Decentralizing Community Development: An Investigation of Projects Implemented Under Uganda‘S Local Government Development Programme

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DECENTRALIZING COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT: AN INVESTIGATION OF PROJECTS IMPLEMENTED UNDER UGANDA‘S LOCAL GOVERNMENT DEVELOPMENT PROGRAMME

By: RONALD BUYE

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ABSTRACT

This article presents study findings on decentralizing community development. The field study was conducted between 2005 and 2006. The study focused on projects implemented under Uganda’s Local Government development Program. This study investigated the contribution of the decentralization process to community development with specific references to LGDP projects. This was to demonstrate the significance of implementing community projects at the decentralized level through an inclusive and participatory approach. Local governments are increasingly being entrusted with the task of managing development projects.

The assumption is that decentralized governments will take into consideration the views and demands of the local people. Nevertheless, decentralized development programs have not effectively engaged the local people in development. Such programs have been characterized by poor methods of disseminating information, low consultation and limited participation of the local people in the decision making process.Consequently there was increasing concern as to whether local government development programs in developing benefit local communities.

Preference utilitarianism theory by John Harsanyi and Capability approach to development theory by Amartya Sen guided the study.  The study used both qualitative and quantitative techniques of data collection. The nature of research required the use of both random and non-random methods of data collection.  The study found out that LGDP projects are generally demand driven and implemented with limited consultation.    It was therefore confirmed that LGDP has not led to an inclusive development process that engages the local people in the process of improving their wellbeing. The study recommended that mechanism should put in place to encourage information flow, transparency and effective participation of the local people.

INTRODUCTION

This study analysed   the contribution of decentralisation to community development. In that respect it examined a mechanism of transferring development funds from the central government to local governments in Uganda.  This study gave attention to local government projects that made use of the Local Development Grant (LDG). Consequently the study focused on community level investment. The study aimed at finding out if a decentralized mechanism under a subsidiarity policy enables community development.

BACKGROUND

The principle of subsidiarity on which the idea of decentralisation is based proposes that local governments’ proximity to their constituents places them in a better position than the central government to manage resources and to meet constituent preferences (Rubin, February, 2002). This principle has the idea that a central authority should have a subsidiary function, performing only those tasks, which cannot be performed effectively at a more immediate or local level. One implication is that the greater group or individual must leave the lesser groups or individuals to do what they are able to do competently (Tusabe, Byarugaba & Wamala et.al, 1999).

The principle of subsidiarity for that reason suggests that public services should be provided at the lowest level of government that is capable of efficiently providing them. This principle leads to outcomes where, as much as possible, the area where the benefits of a government service are enjoyed coincides with the government boundaries at each level of government (USAID, January 2006:15. The principle assumes that if the lower councils lack competency in their will to manage their affairs then the need for intervention by the greater group (government) is justified.

Those who support decentralisation assume that moving decision-making closer to the people will lead to better public decisions that reflect local priorities. It’s seen as means of empowering citizens through their enhanced participation in decision-making and development planning and management (UNECA, December 2003: 23).

It’s assumed that with decentralisation various sectors of society, particularly marginalized groups, easily participate in decision making at the local level. This is taken to be positive because local decisions directly affect various sectors of society. Also, local people and communities can easily and readily have access to local decision makers. In contrast local people and communities may have limited access to national decision makers who may be located in a distant administrative city (Johnson & Minis n.d).

Many countries including developing countries have decentralised their public systems. Countries have gone further to implement programmes that enhance development at a local level. Examples of such programmes include:

  1. Local Rural Development Programme (LRDP)-Palestine;
  2. Decentralisation and Community Development Programme in Rwanda (CDPR);
  3. Zambia Social Investment Fund (ZAMSIF)-Zambia
  4. Kecamatan Development Programme (KDP)-Indonesia
  5. Urban Development and Decentralisation Programme (UDDP)-Senegal;
  6. Local Government Development programme (LGDP)-Uganda.

Consequently, decentralisation was seen as the new trend Local in developing countries with limited capacity and infrastructure to manage service delivery at the local level.  Given the fact that the central governments tend to manage projects in developing countries because local governments may lack the resources to manage development. However, making the decision centrally risks supplying the wrong mix of public goods, given the centre’s lack of information about local needs (Chavis, November, 2005).

Development could be seen as that process which changes the quality of life in a given area. Any significant development should let the people to be participate in the change process. According to the capability approach by Amartya Sen, the ends of well-being, justice and development should be conceptualised in terms of people’s capabilities to function, that is, their effective opportunities to undertake the actions and activities that they want to engage in, and be whom they want to be (Sakiko, 2002). If development is to mean anything, it should ultimately translate into positive change in people’s lives. This is because development should not merely be of things but that of things through which people’s lives will be made better (Mweene, 2006).

In the Declaration on the Right to Development Adopted by General Assembly resolution 41/128 of December 1986, Geneva, all peoples are entitled to participate in, contribute to, and enjoy economic, social, cultural and political development, in which all human rights and fundamental freedoms can be fully realized (article 1(1) of the declaration). The Human Development Report (2002) concludes that development was about creating an environment in which people can develop their full potential and lead productive, creative lives in accord with their needs and interests.

Community development pays great attention to what people really want provided it is of genuine social value (Sautoy, 1958:8), that is why it is often argued that community projects set up by governments should take into account the specific demands and capabilities of the people. The essential of decentralisation is that local institutions can better discern and are more likely to respond to local needs and aspirations (Ribot, October 2001: 6). It is believed that local authorities have relatively better access to local information and are more directly involved with the local people than the central government. Decision-made at decentralized level are often assumed to be more responsive to local needs.

During the British colonial rule in Uganda, community development was carried out using a directive approach. In this top down approach to community development, people were not partners or owners but “tools” to be used in the development process. Decentralisation at the time was termed as deconcentration. The 1967 Local Administrations Act and the 1964 Urban Authorities Act created a uniform set of regulations that gave the central government direct control over local administration in each district (Library of Congress, 2005). These centralizing tendencies continued during the 1970’s.

During the late 1980s, the introduction of Resistance Councils by the National Resistance Movement (NRM) government, appeared to encourage popular initiatives at local community level in service provision.The 1987 Resistance Councils Statute by the NRM government laid the foundation for the decentralisation of authority to the people through their councils (Odero, April, and 2004:4). Since then the Uganda Government took different actions to develop institutions and procedures, which allowed autonomous decision making by local councils.

Democratic decentralisation in Uganda, involved the decentralisation of the development budget (Local Government Act, 1997).  The Local Government Development Programme (LGDP) was an agenda by the government of Uganda to devolve the development budget. It incorporated multi-donor financial support, to local governments.  It was the successor to the highly innovative District Development Project (DDP) that was piloted in five districts in 1998-2001, with the United Nations Capital Development Fund (UNCDF) support (Africa Governance Forum, 2002). Under the preparatory phase of LGDP, from 1997-1999, a pilot micro project was implemented in the four municipalities of Mbale, Masaka, Fort Portal, and Lira (Project Appraisal Document LGDP, May, 2003). In the process, the Local government development programme (LGDP) was gradually adopted in Uganda as a mechanism for transfer of development funds to local governments. The LGDP first phase began in 2000 and ended in 2003. The second Local Government Development Programme (LGDP II) from 2003-2007 supported the process. Local governments and communities accessed the Local Development Grant under the programme to finance important local projects according to locally identified needs.

Under the programme, there were two types of grants:

  1. Local Development Grant
  2. Capacity Building Grant

The local Development Grant (LDG) was meant to finance physical investments under the second schedule of the Local Government Act, 1997. The Capacity Building Grant (CBG) on the other hand was to finance capacity activities in the local government.

Under the LGDP, Local communities were required to contribute 10% of the project costs, which can come from their share of local tax revenues, and to commit themselves to maintenance (Devas & Ursula 2002). The major source of Local Governments local revenue was personal graduated tax (80-90%) for rural and (40-70%) for urban (Banyoya, n.d). However graduated taxes was abolished leaving local governments to look for alternative sources of local revenue.

Local governments and communities accessed the LDG for financing of sub projects for which they were mandated as provided under the second schedule of the Local Government Act, 1997. Experiences from the LGDP phase one   showed that most of the services invested in by local governments were in the sector of primary health care, primary education, water and sanitation, feeder roads and agriculture extension. The typical financial size of most of these investments were categorised in three ranges: Up to 25000 United States dollars; 25000- 50000 United States dollars and 50000- 75000 United States dollars (Republic of Uganda, May 2003).

The government of Uganda carried out an assessment of the results of the LDGP I Development Grant tranches one and two. Under tranche one a total of 1896 projects were completed and the overall quality of 86 percent those projects were rated satisfactory or higher by the respective local governments. Under tranche two, a total of 2849 projects were completed and 88 percent of those projects were rated satisfactory or higher. The total cost of the completed projects in tranche one was Uganda shillings 10.6 billion and Uganda shillings 18.8 billion in tranche two. The average cost of all investments in tranche 1 was US$ 2,773 whereas in tranche 2 it was US$ 3,609 (Republic of Uganda, May   2003:5).

PROBLEM STATEMENT

Local governments are increasingly being entrusted with the task of managing development projects.  Examples of development programmes in which development projects have been implemented at decentralised level include:  LRDP in Palestine; CDPR in Rwanda; ZAMSIF in Zambia; UDDP in Senegal, KDP in Indonesia and LGDP in Uganda. The assumption is that decentralised governments will take into consideration the views and demands of the local people. Nevertheless, decentralised development programmes have not effectively engaged the local people in development. Such programmes have been characterised by poor methods of disseminating information, low consultation and limited participation of the local people in the decision making process[1]. Consequently there was increasing concern as to whether local government development programmes in developing benefit local communities.

PURPOSE

This study investigated the contribution of the decentralization process to community development with specific references to LGDP projects. This was to demonstrate the significance of implementing community projects at the decentralised level through an inclusive and participatory approach.

RATIONALE

The study is justified because there was need to investigate whether projects implemented by local governments have led to genuine development process which integrated all stakeholders particularly the local people in the decision making process. There was need to know whether development projects implemented at local level enhance the well-being of the people.  The assumption has been that Projects implemented at decentralised level easily enhance the well-being of the people.   Before the enactment of the   Local Government Act 1997, development projects were implemented at central level. Through this act the development budget was devolved such that development projects can be implemented at a local level. LGDP was meant to provide development grants to the Local Governments to enable them plan finance and manage investments, which were locally determined and were in their development plans. In addition to that development partners were increasingly dealing   directly with local governments rather than the central government. For instance the first phase of the LGDP from 2000-2003  was  funded  by  the World Bank  and  during  the second phase(2003-2007) other development partners  such as Austria, Danida, Netherlands and Ireland Aid joined the World Bank to fund the programme.

The study is important because it will add to the already existing literature. The study encourages and brings new insights and understanding of ethical theories and developing thinking particularly as far as the well-being of the people is concerned. This is because decentralisation ought to be based on informed preferences whereby the good can consist in the satisfaction of people’s preferences. Similarly development ought to be seen as a process where people are involved in the development process.

Since the study looked at nationwide development programme, its results enables development planners to develop mechanisms which would involve the local people in the decision making process.  This because involving the people increases public acceptance of development projects. The study also highlights the importance of information in decision-making process. The study shows that development planners ought to encourage smooth flow of information

In addition to that the study encourages the development of a participatory related policy, which recognizes the rights of the public to participate and contribute in the development of their community. Such policy ought to encourage the majority particularly the marginalized people to be able to play a major part in their development. In addition to that the study is significant to policy makers in that there is need to develop ethical codes of conduct at the national level and local government level. It therefore identifies loopholes and shortcomings in Uganda’s local government system and LGDP. Thus the study provides information that will be used by policy makers in the evaluation of decentralising programmes and policies.

THEORETICAL FRAMEWORK

This section looks at the theories, which guided the study.  The theories used were preference utilitarianism theory by John Harsanyi and Capability approach to development theory by Amartya Sen.

Preference utilitarianism is an ethical theory which proposes that   the good consists in the satisfaction of people’s preference and the rightness of an action depends directly or indirectly on it’s being productive of such satisfaction. Preference utilitarianism argument is that one should always take into account the preferences of the people concerned in any decision or action performed.

It has been assumed that moving decision-making closer to the people through decentralisation leads to public decisions that reflect local priorities and preferences. According to the capability approach, the ends development should be conceptualized in terms of people’s capabilities to function, that is, their effective opportunities to undertake the actions and activities that they want to engage in, and be whom they want to be. Ideally decentralized development process should allow people to participate freely without restrictions. In that regard decentralisation is assumed to be able to facilitate an inclusive development process which takes into consideration the specific interests or preferences of the local people.

Harsanyi‘s Preference Utilitarianism Theory

Those who argue in favour of Preference utilitarianism argue that one should always take into account the preferences of the people concerned in any decision or action performed; this type of utilitarianism allows the people to say what constitutes good or bad for them. It does not allow the person or the decision maker to impose his or her criteria of good on the other person. It is a type of utilitarianism that requires the decision maker to consult those who are going to be affected by his decision or her decision before making the decisions.

Harsanyi, one of the leading theorists of preference utilitarianism bases his preference utilitarianism on what he calls the ‘principle of Preference Autonomy’. The principle of “preference autonomy,” suggests that the ultimate criteria of what is good for the individual are his own wants and preferences. Harsanyi’s (1982: 54) proposes a utilitarian theory, which defines social utility in terms of individual utilities, and each person’s utility function in terms of his personal preferences. Harsanyi, make a distinction between a people’s manifest preferences and his true preferences:

To distinguish between a person’s manifest preferences and his true preferences. His manifest preferences are his actual preferences manifested by his observed behaviour, including possibly based on erroneous factual beliefs, or on careless logical analysis, or on strong emotions that at the moment greatly hinder rational choice. In contrast a person’s true preferences are the preferences he would have had if he had all the relevant factual information, always reasoned with the greatest possible care, and were in a state of mind most conducive to rational choice’ (Harsanyi 1982: 55).

In his earlier works he used the term true preferences to describe what he later called informed preferences, because they better express the relevant person true preferences at a deeper level than his actual preferences do. But he later described them as his informed preferences because they are actually defined as the preferences he would have if he were better informed about the relevant fact (Harsanyi 1996: 133).

Harsanyi argued that:

It seems to me that in welfare economics and in ethics a person’s utility                         function should be defined in terms of his hypothetical informed preferences rather than in terms of his actual preferences because the latter will often contain some mistaken preferences contrary to his real interests (Harsanyi1996: 134).

His argument is that informed preferences ought to be used, instead of actual preferences.  His theory therefore proposes that in the process of promoting peoples welfare, what is important is people’s informed preferences, rather than their actual preferences. Harsanyi argued that we need to avoid making mistaken preferences which are preferences based on incomplete information. This kind of argument shows that his theory supports paternalism. To maintain his paternalistic argument   he argued that:

To what extent should our society follow a liberal policy, permitting people to make their own mistakes, and to what extent should it follow a paternalistic policy, trying to prevent people from self-damaging behavior? In my own view, in a democratic society, positive paternalism, which would try coercively to prevent self-damaging behavior, can be justified only in cases where such behavior would inflict utterly intolerable damage on the agent or would seriously damage innocent bystanders (Harsanyi1996: 134).

In addition that Harsanyi agrees that people’s basic desires are actually the same though they can be influenced by other factors.

The actual reason is, it seems to me, that all human beings have much the same basic biological and psychological needs and, therefore, have much the same basic desires for all these valuable things except for those people who are prevented by some physical or psychological handicaps from deriving full benefits from one of them (Harsanyi 1996: 139).

He however argues that though people’ basic desires seem to be much the same, their actual preferences and even their informed preferences are often quite different, probably due to differences their life experiences, native temperaments, special abilities, and the social influences affecting them. Likewise this could help explain why people’s preferences vary from locality to locality. The preferences of people in high income area like Kololo will not be the same as the preferences of people in a low income area in Makerere Kivulu. Yet their basic biological and psychological needs such as shelter, food and clothing are the same.

According to Harsanyi People’s utility levels are meant to be measures of their well-being. Early utilitarianism defined them in terms of people’s happiness but in ethics they need to o be defined in terms of people’s informed preferences. In other words the process of improving the well-being of people ought to be based the rational or informed preferences.   This theory guides the study in the sense that development projects that have been undertaken should have allowed the people make rational choices.

Like in Preference Utilitarianism we can say that if individuals in any particular locality have their own preference then satisfying those preferences by decision makers improves their welling provided that those preferences are based on genuine community value. It is assumed that if decentralisation is applied, decisions that are made would reflect the preference of each locality.  The theory guided the study in that people should make rational choices (informed preference). In that respect development projects set up in the area ought to have taken into considerations the different demands of the people.  Therefore wellbeing can be measured in terms of satisfying of people’s informed preference.  Thus if development projects were implemented according to people’s informed preferences then it is mostly likely that it would improve on people’s wellbeing however if a development process does not accommodate people’s informed preference then we can say that it does not lead to improving people’s wellbeing.

Capability Approach to Development Theory

According to the capability approach, the ends of well-being, justice and development should be conceptualized in terms of people’s capabilities to function, that is, their effective opportunities to undertake the actions and activities that they want to engage in, and be whom they want to be. These beings and doings, which Sen, calls “functionings”, together constitute what makes a life valuable. Functionings include working, resting, being literate, being healthy, being part of a community, being respected… (Robeyns, January, 2005:3).

A person’s capabilities are the set of functionings open or available to a person.    In other words it is the freedom that people have when making choices which have value to them and the society at large. The Capability Approach views people as participants and agents of development. It takes into account the diversity of values across individuals and groups IISD (June 2005). The capability approach to development puts people at the centre of development rather than an institution or government. According to the capability approach, Well-being is defined in terms of in terms of what people can be and do. How well a person’s life can go is determined by what they are able to be or do, with their capabilities to function.

What is ultimately important is that people have the freedoms or valuable opportunities (capabilities) to lead the kind of lives they want to lead, to do what they want to do and be the person they want to be. Once they effectively have these substantive opportunities, they can choose those options that they value most. For example, every person should have the opportunity to be part of a community and to practice a religion, but if someone prefers to be a hermit or an atheist, they should also have this option (Robeyns, January, 2005:3).

The capability approach acknowledges human diversity, and stresses that different people need different types and different amounts of capability inputs to reach the same wellbeing (:6). For example people in Town yard   a high income village in Katwe- Butego division in Masaka District could be in need of security lights, leisure Park whiles as people in Butale B, and a rural village in Kabonera Sub County in Masaka District could have their priority needs as free health services and accessible water sources.

However, the capability Approach rejects the preference utilitarianism on the grounds that Preferences may be distorted for instance informing a person or group could be a way of altering their preferences. In other words, it could be a means of changing an individual’s perception of a particular preference. Decision makers can use this to change people’s perception such that the decision made suit the interest of decision makers. This because informing a person can also act as a way of reform his or her preferences.

The argument in this  approach  is  that development projects should  allow   people  participate in the life of the community and also to take part in matters that affect their lives.The capability approach focuses on what people are effectively able to do and to be; that is, on their capabilities (Robeyns March 2005:94). It therefore advocates for development that will enable people to participate effectively in the decision making process. It asks whether people have access to genuine participation in community projects as well as other activities.

The study   inclined more on the capability approach because there’s growing adoption of participatory and inclusive approach to development. Participation is understood as a means through which the poor and voiceless are involved in the development process. The process should allow them to exert greater influence and have more control over the decisions and institutions that affect their lives (IISD, June 2005:3). Capabilities for development can be seen as being able to lead long and healthy lives, to be knowledgeable, to have access to the resources needed for a decent standard of living and to be able to participate in the life of the community.

The capability approach to development theory   guides this study in the sense that it recognized the importance of involving the people in the development projects. Therefore, it helps us see if the human agency is central in the development process. This was of support to the study because if the people views and contributions were not respected then we can say that the process did not necessarily improve the wellbeing of the people. Capability approach place the individual with his or her capacity to pursue personal, social, political and economic goals at the core of the development process.

Participation recognizes the importance of involving all stakeholders, including the poor and voiceless, in the development process.  Capability approach advocates for genuine participation in that participation is free from manipulation by those in authority. It should be noted that if participation is not genuine, those in authority can use the process of participation to make the public choose projects that are in the selfish interest of the decision makers.

Information is very important for people to be involved in the development process. For the local people to be involved and contribute to the development process they have to understand what the problems are as well as what decision makers are doing about the problem.   In genuine development process there is smooth flow of information which in turn guarantees the involvement of the people in this process.

It is alleged   that with decentralisation decision makers would consult the local people before implementing community projects. Through Consultation the local people can contribute their views and opinions, such that decision makers implement projects that improve their well-being.

The assumption is that development projects at decentralised level can be effective if the process is inclusive and participatory in nature.  The more inclusive and participatory the development process, the greater its chances of improving the wellbeing of the people. Thus development projects at decentralised level were assumed to be appropriate to the people if they were demand driven; owned by the community and if they were in the interest of the general public.

LITERATURE REVIEW

Decentralisation and Community Involvement

Plamer (n.d), in a paper entitled Components and processes of local integrated community development: moving from theory to practice highlights the importance of participation in development:

Participation enables the local people to collectively discover solutions to their own problems. It mobilizes and empowers and is pivotal to local people “owning” their development. If control of a project and decision-making power rests with the planners, administrators and community elites, participation for the masses becomes listening to what is being planned for them and what will be done to them. True participation is gender, age and status sensitive and extremely hard to achieve yet critical to true development” (Palmer. n.d: 9).

In a different study, which was carried out by the World Bank on Zambia, there were indications that community participation can achieve meaningful results. According to the World Bank the Social Recovery Project (SRP) in Zambia states that:

Provided matching grants directly to urban and rural community groups since the early 1990s. Communities had to choose from a list of options of eligible social and economic infrastructure interventions. Impact evaluations of early interventions found that grant-financed schools and health centres performed better than similar institutions whose financing did not involve communities (World Bank n.d: 6).

In addition to that Palmer (n.d) has argued that People tend to protect and nurture their projects when they have given a significant contribution to it. People’s level of investment in a project naturally creates a corresponding degree of importance of the project. This is in line with Amartya Sen‘s Capability Approach which advocates for people to effectively participate in decision making process.

In addition to that Mweene (2006) notes:

Specific development interventions should be seen as a local phenomenon, largely informed by Poor’s perceptions about their conditions and directed by their active participation at different levels. It should comprise of tailor made approaches which seek to maximize the Poor’s productivity towards providing for their own needs and not only to passively receive from charity. Only then will development be truly understood by those it is intended for as need oriented, endogenous and sustainable (Mweene 2006: 131).

However Mweene, investigated community participation and Empowerment through Non-governmental Organizations’ development work. This study examined how the decentralization process is facilitating community development in Uganda. Mwenne concurs with the subsidiarity principle because he advocated for intervention to be at a local level.

In addition, it’s assumed that when decision are made at the local level it ensures that people are involved in the planning process. Obone (1992:34) performed a comparative analysis of community development in Kenya, Tanzania and Zambia.  It was observed that in Zambia, the ward chairmen who were district councillors, conceived projects at the ward level so as to ensure that people were fully involved in the planning process.

Though community involvement is key to any successful development programme. It has been noted that decentralisation is not guarantee for involvement of the people in development activities. Kiggundu (1998:53), while researching decentralisation and its effects in Luweero, observed that in a bid to improve health standards 40 bore holes were dug by Volunteer Effort for Development Concerns (VEDCO). The community was never involved and many of these were badly located, which made it difficult for the local people to use the water sources. Similarly Okoth (2002:101) in his study on the utilisation of local governments in Uganda noted that active and collective involvement in decision making was still poor. However his study concentrated on finding out how tax retention funds were utilised in the financial year 1997/98-2000/01.

The Zambia Social Investment Fund (ZAMSIF) channeled development funds directly to communities. Like the LGDP, ZAMSIF had two separate funding mechanisms: Community Investment Fund (CIF), and the District Investment Fund (DIF), which aimed to build the capacity of local governments to support CIF activities. However in Zambia’s case   the development programme had many barriers such as multiple project committees at the community level, many with no clear institutional framework or mandate, contributing to lack of accountability (Davis n.d).

Lituack, Ahmad & Bird (1998:28) also note that under “Colombia’s co-participation” system, local communities provide labour and local materials for new projects, and the municipal government contributes a portion of the cost. Such an approach to development ensures that there is a sense of ownership. Colombia’s co- participation system may not be applicable to the Uganda situation given the dissimilarity in the different geographical, economic and social conditions of the two countries.  This study investigated the Uganda case with particular reference to Local Government Development Programme.

Aliyu (2002) in the study, which focused upon the impacts of decentralisation on local development, particularly on how the local people perceive the decentralisation policy in their own perspectives. Aliyu, notes that there had been
little or no effort made to achieve a genuine decentralisation aimed at changing the living conditions of the local people. The local people were not involved in decision-making that affects their lives. The involvement of the local people was a false impression of participation in decision-making through meetings without the consideration of their views at all. There was no well-established framework where the people and the government discuss local problems, issues and policies, which are affecting the local people. Aliyu also agreed that decentralisation is not an assurance for effective participation at a local level.  Nonetheless, his study generally focused on the perception of decentralisation by the local people.

Likewise, the Department for International Development (DFID) (January  2003:5) report on decentralisation and development planning  noted that the decentralisation of resources and authority will not automatically result in more participatory and inclusive processes and top down approaches to development may continue regardless. The current study looks at the LGDP, which was intended to be    an inclusive process of development.

Community participation is not about electing representatives to represent the local people though this is important in realizing community development. Manor (1999:114) argues that community participation in development does not refer to voting, campaigning and the like; rather it can be seen as a process where people come together in a cooperative spirit and collaborate voluntarily to improve on their wellbeing. Manor is argument that participation is essential to this study. Many policy makers believe that political participation whereby citizens through periodic elections are effectively participating in the decision making process which is not the case as this study shows.

Nabazinga (2000:41) in her study on   citizen participation in decentralisation process in Mpigi District, found out that often after the elections of the village level executive committee, the committee rarely convened council meetings where all members would be involved. Her study concentrated on citizen participation in decentralisation process. It did not examine development projects at decentralised level. Also by the time her study was carried out LGDP was still in it is first year of implementation making it difficult to gather any significant information on a development programme at a local level.  This study shows that decentralized development programmes cannot be effective without the involvement of key stakeholders particularly the local people.

Decentralization and Access to information

It is believed that in order to properly integrate people in the decision making process there is need for those with authority to ensure that their information flows from and to the people. This means that people will know what is going on and therefore they will be more committed to the whole process. If there is absence of reliable information, communities will not directly be involved in the decision making process.

There are various arguments that have been advanced to support decentralisation one of the arguments is that decentralisation leads to better information flow. In a report by the DFID (January, 2003) it was noted that decentralized as a policy can   lead to Local Governments to keep people informed as they are in direct contact with users of services. The local people can put direct pressure on local authorities if they are unhappy with the delivery of services.

It is assumed Local Governments are better positioned than the national government to administer and deliver public services as a result of informational advantage regarding local preferences and costs. It is believed that Local Governments are better placed to identify the poor, to respect local social identities, and to respond more efficiently to local variations in conditions, tastes, standards, affordability, location requirements and so on for services or infrastructure. Community participation can improve information flow leading to improved project performance and better targeting (USAID January 2006: 9).

Similarly Manor on decentralization and sustainable Livelihoods argues that:

Decentralization enhances the flow of information:  Democratic decentralization almost always triggers a huge increase in the flow of information between government and citizens – in both directions.  Ordinary people suddenly find that they have a large number of elected representatives through whom to pass information to government about their problems and preferences (Manor, n.d).

In addition to that World Development Report 2000/2001 noted that Access to information such as budgets, participatory budget mechanisms, and performance rating of public services all enhance citizens’ capacity to shape and monitor public sector performance … (World Bank 2000). Many other scholars argue that decentralisation will lead to increased access to information this was also highlighted in depart of international development report which has been cited in this review.  The argument has always been that when decision makers are closer to the people information will flow much more easily.

In Indonesia, most local governments have a Local Communication Agency (dinas perhubungan). In Indonesia Local governments are also experimenting with different institutions for physical information access and dissemination. Cities such as Bandung, Blitar and Balikpapan are experimenting with websites, and Kota Medan issues a bulletin published twice a year. Blitar is also planning to set up a more general public information centre. But not all regions are as forthcoming as Moreover, even when local governments guarantee physical access to information, it is often inaccessible because of the technical nature of the information (World Bank, June 2003).

Momoniat (n.d: 22) in a paper on fiscal decentralisation in South Africa since 1994, notes that where actual expenditure and revenue is not being monitored on a monthly basis, and such information is not available in time to inform the next budget, the quality of information will tend to be poor and unreliable, making budget decision-making even harder. This explains why availability of information   is a vital ingredient in the monitoring process. Momoniat adds that problems exist with information. In a developing country, even basic statistics may not be available. Population figures, even where they exist and are reliable, may not be available by region or locality. It is believed that decentralisation makes it easier to cost the needs of communities since local leaders are close to the people. However as Momoniat‘s study was examining fiscal decentralisation in South Africa and its main focus was on revenue sources and expenditures.

This study was based on the assumption that accountability mechanisms between local governments and the local people are strengthened, through availability of information as decentralisation can lead to responsiveness and monitoring by the local people as information is readily available from local governments.  Since local residents can monitor local government better than the central government, they are more likely to hold local officials accountable for delivery of services at some acceptable quantity and quality.

Effectiveness of   Decentralised Governments

According to the World Development Report 2000/2001, decentralisation can bring service agencies closer to poor communities and poor people, potentially enhancing people’s control of the services to which they are entitled (World Bank (2000:9).  The study examined if development projects at decentralised level were owned and controlled by the local people.

It should be noted that local governments are handicapped financially that is why they rely on external help. Community Driven Development is usually provided in the form of public sector grants that are meant to match community contributions. Such Programmes have tended to be heavily subsidized by external donor support in the case of the LGDP the World Bank and other Bi lateral donors contribute 90 percent.  This is based on the growing evidence that community-driven investments result in greater sustainability at substantially lower unit costs than centrally managed investments (World Bank Report n.d).

Wong &Guggenheim (2005: 259) in a World Bank report which was tracking the progress on decentralisation in East Asia note that Community Driven Development (CDD) projects tackle the problem of lack of resources to implement the resulting plans by providing finances directly from the national level to local levels to implement community-identified priority projects. They argued that several CDD case studies, in the region as well as globally, show that one of the main reasons for the popularity of CDD projects is that they do in fact disburse funds quickly. They attributed this to the fact that direct financing mechanism cleared up decision-making bottlenecks caused by central efforts to plan and control activities.

The Kecamatan Development Programme (KDP) in Indonesia, which started in 1998 to 2007 in Indonesia, was an effort to address long-term structural poverty in Indonesia through targeted, decentralized block grants. Like LGDP in Uganda, KDP was co-financed by the World Bank and the government of Indonesia. Its goal was to support village-level investments in 751 Kecamatan covering a total of 9,000 villages and approximately 25 million people. The project has an “almost open” menu of eligible investments trusting the poor to select investments that will have the greatest influence on poverty reduction. The projects are technically appraised by local experts (villagers with relevant skills or experience), in consultation with line agencies in order to seek possible synergies and avoid conflicts with planned line agency operations (World Bank, n.d). The study investigated the Uganda case to find out if the local people are trusted with the role of managing development projects

In addition to that, KDP’s disbursement system took an average of two weeks between the time when a village placed a request and when funds arrived in the village account. This was mainly attributed to bypassing intermediate levels of government, which enabled KDP to move quickly to respond to village level demands (Wong & Guggenheim 2005). The study investigated average period it takes for development fund to be released in Uganda.

If grants from central governments have many “strings” attached it limits on the freedom people have when making choices. Manor (1999) argues that grants often are heavily earmarked in ways that are inconsistent with the community wishes. Peterson, Rabe & Wong (1986), note that through United States Federal Government does not rigorously review the ways state localities use developmental dollars, nor does it establish specific guidelines by which recipients are expected to adhere. Their study was based on a developed country. In Uganda, a local government that receives unconditional grants should give priority in allocation of their combined resources to central governments’ priority programme areas. This study examines country’s case-Uganda.

Many governments have introduced user fees and charges as a cost sharing measure. Kabarole District facilitated the introduction of cost sharing among government health units on the basis of the ability of communities to pay for services. It was noted that in the rural areas   there was an increase in outpatient utilization after the introduction of cost sharing in rural areas of Kabarole District was possibly associated with the following factors. First, a community initiative was promoted rather than a government cost-sharing programme. Second, local people were empowered to decide how the financing schemes should function and how much should be charged ( Kipp, W. Kamugisha, J  Jacobs, P. Burnham, G. & Rubaale, T.n.d).  However there has been some evidence that the introduction of user fees has made access to social services difficult for the local people. In Kasango District in Zaire, user fees have simultaneously reduced use of the district hospital as a first point of service and have increased attendance at local district health centres (Economic Commission For  Africa December 2003 :19). However the study in Kabarole was limited to User fees, health staff incentives, and service utilization. This study investigates if development projects under the LGDP are improving the well-being of the people.

METHODS

The study used both qualitative and quantitative techniques of data collection. The nature of research required the use of both random and non-random methods of data collection.

Research Design

The study used a case study. Case studies   are useful in that   they provide in depth information regarding the object of study. In this case a rural setting in Kabonera Sub County, Masaka District Uganda was studied. This was because there was a need to know how the decentralisation process has impacted on development of such communities.

Data was collected from November 2005 to March 2006. This involved periods when the researcher recorded and analysed both qualitative and quantitative data. The fact that this study was dealing with how development projects were solving community needs it had to focus on the smallest cluster of the community that is the household. The researcher had to look into the awareness of individual heads of households on development in their communities. Thus a questionnaire was administered to the heads of households. Focusing on individual households in this study was to find out how development projects impacted individual households in the community and the same time this helped to understand how this programme has impacted a wider community by analysing the information got from individual households.

(Uphoff 1986: 49) noted that when approaching the subject of development analytically, one can identify ten levels at which decision-making and action can occur, ranging from the individual level up to the international level. The levels as identified by Uphoff are the International level; National level; Regional/provincial/state level; District level; Sub-district level; Locality level; Community/village level; Group level; Household level and Individual level. As noted by Uphoff, the household is the closest level to the individual on which decisions are made. The researcher therefore deemed it necessary to focus on the individual households in the selected area for the study.

The heads of households that participated in this study included 40 heads of household from each selected parish in the sub county. Therefore the study involved 80 heads of households who resided in the selected area. Because the study was investigating local government investments under LGDP, the researcher had to interview also the local council leaders. Local Council II officers from each parish were interviewed. The LC III chairman was also interviewed to give his analysis of the LGDP projects. The methodology selected for this study also relied on observations. Observations were made during the study period that is from November 2005 to March 2006 in the two parishes that were selected from Kabonera Sub County.

Area of the Study

The study was carried in Masaka District in Uganda. It is situated about 37 Kilometres away from the Equator towards the south, 130 Kilometres from Kampala and lies between 0o-25o south, and 34o east, having an average altitude of 115m above sea level. The district is bordered by Sembabule district in the northwest, Mpigi district in the North, Rakai district in the west and south and Kalangala District in the East. It has a total land area of about 4560.4 square kilometres.

Study Population

The study population covered the heads of households in the two parishes in Kabonera Sub County. It should be noted that Kabonera Sub County is one of the 11 sub counties found in Bukoto County. Local council leaders in each parish were interviewed. The LC III chairman and individuals responsible for LGDP projects were also part of the study.

Data Collection

Both quantitative and qualitative techniques were used. Qualitative was used to get wider understanding and description of the problem. Quantitative data was obtained using a structured questionnaire, which was administered to household heads. In-depth interviews were employed to collect information from key informants. Both primary and secondary data were used in the study. The head of household questionnaire and key informant interviews was used to get primary data.

Data Analysis

Quantitative data was analysed and frequency tables where drawn such that the relationship between the variables of the study could be made. It was coded according to the themes of the study as indicated on the questionnaire. Interview guides that encourage open-ended responses and open responses from individual households were be quoted.

RESULTS

Decentralization and Community Participation

Uganda government adopted a new procedure of channelling development funds through the LGDP.  However, decentralisation is not guarantee for involvement of the people in development activities.  The results of the study indicated that 57.5 percent of respondents’   came to know about the project   during its implementation which was an indication that a significant section of the local people were not usually consulted during implementation. The lack of knowledge about the project being implemented   meant that local people play a limited role in the implementation process of development programmes.

In addition to that it was only 83.8 percent of the sampled heads of household in the study area who were not formally consulted and did not know what was going on. Even though 73.7 percent of the respondents’ indicated that it was necessary to be consulted. Signifying that Local government development projects were not largely demand driven because of the fact that the people were not involved in the decision making process. It was also reported by DFID (January, 2003), which noted that decentralisation did   not automatically result in more participatory processes.  These processes are not in conformity with the capability approach   which advocates    people involvement in the decision making processes. Thus it is unethical and unacceptable for decision makers to implement development projects without community involvement.

In addition to that as consumers, community members are the most legitimate, informed, and reliable source of information about their own priorities (World Bank n.d).  In the study it was found out that 71.2 percent of the respondents were willing to be involved in the daily management   and maintenance of LGDP projects. Regrettably the majority of the people were not involved in decision-making process. Results also indicated that it was only 16.2 percent of the respondents’   who indicated that they had been consulted which proved that the majority were not part of the decision making process.  Which meant that local ownership of the projects was negatively affected. Limited consultation of the local people has meant that projects set up under the programme are not carrying great weight to the local people. Thus making it difficult for people to own LGDP projects. This explain why Local people may opt for unsafe water which are convenient for them rather than walking long distances to access safe water.

Findings prove that respondents were willing to participate.  27.5 percent and 43.7 percent were willing to volunteer their labour and act as “watchdogs” respectively. This indicates that if the local people were given a chance they would participate and therefore sustain the project. This implies that if people are involved they would have the freedoms to do what they want to do and be the person they want to be (capability approach). Unfortunately this is not the case as the local people do not have the opportunity to choose the preferences that they value most.

It was expected that local councils especially LCI and LC II would help to mobilise and organize the people for development. According to Local Government Act 1997, the parish or village executive committee is supposed to oversee the implementation of policies and decisions made by the council and it is supposed to initiate, encourage, support and participate in self-help projects and it is supposed to mobilize people, materials and technical assistance.  It was noted by the researcher that LC II and I have a limited role to play because of the fact that ultimate decisions are normally carried out at the Sub County by the Technical Planning Committee [2]. Beside LC II and I are not remunerated that means that they carry out “voluntary work”.

The Local Governments Act 1997 and LGDP have spelt out that all local governments should give priority to it is Priority Programme Areas. That is why an analysis of the investments financed from tranches 1 and 2 (LGDP I) by sectors indicates consistency with the National Programme Priority Areas. For the two financial years (2000/2001 and 2001/2002) the investments were as follows: Roads 36.6 percent, education 24.1 percent, health 12.9 percent, water 9.1percent, production 5.4 percent sanitation 5.2 percent, drainage 3.8 percent, solid waste 1.4 percent, administration 0.4 percent and others 1.1 percent [3].

In Kabonera Sub County it was noted that access to safe water and health services are particularly one of the most pressing needs with 33.7 percent and 32.5 percent respectively. When asked about what was the most pressing need in the community most respondents noted that it was access to safe water and access to health services which where the most pressing needs in the community. The central governments created a boundary for local government investments. This is in the process limited the discretionary powers of local governments and also meant that specific priority needs of the people have to be left out.  This implies that making local governments to implement programs that are in line with national priority areas is against the freedom that people have when making choices which have value to them and the society at large. This means that development process at decentralized level is not demand driven. This is because discretionally powers of local governments are interfered with and in the process limiting people’s freedom to choose the life they want to live. Johnson & Minis (n.d) have argued that adopting a participatory process, which includes all the different levels, should ensure actual participation of the population in its development.

Decentralization and access to information

The general assumption is that local governments are better placed to respond more efficiently to local variations in conditions, tastes, and standards. Though Indonesia Local Governments   were experimenting with different institutions for physical information and access it was noted by the World Bank that even when local governments provide physical access to information it is not easily accessible because of its technical nature.   Like in Indonesia, the technical nature of disseminating information on LGDP projects in Uganda renders the programme ineffective. This because the existing mechanism of displaying information on council notice boards concerning the LGDP are not an effective means of letting the local population to know what is going on. Moreover even the technical terms used to describe the activities are very difficult to understand by anybody who is not an expert in the field.

The existing mechanisms such as the local radio stations have not been efficiently utilized. Thus even if there are choices or preferences for people to choose, people would most likely make the wrong choices because they wouldn’t have all the relevant factual information to make a rational decision.  This is contrary Harsanyi‘s  preference utilitarianism which affirms that is in the process of promoting peoples welfare, what is important is people’s informed preferences, rather than their actual preferences.  The existing methods of disseminating information can lead to people to go for mistaken preferences which could be detrimental to their wellbeing.

According to USAID (January 2006) Community participation can improve the information flow.  But in the Uganda case community participation was at its lowest because the local people were not usually consulted. World Bank (June 2003) showed that in Indonesia KDP had encouraged local involvement; different local governments are setting up general public information centres.  In Uganda most of the information, which is released by the different local governments, is very difficult to understand by the local people which has generated lack of awareness about the development process.

It was noted that people do not have the capacity monitor local government performance because of the fact that there is lack of information at the local level about development projects. Local people are always taken by surprise as projects are implemented without their knowledge. In addition to that underprivileged communities like Kabonera Sub County information is usually inadequate. It would be very difficult for one to put pressure on local leaders if one does not when and what project is being implemented. Without adequate information on development projects local people will not what is going and therefore will not demand for better services from their leaders.   That is why it would be important for local governments to use their strategic advantage to gather information about the specific needs and preferences of their localities. This would make it easy for the central government to allocate funds to decentralized localities.

Effectiveness of Decentralised Governments in Community Development

Johnson & Minis (n.d) have argued that one of the dangers to guard against in decentralisation is the risk of “recentralisation” at local level. There are instances where the same structures that are established through decentralisation to promote democratic participation become instruments of elected local dictatorships. Kauzya, (September 2005:6) adds that they become structures of highly centralised local governments or “centralised decentralisation”.

Wong & Guggenheim (2005) argued that Community Driven Development projects tackle the problem of lack of resources to implement the resulting plans by providing finances directly from the national level to local levels to implement community-identified priority projects. It should be noted that the LGDP also channels funds directly to Local Government accounts. However according to the local government act 1997, development funds transferred to Local Governments    have to be allocated to investments that are in line with Central Government Priority Programme Areas. This is to ensure that local authorities do not divert away from national priorities. In other words transfers from the central Government are earmarked to fund specific development projects.  This at times could be differing from what the local people really want at that particular moment. This in a sense as limited the discretionary powers of Local Governments. This undermines the right of Local Governments and the people in their areas of jurisdiction to select projects that promote their wellbeing.

Momoniat (n.d) has argued that if voters are dissatisfied with public services, they no longer vote for the offending officials. But this is not always the case because local leaders often manipulate the voting processes by “buying voters”.  In the study it was noted that Local leaders given their powers they implement projects that give an idea that their local leaders are doing a good job which may actually not be the case. One local official argued they had to implement projects that they assumed that would make them more appealing to the people. This is a danger in development process because projects will not be in line with the local people, as proper procedures are not followed to make sure that the community identifies projects. In programmes such as the KDP projects are identified by the local people at village level such that they reflect the views of the people.

In addition to that there was a tendency by Local leaders to often assume that they know what is going on in their community. This can help explain why they make decisions on behalf of the people.  In addition to that they assume that closeness to the local people guarantees them to act on behalf of the people.   Yet the capability approach argument is that development projects should allow   people to participate and take part in matters that affect their lives. It also advocates for genuine participation in that participation is free from manipulation by those in authority. This has meant that it is difficult for local needs to take priority when decisions are being made. Therefore there is high chances of developments plans to reflect personal interests. This means that Plans that will be intergraded into district plans and thereafter into national plans will also reflect the wishes of just a few individuals. That is why LGDP projects have tended not to be appropriate to the local people. This means that households do not benefit form development funds intended for their wellbeing.

It was noted that leaving out the beneficiary was at times deliberate by local leaders who want to hijack this programmes for their personal benefits. Therefore personal interests of those who hold public interests stand in the way of developing rural communities. During the study some projects appeared to be over valuated for instance Kayunga Swamp Raising. This meant to ensure that they have something to serve their personal interests. World Development Report noted that it is needed to have measures in place to avoid capture by local elites. It was observed that LGDP projects have become a tool, which political leaders use to keep themselves in power. In that respect policy makers ought to put in place effective instruments and institutions to foster local community involvement in the development process to counter selfish interest of their local leaders.

In addition to that Kabonera Local government lacks the capacity to implement and manage developments. LGDP investments in Kabonera   do not satisfy the needs of the people.  For the case of Kyamuyibwa health centre it can only operate once a week (Wednesdays). This is because the local government therein in cannot sustain the project throughout the whole week.  In the case of Bukoto health, which was partly funded by LGDP fund, the local people noted that the services were inadequate for instance the doctor works once a week.  More so the nurse usually gives patients what is available after prescription. Some heads of households therefore opt   for private means which are costly. This is major cause for concern because access to such services is insufficient. World Development Report 2000/2001 calls for the strengthening of local government capacity to increase their abilities to improve people’s livelihood.

According to the local Government Act 1997 the village council is supposed to be composed of people above 18 years in the area. They are supposed to attend village-planning meetings and submit to the parish chief and parish council issues of concern in the village. The village among other things plan monitor and budget for the maintenance of village investments. Therefore the Local Government Act 1997, created an avenue for village meetings such that local people can express their views. The executive committee at local council II and I were supposed to carry people’s views to higher levels of local governments.

The failure of involving the local people through village meetings could be attributed to the failure of the village committees to carry mobilize the local people (Nabazinga 2000). However this could be beyond their control indeed some local leaders argue that it’s difficult to mobilise the people to attend village meetings without any form of facilitation. It should also be noted that LC II and I are not remunerated which means that they not motivated to carry out their work. These local leaders had relatively limited time to apportion to local council activities. This implies that decentralizing of the development process will not automatically result in more participatory processes (DFID January 2003: 5).

In addition to that, Aliyu (2002) in the study had indicated that there was need for an established framework for participation in decentralisation process. In Uganda, the village executive committee can be seen as an established framework in which the people and the different levels government can discuss local problems, issues and policies that are affecting the local people. However it was not that this framework is not an effective tool of involving the local people in the development process. This was because local leaders at local council II and I are not paid for their work. In addition to that there is no any form of facilitation of these village meetings. Without any form of remuneration at LC II, and I chairpersons at this levels will be less involved.

The Parish Development Committees (PDC) is not elected by the public therefore they are not directly accountable to local people. This is not the case with the executive committees at LC II and I level. It should also be noted that Parish Development Committees appear to have taken up some of the roles of the Parish Executive Committee. The main reason for their creation was to make sure that people with some technical knowledge could be identified and be put on these committees. Though they were less active if they have to be doing their work they would even be duplicating some of the work being done by the parish executive committees. In fact one of the local leaders expressed dissatisfaction with some of the individuals on the committees, in that some of these individuals are given the responsibility to manage individual project and in the end they end up using them for their selfish interest.

It should be not that it is a challenge for the most poor to pay for fees   especially if people are not involved at the initial stages. 81 percent agreed that they would pay user fees. It should be noted that they would mostly likely pay for public services if the people were involved in the early stages of project implementation. The Kabarole district cost sharing initiative was successful because it was seen as community initiative. The local councils mainly initiate LGDP projects with little or no contribution by the local people. In Kabarole local were empowered to come to a decision on how much should be charged. In most communities people were not even aware what the LGDP was all about.

Structural Rigidities in the LGDP

Local Governments and communities access the LDG for financing of sub projects for which they are mandated as provided under the second schedule of the Local Government Act, 1997. The LDG is intended for Local Governments to access funds for investment in local development and poverty reduction, particularly related to infrastructure improvements.  LDG is earmarked such that it can only cater for those investments that are included in the second schedule of the local government. This is common with developing countries where government always want the Local Governments not to divert away from national priorities. In the United States the central government does not review the ways in which localities use development funds.

It should also be noted that when districts are distributing the fund among the sub counties with it areas of jurisdiction it is done on a pro rata basis based on population with a weight of 85 percent and geographical area with a weight of 15 percent. Sub county councils distribute 30 percent of their eligible LGDP funds to parish and village levels and it’s apportioned on a pro rata basis according to the population of each parish. The problem here is that funds are allocated basing on the population of each parish. In other words population is used as indicative planning figures. This implies that a local government with the largest population will get the biggest share distributed to local governments.   On the other hand ZAMSIF use variables such as poverty which takes into account both incidence and   intensity; vulnerability, knowledge deprivation, access deprivation[4] with these funds can easily be allocated to poorer areas.  This minimise misallocation of funds scarce resources.

Like the KDP LGDP is co-financed by the World Bank and the central government. Unlike the LGDP the KDP in Indonesia supports village level investments with modest conditionally. It has an open menu in that it trusts the poor to select the investments. This is not the case with the LGDP which requires that investments that have to be made have to be in the list provided for in the second schedule of local government act 1997.

In the LGDP it was found out that the technical planning committee assumed a lot of powers. However the KDP projects are technically appraised by local experts. These are villagers with relevant skills and experience. This is an indication that LGDP projects were not demand driven

LGDP funds took an average of two to three years, which is a time-consuming period. It was observed that because it takes a lot of time before funds are released for project that implemented were no longer viable.  A case in point was the Vanilla project in Kabonera Sub County. Growing Vanilla three to four years ago was very lucrative and the local authorities selected the project because of the fact that it was bringing in a lot of profits at the time.  However heads of households were no longer interested in growing Vanilla anymore because its prices had gone down drastically. Similarly, the project for a pit latrine for Ahamadiya primary school took almost three years before funds were released. By the time funds were released the school had solicited for funds from World Vision.

On the other hand, KDP’s disbursement system took an average of two weeks: From when a village placed a request and when funds arrived in the village account it show that there is a significant difference. This was attained through bypassing intermediaries’ levels of government. This meant that the KDP projects could easily respond to village level demands. In the Uganda case, delays as noted in the presentation of findings meant that projects were no longer viable to the local people.

Ethical Analysis

The study has indicated that LGDP projects have not lead to appropriate utilization of development funds according to local priorities. Inadequate information evidenced by lack of knowledge on LGDP projects and poor methods of disseminating information as well as limited consultation of the local people has meant that projects are put into operation for the local people but without their input. This implies that projects are not appropriate for the local people. This confirms the hypothetical statement, which stated that LGDP projects have not lead to an inclusive and participatory development process that engages the local people in the process of improving their well-being. LGDP projects were not demand driven, there was a low sense of commitment and there were evidence of personal interests by those involved in project implementation. This makes it very difficult for LGDP projects to be appropriate to the needs of the people.

Social justice demands that all persons are active and productive participants in the life of society, but after society has enabled them to participate. In this way social justice is ultimately concerned with the welfare of social groups. Aristotle as argued that a family or household is defined as that specific form of association or community which integrates individuals into a common life that enables them to become, as members of an association and even as members of wider community or political entity. Uphoff (1986) argues that in development process there are ten levels at which decision-making and action can occur, ranging from the individual level up to the international level. He also notes that the household level is the closest to the individual level.

The principle of difference in John Rawls theory of justice as fairness assumes that people are different and have different goals in life hence society must be flexible to allow differences manifest themselves. The purpose of the above principle is to give each person equal opportunity. When inequities exist due to some social necessity, they must be to the greatest benefit of the least advantaged members of society. The difference principle in John Rawls theory of justice requires that society should undertake projects, which will improve the well-being of people particularly those who are underprivileged (Rawls, 1971). Development projects at decentralised level ought to increase people participation in the development process.

The fact that people’s preferences vary from locality to locality. Implies that the central government uniform approach of providing public goods in not likely to be effective for different localities. It is assumed that if decentralisation is applied decisions that will be made will reflect the preference of each locality. In centralization system it is thought that central authorities act out of unawareness due to lack of information. Yet information is a vital component in the development process. It is believed that having decision makers closer to the people can alleviate such information constraint.

It should also be noted that decision made by policy makers are much felt at the household level. The argument is that developments projects can only be able to improve on the well-being of the people if decisions made take into due consideration the specific demands of the people.  In order for decision makers to meet the specific demands or preferences they need to consult and involve the people on regular basis. They should make the process transparent as possible such that information on these projects is accessible and available to the people.

Those who argue in favour of Preference utilitarianism base their case on the argument that one should always take into account the preferences of the people concerned in any decision or action performed. This type of utilitarianism allows the people to say what constitutes good or bad for them. It does not allow the person or the decision maker to impose his or her criteria of good on the other person. It is a type of utilitarianism that requires the decision maker to consult those who are going to be affected by his decision or her decision before making the decisions. However Harsanyi (1982) distinguishes between a person’s actual preferences and true preferences. Actual preferences can be based be preference based an individual‘s erroneous factual beliefs, or on careless logical analysis while as true preferences (informed preferences) are the preferences an individual would have had if he or she had all the relevant factual information, always reasoned with the greatest possible care, and were in a state of mind most conducive to rational choice (Harsanyi 1982).

In ethics to promote the “common good” means to benefit members of society thus, in essence, helping the common good equates with helping all people or at least the vast majority of them (Wikipedia, n.d).  In other words common good can be seen as welfare of the people in any given community. Policies and programmes set up by those in authority should ensure that   the needs of each member of society are adequately meet in order to promote their wellbeing. Unfortunately the study indicated that LGDP projects have failed to promote the common good.

Palmer (n.d) argues that ownership of a project from the beginning by the local people is essential for the sustainability of that project. He noted that   People tend to protect and nurture their projects when they have given a significant contribution to it. People’s level of investment in a project naturally creates a corresponding degree of importance of the projects. In addition to that demand is better articulated when communities contribute to investment costs and control investment choices (World Bank n.d). That means that people should be involved at the initial stages of development. This can help to ensure that development projects are appropriate to the needs of the people.

The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) notes on Engaging Citizens in Policy-making that:

Access to information, consultation and active participation in policy-making contributes to good governance by fostering greater transparency in policy-making; more accountability through direct public scrutiny and oversight; enhanced legitimacy of government decision-making processes; better quality policy decisions based on a wider range of information sources; and, finally, higher levels of implementation and compliance given greater public awareness of policies and participation in their design (OECD, July 2001:6).

Good governance has eight major characteristics: it is participatory; consensus oriented; accountable; transparent; responsive; effective and efficient; equitable and inclusive as well as the rule of law (UNESCAP, n.d).

Participation is one of the key characteristics of good governance. Participation is either direct or through representatives. It is important to note that representatives in the Uganda case like elsewhere have not necessarily meant that the concerns of the local people are made part of the decision making process. In order to ensure that decentralisation is demand driven there is need for continuous consultation of the local people.

In addition to that another important characteristic of good governance is transparency. Transparency stresses that information is freely available and directly accessible to those who will be affected by such decisions and their enforcement. An adequate amount of information should be made available and it is should be put in easily understandable forms. Similarly preference utilitarianism by Harsanyi also advocates for availability of information such that people could make rational choices. In the study it was found out that it’s mainly administrators who can easily understand the available information on LGDP projects. This implies that information that is not easily understood will be of no use to the beneficiaries.

Accountability is another vital ingredient in good governance.  Local governments should be accountable to the public and to other stakeholders. One should note for accountability to be effective it calls for transparency procedures and participative decision-making process. Local leaders should give reasons for their actions and should not control the flow of information to the public in anyway. Likewise the capability approach to development calls for a development process that allows people to be part of the decision making process.

To effectively promote good governance through decentralisation there is need for availability of information. This can be used to improve public policy analysis, and making public officials responsible for their actions. This calls for consistent consultation of the local populace and   transparent procedures that ensure that development is people centred.

CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS

The conclusions are drawn from the findings of the study. The section provides evaluative conclusions on how the study has gone about its purpose. After the conclusions recommendations are provided basing on the study findings. These are the possible course   of action that can be taken to make development projects more relevant to the local people particularly the underprivileged.

Conclusions

The study examined the contribution of the decentralisation process to community development with specific reference to LGDP projects. Thus its purpose was to make obvious the significance of implementing development projects with an inclusive and participatory approach. Decentralisation is based on the principle of subsidiarity. The principle assumes that local governments’ closeness to the people makes them better positioned to improve the well-being of the people. It is imagined that they would have a direct interest in people’s welfare.  The assumption was that decentralized authorities understand what the people really have a preference for. However this proximity cannot always be an assurance for choosing’s preferences.

This study concentrated on how development projects were improving on the well-being of the human person. Improving on the well-being of the human person in this case is summed up in the concept of the development. This is because development is about improving the quality of life in a given area.  It is also noted that the human person does not live in isolation but in association with others. In other words its communities, which help the human person to relate and sustain himself or herself. It should be noted that society or communities are made of individuals. The basic unit of any society is the family or household. This implies that any meaningful development has to improve the quality of life in the family or household.

Development can be encouraged if people undertake the actions and activities they are interested in. This can be seen in peoples choosing their own preferences. The right to development stipulates that it’s the people’s right to contribute and participate in their own development process. Sautoy (1958) who wrote extensively on community development in Ghana towards its independence consents with this argument by arguing that community development should pay great attention to what people really want provided it is of genuine social value. The assumption is that policy makers take into due consideration the specific demands especially if this demands have the potential to improve the well-being of the people.

The essential of decentralisation is that local institutions are more likely to respond to local needs and aspirations. This on the assumption that  the decentralised governments have access to local information and they or else in turn freely avail information to the local people. It is also believed that with decentralisation, local decision makers can directly involve the local people in the decision making process.

The intention of the decentralization policy in Uganda was that people could be freely involved in the development process, as centralisation tendencies had not brought in concrete results as far as the improvement of people’s well-being was concerned. It should be noted that it was only after three years   after the enactment of the local Government that Uganda, put into operation its Local Government Development programme (LGDP).

LGDP was based on participatory demand and performance driven process for improvement on the services local governments deliver to the people within their vicinities. The aim was to actively involve the local people in the development process.  In this programme there are two types of grants the CBG which finances   capacity activities and LDG   which finances projects   that are supposed to enhance development of the people in their localities.

It can be concluded that people come to know about LGDP projects during project implementation. This is evidence that the local people are not involved in the initial stages of project implementation. This implies that decentralised projects are failing to encourage a participatory and inclusive development process. It was also found out that in most projects there were no sense of commitment and ownership of projects implemented under the LGDP programme.  In most cases people lacked adequate knowledge on LGDP Projects.

LGDP was meant to promote co-ownership of the project by letting the community contribute towards the project.  Though most projects require contribution from the community especially those at the LC II level (Parish).  This is contribution is usually in the form of land.  Land is usually an agreement by the landlord and the local authorities such they can implement the project on his or her land. It was also noted that user fees could be a constraint to the very poor especially when they was inadequate information on what is going on.

The study found out that   projects under LGDP are not demand driven and in most cases not prioritized by the local people. Limited consultation of the local people has meant that projects set up under the programme have not necessarily improved on the standards of living. A project such as Colombia’s co-participation programme encourages involvement of the local people by letting them to provide labour and local materials such that they have a direct attachment to the projects.

Local Governments were compelled to implement projects, which are under National Programme Priority Areas as stipulated out in the second schedule of the Local government Act. Though, this can be seen as positive thing because it limits local governments to divert away from the priority needs of the people. This constrains the local government in the sense that that the discretionary powers of local governments are interfered with by this procedure.

USAID (2006) notes that local government are assumed to have information advantage regarding local preferences and costs. Momoniat (n.d) notes that development countries have always had an information constraint. That even in cases where information exists it is not available locality by locality. World Bank (June, 2003) notes that information is often inaccessible because of its technical nature.  In the study it was noted that the existing mechanism of displaying information moreover of technical nature about LGDP projects is not effective. The terms and concepts can only understandable by experts in the field.  This means that what is being communicated is not understand by the people.  The fact that local people are not usually informed of what is going has limited the local people in their role of putting pressure on local administrators to deliver services. In addition, the lack of adequate information on development projects limits their ability to monitor development projects. This leads to poorly implemented projects, which are not in line with the local needs. Though, it was hoped that this information constraint could be done away with decentralisation.

Without direct involvement of the people in these projects it is not possible to rate this project as highly successful. This is because these projects are for the people and overall conclusions on the success of the programme can only be made on how they have made them live better lives. USAID (2006) notes that when people participate in the decision making process it can lead to improved project performance.

In addition to that though there were established framework whereby the people and the different levels government can discuss local problems, issues and policies, which are affecting the local people. However this   framework (monthly village meeting) has proved to be ineffective. Simply because the local people and local officials at LCII and I level are not motivated to organise and mobilise the local people to attend these meetings.

There was evidence of personal interests by those involved in project implementation. It has been noted that local authorities can be unethical when they are entrusted with public office. Some of the projects appeared to be over evaluated.   Local leaders admitted that they put emphasis on projects that made them politically popular. The assumption is that by providing resources directly from the national level to local levels to implement projects will not be effective unless institutions and mechanisms are put in place to ensure that local elite do not hijack the development process. And also they should be measures to ensure smooth flow of information from and to the local people.

The findings indicated that the programme was meant to ensure that there is co ownership of the project by allowing the local governments to contribute 10 percent of the per capital cost of the investment. This still a major constraint to local governments given the fact that local governments do not have the financial resource to sustain the project. It should also be noted that one of the major sources of local revenue was abolished by the central, which has meant that local governments have to increasingly depend on the central government.

It can also be concluded that Local governments have failed to efficiently and effectively manage development projects. For instance some health centres operated once week and they did provide adequate services, which meant that those who can afford had to opt for the private health care providers.  It was hypothesised and confirmed that LGDP projects have not lead to participative and inclusive development of the local people.  This is because the process was not inclusive and participatory in nature.

Recommendations

It has been found out that LGDP projects have not lead to an inclusive and participatory development process that integrates the local people in the development process. The following recommendations are suggested in order to make decentralized development programmes to be appropriate to the needs of the people.

The lack of dependable information especially at the lower levels of government means that it will be very difficult to allocate the resources in the most efficient way.   There is therefore need to get information from and to the local people about the available resources, capabilities and how proposed projects can enhance peoples’ lives. Local people do not have access to information on development programmes Information should be readily available and in the language people understand such that local people can use the obtained information to hold their leaders to account. The exiting media channels such as local radio stations should be used to inform the public about development programmes.

Decentralisation has brought decision makers closer to the people what is needed is to let information be open to the public such the development is more transparent. Local people will then be able to make their representatives be answerable for their actions. This will make the local elites who often hijack development process for their personal reasons to be more cautious when making decisions.

For accountability to be effective it calls for transparency procedures the government should make sure that there are transparent procedures such that the decision making process is open to the public. Transparency as principle of good governance supports the freedom of information. Information should be directly accessible to those who will be affected by decisions. Since information on LGDP projects is not in understandable forms, it is recommended that information be structured and availed in the way the local people understand.  In other words the local people should have every detail about the progress of developments projects such that people can make informed preferences.

Citizens should be consulted about the level and quality of public services and, whenever possible, be given the choice of services. Citizens should also be informed about the level and quality of services they will receive, and they should have equal access to the services to which they are entitled. Moreover, they should be informed about how national departments and provincial administration are run, how much they cost and who is in charge (UNECA, December 2003: 41).

There is still need to sensitise the local communities about avenues and varied levels of involvement, say, in the design, execution, maintenance and operation of projects.  Local governments and the central government should ensure that the local people participate and understand what is going on.  Needs assessment should always be carried out before projects are implemented.

Further, more, funds for development projects at local level should depend on community demand as well as local government capacity to meet the demand. The programme should be more poverty focused since the very poor do not have the capability to use the private services. There is need to broaden the investment menu to cover the various needs of the people.

In order to make sure that developments projects were significant to the local people, it is recommended that funds are released in short time period. Bureaucratic tendencies that cause delays should be avoided. For instance In the KDP funds are released in a just a few weeks after request has been made. However in the study it was noted that it could take two to three years before funds are released for project implementation. Therefore policy makers should make sure that funds are released in the shortest time possible to avoid unnecessary delays caused by bureaucratic tendencies in project implementation.

Like civil society organisations, local governments should device mechanisms, which can help them to deal directly with the people. Such that they can easily know the most pressing needs of the people. Working directly with the people could help to know those needs that can be addressed almost immediately and those that can be addressed at a later date. It should be noted that there are proficient ways in which local governments can use to involve the local people for instance the United States, legislation typically requires local governments to have open meetings (“sunshine” laws) and public hearings before certain key decisions such as budget approval, regulatory changes… (Johnson& Minis n.d:9).

Local governments and the central government should let the people make choices freely provided the choices they are making are going to improve their well-being. Local governments should come in minimally if the choices they are making are going to undermine their well-being. It is recommended that they should come to guide the people because the people may not lack the necessary knowledge on a specific preference they are interested in.

In addition to that local governments should always endeavor to involve the people in the initial stages of project implementation. Palmer has argued that   People tend to protect and nurture their projects when they have given a significant contribution to it. People’s level of investment in a project naturally creates a corresponding degree of importance of the projects. That means that people should be involved at the initial stages of development. This is because it was noted that if the people are not involved as early as possible. It has been the case that people come to know about the projects during their implementation or even after project implementation. This meant that they would not easily identify with LGDP project.

It has been noted that one hindrance to the proper utilization of development resources is lack of commitment by the people representatives to the public interest. What is needed is for local leaders to be other regarding rather done self-regarding. Local leaders should take decisions solely in terms of the public interest. They should not promote their selfish interest at the expense of the community. Ethical codes of conduct should be designed to guide political leaders as well as public officials such that they know what they ought to do and not do.   Ethical codes should not only be development but they should be communicated to the political leaders and public servants such that they are aware of their responsibilities.

Lower local councils should also be remunerated. It should be noted that LCI and LCII are not remunerated. Remuneration will motivate them and also help them facilitate their work. This would help them to be effective in their roles and responsibilities.

There is need to help and guide people to make informed preferences, preferences which are based on the right information about all what choice will help them improve their well-being. Uganda being a developing country needs to allocate it is resources efficiently and effectively.

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[1]  According to OECD(July 2001) Report on Engaging Citizens in Policy-making, Governments must invest adequate time, resources and commitment in building robust legal, policy and institutional frameworks…Governments may seek to inform, consult and engage citizens in order to enhance the quality, credibility and legitimacy of their policy decisions.

[2] Technical Planning Committee is at Sub County responsible for the Planning process in the Sub county. This is according to the Local Government Act 1997

[3] This analysis shows  that roads took the largest share of the fun followed by  education Yet study findings show that Access to safe water and health services where the most pressing needs identified by Households.

The analysis was done by Ministry

[4] Poverty measurement, which takes into, accounts both incidence and intensity of poverty; Variables related to vulnerability include both unemployment and prevalence of HIV in the age group. Access deprivation is measured in terms of access to basic social services including access to clean water, toilet facilities, distance from primary school and health facilities and access to basic infrastructure markets and public transport. For details on the allocation formula. ZAMSIF http://www.zamsif.org.zm/zamsif/ipf/ipf.htm retrieved on 29 April, 2006

 

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