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Decentralisation and Poverty Reduction: Elaborating the Linkages

Policy Management Brief 12

October 2000

Bossuyt, J., Gould, J. 2000. Decentralisation and poverty reduction: Elaborating the linkages. (Policy Management Brief 12). Maastricht: ECDPM.

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Many African countries are embarking on donor-supported processes of political and administrative decentralisation. In theory, decentralisation holds great potential for development. Decentralised government can provide space for people to participate in local development. It can ensure a more efficient allocation of resources (including development aid), enhance local resource mobilisation and improve local governance. This, in turn, may pave the way for more effective poverty reduction strategies. In development practice however, the ways in which decentralisation can make a positive contribution to poverty reduction have not been widely explored.

This paper reports on a study of the linkages between decentralisation and poverty reduction. Drawing on three cases from Ethiopia, Guinea and Mozambique, the study explored ways to make poverty reduction strategies more effective, focusing on three major questions:

  1. Can decentralisation contribute to poverty reduction?
  2. What is the added value of local governments in poverty reduction strategies?
  3. How can donor agencies support stronger linkages between decentralisation and poverty reduction?

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African institutionsPolicy Management Briefs (series)Decentralisation

External authors

Jeremy Gould