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Background

Increasing transparency and responsiveness to citizens’ concerns through local governance

An employee of a citizens advice bureau in Telavi, Georgia, providing information to a client

From water supply, waste collection, schools and hospitals to protecting borders – an effective administration ensures all citizens have access to central services and is therefore crucial for a functioning state. Yet, many of the partner countries in Germany’s development cooperation activities have politicised, centralist and low-performing administrations, which makes it difficult to implement pro-poor projects.

Germany therefore supports its partner countries’ efforts to establish efficient, transparent and accountable public administrations. This includes, for instance, proper human resource management, financial management and procurement and functioning accountability mechanisms.

Regions and local communities play a vital role when it comes to modernising a country's administrative and governing system. Provincial, city and local government bodies provide important public services. They know what the local population needs and can directly involve people in planning and decision-making processes.

Local structures that function well can increase people's confidence in the national government and create favourable conditions for local businesses. They thus make an important contribution to poverty reduction and sustainable development, which is why Germany promotes decentralisation processes in many of its partner countries.

Germany’s pioneering role

Decentralisation requires far-reaching changes in state structures. Not only does it entail re-allocating duties, powers and funds have to be reassigned too. As a consequence, a great degree of sensitivity is needed when promoting reform and the process needs to be tailored to the specific country concerned.

Germany is internationally acknowledged as a pioneer in the promotion of decentralisation processes. It has first-hand experience of what creating a federal state involves and has accumulated a wealth of knowledge on the topic through its bilateral development cooperation activities. The Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) currently provides support to some 40 partner countries to help them decentralise their governmental and administrative structures.

BMZ glossary

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