Tuesday, February 15

Decentralization = Devil?

The Danish government announced it would infuse $35 million into the ministries of local government and housing, and energy and water development. The four-year water sector support program aims to improve access to safe water and sanitation, food security, and health of low-income rural and urban residents. Obviously, this is great news for hundreds of thousands of Zambians with poor water and sanitation, and I applaud the Danish government for their contribution.

Every few years some international agency undertakes a similar project: decentralize the power, resources, and decision-making, and allow local officials to decide what's best for the local communities. In theory, this works great. In practice, however, what sometimes happens is that the local officials are corrupt and run off with the cash and/or the materials. In countries with poor records of local governance, decentralization can be a devil.