Decentralization: Can It Help the Poor?
Across diverse economic and policy sectors, from health care and education to parks and wildlife management, decentralization is one of the most frequently pursued institutional reforms in developing countries today.
Decentralization is a process by which a central government transfers some of its powers or functions to a lower level of government or to a local leader or institution. In the naturalresource sector, an example of decentralization might be transferring from central to local government the responsibility for managing a tract of forest land, including the right to collect some of the income from sales of timber harvests in that forest.Or the central government might give a farmers group responsibility for managing an irrigation system, or grant a village council the right to manage wildlife and run a commercial tourism operation in a national park (WRI et al. 2003:97).
Decentralization is being driven by powerful economic, political, and technological forces. International development agencies such as the World Bank have placed decentralization in a prominent position on their agendas, and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) and governments alike have promoted the concept, although often for different reasons. Advocates of decentralization cite the potential for greater efficiency, equity, and accountability when decision-making is brought