Local Government in decentralizing and urbanizing society (Le gouvernement local dans la société décentralisante et urbanisante)
Date and Start Time 01 July, 2017 at 16:00
Decentralization and urbanization have been changing the relationship between the state and local governments, and between local government and residents. This panel focuses on local government to understand how decentralization and urbanization have influenced society and politics in Africa.
This panel aims to examine the changing role of local government in decentralizing and urbanizing time in Africa in comparative perspectives. What have decentralization and urbanization brought impacts on African politics and society in addition to democratization since the 1990s?
The convener of this panel has studied international cooperation of local governments (coopération décentralisée, called in Francophone countries) between African local governments and non-African local governments, and among African local governments. Decentralization encourages international cooperation among local governments around the world, especially in Africa.
Urbanization has been expanding the gap between strong urban local governments and weak rural local governments as the devolution process progressed. Decentralization and local cooperation have certainly influenced the mode of local politics and the behavior of local actors. Decentralization and urbanization also might change the relationship between the state and local governments, and between local government and its residents. For instance, the political influence of elected mayors of big cities, especially the capital cities, became much stronger in decentralization.
It is an appropriate timing to focus on local governments in order to reflect on the cultural, economic, political, and social transformation in decentralizing and urbanizing Africa.
Chair: Takuo IWATA
This panel is closed to new paper proposals.
The Ramifications of Devolution on Environmental Governance in the Lake Victoria Basin: Tanzania, Kenya and Uganda in a Comparative Perspective
The regional and national efforts towards environmental governance can only be meaningful and effective if there is a robust devolution framework in place, which allows the local governments to play an active role in the management of environment and resources.
The three East African countries of Tanzania, Kenya and Uganda ratified the Protocol for Sustainable Development of Lake Victoria Basin in 2003 under the auspices of the East African Community (EAC), which among other things, aimed at improving the state of environmental governance in the basin. The actual implementation and enforcement of the Protocol takes place at the local government level, as the national governments support, monitor and provide the overall policy and legal instruments. Despite the different trajectories of devolution in the three riparians, there is failure to implement and enforce the Protocol by the local governments. In this article, I disentangle the puzzle: how and why the different trajectories of devolution in the three riparians lead to environmental governance failure at the local level. The findings reveal that what leads to failure, in the case of Tanzania and Uganda, is insufficient powers that are devolved to the local governments. In Kenya, sufficient powers are devolved to the local governments. The problem, however, is that the local governments have had insufficient time to develop the required capacities to implement and enforce the Protocol.
Political impact of decentralization in urbanizing Africa
This paper aims to reflect on the changing role and political situation of local governments in African countries which tackles decentralization and urbanization. This paper focuses on political impacts brought through decentralization process in urban local governments in Benin and Burkina Faso.
What have decentralization and urbanization brought about impacts on African politics and society from the local level to the national level while democratization process started earlier since the beginning of the 1990s?
Decentralization and urbanization are one of the most remarkable phenomena and have brought about significant political impacts in contemporary African countries and societies. They have been expanding the economic and political gap between urban local governments and rural local governments as the devolution progressed from the central government to local governments. Decentralization encourages international cooperation between African local governments and non-African local governments, and among African local governments.
Decentralization and local governments' international cooperation have significantly influenced the local politics. Decentralization might change the relationship between the state and local governments, and between local government and its residents. The political influence of "elected" mayors of big cities, especially in the capital cities, became much stronger under decentralization process.
First, this paper retraces the historicity of decentralization in Africa. Second, this paper reflects on the impacts of decentralization on African politics and international relations while focusing on the local election, international cooperation coordinated by local governments, and political disputes in urbanizing African local governments through the cases in Benin and Burkina Faso.
It is an appropriate timing to focus on local governments in order to better understand the political and social transformation in decentralizing and urbanizing Africa.
Jurisdictional Partitioning, Development and Spatial Inequalities in Urban Nigeria
The creation of local government areas in Nigeria is hinged on the premise of bringing development closer to the people. This paper analyzes how well this strategy has helped in addressing development inequalities in urban Nigeria
The creation of local government areas (LGAs) as a the third tier of government in Nigeria, a practice that started in 1976, is hinged on the premise of bringing development closer to the people and addressing spatial inequalities in development among areal units. With the current number of LGAs at 774 and increasing demands from several urban settlements across the federation for autonomy, this study analyzes the efficacy of jurisdictional partitioning exercise as a regional development strategy using the LGAs in Oyo State as a case study. To describe the spatial pattern of development before and after the decentralization exercise of 1996, twenty four development indicators, were identified and reduced to four uncorrelated variables using the Principal Component Analysis statistical technique. The four principal components accounted for 83% of the total variance in the indicators and were used to compare the levels of development among the newly autonomous urban centers. A composite ranking of the LGAs on a three-level development surface was thereafter carried out using the Hierarchical Cluster analysis. The results indicate that levels of development in the urban centers that were excised to form the new LGAs remained same in seven, improved in one, and declined in six of the LGAs. This implies that decentralization in itself is not an inadequate tool for addressing development inequality but a veritable tool for the identification of priority areas for development planning.
Pursuing dignity in South African Cities: How local authorities respond to the needs of undocumented migrant families?
In the paper, I discuss how local authorities respond to the needs and protection of undocumented migrant families in South African cities despite efforts to keeping them out. Of interest is how the forms of engagement are consistent with human dignity as articulated in the country’s constitution.
In South Africa, responding to the needs of immigrants is a contentious and a highly political issue. Yet the country's constitution guarantees everyone including undocumented migrants' right of access to basic services and human dignity. In the paper, I discuss how local authorities respond to the needs of undocumented migrant families (UMF) including housing, health care, education and protection in South African cities. Of interest is how the forms of engagement are consistent with human dignity as articulated in the Bill of Rights. Per the findings of a study in the City of Johannesburg, it is evident that though the legal status of UMF impacts what services they can and cannot access, the engagements are commoditised. UMF's state of need becomes the source of irregular engagements including pay something, sexual offers, use them, chase them and fear tactics. Consequently, UMF are responded to on the basis of what they can negotiate and offer within spaces of engagement. Thus, the dignity of UMF depends on their ability to negotiate irregular engagements effectively and not their human worth or what the law states. Similarly, the mechanism of irregular engagements works to safeguard the interests of both UMF and local authorities. The paper contributes to debates on human dignity in the governance of undocumented migration and concludes that, the inability of actors to uphold laws other than operating in line with their own judgement and what is the "norm" undermines immigration regimes and human dignity.
Shifting ideas of legitimate authority and accountability in Zambian local government
This paper discusses shifting ideas of legitimate political authority and accountability at a local level in Zambia.
The capacity of Zambian local government has never been strong, but has been systematically weakened by the retreat of the state. There are, nonetheless, still systems in place for the allocation, licensing and taxing of market stalls, bus-ranks, taxis, bicycle porters, residential, agricultural and industrial plots. In many cases, they have been emptied of formality: they are run as protection rackets that make money for political parties and construct and supply networks of loyal cadres. This makes the process of securing an urban livelihood a negotiation of a set of politicized networks in which loyalty is a devalued currency.
The resulting systems function passably for elites, at least to the extent that reintroducing or deepening formality does not appeal. The argument made here leans less on cultural than material explanations: in resource poor settings (and in spite of high growth rates in many countries, including Zambia, that is still the only sensible description of most of Africa) the insulation of a political 'public sphere' or a form of civil market from contests over the distribution of wealth and life-opportunities is implausible. There just is not enough money to go around or a sufficiently dynamic capitalist market present for an emerging owning class to conclude that they could avoid conflict and stabilize their strategies of accumulation through the acceptance of a neutral 'policeman state'. In both economic and political life, many elite and non-elite actors thus seek not economic independence, or self-sufficiency, but forms of secure dependency.
This panel is closed to new paper proposals.