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May 2005; updated November 2005

Lessons learnt in the field of decentralization and local government development in rural areas of Latin America

by Tomás Lindemann
Rural Institutions and Participation Service
FAO Rural Development Division

A reinvigorated municipal structure is emerging in Latin America, setting the scene for an important transformation of the rules of the game towards greater control over local institutional structures by local constituencies, management of natural resources that is increasingly sustainable, and the reduction of poverty. The setting in motion of the local dynamics that may transform rural areas does, however, require external inputs to kick-start processes of appropriation of institutions by local people, around priorities that are jointly identified in decision-making and planning processes which are, at the same time, participatory and iterative, learning from field experience and documenting best practices. The role of external projects in these processes becomes one of partnership that facilitates access to knowledge and decision making structures as well as collaborator and facilitator in the building of the capacities of local actors, and ensuring the systematization of the process.

(available in English and Spanish)

Click here to view the document in English (HTML); in Spanish (PDF).

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