network.
III. Mobility Substitutes, such as telecommunications and delivery services. These can provide access to some types of goods and activities, particularly those involving information.
IV. Land Use, that is, the geographic distribution of activities and destinations. When real estate experts say “location, location, location” they mean “accessibility, accessibility, accessibility
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FAO, (1992); Why People’s Participation:" Participation in practice - Lessons from the FAO People's Participation Programme"
Lindblom, Charles E. 1965. The Intelligence of Democracy: Decision Making Through Mutual Adjustment. New York: The Free Press.
Litman, T. A (2009); Planning Principles and Practices: Victoria Transport Policy Institute.