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Participation for local development. The reality of decentralisation in Tanzania

16 December 2010

PhD ceremony: Mr. A.H. Mollel, 14.45 uur, Academiegebouw, Broerstraat 5, Groningen

Title: Participation for local development. The reality of decentralisation in Tanzania

Promotor(s): prof. J. de Ridder

Faculty: Law


Since the independence of Tanzania in 1961 many attempts have been made to develop governmental delivery systems for social services such as health care and education. Over time, designs varied from a centralized system in which the central government made all the decisions to a decentralized system in which local government authorities were responsible for the schools and health centers. The failures of these structures formed the starting point of a new policy, based on the expectation that involvement of local communities is a necessity for sustainable development. Local communities have knowledge about the actual status of the schools and health centres and have to contribute to realize investments in these facilities. Moreover, involvement of local communities is supposed to enhance a sense of ownership. Under the current policy of ‘Decentralisation’ by Devolution the local government authorities are expected to listen to local communities. Henry Mollel’s study examines the extent to which this local government reform did support local participation and did contribute to development.

The findings of the research in six cases show that the institutional framework is still very centralized, since the local governments depend for about 90% of their sources on the funds of the central government and are bounded by the central rules and regulations that accompany these funds. Despite the planning procedure that aims at involving local communities in the decision-making, the voice of the local communities is quite often ignored by the government. The planning procedure seems to be trapped in a vicious circle: local communities do not use their instruments knowing that their voice will be ignored due to the strict central regulations. As a result the plans of the local communities are vague and leave room for governmental bodies to decide whatever they think is best.

The cases that show development demonstrate that actual improvement is not to be contributed to actions of the disctrict governemtan authorities, but to an active community that is able to find other resources by themselves. The study therefore recommends amending the planning procedure and the institutional framework to give local government authorities more room to respond on the wishes of local communities. 

Last modified:04 July 2014 9.23 p.m.
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