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Define decentralization and analyse the signifincance of lacal government in the lives of

local citizens.

The Benefits of Decentralization
In a democracy, opposition political parties and the party in power have the duty and obligation to educate and inform its citizens t
principles of democracy. Unfortunately, this has not been the case with political parties in our country.

The Citizens Democratic Party would like to end this retrogressive culture and usher in a culture that will build citizens knowledge
and ability to participate, to advocate and to hold government officials accountable.
Once citizens understand the basic principles of democracy, citizens are able to play their part actively and effectively at all lev

The vision of the Citizens Democratic Party state that we Put People First in a decentralized national government system that w
compatible with an economy that will guarantee Zambians a life of hope, freedom, and opportunity.
It is important, therefore, that our citizens know the Benefits of Decentralization to appreciate the need to decentralize the gove
system in our country now.
a. Decentralization, including substantial fiscal decentralization, provides a framework which facilitates and stimulates local susta
development throughout the country.
Fiscal decentralization will reverse current practice which extracts resources from the periphery and concentrates these at the cen
more resources will be retained at the local level, and will help to enhance or stimulate local economies and be available to suppo
development initiatives.

b. Decentralization represents the most effective means of curbing excessive concentration of power by the central government, w
distinctive feature of the existing governance model, and which is inimical to several basic tenets of good governance, e.g. open
transparency, fairness and probity.
Conferring power to local jurisdictions to manage local affairs will make it more difficult for any single group, be it government or
interests, to dominate the national scene; and will increase chances that persons of differing persuasions will occupy positions of
somewhere in the system.

c. Decentralization facilitates greater popular participation in governance. It brings government closer to the people, and thus en
citizens to be better informed and to better understand the conduct of public business. This facilitates the forging of a strong relat
between the governors and the governed and identification of the people with their government, which helps to reduce alienation
political process.

d. Decentralization increases efficiency in determining service provision.

In a decentralized, participatory system, citizens can influence decisions about service provision through mechanisms which enab
to indicate the type, level, quality and mix of services they desire, and the cost they are willing to pay for such services. This cons
type of market mechanism for determining service provision in a manner which responds to the wishes of citizens, and is sensitive
willingness and ability to pay. This will not only optimize citizen satisfaction, but is also an excellent mechanism for reconciling c
expectations to the resources available and/or the price which they are prepared to pay for the services desired.

e. Decentralization facilitates a better division of labor in the management of public affairs.

The creation of strong local governments with the capacity to effectively manage local affairs enables central government to conce
higher level functions. This both improves efficiency and creates more effective checks and balances.

f. Decentralization, manifested in a participatory style of local governance, fosters greater social cohesion and stability, and enco
reconciliation between local interest groups and a convergence around common interests. This process of participation helps to
the conditions for collaboration and working together.

g. Decentralization provides the opportunity for a wider diversity of innovations, and increases flexibility of government in the con
changing circumstances. This is so because the decentralized, participatory model of governance mainstreams the many grou
citizens that were previously excluded, and creates greater scope for local and community self management.
This means that the vast reservoir of talent, innovativeness, creativity, problem solving capacity and leadership qualities which
previously laid dormant in the local population is now able to find expression, and can be applied to the problems, visions and asp
of the local community, and will also be available to contribute to nation building.

h. Decentralization facilitates the mobilization of local resources in support of the development process, and enables value-ad
contributions to the provision of services and development efforts, which increases the total value of services provided, or develo
achieved, from the limited formal resources available. This happens because local people are able to identify and mobilize lo
resources which would not be available to centrally run programs, and because citizens are often willing to volunteer free labor
expertise, and other forms of in-kind contributions, in order to support local initiatives.

i. Decentralization broadens the potential for societal capacity building.

Weak capacity is one of the main constraints to national development and good governance. The existing authoritarian, over-cen
model of governance is a major inhibitor to capacity development, because it narrows the amount of people who are allowed
meaningful role in the process. A decentralized, participatory model of governance dramatically increases the opportunity for invol
and provides space for persons to contribute at several different levels.

j. A decentralized, participatory model of local governance fosters accountability, transparency & openness, and creates pressure
adoption of high ethical standards in the conduct of public affairs.
In this model, citizens play an active role in decision-making in respect of service provision and other aspects of local governanc
therefore share information and have a good understanding of the issues and facts relating to such matters. This gives them
knowledge base to critically appraise the performance of local government in these areas.

k. Decentralization allows for representatives of civil society to be appointed to carry out oversight functions on behalf of citizens
examine transactions, enquire into use of public resources and the exercise of authority by public officials, and to report their find
fellow citizens.
A centralized government puts all power and responsibility in the hands of one person.
This type of government works best in a small nation, where a small government would
be more efficent.

A decentralized government spreads the responsibility and power among more people.
This type of government works best in a large nation.

removed. (April 2011)

Decentralization or decentralisation (see spelling differences) is the process of

dispersing decision-making governance closer to the people and/or citizens. It includes
the dispersal of administration or governance in sectors or areas like engineering,
management science, political science, political economy, sociology and economics.
Decentralization is also possible in the dispersal of population and employment. Law,
science and technological advancements lead to highly decentralized human endeavours.

"While frequently left undefined (Pollitt, 2005), decentralization has also been assigned
many different meanings (Reichard & Borgonovi, 2007), varying across countries
(Steffensen & Trollegaard, 2000; Pollitt, 2005), languages (Ouedraogo, 2003), general
contexts (Conyers, 1984), fields of research, and specific scholars and studies." (Dubois
and Fattore 2009)

A central theme in decentralization is the difference between a hierarchy, based on:

• authority: two players in an unequal-power relationship; and

• an interface: a lateral relationship between two players of roughly equal power.

The more decentralized a system is, the more it relies on lateral relationships, and the less
it can rely on command or force. In most branches of engineering and economics,
decentralization is narrowly defined as the study of markets and interfaces between parts
of a system. This is most highly developed as general systems theory and neoclassical
political economy.


• 1 Organizational Theory
• 2 Political theory
• 3 Decentralization in European history
• 4 Decentralised governance
o 4.1 Political decentralization
o 4.2 Administrative decentralization
 4.2.1 Deconcentration
 4.2.2 Delegation
 4.2.3 Devolution
o 4.3 Fiscal decentralization
 4.3.1 Fiscal decentralization and fiscal federalism
 4.3.2 Fiscal federalism: the federal approach to governance
o 4.4 Economic decentralization
 4.4.1 Privatization
 4.4.2 Deregulation
• 5 Silent Decentralization
• 6 Measuring Decentralization
• 7 Decentralisation of Environmental Management
• 8 Notes
• 9 References
• 10 External links

• 11 See also

[edit] Organizational Theory

Decentralization also called departmentalization is the policy of delegating decision-
making authority down to the lower levels in an organization, relatively away from and
lower in a central authority. A decentralized organization shows fewer tiers in the
organizational structure, wider span of control, and a bottom-to-top flow of decision-
making and flow of ideas.

In a centralized organization, the decisions are made by top executives or on the basis of
pre-set policies. These decisions or policies are then enforced through several tiers of the
organization after gradually broadening the span of control until it reaches the bottom

In a more decentralized organization, the top executives delegate much of their decision-
making authority to lower tiers of the organizational structure. As a correlation, the
organization is likely to run on less rigid policies and wider spans of control among each
officer of the organization. The wider spans of control also reduces the number of tiers
within the organization, giving its structure a flat appearance. One advantage of this
structure, if the correct controls are in place, will be the bottom-to-top flow of
information, allowing decisions by officials of the organization to be well informed about
lower tier operations. For example, if an experienced technician at the lowest tier of an
organization knows how to increase the efficiency of the production, the bottom-to-top
flow of information can allow this knowledge to pass up to the executive officers..
[edit] Political theory
Some political theorists believe that there are limits to decentralization as a strategy. They
assert that any relaxation of direct control or authority introduces the possibility of
dissent or division at critical moments, especially if what is being decentralized is
decision-making among human beings. Friedrich Engels famously responded to Bakunin,
refuting the argument of total decentralization, or anarchism, by scoffing "how these
people propose to run a factory, operate a railway or steer a ship without having in the
last resort one deciding will, without single management, they of course do not tell us".

However, some anarchists have, in turn, responded to his argument, by explaining that
they do support a (very limited) amount of centralization, in the form of freely elected
and recallable delegates. More to the point from the majority of anarchist perspectives are
the real-world successes of anarchist communities, which for the majority only ended
when they were defeated by the overwhelming military might of the State or neighboring
States. All in all, we do not know what a truly decentralized society would look like over
a long period of time since it has never been permitted to exist, however the Zapatistas of
Mexico are proving to be quite resilient.

In "On Authority", Engels also wrote of democratic workplaces that "particular questions
arise in each room and at every moment concerning the mode of production, distribution
of material, etc., which must be settled by decision of a delegate placed at the head of
each branch of labour or, if possible, by a majority vote."

Modern trade unions and management scientists tend to side strongly with Engels in this
debate, and generally agree that decentralization is very closely related to standardisation
and subordination, e.g. the standard commodity contracts traded on the commodity
markets, in which disputes are resolved all according to a jurisdiction and common
regulatory system, within the frame of a larger democratic electoral system which can
restore any imbalances of power, and which generally retains the support of the
population for its authority.

Notable exceptions among trade unions are the Wobblies, and the strong anarcho-
syndicalist movement of Spain. However, a strategy of decentralization is not always so
obviously political, even if it relies implicitly on authority delegated via a political
system. For example, engineering standards are a means by which decentralization of
supply inspection and testing can be achieved—a manufacturer adhering to the standard
can participate in decentralised systems of bidding, e.g. in a parts market. A building
standard, for instance, permits the building trades to train labour and building supply
corporations to provide parts, which enables rapid construction of buildings at remote
sites. Decentralization of training and inspection, through the standards themselves, and
related schedules of standardized testing and random spot inspection, achieves a very
high statistical reliability of service, i.e. automobiles which rarely stall, cars which rarely
leak, and the like.
In most cases, an effective decentralization strategy and correspondingly robust systems
of professional education, vocational education, and trade certification are critical to
creating a modern industrial base. Such robust systems, and commodity markets to
accompany them, are a necessary but not sufficient feature of any developed nation. A
major goal of the industrial strategy of any developing nation is to safely decentralise
decision-making so that central controls are unnecessary to achieving standards and
safety. It seems that a very high degree of social capital is required to achieve trust in
such standards and systems, and that ethical codes play some significant roles in building
up trust in the professions and in the trades.

The consumer product markets, industrial product markets, and service markets that
emerge in a mature industrial economy, however, still ultimately rely, like the simpler
commodity markets, on complex systems of standardization, regulation, jurisdiction,
transport, materials and energy supply. The specification and comparison of these is a
major focus of the study of political economy. Political or other decision-making units
typically must be large and leveraged enough for economy of scale, but also small
enough that centralised authority does not become unaccountable to those performing
trades or transactions at its perimeter. Large states, as Benjamin Franklin observed, were
prone to becoming tyrannies, while small states, correspondingly, tended to become

Finding the appropriate size of political states or other decision-making units,

determining their optimal relationship to social capital and to infrastructural capital, is a
major focus of political science. In management science there are studies of the ideal size
of corporations, and some in anthropology and sociology study the ideal size of villages.
Dennis Fox, a retired professor of legal studies and psychology, proposed an ideal village
size of approximately 150 people in his 1985 paper about the relationship of anarchism to
the tragedy of the commons.

All these fields recognize some factors that encourage centralised authority and other
factors that encourage decentralised "democracy"—balances between which are the
major focus of group dynamics. However, decentralization is not only a feature of human
society. It is also a feature of ecology.

Another objection or limit to political decentralization, similar in structure to that of

Engels, is that terrestrial ecoregions impose a certain fiat by their natural water-
circulation, soil, and plant and animal biodiversity which constitutes a form of (what the
United Nations calls) "natural capital". Since these natural living systems can be neither
changed nor replaced by man, some argue that an ecoregional democracy which follows
their borders strictly is the only form of decentralization of larger political units that will
not lead to endless conflict, e.g. gerrymandering, in struggle between social groups.

[edit] Decentralization in European history

Decentralization and centralization have played major roles in the history of many
societies. An excellent example is the gradual political and organizational changes that
have occurred in European history. During the rise and fall of the Roman Empire, Europe
went through major centralization and decentralization. Although the leaders of the
Roman Empire created a European infrastructure, the fall of the Empire left Europe
without a strong political system or military protection. Viking and other barbarian
attacks further led rich Romans to build up their latifundia, or large estates, in a way that
would protect their families and create a self-sufficient living place. This development
led to the growth of the manorial system in Europe.

This system was greatly decentralized, as the lords of the manor had power to defend and
control the small agricultural environment that was their manor. The manors of the early
Middle Ages slowly came together as lords took oaths of fealty to other lords in order to
have even stronger defense against other manors and barbarian groups. This feudal
system was also greatly decentralized, and the kings of weak "countries" held little power
over the nobility. Although some view the Roman Catholic Church of the Middle Ages as
a centralizing factor, it played a strong role in weakening the power of the secular kings,
which gave the nobility more power. As the Middle Ages wore on, corruption in the
church, foreign trade, and new political ideas slowly strengthened the secular powers and
brought together the decentralized society. This centralization continued through the
Renaissance and has been changed and reformed until the present centralized system
which is thought to have a balance between central government and decentralized power.

[edit] Decentralised governance

Decentralization—the transfer of authority and responsibility for public functions from
the central government to subordinate or quasi-independent government organizations
and/or the private sector[2]—is a complex and multifaceted concept. It embraces a variety
of concepts. Different types of decentralization shows different characteristics, policy
implications, and conditions for success.

Typologies of decentralization have flourished (Dubois & Fattore 2009). For example,
political, administrative, fiscal, and market decentralization are the types of
decentralization.[3] Drawing distinctions between these various concepts is useful for
highlighting the many dimensions of successful decentralization and the need for
coordination among them. Nevertheless, there is clearly overlap in defining these terms
and the precise definitions are not as important as the need for a comprehensive approach
(see Sharma, 2006). Political, administrative, fiscal and market decentralization can also
appear in different forms and combinations across countries, within countries and even
within sectors.

[edit] Political decentralization

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.
Advocates of political decentralization assume that decisions made with greater
participation will be better informed and more relevant to diverse interests in society than
those made only by national political authorities. The concept implies that the selection of
representatives from local electoral constituency allows citizens to know better their
political representatives and allows elected officials to know better the needs and desires
of their constituents. Political decentralization often requires constitutional or statutory
reforms, creation of local political units, and the encouragement of effective public
interest groups.

[edit] Administrative decentralization

Administrative decentralization seeks to redistribute authority, responsibility and

financial resources for providing public services among different levels of governance. It
is the transfer of responsibility for the planning, financing and management of public
functions from the central government or regional governments and its agencies to local
governments, 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.

[edit] Deconcentration

Deconcentration is 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 national government. It can merely shift
responsibilities from central government officials in the capital city to those working in
regions, provinces or districts, or it can create strong field administration or local
administrative capacity under the supervision of central government ministries.

[edit] Delegation

Main article: Delegation

Delegation is a more extensive form of decentralization. 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. Governments delegate responsibilities when
they create public enterprises or corporations, housing authorities, transportation
authorities, special service districts, semi-autonomous school districts, regional
development corporations, or special project implementation units. Usually these
organizations have a great deal of discretion in decision-making. They may be exempted
from constraints on regular civil service personnel and may be able to charge users
directly for services.

[edit] Devolution

Main article: Devolution

Devolution is an administrative type of decentralisation. When governments devolve
functions, they transfer authority for decision-making, finance, and management to quasi-
autonomous units of local government with corporate status. Devolution usually transfers
responsibilities for services to local governments that elect their own elected
functionaries and councils, raise their own revenues, and have independent authority to
make investment decisions. In a devolved system, local governments have clear and
legally recognized geographical boundaries over which they exercise authority and within
which they perform public functions. Administrative decentralization always underlies
most cases of political decentralization.

[edit] Fiscal decentralization

Dispersal of financial responsibility is a core component of decentralisation. 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

• self-financing or cost recovery through user charges,

• co-financing or co-production arrangements through which the users participate in
providing services and infrastructure through monetary or labor contributions;
• expansion of local revenues through property or sales taxes, or indirect charges;
• intergovernmental transfers that shift general revenues from taxes collected by the
central government to local governments for general or specific uses; and
• authorization of municipal borrowing and the mobilization of either national or
local government resources through loan guarantees.

In many developing countries local governments or administrative units possess the legal
authority to impose taxes, but the tax base is so weak and the dependence on central
government subsidies so ingrained that no attempt is made to exercise that authority.

[edit] Fiscal decentralization and fiscal federalism

The concept of fiscal federalism is not to be associated with fiscal decentralization in

officially declared federations only; it is applicable even to non-federal states ( having no
formal federal constitutional arrangement) in the sense that they encompass different
levels of government which have defacto decision making authority ( Sharma, 2005a:
44). This however does not mean that all forms of governments are 'fiscally' federal; it
only means that 'fiscal federalism' is a set of principles, that can be applied to all
countries attempting 'fiscal decentralization'. In fact, fiscal federalism is a general
normative framework for assignment of functions to the different levels of government
and appropriate fiscal instruments for carrying out these functions (Oates, 1999: 1120-1).
The questions arise: (a) How federal and non-federal countries are different with respect
to 'fiscal federalism' or 'fiscal decentralization' and (b): How fiscal federalism and fiscal
decentralization are related ( similar or different)? Chanchal Kumar Sharma (2005a,
2005b) clarifies: While fiscal federalism constitutes a set of guiding principles, a guiding
concept, that helps in designing financial relations between the national and subnational
levels of the government, fiscal decentralization on the other hand is a process of
applying such principles ( Sharma,2005b: 178). Federal and non-federal countries differ
in the manner in which such principles are applied. Application differs because unitary
and federal governments differ in their political & legislative context and thus provide
different opportunities for fiscal decentralization (Sharma, 2005a:44).

[edit] Fiscal federalism: the federal approach to governance

In common parlance political and constitutional aspects (eg giving citizens or their
elected representatives more power in political decision-making, establishment of
subnational political entities for decision making and making them politically
accountable to local electorate which often entails constitutional or statutory reforms like
providing for representation of the member states, the strengthening of legislatures,
creation of local political units along with the encouragement of effective public interest
groups and pluralistic political parties) are considered crucial for federalism. Chanchal
Kumar Sharma (2005b) however argues that it is the fiscal side of the federalism (fiscal
federalism) that is crucial for federal dynamism. This is because Federalism is not a fixed
allocation of spheres of central and provincial autonomy (as assumed in federal finance
models) or a particular set of distribution of authority between governments, it is a
process, structured by a set of institutions, through which authority is distributed and

A Federalised System is a “balanced approach between the contrasting forces of

centralisation and decentralisation for combining the political and economic advantages
of unity while preserving the valued identity of the sub national units" ( Sharma, 2005).
Fiscal federal principles guide how boundaries, assignments, the level and nature of
transfers should be revised from time to time to ensure efficiency and perhaps equity.
Thus fiscal federalism provides the tools for "application of the federal approach to
governance which lies in its ability to balance the contrasting forces of centralization and
decentralization" (Sharma, 2005b: 177). In the age of Globalization, when fiscal
decentralization is in vogue, all countries (federal or not) are applying what may be
called, in Sharma's (2005b) words "the federal approach to governance”. The only
difference is that in federal countries the subnational governments may be involved in
decision making process through some appropriate political or constitutional forum while
Central government may dominate quite heavily in a unitary country. Its no surprise then
argues Sharma (2005b:177; 2008) that fiscal federalism literature is far away from
Centralization Vs Decentralization focus. Final aim is not to decentralize just for sake of
it but to ensure good governance. Thus, in fiscal federalism -states Sharma
(2008)"decentralization is not seen as an alternative to centralization. Both are needed.
The complementary roles of national and subnational actors are determined by analyzing
the most effective ways and means of achieving a desired objective"

[edit] Economic decentralization

Privatization and deregulation shift responsibility for functions from the public to the
private sector and is another type of decentralization. Privatization and deregulation are
usually, but not always, accompanied by economic liberalization and market
development policies. They allow functions that had been primarily or exclusively the
responsibility of government to be carried out by businesses, community groups,
cooperatives, private voluntary associations, and other non-government organizations.

[edit] Privatization

Main article: Privatization

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

• allowing private enterprises to perform functions that had previously been

monopolized by government;
• 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;
• 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
• transferring responsibility for providing services from the public to the private
sector through the divestiture of state-owned enterprises.

Privatization cannot in the real sense be considered equivalent to decentralisation.

[edit] Deregulation

Main article: Deregulation

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. Local governments are also privatizing by contracting out service provision or

[edit] Silent Decentralization

An often ignored dimension of decentralization is whether it emerged explicitly by
policies, or not. Decentralization in the absence of reforms is also referred to as “silent
decentralization.” Consequently, it distinguishes itself mainly by its potential origins:
network changes, initiative shifts, policy emphasis developments, or resource availability
alterations. (Dubois and Fattore 2009)

[edit] Measuring Decentralization

While diversity in degree of decentralization across the world is a fact yet there is no
consensus in the empirical literature over the questions like ‘which country is more
decentralized?’ This is because decentralization is defined and measured differently in
different studies (Sharma, 2006).

Chanchal Kumar Sharma (2006: 54) finds in his literature survey:

"On the basis of ‘decentralization instrument’ there are two strands in the literature that
argue for two different approaches to measure fiscal autonomy. One gives more
weightage to devolution of tax authority as an instrument of decentralization and hold it
crucial for subnational autonomy, the other gives more weight to the nature of
intergovernmental transfers (discretionary or not) as an instrument impacting upon the
subnational behaviour and effecting their autonomy and accountability. Thus former
choose to focus on fiscal policy i.e., the relationship between expenditures and allocated
revenues (vertical imbalance) while latter pay attention to regulatory or financial
mechanisms i.e. the nature of intergovernmental transfers".

Out of these two approaches, observes Sharma (2006), "when it comes to the
measurement of fiscal decentralization ‘the share of subnational expenditures and
revenues’ is considered the best indicator. This is because fiscal instruments are easier to
measure while regulatory and financial instruments are extremely complex and difficult
to measure statistically because nowhere transfers remain strictly confined to the
technical objectives. Transfers pursue a mix of objectives and politically motivated
transfers remain key part of the intergovernmental relations across the globe" (Sharma,
2006: 54).

Arjan H. Schakel (2008) notes that various experts such as Akai and Sakata 2002; Breuss
and Eller 2004; Ebel and Yilmaz 2002; Fisman and Gatti 2002; Panizza 1999; Sharma
2006, have found the fiscal indicators on the expenditure side to be quite problematic for
capturing decision-making decentralization. This is because argues Schakel (2008) "it is
difficult to tell whether the expenditure is coming from conditional or unconditional
grants, whether the central government is determining how the money should be spent,
whether it is setting the framework legislation within which subnational governments
implement, or whether −indeed− subnational governments are spending the money

Chanchal Kumar Sharma (2006:49) states,

"...a true assessment of the degree of decentralization in a country can be made only if a
comprehensive approach is adopted and rather than trying to simplify the syndrome of
characteristics into the single dimension of autonomy, interrelationships of various
dimensions of decentralization are taken into account."

[edit] Decentralisation of Environmental Management

Decentralisation has also moved into the environmental management sphere. Since neo-
liberalism in the 1970/1980s and the emergence of the climate change crises, there has
been abrupt evidence that the State is failing to effectively manage our environmental
resources. Hardin’s Tragedy_of_the_commons (1986) shows people cannot be left to do
as they wish with land. Decentralisation offers an alternative solution as theory states, it:
“aims to increase popular participation to promote more equitable and efficient forms of
local management and development... key to effective decentralisation is increase broad-
based participation in local public decision making. Theorists believe that downwardly
accountable or representative authorities with meaningful discretionary powers are the
basic institutional elements of decentralisation that should lead to local efficiency, equity
and development.” [4]Ribot, 2003; 53 Therefore, with the right opportunities to share
knowledge and gain the appropriate powers local communities have a greater chance of
success than the State. This leads from the assumption that people are excluded (Ribot,
2007) by the state in decision-making, causing them to appear to not care, when in fact
they do but can do little about it. Hence, environmental governance should be at the
lowest possible level. One, in many cases the environmental is central to local
communities, especially in developing nations. Secondly, it creates a sense of citizenship
and democracy (Ribot, 2002). Depending on the type of decentralisation used (see above
and [5]Oyono, 2004; 92), in many circumstance local people are represented by others;
these could be elected or local authorities chosen by the government. Either way, they
must be accountable and have the power to do what they promise; if not people will not
support them. Yet, this can also be affected by the decentralisation of fiscal power which
can create limitations as many environmental management strategies require some degree
of fiscal input. Within environmental management the most effective form of
decentralisation is devolution. As state releases all control to the lowest possible level
([6]Larson, 2003). However, there are still factors that can limit its success: Political
infrastructure, history, territory, culture and society. In any given community there will
be multiple environmental issues that need to be managed alongside diversity in opinion
and people. Subsequently, decentralisation is more effective in communities where
achieving consensus is relatively straightforward. As processes will move smoother with
fewer objections. This was put to practice in the Aga Khan Rural Support Programme
(AKRSP) in the Gujarat province of India. [7] Shah, 1994 found
that non-governmental organisations, within decentralisation acted as a catalyst to aid
villagers in a community water management programme which was deemed a success as
there was no State involvement. Thus, decentralisation opens up opportunities for local
people to make a difference by coming together and giving them the resources to effect
the local governments ([8]Larson, 2002). Unfortunately, this is not always the case in
reality. The theory of environmental governance by decentralisation relies on
assumptions and in practice, these may not deem true. Until discourse advocates
decentralisation as a priority in policy, the “potential benefits of decentralisation (will)
remain unrealized” ([9]Ribbot, 2002; 2).
[edit] Notes