Germany's contribution

Tailored advice for decentralisation processes

Municipal administration of Ouad Naga, Mauritania

Decentralisation processes result in a redistribution of roles and tasks between the various levels of government and administration. This in turn results in new relationships between the different levels and an altered relationship between the public and the government.  

The decentralisation advice given through German development cooperation activities is always provided at all levels involved. Existing and new administrative units and national, regional and local parliaments are given assistance to enable them to perform their duties and make an active contribution to local development. This support also takes into account the political, administrative and tax-related aspects of decentralisation so as to ensure that self-governance bodies at the local level receive appropriate financing and staff rather than merely being assigned additional tasks.

Support strategies

Various strategies have been developed for German development cooperation activities to promote decentralisation processes. The specific instruments used depend on the situation on the ground in the partner country concerned. Key elements are:

  • advice for national governmental institutions on how to design, implement and adapt decentralisation reforms;
  • training for civil servants at the national, regional and local administrative level and for elected members of regional and local parliaments;
  • budget, finance and tax reforms aimed at increasing the autonomy and efficiency of the regions and local communities;
  • definition of rules for the division of duties and communication and cooperation between all stakeholders at the different levels;
  • introduction of supervisory and monitoring mechanisms with which to prevent and tackle mismanagement and corruption; and
  • financing of vital local infrastructure to support local development, for example the construction of market squares, schools and hospital wards.

Actors involved

BMZ decentralisation projects are primarily carried out by the government’s implementing organisations GIZ (responsible for advisory services) and KfW Development Bank (responsible for financing). Non-governmental actors, such as political foundations and churches’ development services, are also important partners. Their projects are mainly intended to strengthen democratic participation at the local level.

There are also a number of German cities and communities engaged in development work through such channels as twinning programmes. These activities are supported through the Engagement Global service unit, which the BMZ set up in 2012.

In 2006, a dialogue and learning platform called "Development Partners Network on Decentralisation and Local Governance" (DeLoG) was founded to share international experience on the promotion of decentralisation processes. 29 bilateral and multilateral development partners belong to the network, whose secretariat is based at GIZ in Bonn.

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