Decentralization reforms introduced to Africa in the 1990s have not always delivered the intended long-term outcomes. This is a collection on the consequences of these reforms two decades on. In addition to general and comparative overviews, the book contains case studies on Ghana, Senegal, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Ethiopia, and Uganda. The common theme across the chapters is that the reforms seem to have engendered political consequences beyond decentralization itself – mostly through interaction with the broader historical, political, social, and economic context. The book thus speaks both to the scholarly literature (on decentralization, democratization, and development) and to the community of development practitioners.
Most of the literature on decentralization and development emphasizes questions of institutional design and policy, but here the harder-to-pin-down political patterns marking the workings of decentralization are the main focus of analysis. The debates on development, through the case studies, are connected to the scholarly literatures on comparative federalism, comparative decentralization, and local democracy.
The main conclusion that emerges from the studies in the book is that no magic formula that can turn countries into peaceful, stable, and prosperous democracies overnight exists. Furthermore, there are risks involved in importing formal institutions without regard to the local historical, political, social, and economic context.
The chapters of this book were originally published as a special issue in Regional and Federal Studies.
Table of Contents
1. Iron Houses in the Tropical Heat: Decentralization Reforms in Africa and their Consequences 2.Policy Decentralization and the Endogenous Effects of State Traditions: Devolution of Water Management in Ghana and Senegal 3. Decentralization in Africa and the Resilience of Traditional Authorities: Evaluating Zimbabwe’s Track Record 4. What is a Chief without Land? Impact of Land Reforms on Power Structures in Namibia 5. Decentralized Governance under Centralized Party Rule in Ethiopia: The Tigray Experience 6. Decentralization and Development in Contemporary Uganda
Jan Erk is the Jan C. Smuts Memorial Fellow at the University of Cambridge, UK. He completed his doctorate at McGill University and his postdoctoral studies at the University of Toronto, in Canada. In 2018, he will become a fellow of the Stellenbosch Institute for Advanced Study (STIAS) in South Africa.