Publications Institutions

Posted April 1999

Abstracts of documents on decentralization and rural development produced by the Rural Development Division in 1997

We present here the abstracts of 16 documents on decentralisation prepared by FAO's Rural Development Division in 1997. You can download (via FTP in Word97 format, zipped) all of the documents (1MB!) or each document separately.

1. Expériences de la FAO en matière de développement rural décentralisé

This document analyses the risks of decentralization and what it calls FAO's 'trump cards' that enable it to create the right conditions for facilitating decentralization. It then incorporates these decentralization risks and FAO's strengths in this field into a proposed decentralization model (RED-IFO) based on a methodology for regionalized demand and policy differentiation on the one hand, and on three backup policies linked to access to information, training and organization. FAO's experiences are classified in terms of three focuses, each of which consists of a different line of action:

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2. Analyse de documents en matière de développement rural décentralisé

This publication is the result of a review of documents published by FAO in the course of its work directly or indirectly relating to the issue of decentralized rural development. This review also examines publications by other agencies and institutions (the World Bank, IFAD, CFDE) chosen because they shed light on the analysis of decentralization. The document analyses and summarizes 59 such documents.

The texts are classified in terms of the specific areas they cover, and fall under seven main headings: 1. Training, extension and research (five abstracts); 2. Cropland management (six abstracts); 3. Municipalities and rural development (2 abstracts); 4. Decentralized planning, institutional restructuring and the management of agricultural support services (ten abstracts); 5. The Special Programme, poverty, employment and food security (eight abstracts); 6. People's participation (eighteen asbtracts); and 7. The role of the regions, local development programmes and rural communities (ten abstracts).

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3. RED-IFO un modèle pour analyser la décentralisation

This document proposes organizing FAO's experiences around a participatory decentralization model, known as the RED-IFO model. The assumption underlying this model is the fact that there exists a whole legacy of decentralized rural development policies which must be taken into account in order to identify the risks involved in decentralization. Five main risks given are: a) replacing the supply rationale by the demand rationale; b) biased or skewed information, which hampers the coordination of activities; c) the emergence of institutional vacuums and a reduced supply of support services; d) the appropriation of decentralization by local elites; and e) institutional rigidity.

By taking these risks into account the model can propose a decentralization methodology (Regionalizing demands and Differentiating policies) together with a package of accompanying policies (Information, Training and Organization). The methodology stresses the need to try to create and strengthen intermediate associations representing the whole of the rural population to act as the central linkage in the dialogue between central government and other agents engaged in rural development. The model advocates institution-building by the rural people themselves.

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4. L'analyse des systèmes institutionnels (ISA) Propositions méthodologiques

by R. Paniagua

The IG1 Working Group of the FAO Rural Development Division, SDA, is developing tools for analysing and making proposals relating to rural development institutions, enhancing the exchange and use of information on this issue and the ability to carry out a comparative analysis of ongoing experiences in different parts of the world. The main thrusts of this work of developing tools and instruments relate to restructuring the institutions, decentralization, and the role of regional and local government interfaces. To do this, IG1 has proposed creating am institutional systems analysis tool, known as ISA, as an FAO in-house information management system, a gateway to other information networks and a system for the strategic monitoring of information of relevance to the work of IG1.

This document summarizes the characteristics that ISA ought to have and raises a number of strategic decisions to be taken prior to the launching and take-off of this analysis tool. It then devotes somewhat more space to the issue of analysing institutional systems and the resultant main thrusts of decentralization research.

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5. Le rôle de la région, Actes de l'atelier régional sur l'interface développement local/cadres stratégiques, Praia, 10-18 Mai 1996

In May 1996, FAO organized a workshop on Local Development/Strategic Frameworks Interface, the role of the regional tier. The intention was to review current knowledge and practices behind the preparation at the national and even international level of major development programmes, particularly those designed for environmental protection, combating desertification and poverty eradication, holding up and comparing the different procedures and approaches for their global formulation in terms of other forms of intervention in the rural environment which give priority to these issues, local tier participatory approaches such as village development, cropland management, etc.

This document is quite a complete and interesting account of the debate at that workshop, attended by about thirty people from sub-Saharan African and Maghreb countries (Algeria, Benin, Burkina Faso, Cape Verde, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Mali, Morocco, Mauritania, Niger, Togo, Chad and Senegal). The analysis of these experiences is followed by a presentation of the RED-IFO decentralization model of the European Union's LEADER programme. The main debates set out in this document hinged around institutions, participation and the role of the regions.

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6. Restructuration des institutions rurales: principes et méthode, leçons des expériences FAO

by M.T. Nadir

This document analyses the context of recent rural institution restructuring experiences to which FAO has contributed its expertise, and new approaches to political democratization and economic liberalization, reducing the scope of government intervention to the benefit of civil society. The document explains the type of support which FAO has given to public rural sector institutions in their efforts to adapt to the new economic context. The author shows how FAO has defined methodologies and analysis tools and organizational models in the institutional field and perfected them following their implementation in the real environment.

The report sets out the details of the objectives, underlying principles and phases of institutional restructuring, the method used by governments to carry this restructuring forward, and the effects of the whole process on human resources and the accompanying measures envisaged for them. The document ends with a few examples of restructuring in Benin, Côte d'Ivoire and Togo, drawing the main lessons learned from these efforts.

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7. La municipalización del desarrollo rural en América Latina: situación actual y perspectivas

This document maintains that the challenge facing economic and political reform in Latin America refers essentially to the need to restructure the institutions and policy-framing procedures, in order to guarantee broader representation, participation and allocation of responsibilities. The municipalization of development is also analysed as one of the most promising ways through which the region can pursue equitable and sustainable rural development. The document sets out the main results of the conference organized by FAO and CLACSO on municipalities, their structures, and the scope and limitations of their intervention. It also addresses the tasks that lie ahead before genuine municipalization of rural development can be established.

The document analyses the experience of the social investment funds and the forms of participation that they have set in motion, and offers three case studies: a) municipalized development in Nicaragua, b) people's participation as an impetus for change in Bolivia, and c) the difficulties of municipalization in Colombia. The conclusion of these three analyses is that relations between municipalization and decentralization have not yet been clearly established, and this is narrowing the scope of these processes.

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8. Les Chambres d'Agriculture: modèles de représentation et outil de participation des agriculteurs

by M.T. Nadir

This document summarizes several FAO experiences of establishing and strengthening organizations representing the farmers. These experiences have been deisgned to give farmers their rightful place in society by facilitating access to the economy and incorporating their activities into the economy as a whole. The main thrusts of this experience has been: a) converting the agricultural organizations set up for economic purposes into professional associations which managed by the farmers themselves, operating according to the criteria of effectiveness and profitability; b) creating professional associations to represent the farmers and, on their behalf, to take part in drafting and implementing rural development policies and programmes.

After addressing the problems created by the lack of farmer representation, the author presents an institutional model for guaranteeing them representation: the "Chambres d'agriculture", whose principles, functions and local organization are examined in detail, at both the regional and the national levels. In the final part of the paper the author provides several examples of the restructuring or establishment of "Chambres d'agriculture" in Mali and Togo, and the Maghreb.

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9. Decentralisation: Indian experience

by R. Gaiha

The studies provided in this paper deal with different phases of decentralized planning in India, based on the constitutional principle of enhancing the role of the Panchayats as local autonomous institutions. The document highlights the difficulties that this process has experienced in strengthening the linkage between national public institutions, Panchayats and rural organizations in the context of poverty alleviation programmes. The document includes a presentation of the structure and organization of the Panchayats, and an analysis of the difficulties of implementing decentralized planning.

The author proposes a number of guidelines for the reforms that should be introduced in order to make decentralization more effective: "the first issue is selection of activities. Unless the organisation responds to a felt need of the community, it is unlikely to attract participants. Experience suggests that the participation of members is usually better when they have a financial stake. Finally, overburdening of an organisation with multiple objectives must be avoided as it could stifle its growth. Management capacities grow gradually. Once an organisation becomes viable, it could diversify its activities" (p. 17).

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10. The reconstruction of rural institutions

by G. Gordillo

This paper sets out the basic concepts for an understanding of the process of reconstructing rural institutions from the point of view of the reform of the State and the dynamics of rural communities and small farmers' organizations. The general context is the construction of a new model for more productive, equitable and sustainable development, with the main aim of fostering growth based on a previously established consensus, which creates stability and certainty and indirecates the direction in which to steer agricultural policies.

One essential input to the debate made by the author of the paper is that he does not view institutional reconstruction merely as a change in the organization and functions of the State, but more comprehensively as a reform of all the rules and conventions through social coordination and interaction. The paper analyses the latest trends emerging in the framing and implementation of rural policies, structural changes in linkage between urban and rural areas, and the reform of government policies and forms of government intervention. This approach enables the author to demonstrate how greater democracy, particularly in the countryside, enhances economic efficiency, and to appraise the vital role the local tier will have to play in the new development strategies.

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11. New trends in rural development and poverty alleviation: the concept of participatory institutional development

by S. Baas

This document begins with a historical overview summarizing earlier rural development experiences. It draws on the results and conclusions to focus on the specific challenges to rural development in arid, marginalized zones with low production potential. More specifically, it examines some of the essential components of rural development and poverty alleviation that have become increasingly important over recent years: giving responsibility to the local communities, participation and institutional strengthening.

In the first section the author draws lessons from past development experiences, whose failures were partly due to the lack of participation by the people, the weakness of local government tiers in a highly centralized context, the decision to give priority to industrial agriculture, and the scant consideration given to the role of women in the strategies adopted. This analysis enables the author to suggest several ways of improving rural development approaches and poverty alleviation, with a special focus on the arid zones.

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12. Case Studies on the impact on decentralization: Bangladesh

by M.K. Mujeri and L.S.Singh

This paper analyses the long history of decentralization in Bangladesh and its impact on rural development. The first impetus to decentralization came from the demand for autonomy by local government authorities which were gradually given an increasing number of functions. A key moment in this process was the 1971 Constitution following national independence, under which the responsibilities of local government in each administrative unit of the Republic were vested in local organizations, composed of statutorily elected members (p. 4). The author examines the reasons why, despite a fairly favourable legal environment, the implementation of decentralization has been somewhat unsatisfactory.

Strengthening local government institutions has been the most recent approach adopted by the government to step up decentralization. The document examines the ways in which this local tier enhancement has been taking place, and the functions vested in each type of local institution. A whole chapter is devoted to the development of the role of the municipalities and urban corporations through devolution. Relations between the local and the central levels, and the repercussions on rural development appear somewhat problematic, and the author devotes a specific chapter to conclusions and recommendations to the issue.

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13. Case Studies on the impact of decentralization: Philippines

by R. P. Gonzalez

This document sets out to demonstrate that the process of decentralization in the Philippines, despite a history of highly centralized governments, has produced a Code on local government, whose main features are set out in great detail. Strengthening local tiers of government has been accompanied by a broader process of economic liberalization, the disengagement of the State, and people's participation in decision-making: "devolution and decentralization have marked Philippine government policies over the past ten years. The emergent thinking is that while central government provides the broad policy framework and social environment, it is the Local Government Units (LGU), private sector and civil society entities who shall act as the prime engines for growth, equity and sustainability" (p. 5).

The LGUs have a major responsibility for poverty alleviation policies. The author therefore devotes part of the paper to analysing poverty in the Philippines. This analysis is followed by an account of the main features of the 1991 Code on local government, how it has performed, and the difficulties encountered in its implementation.

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14. Italian Lessons on the Relations between Civil Society and Public Administration in the Context of Decentralization


In the first part, the document identifies recent decentralization trends and the main challenges that have to be faced. The relevance of the Italian case is justified by the importance which Italy attributes to the municipal dimension of decentralization and the capacity Italy has demonstrated in terms of institutional innovation. According to the authors, these are two features which seem to be particularly relevant for the developing countries.

One feature on which the document concentrates is the relationship that exists between decentralization and the reform of the civil service and government departments (referred to as 'the public administration' throughout the paper). This relationship shows the opportunities, the potential, the risks and the obstacles created by decentralization. Equally important is the relationship between 'the public administration' and civil society, on which account is taken of the accumulation of social capital and a civic sense on which, to a large extent, the effectiveness of the institutions depends: "studies on the subject have shown that in Italy the efficiency of its public institutions at local and regional levels is at present much higher where there are well established civic traditions and a wealth of social capital" (p. 8). Vocational training, information and the implementation of decentralization are also dealt with thoroughly.

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15. Processus de décentralisation et pouvoirs traditionnels: Typologie des politiques rencontrées

by N. Bako-Arifari

This document addresses the role that traditional institutions can play to foster or curb decentralization. According to the author, these institutions stand both as witnesses and agents in decentralization policies that channel projects for society, the values of local democracy, local development, the advancement of civil society, people's participation and sound governance, above all by emphasizing the merits, the established position and the support structures. In other words, the values which are apparently dymetrically opposed to legal "patrimonialism", registers of traditional legitimacy, inherited statutory positions and membership structures which serve as a structural support for the traditional institutions, even if reference is made to the potential in the solidarity bonds and proximity practices which they contain.

Varying positions may be taken up to these institutions under decentralization policy, but any position will have an impact on the performance of decentralization. This is why the paper sets out to establish a typology of different government policies in this respect: integration policies, association policies, adaptation strategies, strategies for the informal sector, and finally exclusion policies.

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