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By Umar Kakumba MA (PAM), PhD

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1 By Umar Kakumba MA (PAM), PhD
Community Participation as a New Approach in Local Government Service Delivery and Rural Development: Experiences from Uganda By Umar Kakumba MA (PAM), PhD Makerere University Faculty of Economics and Management (FEMA) Kampala, Uganda



4 Uganda Fast Facts                     Population 28,816,000 Capital and Population Kampala; 1,246,000 Area 241,139 square kilometers (93,104 square miles) Language English, Ganda/ Luganda Kiswahili, many local languages Religion Catholic, Protestant, Muslim, indigenous beliefs, Currency Ugandan shilling Life Expectancy 44 GDP Per Capita U.S. $1,200 Literacy Percent 70 System Governance Republic/ Western Democracy/ Some Kingdoms

5 Introduction Contemporary debate on public governance and local development acknowledges community participation as a fundamental model dealing with poverty reduction and rural development across the socio-economic and political spectrum. Participation in Uganda is linked to the current decentralisation policy that was adopted to promote participatory local governance and local development Its done through Local elections, representation, local planning, decision-making and implementation of development projects that would increase benefits for all. This paper reviews the decentralization system of local governance in Uganda and evaluates its participatory mechanisms to establish how far they have enhanced the process of rural development. The paper acknowledges achievements in human development, arising from community participation and representation, but these are yet to translate into empowerment and shared benefits for the rural poor. The paper argues that, while some participatory framework exists as a result of having devolved some powers and functions to LGs, the structures and processes remain weak and do not support a genuinely participatory system.

6 Theoretical Highlights
Community/ or citizen participation, has evolved through Western democratic traditions of trying to reduce the “frontiers of the state”, and promoting Private sector and market system – “public choice” Community Participation (CP) is a Western (neo-liberal) sponsored by Western multilateral agencies led by the World Bank and IMF. CP is part of the donor policy conditions that are placed on poor countries in return for financial/development assistance. It forms part of the NPM that seeks to “re-invent” government structures – to make the public service more effective, efficient, and responsive. Participation does not necessarily lead to empowerment. Empowerment requires people’s expanded choice and action to enable them have more control over resources and decisions. For empowerment to happen, participation must be effective, to ensure inclusion of the poor and underprivileged sections of society.

7 Causal relationship between Participation and Rural Development
Participation must, first, translate into effective representation and empowerment, before benefits for all can be realized to spearhead poverty reduction and rural development. Rural Development Empowerment Benefits for all Representation Participation

8 Framework for participation and Rural Development
Tackling rural development and poverty in predominantly agricultural economies like that of Uganda, requires increased productivity and returns on produce, and increased employment Unfortunately, the emphasis on community participation in Uganda (as explored later) is largely bent on political representation as opposed to integrating mechanisms that can boost agricultural capacity. While many African nations have undertaken neo-liberal reforms through decentralization and participation to promote development, there is increasing difficulty in translating the reform initiatives into specific operations to support effective local planning, capital investment, budgeting and accountability, resource mobilization, and production The major reasons for this difficulty include: Weak social structure, Corruption, central governments’ reluctance to support genuine devolution, local elite capture and poor policies

9 Key features of Uganda’s decentralized local government structure
Local Council (LC) Level/Area Status of LC Political Head & Selection of Representatives Administrative Head District Council Local Government (LC5) District Chairperson, elected by universal adult suffrage (UAS). Councillors from sub-counties, women (1/3), youth, disabled Chief Administrative officer (CAO) Municipality (Urban) County (Rural area) Councils Local Govt Administrative Unit (LC4) Municipal Mayor; Council made up of all LC3 executives, who then elect LC4 executive and Chair Town Clerk (Urban areas) Assistant CAO (Rural areas) City Division/ Town Council (Urban area) Sub-County Council (Rural area) (LC3) Mayor (in urban areas) and Chairperson (in rural areas), elected by UAS. Councillors are elected from parish & women (1/3), youth delegates Town Clerk (Urban areas) Sub-county Chief (Rural) Parish Council Administrative Unit (LC2) Chairperson selected by all LC1 executive members who make up the council Parish Chief Village Council Administrative Unit (LC1) Chair elected by UAS, & all adults (18 years) are council members

1. Community mobilization and decision-making The lower local councils (LC1 and 2) and CSOs have engaged in mobilizing people through self- help to promote education, water, health, and road construction. Local people have started Business companies that win tenders and gain employment. However, the weak socio-economic infrastructure undermines this. High illiteracy rates in rural Uganda, low levels of awareness, poor agricultural techniques, poor transport systems, poor market access and subsistence farming, have caused slow growth of commercialized agriculture. The CSOs have a host of problems. They are elite-urban based, represent founders interests, lack accountability, form associations for the sake of getting donor funding/monies 2. Participatory planning District LGs are supposed to make integrated development plan (IDP) that incorporate plans of lower local councils. There have been attempts to promote a bottom-up approach, where village, parish and sub-county committees’ plans are incorporated into the district plans. However, central government still controls the planning and funding of LGs through grants. The local communities have little understanding of their local economies, lack knowledge and skills. The local elite benefit at the expense of the poor communities.

11 Mechanisms of Participation Cont’d
3. Local representation Participation in local elections has created opportunity for local people to choose leaders in local councils every 5 years. Representation of Youth, Women, Disabled However, Political representation has not linked to increased production, adding value on agricultural produce, increasing household incomes and employment. There is ‘monetization’ of local elections – the elite with money bribe voters, buy their way to power using material gifts like sugar, soap and salt Once these leaders assume office, they often remain effectively detached from the electorate, as they pursue personal interests than those of their electorates There is continued local conflicts over the sharing of resources and struggle for supremacy by the local leaders, and time is lost for development Central government has not fully devolved powers to LGs, still interferes in LG activities and decisions.

12 Participation & Rural Dev’t Cont’d
4. Accountability Local governments are required to be accountable to local communities, publicize financial transfers and utilization, engage communities in monitoring and evaluation, be responsive to local needs. However, the accountability relationships and trends in LGs follow upward control systems (Auditor-General, Inspectorate of Government, Parliament PAC), as opposed to downward accountability to the citizenry. Accountability and service delivery are undermined by the endemic corruption in LGs, which hampers rural development. The participation of CSOs in rural districts hardly influences policy and accountability, owing to their desire to complement the work of government than questioning it. 5. Poverty Reduction Strategies Uganda’s program for rural development is contained in the national policy framework – the PEAP, supported by PMA and PAF. The PEAP is part of the IMF and World Bank’s recommended strategies that earmark LGs and seeks to promote participation of CSOs as intermediaries of reaching the poor and helping to implement or supervising funded programs. Despite the PEAP and PMA good interventions, they remain CG’s handmaiden policies, where LGs merely participate in their implementation, with less community involvement in decision-making.

13 The clamour for creating new districts
There are recent agitations in Uganda to create new districts, divided from the existing districts. The reasons for this are: to increase participation, improve representation and take services nearer to the people. Over 30 new districts have emerged three years – from 52 in 2005 to 86 in 2009. New districts statuses are hastily granted without much consideration on their economic viability and the strain on funding existing local structures. Already the original districts could not meet community needs because they were poorly funded. Other than increasing political representation this hasn’t translated into benefits for local development. As such, the real meaning of community participation, empowerment and development is simply lost in the wilderness.

14 Conclusion & Recommendations
There is a wide gap between the rhetoric and the reality of community participation and rural development. Whereas several strides have been made, in electoral participation and representation of local communities to local councils, this is yet to translate into empowerment and improved service delivery for rural development. Local leadership is increasingly being captured by the elite, who, once in office, they remain effectively detached from the electorate. There is need for genuine devolution of resources to benefit the poor communities, other than mere representation that favours the elite and affluent members of the community. Strategies, like the PEAP should be localized to enlist local methods and decision- making to attain strong local ownership and empowerment. Need to strengthen mechanisms to boost agricultural production, add value to agricultural produce, increase household incomes and employment. Effort should be put on training local communities in better production methods, planning and investment, boost local resource mobilization, infrastructure and market access, and enable effective accountability.

15 Thank you very much

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